Friday, March 30, 2007

Carpet begging

--I think the anti-John Breaux crowd has a point about him being unqualified for the Louisiana governorship because he lives in Maryland. As someone who recently moved from Louisiana, I can attest that I've forgotten completely about the state and its issues. Every time you apply for a driver's license in a new state, the camera flash zaps your brain like a Men In Black neuralyzer, immediately robbing you of any trace of your past life, regardless of how many years you spent championing the state and its needs. Didn't know that, huh? THAT'S THE IDEA!!

But seriously...Breaux is the best choice out of everyone who's running. Why? To use Nick the Conservative Cajun's own words against him, Breaux has "not voted in any of our state elections over the past two years." Considering how things have turned out in that time frame, that may be the best endorsement a Louisiana candidate can have. Nick likens Breaux to the Huey P. Long and Edwin Edwards eras of gubernatorial politics. I don't see it that way; I see a genuine chance for redemption here. Louisiana's been in some murk as of late, and maybe our best weapon in the fight is someone who represented us competently back when things were better. Oh yeah, there's also that 33-year track record in Congress.

(Sidebar: I say "us" because I'm referred to as "that guy from Louisiana" by people who know me in Missouri. I'm sure Breaux feels the same way in Maryland. Just a thought.)

This argument against Breaux is absurd anyway; are they really saying that Breaux is out of touch because he's been in the D.C. area for too long? Really?!! Couldn't the same be said about every member of Congress? Last I checked, Louisiana politics doesn't change that much. Same shit, different colon. Or, same colon, different shit. Let's at least get someone in who knows what they're doing, and might actually get some respect for it. It would be a refreshing change.

Anyway, this isn't the 1850s. If I can read up-to-the-minute Louisiana news from Missouri, then I'm sure Breaux has the means to stay abreast with happenings in the state. Hell, he did it for 18 years in the Senate and 15 years in the House without the Internet.

But if we are going to end all appearances of carpetbagging, let's do it at all levels; from now on, only residents of Washington D.C. can run for president. Real residents, too, not people like George H.W. Bush, who lived in D.C. as president but paid taxes in Maine and cited a hotel suite in Houston as his real residence. Or Dick Cheney, who evaded a constitutional clause in his race for vice president by pretending he still lived in Wyoming. Or Hillary Clinton...but only because I favor Barack Obama for president, who handily stomped the nakedly carpetbagging Alan Keyes in his Senate race.

--Note to the Times of Acadiana: It's "Broadmoor Park," not "Broadmoore Park." Unless you're talking about Moore Park, which makes the blatant misspelling all that much worse.

--On that same page, the Times notes that New Mexico's recent cockfighting ban makes Louisiana the only state to still allow the practice. Kind of like how Louisiana is the only state that has parishes. Except dumb.

--Last night I was carded...for an R-rated movie. What the hell? After the woman saw that I was nearly 27, she shrugged and said, "Um...you look young?"

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A very simple question that could nevertheless get very complicated

And no, I'm not asking it for purely selfish reasons

Why are all national columnists older people? I understand that experience comes in handy with such a prestigious position; but it also skews opinion pages heavily toward the William Safire generation. I could name several people off the top of my head who are the most intelligent and informed people I've ever known and who would fit the bill nicely...but no one would ever touch them, because they haven't been reporting in Somalia for 20 years.

I know we screwed up with Ben Ferguson, but that's no reason to shut out our generation entirely from the national discourse. Who knows? It might even nab that young demographic you covet so much, media. Remember the cultural impact of Rolling Stone in the 1960s? It wasn't because they ran William F. Buckley (who was old even then)! It was because they valued the voice of those who were coming of age in a hostile world.

Just a thought I had.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The agony of 'Agony'

Today, the Springfield News-Leader runs an editorial criticizing a recent front-page spread on the Missouri State men's basketball team's failure to reach the NCAA Tournament. The writer takes exception to the title of that story, "An Unbearable Agony":

I don't know what planet the News-Leader crew inhabits, but on my planet, the phrase "unbearable agony" is the kind of reactionary hyperbole that muddies up what should be a clear distinction between meaningful, necessary news, and variations of infotainment. A fan's reaction to a basketball team's tournament exclusion fails to qualify as "agony" unbearable or otherwise. Our illegal, immoral, unaffordable, and impeachment-worthy war, however, certainly fits the bill.

The huge headlines and bright pictures of a distressed young man headlining the March 12 front page could have been about the implications of his decision just dawning on a freshly recruited Army volunteer. ...

The writer of the editorial is Joan Collins, a member of the Peace Network of the Ozarks. The writer of the headline, who apparently lives on another planet, is me.

Given that she and I agree point-for-point about the Iraq war, I found this criticism particularly distressing. It's also unfortunately symptomatic of the way the anti-war camp often clashes with each other just as much as with White House policy.

Collins cites several points about the most pressing issues of the day, all of which are valid. The crux of her argument is that the newspaper should have devoted that day's front-page space to the catastrophe in Iraq rather than on college basketball. Short of that, she says, the headlines should at least offer a true sense of perspective about the magnitude of such events. Fair enough. However, I feel that her point could have been made just as well without the insinuation that I--and by extension the newspaper as a whole--are ignorant about world events.

If this "unbearable agony" story were about our country's 30,000 wounded, or our 117,000 severely traumatized, then the headline would fit the crime. To me, however, that headline reveals a disconnect between the world of human suffering that truly matters and the world of points in the paint that doesn't.

One charge often levied against hawkish conservatives is that they willfully choose to ignore or worsen domestic issues under the guise of, "We've got a war on terror to fight!" This sort of rhetoric, unfortunately, can also emanate from the left. Indeed, basketball does pale in comparison to the horrors of war--so does, say, a motorcycle accident with fatalities. That doesn't mean that a newspaper would run the headline, "Two killed in accident, which is nothing compared to today's fatalities in Iraq." Doing so would serve the twin purposes of diminishing the impact of the war and showing a callous lack of concern for those who died in the accident. Reporting on issues other than the war should in no way be seen as a trivialization of said war.

Of course, I agree that some media outlets--mostly on ratings-driven television--choose to highlight superfluous issues as a means of distraction. In the case of "An Unbearable Agony," however, the issue at hand involved the personal stories of local college athletes who missed the NCAA Tournament each year of their careers by mostly microscopic margins. Here in southwest Missouri, this was a popular and closely followed story, as it was for hundreds of other basketball teams throughout the country. And because many newspapers take a local angle with their stories, teammates' reactions to the snub seemed like a natural for that day's cover. Add to that the fact that Missouri State's mascot is the Bears, and that headline writing requires something short and snappy, and the result for me was, "An Unbearable Agony." The others on the copy desk felt that it was a worthy title, and so it made print without alteration.

Collins makes an excellent point by alleging that basketball is not comparable to the war in Iraq. On that note, I feel that she should not take my title as an affront to the urgency of world politics and war. Referring to the disappointments of a hard-working basketball team is not a dismissal of the Iraq war; it is simply a reference to the feelings of the players and fans. Nothing more, nothing less.

I care passionately about the Iraq war, having opposed its inception from the very beginning. I don't doubt that Collins and myself could have a very amiable dialogue about the need for a new set of priorities in Washington. And that's exactly my point; we need to direct the rhetorical fire where it really belongs: not against each other, but against those who need to do their part to rectify this tragedy.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

This one's for the girls

This one's for the girl who works the fast-food outlet near my apartment, the only choice I have for grub after work. Before I get there, I'm already mad that there are no 24-hour stores in my part of town. And that I forgot to stock up on real, organic food earlier in the day. And that your fast food somehow costs more than the organic food. So there's really no need for you to act like I'm the one who's bugging you. If I am, could you at least not show it in the attitudinal drop-off between your cordial greeting and the pointed, rushed "uh-huhs" that follow as I struggle to keep your attention so that you know my sandwich has no mayo so that I don't have to deal with you yet again when you inevitably get it wrong? And would it be so bad if you responded with "thank you" or "sure" instead of a brusque, "That'll take five minutes"? Then I drive up to the window and see your aged-raver self running around like you have 950 customers from that credit-card commercial where everyone's dancing in a show of fascist efficiency and I'm the one stopping everything with an old-fashioned card, when in reality you haven't seen any face but your own for hours. That cute way you take my debit card in a huff and slam the window shut gives me all the warm and fuzzy feelings of a bank robbery. Yeah, yeah, I get it, you're having a hard day. Well, how about you and I make a deal; I'll stop bothering you if you promise never to read the newspaper I just spent eight-and-a-half hours putting together. Well, at least now I have a chance to prove my devotion to ending global warming by shutting off my engine as several songs flit in and out on my radio while my card goes through God knows what. By the time you finally hand me my food, I'm not checking it for mayo anymore; I'm checking it for spit. Aged-raver spit. As I eat, I hope I don't have to get urine-tested for meth anytime soon. But if I do test positive and get fired, I can rest assured that there's at least one bottom-feeding outlet that'll hire me because apparently they have no standards of service or of common courtesy. Have a nice day!

This one's for the self-centered princess in the Camaro who cut me off in the bike-shop parking lot. Look, Kappa Kappa Kristi, I'm sorry that this tiny parking lot appears to be a one-way, one-lane row of spaces and that I came in on the wrong side; but hey, I was coming in off a crowded major freeway and nothing's marked. As soon as I saw you strolling in head-on, I immediately threw the stick in reverse and crept back like E.T.'s dog in that scene when E.T. is about to get loaded on Coors. And lo and behold, as I realize I'm about to shred the brand-new fender of my brand-new car on the jagged concrete curb, you keep on going. In fact, you actually speed up! Why? Maybe the person you're devoting the bulk of your limited mental energy talking to knows the answer. After about the third near-shredding of the brand-new fender on my brand-new car (Did I mention I just bought this thing?), I decide that I'll just let you hit me head-on since you're a stay-the-course kind of gal and from the looks of things your daddy will buy us both new cars without a shrug if a collision occurs. But instead, this perverted game of chicken somehow ends even worse: when it looks like there's nowhere else for this Ricky Bobbitch to go, she somehow bends the laws of physics and goes around me! And fast! At no point does she ever stop or even slow down. In fact, she doesn't even look at me, preferring instead to fixate her pissy, irritated face on her partner in Simple Lifing. I wonder if she'll look for any new sideswiping dents on her car, seeing how close she came to literally tipping me over? Well, I can tell you she didn't, because as soon as she passed me she parked into one of the several empty spaces for which absolutely no one was clamoring. And I finally pulled up to the bike shop, where I could fulfill my original intent of buying a bike to relieve stress.

This one's for the girl--er, tall man--who carded me at a bar. I don't mind being carded, because it reaffirms my insecure psyche that I don't look like I'm pushing 30. But that's not why he carded me; the bartender knows everyone who frequents the bar by name, personality and drink, but he didn't recognize me. This despite the fact that I often visit with co-workers, who are some of his favorite regulars, and that he has talked with me on several occasions. After telling him this, he says, "Well, you know, I see a lot of people every day and I just don't remember you." Well, isn't that nice? Say, that makes me want to buy several rounds of alcohol from you! My friend orders something complicated, which the bartender promptly gets exactly right. I ask for a bottle of Bud Light--the simplest thing this guy ever has to do--and he gives me the wrong thing. "Sorry, I forgot what you wanted," he says, displaying a remarkable metabolism of memory in a five-second span. Later, he comes outside and clears our table--including my beer, which I've barely touched--and asks us what else we want. I say, "nothing," while the others confirm their preferences. When he comes back out, he gets their orders right and gives me another beer! Which is coming out of someone's pocket. This'll probably be the night the bartender finally begins to remember me. Figures.

Be good.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Short and snappy

Rule #38: Dis Belief

Global warming is not a belief. Neither is evolution. Or abortion. Or welfare. Or any other tangible phenomenon that conservatives attempt to dismiss because they're inconvenient truths.

If it can be measured with a meter, captured with a photograph, held in your hands or can be made into a much-too-graphic video for exploitative purposes, it's not a belief; it's an issue. And no amount of wishing, hoping or denial will change anything. Only action will.

And that's my belief.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"I was addicted to oxygen"

One woman's heartbreaking story

Note: this is another piece of writing from my past. December 1999, to be exact. It was written as space filler for a project in my Media Graphics course. I had to design a magazine-page layout with only two pictures at my immediate disposal: a girl and a tree. I filled the remaining space with a parody ad that only residents of Lafayette, Louisiana, between the years of 1985 and 2004 would get. Long story. Anyway, here:

It was one of those things that the average person doesn't think could ever happen to them. But for 22-year-old Samantha Gannon, the frightening nightmare of addiction came all too true.

Caption on picture of girl: Samantha Gannon looks back on her 22-year addiction as an attempt to quell her personal demons. "My body thought it could never function without it," she said.

It all started from a very early age. From the beginning, Samantha had been exposed to the substance that would soon make an irreversible impression on her life.

"Throughout my growing years, everywhere I went, massive supplies of oxygen came with me," recalls Gannon. "I particularly recall family parties, where oxygen was heavily consumed and enjoyed by my relatives, and I would notice how it always seemed to put them in a festive mood."

By the time she reached high school, peer pressure eventually pierced through Samantha's strong will.

"I took up the habit full-time in high school. I was at a wild party at my friend's house--her parents were out of town--and about halfway through the night a group of my best friends came up to me and said, 'We're going outside for some fresh air. Wanna come?' If only I had said no," she recalled, collapsing into tears. "I would have avoided years of heartbreak and broken dreams!"

By her sophomore year in college, Samantha's oxygen habit took total control of her life. She was now breathing up to 24 hours a day.

"My life came to a complete standstill," she said."Once you're addicted to oxygen, there's nothing you can do without breathing. It really destroys your functioning capacity."

By this time, nearly everyone close to Samantha was deeply concerned about her habit.

"I had been denying it for years," said her mother, Martha Gannon. "But all the signs were there, and I knew something had to change, and quickly."

In a futile attempt to combat her addiction, Samantha started smoking. But that would prove difficult.

"It's one thing to say you're going to start smoking, but actually doing it is the hard part," she said. "Especially when glorious oxygen is just a breath away."

Frustrated, Samantha quit tobacco and moved on to marijuana, hoping that its infamous buzz would cure her ills. "Not a chance," she said. "After those didn't help, I would smoke anything--oak tree leaves, notebook paper, matches, steam--nothing doing. So I quit trying all that and went back to oxygen every time."

At this point, Samantha began to question why she was even bothering to quit, when it was apparent she never would.

"I've always been a spiritual person, and I began to think that maybe God didn't want me to quit. I consulted Scripture, which said that God breathed life into Adam.

"But then I realized that if God did indeed breathe into Adam, that means he had to breathe out into his mouth," she went on. "Then I thought about it. Carbon dioxide! That's what he was breathing into Adam!

"The next night I was watching Baywatch. I was deep into the plot of that particular episode, but not too much to where I didn't realize that someone was doing CPR on a fellow oxygen addict going through withdrawal. And what was it that brought that kid back to life? Carbon dioxide! This was too much coincidence for me to ignore. That's exactly what I needed to cure my habit!"

Excited by her revelation, Samantha hightailed it to her doctor, Lance Thompson.

However, Thompson had reservations. "I was skeptical at first," he said. "I mean, Samantha was talking about coming up with a way to inhale carbon dioxide. The only way I could think for her to be able to do this would be to become a tree."

He explained that through the process of photosynthesis, trees intake carbon dioxide normally exhaled by animals and put out oxygen. It would also help Samantha expel the oxygen that she had collected over the years.

"I told her it wouldn't be easy, becoming a tree," added Dr. Thompson. "I mean, that isn't the sort of procedure that happens every day.

"There are lots of things to consider, like giving up your current lifestyle. But Samantha thought about it and was definitely willing to make the sacrifice."

She was soon to learn just what kind of sacrifice she was about to undertake. Being a tree would turn out to be the hardest thing she had ever done.

"But I would not change a thing. Being free of oxygen is the greatest feeling in the world. To be able to take a deep breath and finally realize I am free from addiction! It's wonderful!" Samantha cheered, flailing her branches with joy.

Caption on picture of tree: Samantha today, enjoying the fresh air. "The only really annoying thing is when wiseguys tell me to 'leave'," she says.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Erin go blahhhh

This will probably sound horrible coming from someone named Ian McGibboney, but I don't really feel St. Patrick's Day.

I mean, yeah, it was kind of fun in kindergarten, when my teacher affixed a small square of green construction paper with a paper clip to the shirts of kids who forgot to wear green so that they wouldn't be mercilessly pinched on the playground; but, since then, it's all been downhill for me. And I think I know why:

--I'm not a heavy drinker, either by Louisiana or Missouri standards.

--The holiday celebrates the day a Catholic missionary died. That's morbid.

--Most St. Patty's Day celebrations are (like Cinco de Mayo) just excuses to get wasted, which is an affront to my Irish heritage.

--Actually, I wouldn't really know that, because (to paraphrase Chris Rock) if I went to Ireland, they'd look at me funny and say, "Aye, who the bloody hell is this fookin' Yank?"

--The existence of the term "St. Patty's Day," which ranks right up there with "tummy" in travesties of the English language.

--The holiday requires the wearing of green, and you know how much I love mandated conformity. I don't remember Hitler winning in the European Theater! I still wear green, though. But only if I'm not in the mood for pinching. Which is a rare occurrence.

--I don't need to pimp my ethnicity to get kissed. Well, okay, it helps...but I can do that every day. Aye!

"Kiss me, I'm Irish." Not quite "If you go black, you never go back," but pretty close. We taters do what we can. Erin Go Bragh!

Friday, March 16, 2007

A sentence so bad it's good

Police said they believe the driver, whose name was not released, lost control of the vehicle for unknown reasons.

A few things can be inferred here, and I'm not sure which one's right:

1) The police don't know why the driver lost control;

2) The police aren't sure if they think that the driver lost control;

3) The police don't know if the driver knew why he/she was losing control;

4) The police are keeping in mind the possibility that the driver might have lost control for known reasons;

5) The police aren't even that sure that the driver lost control and, in fact, even got into an accident at all.

I got a pretzel in my head.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Want to utterly cry your eyes out?

Find your nearest discount cinema and go see We Are Marshall. Or count the seconds until it comes out on DVD. I think now I understand how Christians felt about Passion of the Christ. Football does that to me, I guess.

Let me put it this way: I saw We Are Marshall last night at 7:20. It's still moving me.

It's that good. See it.

The wrong side of copyright

Viacom latest to bully YouTube

(No article text cited, lest BBC tries to shut me down)

This post may wind up almost identical to another one I recently did on the same topic; but it really needs to be said again.

I'm sick of this crackdown on YouTube videos! Not because I don't respect copyright, but because the way its being done suggests that Viacom and similar companies are more interested in flexing lawyer muscle than learning to co-exist with a form of media that's here to stay.

Videos (including music videos) make a peculiar target, because they're essentially commercials. And in this advertising-saturated world, even high-school football teams can't have an instant replay without whoring for some sponsor. "Let's look at that grab again on our Pete's Moss instant replay!" So I don't understand why some advertisement, particularly a poor-quality video for some long-deleted '80s song, is such a problem. Especially since viral marketing is turning out to be such a bonanza for products currently on the market.

And I'm still absolutely steamed at the NFL for removing virtually every video with even a trace of its footage. Fan videos are some of the best promotional material the NFL has, and many incorporate footage that is not readily available even on NFL.com's premium service. Not only are they depriving us of some creative entertainment, the league is also sending the message that it can, and will, assert absolute domination just because it can. It's part of the trend among professional sports leagues to apply corporate-boardroom measures to the field and to the fans. At this point next year, referees will begin flagging teams for excessive celebration--among fans! But I digress.

Viacom is making a mistake with this lawsuit. Not only is it a blunder on principle for one of the fattest media giants in the world to scapegoat YouTube as a competitor, it's also a poor business move. CBS and other titans long ago reached deals with YouTube to broadcast promotional snippets on the site. The result has been good for both parties involved. Why can't Viacom, with all of its stellar offerings, do the same?

On the other hand, if YouTube is going to drop all copyrighted material, then let's do the same from libraries, the Internet, TV channels, radio-station shelves, personal shelves and refrigerators across America. After all, everything ever created is technically copyrighted to somebody, and we must ensure that everyone who creates anything (or appears in something made by someone else) gets a royalty anytime anyone ever lays eyes (or ears) on their work.

Oh, wait...this applies only to a few mega-billion media conglomerates more interested in making a buck than in tapping a huge market. And only when some combination of music or videos are involved. Never mind.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Joe Horn joins Falcons, FEMA, Army Corps of Engineers, Bush Cabinet

“I couldn’t hate New Orleans more,” Horn says
 
ATLANTA — Veteran New Orleans Saints wide receiver and fan favorite Joe Horn announced Thursday that he has signed with the Atlanta Falcons. Moreover, he has also signed a record sponsorship deal with FEMA and is expected to join both the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bush Cabinet, sources report.

Horn, a 12-year NFL veteran who spent seven seasons with the Saints, said that he increasingly felt excluded from the future of the franchise.

“I wasn’t part of [Saints head coach] Sean Payton’s plan,” Horn said. “He seemed to have an issue with the fact that I had a pulled groin that I kept aggravating in every game, combined with my advancing age, and that despite all of that and my supposed devotion to my team that I insisted on being paid even more money or I would hobble out the first chance I could, thus sullying my pride, alienating my fan base and virtually guaranteeing that I’ll never play in a Super Bowl in my career.”

Horn also cited a need for personal growth in his decision to don the Falcons helmet. “Last year’s home opener against Atlanta was a hallmark moment, not only for the NFL, but also for the people of New Orleans,” he said, referring to the Sept. 25, 2006 Monday night game that the Saints won 23-3 over the Falcons. “But there was that part of me that wondered, ‘What’s it like to experience that from the other side?’ Everyone has to have balance in their lives.

“I eagerly anticipate doing all I can for the Falcons and coach whatshisname. Jim Mora Jr.? Or is he gone? I don’t know…I just know the name of the guy who signed my check, Arthur Blank. Is that him?”

Horn added that the Falcons’ offense suits him best.

“Let’s face it…with my advancing age and declining acrobatic ability, Michael Vick is my perfect complement. In my current condition, I’ll be lucky to catch five passes all season. And since Vick is likely to spread his five annual passes around, I can actually prepare for fewer. And when he inevitably loses the game for us with his endless showboating, I won’t be complicit.”

Veteran kicker and new teammate Morten Andersen, for one, is happy to have Horn onboard. Both spent long careers with the Saints before switching to Atlanta.

“It’s great to see such a legend continue with such a great team,” he said. “I hope Atlanta will be as good to him as it was, er, is, to me.”

“He reminds me of myself when I was his age,” Andersen said of the 35-year-old receiver.

In this 2007 file photo, Atlanta Falcon Joe Horn exits the visitors' tunnel at the Superdome wearing his old uniform and poses in a cruel mockery of his former greatness. At least until an actual Saint ran up to him and knocked him over with one finger.

Spurred by his new agent, Michael Brown, Horn has taken on extracurricular pursuits. Through a record endorsement deal, he is now the official goodwill ambassador to FEMA. His smiling face will soon be the centerpiece of the agency’s new “Gee, I never saw it that way before!” campaign. The $330 million campaign will include major ad blitzes in the New Orleans market, as well as a personal appearance by Horn himself in the Superdome, when the Falcons take the field against the Saints. At halftime, he will personally make the agency’s case to 70,000 Saints fans.

“With Horn’s bond to New Orleans fans, this is synergy at its best,” Brown said as he affixed a Falcon patch to his shirt sleeve.

Horn agrees. “For years, I was a leading ambassador of New Orleans, telling everyone I could that we all had to make our sacrifices. And I did my part by slogging through those last two seasons and acting like I enjoyed being there. God, that was exhausting. You have no idea. I couldn’t hate New Orleans more. That’s why I’m also joining the Army Corps of Engineers.”

Horn’s offseason will be devoted to volunteer work with the Corps. He intends to tour the Garden District and the French Quarter and survey residents and business owners as to how much damage the breached walls caused them. “I’m expecting that damages have been overestimated,” he said. He will then meet with President Bush and present the findings. Bush said he eagerly anticipates the feedback.

“Now, more than ever, Joe Horn is qualified to ass--assassinate--excuse me, assess the true state of New Orleans,” Bush said. “I am counting on him to give me the numbers I need. If he follows through, he’s looking at a Cabinet position.”

Horn acknowledged that some might see the FEMA and Army Corps of Engineers marketing outlays as crass at such a critical juncture. However, he quickly dismissed such claims. “Hey, chill,” he said. “You're finally getting to see something for the money, all right?”

In any case, Horn said he wanted New Orleanians to know his appreciation for his many years of success. “It has been my great pleasure to play in that part of the world,” he said.

Horn then excused himself and left the press conference whistling, “Georgia On My Mind,” changing the lyrics to, “I’ve got my money on my mind and my mind on my money.”

Some Saints fans suspect these moves are signs that Horn’s allegiance to New Orleans is on the wane.

“Horn blows!” screamed a fan who refused to be identified because he can’t remember what he looks like without a Mardi Gras mask. His declaration was met with a rousing chorus of approval from the entire French Quarter.

Still, some in New Orleans are willing to give Horn the benefit of the doubt. “Well, it could have been worse, I suppose,” said another fan. “He could have called us a chocolate city or something.”

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Fleeting flights of fancy

--Kentucky Fried Chicken, which originated in Utah, currently employs "Sweet Home Alabama" as its jingle. Make up your mind, KFC!

--Captain America has been killed as part of Marvel Comics' "Civil War" storyline, which parallels post-9/11 events. Damn liberal media, with their art-imitating-life crap! Are they trying to demoralize the troops?!!

--Speaking of demoralizing the troops...it seems to me that if that were the goal of liberals, they could find much better methods than honest reporting and rallying for troop protection and benefits. Like, for example, keeping them in Iraq for no definable reason and with inadequate supplies, stripping them of compensation, extending deployments and giving them substandard care once what's left of them gets home, all the while paying lip (and magnet) service to their sacrifices. That seems adequately demoralizing to me.

--Looking at Britney Spears now, it's difficult to remember just how fresh-faced and benign she seemed back in 2000. I have the same thought about George W. Bush. Not that I was ever that huge a fan of either one.

--A tip for those who oppose mandatory HPV-vaccine shots: you might stand a fighting chance if you play up the encroaching-government angle. Saying that it promotes promiscuity isn't particularly intelligent. Know what else promotes promiscuity? Beer and virgin pledges. Look it up.

--Last night, Fox Sports Network aired the Best Damn 50 Greatest Plays in Sports History. The River City Relay didn't make the cut, even though lesser lateral plays did, and the number-one all-time play was the USC marching-band lateral miracle from 1982. And it wasn't because the Saints choked the extra point; other plays mentioned didn't necessarily win games either. Then again, it was Fox...they like to downplay New Orleans, you see.

--I trust Wikipedia more than Fox News. At least with Wikipedia, you can both report and decide.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

How many outdated references can you spot?

While rifling through my mountains of old, unpublished stuff that I've written over the years, I came upon this list I wrote around 1995. I was 15 years old then, and a huge David Letterman fan. I also was into 80s music, just as I am now. Here's the inevitable result:

Top 10 Least Popular Records of All Time

--"Respect" -Rodney Dangerfield
--"She's a Beauty" -Jim Bakker
--"Maneater" -Lorena Bobbitt
--"Both Sides of the Story" -Lance Ito
--"Gonna Make You Sweat" -Jane Fonda
--"Day Tripper" -Marion Barry
--"Will You Marry Me Boy?" -Liz Taylor
--"Together Forever" -Zsa Zsa Gabor
--"Who Can It Be Now?" -The Three Little Pigs
--"I Need a Man" -Boy George

I have much more stuff like this lying around. Say "uncle" if it hurts too much.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Musings on age, nostalgia and, uh, size

--While watching "Batman Returns" this morning, I realized that probably 90 percent of what we like is based on nostalgia. I say this because most people prefer the first Tim Burton Batman to the second one. And I can't blame them for that; Batman was a terrific movie. But I actually like the sequel better. I like a lot of sequels better than the originals: Lethal Weapons 2 and 4, Child's Play 2, Short Circuit 2, Superman II, Austin Powers: Goldmember, etc., with honorable mention going to Jurassic Park III for running circles around Lost World. I suspect that people (subconsciously or not) don't give sequels a chance, both because of hype and because they've grown so fond of the original.

But I suspect that the reason original movies get such a pass is because there's no basis for comparison. If it grabs your attention, then that's one thing going for it right there. Conversely, sequels are inevitably pulled upon to deliver a standard by which the first was never judged. That's almost a free pass to a letdown. But, when judged strictly on their own merits, a lot of sequels actually fare decently. But, like I said, nostalgia for the past often trumps that perception.

The same goes for life. Most Greatest Generation folks will wax nostalgic about the 1940s and 1950s and how postwar America was the greatest time in the history of civilization. Likewise, baby boomers will hail the 1960s and 1970s as the pinnacle of society, the perfect time to come of age, a time that no one else will ever understand. Generation Xers and everyone since are buried deep in 80s/90s nostalgia at the moment. And, hard as it may be to believe, today's young people are going to look fondly back on this decade (once they figure out what to name it) and pine for the good old days of iPods, Jessica Simpson and terrorism.

And I will say, tsk-tsk. Why? Because I will be old. And I will contend with every iota of my being that the post-9/11 kids never knew what growing up was, that they missed out on all of the greatest times and that their generation is headed straight for disaster. Just like my dad tells me and like his dad probably told him.

Nothing's perfect. I'm sure the 1940s and '50s were great times, what with postwar prosperity, huge cars and Archie Comics. But there was also the ongoing subjugation of blacks, women and possibly suspectable Communists, and not a seat belt in sight. The '60s had free love, but also free syphilis. The '70s? Sure, there was the Nixon resignation...but there was also Nixon. The 1980s had great music, movies and video games...but then there was everything else. The 1990s were great, because that's when I really came of age. Nothing bad happened, so why can't we go back to the good old days?

So let's all agree on this point: everyone is mostly nostalgic about the past, because that's what shaped them. As they get older, they see more, quality is perceived to have diminished and they cannot comprehend the tastes and beliefs of subsequent generations. Naturally, they think that the future must be doomed because the kids are going wild. It's happened in every single generation in the history of the world ("Ug no like son's learning! Son need be hunter!"), and it will continue to happen until all of humanity shares a single brain. And it had better be mine, because the old fogeys are too old to understand and I've lost hope for the kids. So let's all get along!

On that note, twice today I've been mistaken for a teenager--first by a younger guy, then by an older woman with a grandbaby. See? They just don't understand!

--Today a black Chevy Avalanche blew by me while I was speeding. I looked over at the behemoth vehicle and saw a guy who couldn't have been much larger than I was. His vanity plate--I'm not making this up--was "XXXXXL." No, man, you aren't.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Saturday afternoon cartoons

--At 4 a.m. a couple of days ago, tornado-warning sirens blared all over the city. Soon afterwards, a tornado took out a trailer in a nearby town and killed a young girl. All anyone could talk about the next day was, "Man, did you hear those sirens?" And I would say, "Sirens don't wake me up. I grew up next to a hospital, a police station and railroad tracks. Oh...I get it now...don't give me that look!"

Apparently, these sirens are commonplace warning systems that tell Springfieldians to evacuate to the nearest basement or tornado shelter. I'm the only person who doesn't know this. And I'm also the only person who can sleep straight through them. This is why you should hang out with me--the safety.

--While driving to work the other day, I found myself behind a van with a Louisiana license plate. This scared the hell out of me. I still can't figure out why.

--As I'm sure you've noticed by now, I have no idea what day it is. Ever. I spend nights editing tomorrow's newspaper, and I'm off on Mondays and Tuesdays. I never see today's date, ever. They could add a new day to the week and I would never notice.

--Just before CNN went on its latest Anna Nicole bender, the network devoted a few minutes to the Republican presidential candidates. The gist of the story is that Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney are having trouble shoring up support among the neocon right. That's good news for us real people. Then again, it isn't from their lack of trying. Still, I'd have to say a field comprising Obama, Clinton, McCain and Giuliani is honestly not that bad. If it comes down to those four--I'm betting on Romney and Duncan Hunter to drown each other--then we can say with authority that, no matter who wins, it will be an improvement over the present. Not that that's saying much, or that any of the four frontrunners are infallible, but still...Hope may not just be a town in Arkansas anymore.

--Stock-market reports indicate that the American economy has had its worst week since 9/11, and that the Japanese yen is making much headway against the dollar. So much so, in fact, that GM is allegedly accusing Toyota of leveraging that conversion to make record profits. As someone who just purchased a Toyota Scion, I have a different theory: maybe the reason Toyota is doing so much better than GM is that they make nearly invincible cars, are leading the way in hybrid innovations, offer top-shelf service and are opening assembly plants across America...everything that GM is not doing. I want both companies to do well, because that's how the economy works. But when I see one company looking forward and the other worshiping at the SUV altar, then I feel regret for the state of American industry.

--My new job involves editing newspaper copy and writing headlines. I love it. But it does take its toll occasionally; after a long night of editing, I read a friend's MySpace bulletin. A quiz. He left a letter out of some word. And I instinctively reached for the F10 (error-correction) key before I realized, "Hey, this is a freaking MySpace quiz!"

--A letter in today's newspaper accuses the paper of misrepresenting her previous letter with an inaccurate header. She says that the misleading headline got her in trouble with Sen. Claire McCaskill. Whoops! As I read this, all I could think of was, "Uh oh...did I write that one? I hope not." Print is power, baby. It still matters.

(Edit: Whoops! Looks like that letter is running in tomorrow's paper. See? I really don't know what day it is.)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bombs in Boston, babes in banks, etc.

--Boston faced yet another bomb scare, detonating what turned out to be a traffic counter. No kidding! You know, guys, I’ve heard a rumor about a Green Monster prowling Fenway Park. Why don’t you brainiacs check out that lead?


--Wouldn’t you let them rob you too?
--Authorities say these girls may be as young as 16. Which means that they're really just practicing.
--Lt. Drebin was quoted as saying, "That's very impressive, yes."
--They weren't caught kissing, so theoretically they could still become Miss USA.
--Do you suppose Paris Hilton was their getaway driver? Cheap shot…

--Supposedly Paris didn’t even know that she had a suspended license after she was pulled over for speeding with her headlights off. Of course she didn’t know she had a suspended license--she was too drunk and/or drugged out to remember. “Honest, occifer!”

--My Dad informed me the other day that the jar of Peter Pan that he and I devoured before I moved up was one of the 2111-coded salmonella jars. Yummy. Funny thing is, after my little incident with Peter Pan during Katrina, I had stopped eating that brand of peanut butter for a year. Then I started again. And nothing happened to me. But I’m still grossed out.

--It’s a bad time to be a labor union, isn’t it? Every time you turn around, George W. Bush is signing legislation that eviscerates unions. Makes me wonder how much he really cares about the biggest union of all, the United States.

--I gave blood yesterday for the first time in years. You know something? It went a lot faster this time. They told me it was because the technology has improved. Apparently they can make blood bleed into a bag faster. Behold the future!

--The blood people saw my name and asked me if I was a full-blooded Irishman. I said, “I was, but now I’m a pint short.” No, I didn’t actually say that. But if I had, I’m sure it would have been the first time they’d ever had that conversation.

--One of the local radio stations here is devoting its morning show to a poll of the best album ever. They are receiving scads of calls and e-mails from listeners eager to influence the results. But here’s what I don’t understand: the hosts continuously offer suggestions for best album. Doesn’t that negate the honesty of the poll? Because most of these subtle suggestions are immediately followed by calls of, “Oh yeah, I love Dark Side of the Moon!” That’s push-polling if you ask me. Also, they’re wrong about a lot of it; one deejay just said that Marvin Gaye was murdered shortly after recording “What’s Going On.” The other one said, “Uh, I think that came out in the ’70s.” Yesterday, they had a caller say, “My favorite album is from 1987. Prince’s Purple Rain!” Gad. I was half-asleep at the time, and still I said, “That was 1984...hrrrn….” Such a parallel of our political polling…and awareness, apparently…

--Donald Trump (!!) was just on the radio talking about a school that is enforcing a total-silence policy during lunch periods. He hates that. I do too, and I speak from experience: in fifth grade, my school decided that my huge school of 300 students was too loud in the cafeteria, so we were not allowed to talk. One of my teachers told us--with a straight face--that “you’re always daydreaming in class anyway, so why not get that out during lunch?” That same year, she decided that (because of an incident involving an insulin-challenged classmate) we had to clear all food trades with her. I remember having to walk all the way across the cafeteria every time I wanted a friend’s Dorito…and how annoyed she would be when I’d pull her away from her conversation. To quote the late great Calvin, “People who are nostalgic about childhood were obviously never children.”

--Hallmark has started new card lines that they say are in line with today’s needs. One of them expresses regret that you lost your job. How about one for, “I’m sorry we live in such depressing times because our president is a union-hating, self-obsessed, oil-hungry killmonger?” I’d buy it.

--More than a decade after my original one was stolen, I bought a secondhand copy of “Rad Racer” for my Nintendo. And you know what? It really is.