Thursday, July 31, 2008

Extensive firsthand coverage of Obama's local visit*

Barack Obama was in Springfield yesterday. Not only was I not able to secure tickets, but I can't even embed the video of his appearance. My ribs ache horribly from a carnival ride gone wrong last night, which is the closest thing I've gotten to a break all week.

Anyway, my friend Chris Brewer was there and provides marvelous coverage of Obama's appearance (watch for the fist bump at the end). I felt like I was there. Except that I wasn't.

Come back, Barack!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Adapted for black audiences"

Oh, make it stop.

Coming soon:

Adapted for American Indians: Jesus wears a feather headdress.
Adapted for women audiences: Jesus demands breakfast.
Adapted for Hispanic audiences: Jesus eats Fritos and is slightly lighter.
Adapted for Mel Gibson audiences: Well, he's already without a face, so bloody.
Adapted for Shaq audiences: Jesus butts his head into the bad lyrics.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Here's something that could use some change

Boy, did the Obama campaign lay a giant egg.

On Sunday, Team Obama announced that their man would visit Springfield on Wednesday. Understandably, this caused quite a stir of excitement, especially when the news broke that it would take the form of a town-hall meeting, free and open to the public. Such was the anticipation that no one seemed to care that there had been no announcement of time, place or any other specifics (such as, say, how many seats would be available).

Many learned later, as I did, that tickets had to be secured two days in advance at one of four locations at a specific time. Fair enough, except that this became known to most mere hours before office doors opened. And though the tickets were supposed to be available both yesterday and today, even those who arrived at the very beginning discovered that tickets were gone almost immediately. This no doubt disappointed throngs of people who willingly weathered sweltering heat, thick crowds, long delays and ridiculously short notice for a chance to see their candidate up close.

Apparently, the Obama campaign thought this appearance wouldn't entice lines circling the block at every location. Apparently, they assumed that the Ozarks was not exactly juiced about Obama or politics. And who can fault them for that? After all, barely 300 supporters turned out for John McCain when he visited, and his people announced it well ahead of time. And this is a decidedly conservative area.

Still, Barack Obama has drawn huge crowds all over the country and world with every appearance. Even many who don't consider themselves liberals or progressives are taking interest. When one of the most charismatic political figures in a generation makes a visit anywhere, it's going to generate buzz. The dumbest thing a campaign can do is reduce that buzz with mystery and poor planning. This is the campaign genius we've heard so much about?

Don't get me wrong; Obama is doing the right thing by attempting to connect with as many Americans as possible, even in areas traditionally regarded as a lock for the other side. And I'm thrilled he's making a visit here. But his crew could have found a more appropriate way to reward the teeming interest than by forcing voters to scramble at the 11th hour for what turned out to be a woefully inadequate number of seats.

For a candidate so dedicated to sparking Americans into active citizenship, his stop seems to dictate the opposite. Nevertheless, Obama will no doubt be electrifying. I'm sure I'll watch the video over and over on my laptop. At home.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Son of a Fitch!

In what was no way an act of sheer narcissism, I just did a Google image search of my own name. This is the first picture that came up:

I imagine this means one of three things:

1) I'm even more ripped than I realize;
2) I perspire a cologne that attracts mall chicks;
3) I don't have enough pictures of black guys on my blog.

I've been to Abercrombie & Fitch once in my life -- and that was to help a friend of mine do holiday shopping for her daughter. Must have really rubbed off.

Well, could have been much worse. After all, I get my gas at Kum & Go.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Economy has beer with Bush, can't remember rest

George W. Bush is not known as the most articulate man in the world. Hell, he isn't even the most articulate man named George Bush. Fortunately, this most all-American of macho men is pulling himself up by his bootstraps and using grit, moxie, pluck and spunk to overcome his many limitations and forge a well-deserved second career as a stand-up comedian. Or lecturer. Same thing in his case.

Like any smart comedian, Bush knows how to work his audience. In this case, he yukked it up at a Houston fundraiser for local politician Pete Olson, which had to be the yessiest of all yes-circles. Here's a (so far) mercifully non-axed report on the stand-up:

And here's how ITV immortalized the show:

President George W Bush has explained the global credit crunch by saying "Wall Street got drunk."

When asked what led to the US housing market meltdown that threw the world's economy into turmoil, Mr Bush said: "There's no question about it. Wall Street got drunk. [The Independent went even further with the full quote, as seen in the video: "Wall Street got drunk, that's one of the reasons I asked you to turn off the TV cameras."]

"It got drunk and now it's got a hangover. The question is, how long will it sober up and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments?"

GUFFAW GUFFAW GUFFAW!! All hysterics aside, however, there's merit to this metaphor. Like his daddy before him, who derided Reaganomics as "voodoo economics" in 1980, Bush is offering a rare blurt of truth here. And, like Bush 41, Dubya will probably deny the video even exists until it's shoved in his face on live TV. Which, knowing ol' Dub, may never happen.

Bush's drunken metaphor is true, but incomplete. Who was the enabler? Why would the economy feel the need to drown its sorrows? Where did it throw up? Which country did it wake up next to and go, "We didn't do it, did we?" Will it drink a Bloody Mary or hair-of-the-dog to recover? Is it vowing never to do it again, only to get sloshed the very next night and the night after that? And most importantly, dude, how the hell do I get home?

But to me, the most interesting part of this story isn't even what Bush said, but that other reports say he demanded all cameras shut off before he said it. Yeah, good luck with that, Mr. President. Yes, you were at a private fundraiser and your party hides behind privacy every time it has to be honest (even as it erodes the rights of privacy for others); but this is the camera-phone age and you're - yecch- the most powerful man in the world. Dana Perino can only microwave your bologna for so long before it curls up into an unnatural shape. Hell, why wouldn't you want people to see you actually deliver a coherent and true statement for once? Yes, it's Republican humor, which is necessarily pungent, trivializing and not all that funny, but it's humor nonetheless:

"And then we got a housing issue," he said, "not in Houston – evidently not in Dallas, because Laura's over there trying to buy a house today."

So there's no housing issue because the first lady is trying to buy one in an oil town? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!! Take that, hippies and every newspaper in America! Git-R-Dun!!!!

It's like that time in 1988 when Dan Quayle, addressing war veterans about his draft-dodger stigma, said no one could ever again accuse him of having never seen combat. Trivialization: a proud GOP tradition. But wait, there's more!

"I like Crawford. Unfortunately, after eight years of asking her to sacrifice, I am no longer the decision-maker. She'll be deciding."

Now this actually is hilarious. Here's a quick run-down of punch lines:

--As if Bush ever actually was The Decider!
--So he DID ask someone to sacrifice!
--She's been sacrificing a lot longer than eight years, I promise you.
--She chose Houston? Like, on purpose?
--Will your new home have a nice view of what used to be Enron Field?
--How will either of you legendary drivers handle the complex Houston highways?
--Have you left a forwarding address with Cindy Sheehan?
--Do you promise to stay there forever and ever?

Up until now I haven't been a fan of cell-phone cameras. But now not only do I think they're the greatest invention ever, but I may very well find religion now that I've had a taste of something as divine as this.

Oh, and have you ever heard laughter like private Republican laughter? It has a nice sneer to it. Even if isolated from the comments that prompt it, I think most people could guess that they're laughing at something really inappropriate. That's not the kind of laughter people cop to being capable of.

As ready as I am for Jan. 20, 2009, I have to admit the build-up is half the fun.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Stoking the fires of, er, not drowning in debt

As naked a political move as the "economic stimulus" was, I still found it weird that it actually said that on the check itself. As much as it comes off as the desperate move of an unpopular president and Congress, it's just plain bossy as well. As if it's a passive-aggressive directive. Are they going to take it away if you fail to stimulate the economy?

(Actually, if I'm not mistaken, this will be counted as taxable income next April. So the answer to that rhetorical question is yes. Heh.)

I think I'll adopt this approach next time I write out a rent check. On the memo line, I'll write, "2008 Landlord Stimulus Payment, part 8." Gives it a patriotic edge, no?

My stimulus check, dated July 4th (yay America), arrived simultaneously with a notice saying I would get it soon. As incompetent as the Bush administration has been, you'd think the one thing they could get right is delivering the "Ain't we great?" notices on time. It's not as if they haven't had lots of practice with these.

And, as if to prove multiple points about the current states of education and government bureaucracy, my check not only had an incomplete address and the wrong ZIP code, but also had "Springfield" spelled wrong (Sringfield). Perhaps it's a testament to how badly God wanted George W. Bush to give out stimulus money that I got this check at all.

Oh, well. At least the cash showed up in my account, which is all that matters. Such a fitting metaphor for our government today.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

It's the Ian McGibboney swimsuit blog!

Yes it is. It really, really is, folks.

(Admit it. This is at least as intelligent as CNN these days, right?)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I think I have a problem

Occasionally I abandon my drive to eat healthier and make late-night snack runs. This picture is the most recent result of that. My aforementioned problem has nothing to do with the respective flavors of the food items, nor the fact that one of these items is shampoo (which I don't eat, but I think actually has many of the same ingredients as the food).

No, my real concern is my apparent ability to color-coordinate my groceries. My fondness for red food (and equal disgust for creamy, white food) is all too well-known by those who have been unfortunate enough to eat with me. And it did occur to me recently that almost everything I buy is either red or has red packaging, be it spaghetti sauce, strawberries or even things that should have no red in nature, like Pop-Tarts.

Still, the red-white-yellow-green motif is a new twist on that. Is this the beginning of a more tasteful, refined Ian? Let's hope not.

(Note: The above photo is not intended as an advertisement or as proof of terrorist ties, but to illustrate a point. Do not take it at face value, nor as an inference that I am crusty, cheesy, Mexican, hot, spicy or pert. Well, maybe hot and spicy...)

Monday, July 14, 2008


The latest cover of The New Yorker has fans of Barack Obama in an absolute tizzy. And it's not hard to see why. I mean, just look at that grotesque scene! Don't Barack and Michelle just radiate anti-American hatred? The happy couple is resplendent in truly terroriffic garb, exchanging what a sane person can only construe as a terrorist fist jab. And they're burning an American flag, right there in the Oval Office! Michelle's even got a gun! A GUN! Can you imagine?!! Pointed upward, too, obviously so it can kill God. And don't even get me started on the subtle implication that Osama bin Laden was framed.

Such a tasteless, baseless caricature speaks poorly of the state of our discourse and can only divide us further.

So is it bad that I find this insanely funny?

Reading this Daily Kos thread, you'd think The New Yorker was angling to be sold alongside that Obama monkey T-shirt. Calm down, Kos-sacks. In your rush to be self-righteous, you've forgotten a few things:

First off, this is obviously meant to be satire. I'm as big an Obama supporter as they come, and my immediate reaction when I saw this was to laugh. Hard. It brought to mind a recent idea I had for a comedy sketch, in which Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Che Guevara and Karl Marx got together in the ninth circle of Hades and threw their full endorsement behind Obama. They all agreed, as many Republicans do, that Obama is an ultra-Marxist, and they place full trust in his plan to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat, just like he's always promising. With all the exaggeration that has marked this campaign cycle, I've been searching long and wide for some all-encompassing representation of how wingnuts view Obama. Maybe a physical manifestation of it would finally show everyone how ridiculous it all is.

And yet, what happens when this long-overdue commentary arises?

"Tasteless and offensive."
This is the official Obama campaign response. Of course it's tasteless and offensive! You know why? Because the attacks it lampoons are tasteless and offensive. This cover succeeds because it makes that blatantly apparent.

Of course, one expects a campaign - especially one as proactive as Obama's - to denounce such potentially divisive material. But the sheer hysteria of the Kos crowd is head-scratching:

"I'm canceling my subscription. Boycott The New Yorker!"
Who are you, Bill O'Reilly? This attitude belongs among those who want to stifle free speech and want a simplistic view of the world. Aren't you aware that The New Yorker is one of the most intellectual publications this country has ever known? To paraphrase what someone finally countered on the Kos thread, "Those canceling their subscriptions to The New Yorker over this cover probably never opened it in the first place."

"It's racist!"
No it's not. Making fun of racism and bigotry is not the same as racism itself. The Obama monkey shirt is racist; this drawing thrashes those who would really think Obama is a caricature of any kind.

"This will only give ammo to those who already suspect Obama is a terrorist." Because they haven't already parsed every context-free photograph, utterance and incorrect citation they can find to manufacture lies about Obama, right? At worst, this cover will give the most adamant Obama-haters a convenient reinforcement of what they desperately want to be true. Those people are a lost cause anyway. No one with any chance of voting for Obama is going to look at this cover, stroke their chin, say "Hmmm" and change their minds. No one.

"Yes, I get it, but the average American won't take the time to think about it."
Wow! How's the weather up on Mount Condescension? Look, I agree that a disturbingly large number of Americans are unbearably boneheaded; much of that is their own unwillingness to open up their minds to something new. But most Americans deserve more credit than that. Think of it this way: even a mildly thoughtful person will know better than to flash this cover as proof that Obama is a bad guy. Hell, maybe the cover will pursue someone to pick up the magazine, whether out of joy or curiosity, and learn something they might not have otherwise.

"If this were on the cover of The New Republic or a Klan newsletter..."
Yes, that would be offensive - because then the satiric subtext wouldn't exist. Again, the whole point of this cover is to lampoon the very attitudes that far too many Americans take at face value. It's mockery - the same reason Stephen Colbert is funny as a blowhard and Bill O'Reilly isn't. And, much like this cover, Colbert doesn't feel the need to spell out his intent, because he respects your intelligence.

"This falls flat as satire" OR "This doesn't fit the definition of satire."
I can't think of more provocative satire I've seen this year. The reaction it's sparked is proof of that.

This cover will not harm the Obama campaign one whit, and nor should it hurt The New Yorker's reputation. Instead, I worry about the recurring trend that has hurt the progressive cause so badly in recent years: namely, being afraid of your own intelligence.

I've argued for years that liberals have the most wicked senses of humor, simply because we're more politically irreverent than conservatives. The willingness to mock deserving authority and think in subtleties allows for a richer tapestry of funny. Yes, that means sometimes things get misconstrued; but in general that's worth the risk. It's certainly no cause for self-censorship, or (worse) being afraid to laugh at something that makes a great point because you're afraid someone will take it the wrong way. Such an attitude, as well-intentioned as it is, can go too far. And it has led to the sad stereotype of the humorless liberal, one who is too intellectual for their own good, who takes things at face value as much as those on their opposite extreme. This kind of caricature scares people away from progressive politics in the first place.

This isn't a call to laugh at real racism, sexism or other stereotypes. But it is a call to be confident with your intellect (and that of others), and to stand up to detractors with brains and wit. After all, isn't that what attracts so many of us to Barack Obama in the first place?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Jesse Jackson: "I want to cut his nuts off"

No, he wasn't talking about Bill O'Reilly, though O'Reilly is nuts. He meant Barack Obama!

Jackson has already apologized, and the Obama campaign has accepted. Jackson claims to support Obama, and I believe him. Why? Because, in a way, this is the best thing Jackson could ever do for Obama.

One of Obama's Achilles heels in this campaign, as far as ridiculous smear tactics go, is his alleged alliance with America's most outspoken black preachers (not to be confused with America's most outspoken white preachers, who are A-Otay with Republicans). It isn't enough that Obama rejected Louis Farrakhan's endorsement; what matters to the haters is that Farrakhan likes Obama. And because Farrakhan is practically Jackson, it's clear all three of them want to forge an American landscape in which racial preference is rampant, religious oppression is high and national pride is low. Much like today, but with THEM!!!

So why is Jackson's latest utterance so good for Obama? Because even far-out conservatives have to admit that it's hard to have a true Rainbow Coalition when one of them wants to cut off the other's nuts. Yes, I know that's logical, and Republicans aren't necessarily the party of logic. Which is why I see one of two things happening: either the GOP backs off of the Obama / Jackson / Farrakhan / Jeremiah Wright unholy quadrinity (ha ha, right?), or they will suddenly embrace Jackson and agree that, yes, we'd also love to cut off Obama's nuts. I can see the ad now:

Jackson footage on Fox: "I want to cut his nuts off."

Voiceover, probably Chuck Norris:
"How bad is Barack Obama? Even the distinguished Rev. Jesse Jackson, one of America's most beloved political figures, thinks Obama is unfit to run this country. We should all listen to Jesse Jackson. He's in touch with America."

John McCain:
"I'm John McCain and I approve this message."

Obama can, and must, use this to his advantage in the debates:

"Moderator" Bill O'Reilly: "Senator Obama, isn't it true that you and Jesse Jackson share the same sort of liberal, racist agenda?"

Obama: "Considering he wants to cut off my nuts, I'd say no."

[Thunderous applause and swooning]


For all his faults, Jackson has done some good things in his career (and, as viewers of Saturday Night Live know, he can really lay down Green Eggs and Ham.) This, in its own weird way, is the latest.

NOT RIGHT EXCLUSIVE! Like Carlos Mencia, Jesse Jackson is apparently a joke thief. I can't prove that for sure, but Jackson made what I thought was a very funny joke in 1984. As quoted in Paul Slansky's The Clothes Have No Emperor:

Which is why I was surprised to find this in the December 1979 issue of Springfield! magazine, under the "Whispersss" gossip section:

Nuts, huh?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Obama gets a "what what" ... What?

Seen on at least two comment threads in a Louisiana online newspaper:

Obama WILL LEAD US ON A WILD RIDE AND ALSO, ON A WILD "GOOSE CHASE" with all his "Changes" he proclaims he will do, but he never says how he is going to change "what", where he is going to change "what", and with what he is going to change "what, and who will benefit for the change of "what"??? Obama talks through both sides of his mouth, one side to "invent" things to say everday, and lets them out as soon as he says them out of the other side of his mouth!!! "We", (surely me, and quite a few other people that I know and feel the same, and I am hoping it is like that throught America come voting day in November, 2008), do NOT want Obama in the White House---It would be a big Disaster to the Nation!!! If you are a Democrat, do NOT follow your Party; Instead, vote McCain, and you will have done your DUTY as a citizen of this Country...Thank You...Notary...

Look, guys...either Barack Obama is a dangerously liberal senator or a charismatic empty suit offering vague promises. Pick one and stick to it. Being at least 10 percent literate would help, also.

Yes, I know I'm picking on some anonymous nobody. But these people vote too. And, really, they aren't that far removed from the pundits they most likely adulate.

I'm not even sure what this says about Obama critics. Many of them, both online and off, seem determined to gloss over the legitimate issues (FISA, faith-based groups, Iraq timetable, etc.) and spout the lies. I personally know people who, even when proven irreversibly wrong on every count, declare that they will still believe the accusations. And, yes, the above legit issues almost never come up.

Why do people insist on being this way?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Proof Louisiana has the worst schools in the state

You have to admit, it's a solid plan.

Foreigners arrive in America, settle in and eventually sire children. While the parents acclimate to the U.S. through trial, error and pluck, the children grow up in a thoroughly American culture, go to American schools and have American friends. At home, the family imparts the significance of their native culture. After 18 years of such indoctrination, the kids reach the top of their class. During their graduation speech, the kids speak of all-American values, but then reveal their secret anti-U.S. agenda in the form of code words indecipherable to all but those with a common pocket translator (or ears to hear the immediate translation). Spurred by the children's secret words, the local foreign cabal gets to work UNDERMINING THE VERY FABRIC OF AMERICA AS WE KNOW IT!!!

Scary stuff. And guess what, Louisiana? It's happening right in your backyard!

Cindy Vo, a Vietnamese-American student at Ellender High School in Houma, was co-valedictorian of her graduating class. Near the end of her address on May 19, the American-born Vo offered a piece of advice in Vietnamese dialect, dedicating it to her parents. According to, she said, "Co len minh khong bang ai, co suon khong ai bang minh," which she translated to mean, "Be your own person." Her cousin, co-valedictorian Hue Vo, also spoke partially in Vietnamese. The girls said their respective parents, who are from south Vietnam, don't speak fluent English.

For centuries, Louisiana has been known for its multicultural heritage. The state is known for the vast tapestry that is New Orleans, Cajun and Creole cultures, one of the most diverse populations in the U.S. and, among many other touchstones, the first Indian-American governor in history.

On the other hand, Louisiana is also known for its massive reserve of narrow-mindedness and far-right politics (hence, the aforementioned governor). And true to form, such idiocy reared its ignorant head in public furor over Vo's address. Now officials in Terrebonne Parish are considering banning all foreign language in commencement speeches:

Board member Rickie Pitre supports English as the only language at graduations. If a message is spoken in another language, it should be phrased in English first and then paraphrased in translation.

"I don't like them addressing in a foreign language," Pitre said. "They should be in English."

And to think I tell people I'm from this state.

Come on, citizenry! Back me up on this. Surely you aren't all ignorant, xenophobic, hypocritical and factually challenged, right?

Welcome to America, Now Speak ENGLISH! My grandparents spoke French fluently as children and were forced to speak English in school, so why is this an issue for today's immigrants? English is the national language and therefore as Americans we should not have to conform to every immigrants language or culture because we may infringe on their civil liberties. Furthermore, there should be a law banning bill boards printed in any language other than the English language.

(Sigh) Take two. Come on, citizenry! Back me up on this. Surely you aren't all ignorant, xenophobic, hypocritical and factually challenged, right?

A common language isn't the problem the problem is with the school boards going beyond there elected duty. Maybe if they would concern themselves with the students who are failing and the teachers who are failing the students instead of the valedictorian of the class then Louisiana wouldn't have the worst schools in the state. [Emphasis mine]

Good point, bad grammar. But it'll do for now.

As some readers on both sites have noted, there are certain fallacies and hypocrisies in what the board seems intent to do. Lots, actually. Some of the board members may have to go back to school so they can count that high.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume the critics object to other languages on the grounds that they don't belong in U.S. discourse. A controversial stance, I know. But don't they know that English itself is derived from a variety of languages, including (and especially) Latin, a language often spoken at commencements and Catholic masses alike? Or that the vernacular we speak today has co-opted a variety of words from other languages, such as "souvenir," "amigo" and "banana?" As one of my professors so succinctly put it years ago, "English is a whore." In addition to that whore, high school students across Louisiana are required to flirt with at least one foreign language to graduate. In an increasingly global society, that actually seems insufficient.

The above points are unfortunately relevant anywhere, as the world grows increasingly afraid of its neighbors. But the fact that this happened in south Louisiana is as puzzling as it is sad.

Simply put, Cajuns should know better. I know Terrebonne Parish isn't exactly Acadiana, but they too are fully aware of the foremost lesson of the culture. To wit: schools attempted to suppress all French-speaking among children, along with other cultural traits, in the name of assimilation. Because of this, the Cajun culture nearly died outright. Go to any Cajun attraction such as Vermilionville or Acadian Village, and the guides will stress this with a passion rarely heard outside of a Barack Obama speech. And they're exactly right. But yet, these same people attack other cultures with dumbfounding zeal. As long as I live, I'll never understand how otherwise good people can be blind to such irony.

Always one to anticipate the worst-case scenario - I did, after all, support the Saints in December 2002 - I'll assume for a moment that the board does move to make English the only tongue for the cap and gown. Hell, let's say all of Louisiana adopts it, like they do with all of the best horrid ideas.

Whose dialect of English are they going to speak? In the Lafayette area alone, you can tell which of 300 small towns someone comes from by their first five words. Never mind Baton Rouge and New Orleans - when I was a kid, they were whole other planets, language-wise. Then there are people like myself, who have no accent, who are automatically assumed to be tourists (or worse, yuppies). Even Bobby Jindal sounds more like where he went to college than where he went to high school. Good luck with that one!

If the state must make English its official language, then at least make it a clear and concise version everyone can understand, even if they can't articulate it themselves. Something an educated person might speak, to show Louisiana cares about its schools. Perhaps a common tongue that speaks well of the individual and their willingness to participate as an active citizen in a world society. Someone like, I don't know, Cindy or Hue Vo?

(Hat tip to Oyster)

How to get substantial airtime on NPR

Be an 18-year-old voter who enthusiastically supports John McCain.

Think about what making this clip must have involved. They had to find a McCain supporter, for one thing, as opposed to someone who just despises Barack Obama. Then they had to find an enthusiastic one, which could not have been easy. On top of that, they found a young college voter who is somehow driven not only to vote for McCain, but to breathlessly fawn over him as well.

Never let anyone tell you journalism isn't hard work.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Mission accomplished

I bought ONE tank of gas in the entire month of June. I rule.

Actually, less than a tank - 8.514 gallons. $31.32.

I last topped off on May 30, a 10-gallon haul which lasted until June 16 - and I still have almost 1/4 of the June 16 tank left today. Not bad for a daily 12-mile commute and even longer drives to most other destinations.

How did I do it? Rode my bike a lot. Walked to nearby destinations. Didn't go a whole lot of places. Didn't have anyone to drive around. Car gets 34 miles per gallon. Even then, though, I usually register at least two fill-ups per month, so this is an achievement. This, combined with the 50 percent savings in my utility bill by never using central cooling, has me feeling very good about helping the environment while saving money to boot.

And, yes, the gas station really is called Kum & Go. They go all out.