Monday, May 31, 2010

Heard at the pool

"What's your name?"
"Ian! British, huh?"
"Scottish/Irish, actually."
"Ah. I thought I heard an accent."

"You're 30? I'm only 74!"
"Hey, 74 is the new 30."

Met a vet today, too, and thanked him for his service. Not much older than me. But hey, we've got 44 years to be 30 again. As for those who never got that chance, a nation thanks you.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I speak for all Americans

By Earl "Clem" Bob

I'm a proud American. I love my country. And I worry about the direction that the current president and Congress are taking it. And I'm not the only one. In fact, I speak for all Americans when I say, enough is enough!

As a country, we're tired of the Obama administration. I never liked the man to begin with, never supported his policies and didn't vote for him. And now, every American sees what I did back in 2008: that Obama is a socialist, Marxist, Muslim, Kenyan usurper bent on turning this country into a Communist utopia. Oh, and he lies, too.

This ain’t the change we voted for!

Everyone who voted for Obama is feeling buyer's remorse. We're seeing now what a mistake it was to elect him as president. Health care reform. The bailouts. Cash for clunkers. The housing tax credit. Can you think of a single person in America who wanted, let alone benefited, from any of these programs? Of course not.

And how dare Obama apologize for this country to foreign leaders! Why, that undermines everything that we Americans stand united for — the war against Islam, U.S. exceptionalism, a strong pre-emptive defense, drill-baby-drill and a substantial cut to the capital gains tax. We all know that no amount of lily-livered groveling will ever get us respect in the world, not that we even care about that anyway. Everyone in this great country demands an immediate apology from you, sir. Every last American.

We're mad.

Just you watch in November, when every U.S. voter will dutifully throw out each and every incumbent bum up for election. What a glorious day that will be! Neither Democrats nor Republicans are safe in their seats. We will finally vote in leaders who speak for all of us as a nation, like Rand Paul and his fellow tea partiers. And, in 2012, Sarah Palin in a landslide! They might as well not even have the election, because we’re all in agreement now.

Paul, Palin and other politicians like them stand for what all Americans want: less government in our lives. Also, an end to abortion, gays and race-mixing. And putting our soldiers on the Mexican border. Stuff we can all get behind.

Just you wait! Americans are long past tired of the corrupt politics that have infected D.C. for so long. We want change!

And by "we," I mean all of America.

In the meantime, Mr. President, don’t take creationism out of the schools. We don’t all agree on evolution. And go easy on BP. That oil spill is probably nothin’.

Earl “Clem” Bob lives in the American part of America.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Writer, blocked

In the meantime, I finally finished the Best of 2008. It's only a year and a half late! Best of 2004 and 2005 to follow. They're late, too.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I saw Drew Brees last night...

...but most importantly, he saw me.

Near the end of his speech, he talked about how great New Orleans fans were, and I and the Saints fan next to me cheered and held up autographed replica helmets that the guy had brought. “I see some of the Who Dat Nation is in the house!” Drew said, gesturing at us. Drew them pointed at me, smiled and said, "You can't escape them." Big laugh.

Drew was the featured speaker at the 14th annual Boys & Girls Clubs Steak and Steak Dinner in Springfield. Past speakers include Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Bob Gibson, Bob Knight, Dick Vitale and Roy Williams. They get big names each year. The emcee said he wondered how to top them, and also noted that recent speakers had won championships the following year. He then wondered aloud who’d be lucky enough to speak next year. Drew would later suggest he make a repeat appearance.

I sat at one of the assigned individual tables, grouped with others who had bought tickets on their own as opposed to through their companies. The table was on the third row, all the way to the left. Not the best perspective, but there really were no bad seats. I was first at my table, staking out the best vantage chair. I then got up to spit out my gum in a nearby trash can and ran right back. In that time, a woman arrived and commandeered my chair and three others. I was nice enough about it, as was she, but it was clear she expected me to move all of my stuff. And how do YOU do?

That did, however, set me up to sit next to a guy wearing a cool Saints tie who came armed with a full-sized replica Saints helmet and two smaller ones. The two autographed helmets featured signatures by current players including Pierre Thomas, Courtney Roby, Bobby McCray, Troy Evans and past players such as Aaron Brooks (“Probably lowers the value, but I’m never selling it.”) He told me he was a New Orleans-area native who grew up in Springfield and is now based in Joplin. Like me, he works as an editor. Small, awesome world. He, his father and I had a great time swapping Saints (and Vikings) stories.

Prior to Drew’s turn on stage, we watched videos and heard from some of the kids who benefited from the Clubs. One young girl presented to Drew a gift for “Baylen and the mystery baby.” Awwww.

Following that was a live auction, where everything went for ridiculous prices. The auctioneer scanned the audience so thoroughly that several people scratching their heads nearly placed $2,000 bids. I had to be extra-vigilant, especially after the man sitting directly in front of me won a trip to see The Tonight Show with a $1,900 bid (on purpose). “You are the sexiest man in the room right now,” the auctioneer said, I presume to him.

But donors saved the big bucks for the Brees swag, which included two autographed footballs, pictures, hugs and more. A framed Brees jersey - one that Drew himself signed personally for the winner and, as my new friend pointed out, seemed to have upside-down E’s - fetched $4,200.

Drew issued his footballs, hugs and John Hancocks, then took the stage to thunderous applause. He said it was his first time in Springfield, except when he'd drive through from Lafayette to Kansas City. Hey, we have that in common!

He spoke of the need for the Boys & Girls Clubs and, getting personal, talked about the parallel redemptions of New Orleans and himself following Hurricane Katrina and his 2005 injury. No Saints fan is unfamiliar with the story, though it never ages one minute through repeated tellings.

He mentioned how former Mizzou quarterback Chase Daniel was developing strongly as his backup, and that he hopes he can carry on the winning tradition. “But not too soon,” I said to myself.

Drew assured Springfieldians it was OK for them to be Saints fans, and that they could rationalize it conference-wise. “The Chiefs can be your AFC team!”

Drew talked about his son Baylen, and how the best moment of his life was holding him up after the Super Bowl win. He said he looks forward to telling Baylen about that moment, and that “when he’s in first grade, he’ll be waving the Sports Illustrated cover around, like, ‘Yeah yeah. Anybody else?’ I’m gonna have to figure out a way to humble him.”

He also mentioned Coach Sean Payton’s love for Juicy Fruit, and how at the absolute climax of the Super Bowl, Payton wanted a piece. Of course, that exchange is preserved for all time in the NFL Films Super Bowl XLIV segment.

Following the speech, Drew took questions. I was not at all prepared for this, and my new friend and I joked that our questions would resemble those heard on The Chris Farley Show. “Remember...remember when you won the Super Bowl? That...was awesome!”

Nevertheless, my friend shouted the first question: “What is your favorite restaurant in New Orleans?” Drew said he loved the oysters at a restaurant whose name escapes me (crap!), but which brought a huge cheer. I’m sure I’d remember it if you guys named it.

Somebody else asked him about Treme, for some reason.

In response to another question, Drew said just the communication on his helmet mike alone would make for a hilarious and successful TV series.

Afterward, Drew received a standing ovation and hung around for a few minutes. We crept closer to the stage. While we talked to a woman from Baton Rouge dressed in a form-fitting, black-and-gold sequined dress, Drew and his phalanx of suits swept right past us. I didn’t realize this until I noticed the woman had suddenly forgotten we existed. Drew was hustled out the door as if the sight of us Saints fans had freaked him out. Not that I blame him.

“He’s been whisked around all day,” the woman told us.

On my way out, I discovered I hadn’t won the silent auction in which I had bid $50 for an autographed Super Bowl XLIV program (though I had been the highest bidder for as long as I’d kept track). I waited in line for quite a while before glimpsing the bid sheet of the guy behind me, who had a much higher price on that item. Nuts. I’m just grateful that Brees is better at winning championships than I am at winning auctions for things I really, really want.

Anything for the children.

And because some of you asked, here’s a picture of me dressed up for the event. It doesn’t happen often, so savor it. Who Dat!

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's called "Conservative Leadership 101" because you eventually grow out of it

Yesterday, one of my friends became a fan of “Conservative” on Facebook. Yes, apparently you can become fans of adjectives now. I’m waiting for “Quirky,” myself. Or perhaps, “Grammar.” Not really holding my breath for that one.

Curious as always, I checked out the “Conservative” Facebook page. And this little nugget graced its feed:

The way New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie goes off here on Star-Ledger political columnist Tom Moran, I’m surprised he didn’t tell Moran to “get a brain.” I’ve waited years to make that joke.

According to every page where I’ve seen this discussed, Moran is a liberal columnist. Which means he’s somewhere to the left of Glenn Beck. So that’s a helpful tidbit.

The footage is frequently in flux, so here’s the official video from the Star-Ledger:

Not surprisingly, this tirade has gone viral among those who love seeing the “liberal media” get slapped. Or just love slaps in general. I haven’t seen it so much in the liberal blogosphere, though that may be a testament to circumstance; conservatives see it as a sign of life in a sea of spilled oil (metaphorically speaking), while right-wing bluster barely registers a dent among its detractors. It’s a dime a dozen in this economy.

But I don’t think it should go unpunished. The rant is wrong in so many ways, both in substance and in tone. Especially in tone. Christie makes George W. Bush seem humble. And I’ve heard more appropriate laughter at funerals.

First, the tone. It’s always fun when someone is called out on their confrontational nature and they answer by being confrontational. It works only as a bullying tactic, because I can’t imagine someone saying, “His bluster has me rethinking my ways.” And I seriously doubt that’s Christie’s intent anyway.

Bluster and thought rarely mix. You only have to see the reactions of the people behind Christie to see what his real intent is here. And it’s not to persuade. It’s to SHUT YOU UP IN A PSEUDO-WITTY WAY, LIBERAL WEAKLING! PUNCH LINE! BOO-YAH! CHRISTIE 1, MEDIA 0! PWNED!! Really, it’s Moran’s fault. His face was in the way of Christie’s fastball.

But enough about the alpha-male jackassery. Let us parse the content:

“You know, Tom, you must be the thinnest-skinned guy in America...

Just check any comment section on this blog to see what a productive start this ever is to a conversation. And this is just some blog, never mind a new governor setting his tone to a journalist.

“Because if you think that’s a confrontational tone, then you should really see me when I’m pissed.”

I used to work an absolute joke of a job for someone who would say stuff like this. Every day was abject hell. It’s a three-pronged observation: 1) They’re admitting they’re vile even on their best day; 2) they’re fine, even joyful, about this and see no need to change; 3) you’re the spineless wimp for having the nerve to think it’ll ever get better than this. I lasted only two months. Others weren’t so lucky.

“That’s not confrontational!”

I’m reminded here of Ike Turner’s quote from his book Takin’ Back My Name: “Sure, I've slapped Tina... There have been times when I punched her to the ground without thinking. But I have never beat her." Semantics sure are fun!

“I love when people say they don’t wanna have argument. That’s what we were sent here for!”

Well, no, actually. You were sent there to represent the people of New Jersey. Arguing is sometimes a part of that, but mainly in the same sense that cannibalism is sometimes a part of plane crashes. You resort to it when times are critical.

“They believe in bigger government, higher taxes and more spending...”

At least he’s off to a good arguing start...

“I believe in less government, lower taxes and empowering local officials who are elected by their citizens to be able to fix their problems.”

He’s also in favor of apple pie, baseball, Chevrolet, the American flag, freedom and both dogs AND cats! His opponents hate them all and campaigned specifically on causing more problems for “their” citizens.

“That may lead to a disagreement or two. Now, I could say it very a way you all might be more comfortable with.”

But then I’d have to admit that you’re sentient human beings.

“Maybe we could go back to the last administration where I could say it in a way you wouldn’t even understand it.” [Laughter]

HA HA HA HA HA!! Those effete bureaucratic Jon Corzine types! They talk in fancy-schmancy edjamacashional words what don’t even feel you leavin’ sucker-punched after youse hears ’em! A-hyuk!

“But the fact of the matter is, THIS IS WHO I AM!”

See? He just can’t help it. Kinda like...Ike Turner.

“And this is who the people elected.”

Unlike all those filthy Democrats, who must be stopped at all costs.

“And so you guys want to continue to talk TONE, my combativeness...listen, everybody plays to their part.

It’s like he’s making excuses for his behavior, which only adds to the rich tapestry of exponential assholishness.

“Like it or not, you guys are stuck with me for four years.”

Barack Obama should say this. It would be dickish, but that’s the official language of American politics. Christie is fluent.

“And I’m gonna say things directly...and nobody in New Jersey is gonna have to wonder where I am on an issue.”

Was this really a problem before?

“And I think they’ve had enough of politicians who make them wonder.”

I disagree. It’s been clear for years that every U.S. politician is either a Real American or a Marxist Traitor. Marked “R” and “D” respectively. Thanks, Fox News!

“I came here to govern, not to worry about re-election.”

He’s got a point here. I wouldn’t worry about such a prospect either.

“I came here to do what people sent me here to do. And so, blunt, direct, maybe you might say, honest and refreshing.” [Laughter that makes mustache-twirling redundant]

If this guy were any higher on himself, he’d literally sweat seeds and stems.

“Maybe you could put that in your paper tomorrow.”

Like the mayor said in Animal House, “If you talk about extortion again, I’ll have both your legs broken.”

So remember, friends, Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) is the latest rising star of the Republican Party. He’s a take-charge, take-no-prisoners guy who will always give it to you straight. And he’ll stick it to all his critics and the mainstream media. He’s a fighter in an age when things are going down the tubes. A real Man’s Man who fought long and hard to be in government as a means of getting the dastardly government out of your lives. He’s not there to listen; he’s there to argue!

Christie’s exactly what we need to battle President Obama, that arrogant, non-team-player who doesn’t listen to the American people and only cares about asserting his executive power. The nerve of that guy!

And to think we’re stuck with him for the next four years...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My hero of the day: Laura Bush...?!!

Yes, Laura Bush. That one.

Promoting her new autobiography, Spoken From the Heart, Laura told Larry King that she urged her husband not to make gay marriage a wedge issue in the 2004 election. Of course, George W. Bush and the Republicans did, and it clearly made a difference that November. Still, Laura deserves a lot of respect for making that effort six years ago. It could not have been easy in the fear climate of 2004. She also revealed her pro-choice leanings.

She deserves further credit for acknowledging the generational shift that she thinks (as I do) will inevitably lead to full marriage rights for gays and lesbians. It's absolutely true, and the way she speaks of it suggests that she's fine with that. I have a new respect for her.

Granted, I've taken some easy shots at the Bush family in the past. But I've always suspected that there was something more to the former first lady than she let on during her husband's presidency. After all, she was a librarian, and librarians generally aren't ones for my-way-or-the-highway anti-intellectualism. She promoted literacy, at least. Anyway, it's unfair to judge someone by their relations, even within the circle-the-wagons Bush dynasty. Sometimes I forget that.

There's no doubt in my mind that Laura and I are a lot different on various issues, ones that would require far less courage to articulate. But she's taking an admirable stand here and I'm grateful for it. I wish she'd been able to get under George's skin about these issues, but I can understand how she couldn't, not being a blood Bush or Dick Cheney and all.

So thank you, Laura, for being on the right side of a very divisive issue, one that your husband and his colleagues regrettably exploited to retain power. And thank you for reminding me that intelligence and humanity can be found in unexpected places.

(Thanks to Busplunge for the link)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Working at being creative

Sorry I haven't been here for the past few days. I've been working on videos. Mainly, I've been digitally archiving a home video I have spanning 1980-85. It's got an incredible amount of material, and after several days of work I'm only halfway through the tape. Got some great footage of Santa Claus mispronouncing my name and other oddities to show for it. You'll see some.

Parting question: Does anybody know of a way to put audio tracks into Blogger? I'd like to integrate that again, but my former hosts are defunct.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Thoughts on turning 30

Well, I’m 30 years old today. Feels about the same.

When you’re a kid, being an adult seems like something you need to cross a chasm to become. I even once asked somebody if being an adult was like standing atop your shinbones, and did that hurt?

But for me that chasm never came, despite all evidence I seemed to compile that it would. “One day, you’ll understand,” they told me. I’m still waiting for that one day where I learn everything I needed to know. Eh, maybe that’s 40.

Time was, when I would imagine myself at 30, kids came to mind. My dad was just shy of 31 when I was born, and I remember thinking that was old to have a child. When my mom hit 30, I was almost four years old and my brother was six. Unlike 20, which I eagerly thought about all through my early double-digit years, I never thought much about turning 30; it sort of crept up. And I don’t expect it ever to fit.

It’s interesting how different friends’ lives can turn out. My high school classmates and college friends are going forth and multiplying right in front of my Facebook-stalking eyes. Some of them have kids as old as they were when I first met them. I sometimes play flag football with actual high school football players who were born when I was IN high school. Wonder if they have any cute teachers?

In my mind, I’m still much younger. I’m single with no children. I don’t have many particularly adult tastes. I have a graduate degree and a full-time job, but I rarely dress up (indeed, my wardrobe consists of the same ratio of sports shirts-to-Transformers apparel that I had as a child). I have no desire to settle down and no sense of complacency when it comes to the future. I still have all my hair, too, no small feat given that my 6th-grade English teacher said I would be bald by 15.

Birthdays never were a huge deal to me. Having your big day on May 8 is a good way to get it lost in the shuffle — spring football in high school, finals and conference track meets in college, co-workers getting a head start on summer vacation. My last birthday party had nine candles on the cake.

Still, there’s a certain allure to that number when you’re young. It’s one of the few truly reliable things in life, and generally a positive one. They’re benchmarks. You graduate. You need to be 18 to buy cigarettes, 21 for alcohol and 25 to rent a car. Those are Big Deal Birthdays, even if you’d never touch any of that stuff, because they’re incremental steps into adulthood. After that, though, it’s an odometer. Once you turn those ages and instantly become mature, it’s up to you to stay immature enough to be happy.

Between 25 and 30, I stopped thinking about my age. I took stock of my dietary and exercise habits, and sought to improve both. The result is that I actually feel younger and more active than I did at any point in college.

In that timeframe, I developed a sort of cynicism about the world. In a way, that’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I used to think certain people and positions were invincible and infallible, which made it worse when I felt certain that they were wrong. But realizing that everyone’s only human liberated me. It took a lot of pressure off to realize that everyone’s like me, going through life imperfectly. I used to envy the people who knew at a young age exactly what they wanted, and those adults who seemed to be the epitome of what they wanted to be; now I realize there’s no virtue in simply connecting the dots and/or trying to be like someone else.

So here I am now, still acting 20-ish, connecting dots that may or may not actually be dots. If you’d asked me 10 years ago where I thought I’d be now...well, you know. The same will probably be true in 2020. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s the journey, not the destination. And I’m just getting on the bike.

Friday, May 07, 2010

"You don't think I'm quick enough? He doesn't think I'm quick enough! Well...I AM quick enough."

After having a fairly long, somewhat substantial debate about Arizona's immigration law on Facebook, I got word that the original status poster - a longtime real-life friend who didn't participate in the back-and-forth - finally left this:

"You're such a good liberal Ian. Your fellow liberals must be very proud."

I get this a lot, and it usually comes from self-professed right-wingers, so I know it's meant to be derogatory. During my college-columnist stint, someone wrote in and suggested that I was worse than Nancy Pelosi (and this was well before her name became a fixture on tea party bumpers everywhere). When someone else ridiculed the comparison the following week, that person wrote back the week after that and insisted that he was complimenting me and my "liberal stance."

All backpedaling aside, it isn't meant to be a real compliment, and I know that. "Liberal" has become such a poisoned term in the past 30 years that it's actually become cool again. At least, cool insofar as the people who would describe themselves that way. Conservatives have largely been slow to catch on that phenomenon, which leads to some of the more hilariously out-of-touch non-insults that blogdom can't buy.

Around 2005, I was having an online exchange between two or three bloggers. It was pretty testy, given that they were all assailing my patriotism for questioning government policy, which hadn't yet become legal under the Taxed Enough Already Act of 2009. But it was just substantial enough to be worth it, and I thought I was holding my own pretty well. That is, until one of them dropped a bombshell:

"Ian, just admit it. You're a LIBERAL who supports the Democrats!"

OUCH!!! Argument won! I was just about to get in a retaliatory crack, "Yeah? Well, you're a conservative/libertarian who disagrees with my world views and wears combat boots," but the bell rang and recess was over.

Yes, I am a liberal. I don't run away from the word. And given that I don't, it doesn't work as a comeback. Sorry.

That's all for now, because I need to go brush up on talking points so I know what to believe tomorrow. Being a liberal is a tough fa├žade to keep up, given that it's not a belief stance that ever comes naturally to anyone.

Wouldn't want to let all of my minions down.

Army of Whaaa?

A group of local teenagers convicted of vandalism were given the option this week to join the military rather than face an extended jail sentence. Bad idea.

This assumes that military service is a punishment. It isn't and shouldn't be. In fact, military positions in every branch are highly specialized and require intense discipline and training. We need not only the best people for the job, but also ones who choose to be there. It's the guiding principle of the all-volunteer army.

I once worked a job where, on three occasions, I had to supervise guys who were doing community service. Basically, they were doing my job as punishment for committing misdemeanors. They were nice guys - two of whom I already knew - and all did well enough. But that really made me question why the hell I had this job, and whether or not it was really safe to trust guys who had been involved in fights and/or thefts with hammers and power drills. In some cases, that might not have been the best solution. And this wasn't even a position where lives were at stake.

The debate on this sentence is pretty cut-and-dry. Armchair warriors love it, military recruiters hate it. While the latter group decries the use of the armed forces as a baby-sitter for truants, the former speaks in vagaries about building character and making a man out of you yet. It's not hard for me to pick a side on this one.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Where's the tea party for prayers?

I don't understand the uproar about the court challenge and possible cancellation of the National Day of Prayer.

As far as I can tell (and I guess it all depends on who you ask), faith and prayer are supposed to be personal things. Also as far as I can tell (again, depends on who you ask), we have separation of church and state in the U.S. So why does a federally sanctioned day really matter?

Does it really have an effect on your faith if a president honors or doesn't honor some symbolic designation? Would you be truly mad if Barack Obama, the very same president many of you accuse of being a Marxist Muslim with the crazy Christian pastor, couldn't officially sanction your religion? Funny how that works.

Where I live, they're still doing all their prayer events and church leaders said they will continue to do so. And while a disturbing amount of politicians attend these things, they are at least privately funded, so that's OK by me. Have all the prayer you want with breakfast. It's not my call, anyway. Nor should it be anyone else's.

Bottom line: If a court decision is enough to send your faith crumbling, then you need more fiber in your spiritual diet.

And now you know why I'm not a preacher.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Here's an idea for Cinco de Mayo in Arizona...

Demand all white people getting sloshed at chain restaurants provide documentation that they know what Cinco de Mayo is all about. But only if the officers have reasonable suspicion that the drinkers might not know, such as, they're white. If they're found to be in violation, they're deported to Utah, and the Corona can remain in the hands of those who have proven themselves willing to learn its origins and assimilate to its customs.

Mexican immigrants should bombard the police with lawsuits if they feel the cops aren't doing enough to enforce this.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Louisiana, now would be a good time...

So there’s this oil spill off the Gulf Coast. One that, depending on who you ask, is either shaping up to be one of the worst environmental disasters in memory or something that will be cleaned up in no time.

I hope the second sentiment is correct. But I think the first one is closer to the truth.

What I fear every bit as much as the environmental devastation is the effect of the longstanding local myopia that arguably helped contribute to it in the first place.

BP, the company that operates the damaged well, has said that even though the cracked seal is technically the fault of a subcontracted firm, it will take responsibility for and foot the bill for the accident. Good. I’m sad to be impressed by that near-formality, but I am. I’m glad someone (meaning BP, as defined by the Supreme Court) has stepped up and said, “Hey, this isn’t right.”

To be honest, I wasn’t holding my breath. And not because I like the smell of wafting petroleum.

Louisiana loves its oil and gas industry. The Gulf coast is one of the Western Hemisphere’s most petroleum-rich deposits. Entire communities evolve around drilling and supply companies. Many a college student has dropped out fast because they can make more money in even a low-level oil job than most graduate students ever will. Everyone in the southern part of the state knows/loves someone who is or has worked offshore. “Two on, two off” needs no explanation. My home city of Lafayette has an entire section of town called the Oil Center, where the Petroleum Club hosts some the city’s fanciest events. Dick Cheney stopped by Lafayette numerous times as vice president and remains in sterling regard. Lafayette, like many area cities, is absolutely awash in oil money (and, like oil to water, the economic separation is obvious).

And so what if oil pollutes and wrecks the environment and is a leading contributor to the hastened erosion of Louisiana’s marsh coastline? So what if it, combined with toxic waste incineration plants in the southeast and an unhealthy distrust of oversight, gives that part of Louisiana the nickname “Cancer Alley”? As the e-mail forward says, “It smells like money to us.” And what poor person’s ever given you a job?

Thus, as far as the industry goes, you’re not allowed to say anything bad about it, ever.

Well, I’m gonna say something bad about it. Oil is a toxic and nonrenewable resource, and its industry is stacked with a deep-pocketed lobby and a loyal constituency only too willing to accept dangerous working conditions and a laissez-faire attitude toward government regulation.

This isn’t to disparage anyone who works in the industry; hell, several of my friends, relatives and even my dad have worked offshore at some point. If anything, I feel for them, because the nearly forgotten fact about the leak is that the explosion causing it killed 11 people. Were they sufficiently qualified for the work? Were they tired from a long deployment? Was it a case of them being at wrong place at the wrong time? We need to know the answers to these and other questions.

The fallout of this spill could also devastate the state’s bustling seafood industry. Two for the price of one, so to speak. For that reason alone, this incident is a slap-in-the-face wakeup call for us. And by “us,” I don’t just mean my home state — I mean the entire world. We need alternative fuels. We need tighter independent controls on oil extraction. We need better labor arrangements. We need a multitude of contingency plans.

But, most of all, we need to drop the almost spiritual attachment we have with oil that hinders us from addressing these needs. What good are the jobs to Louisiana if everyone’s dying of cancer or from offshore explosions?

Quality of life cannot be measured in dollar and cents. But it can be measured in a poisoned sea.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

SOFA recap: “I touched him!” edition

4/25: On a cool, moist day, Leggo My Ego (Tyree, Gerald, Dustin, Caleb) beat Lay A Finger On Our Butterfingers (Jerome, Jesse, Jack, Kenny, later Ian). Officially, at least...

The first half of the game was unsanctioned and probably didn’t actually happen, because the annual SOFA Leadership Hike continued until after halftime. (In other words, Ian was on a hike, and didn’t get back into Springfield until the second half.) Nevertheless, witnesses put the score at that point at 112-75 LME or something similarly preposterous. In one-and-a-half halves? Seriously? Was everyone kicking 24-point field goals?

I’m guessing Tyree and Gerald connected for several key TDs, Caleb had some ridiculous runs and Dustin used his trademark 5-foot vertical/diagonal leap to bring in some unbelievable catches. And other plays that add up to 112 for LME.

For LAFOOB, Jack presumably had some pivotal throws, probably to Jerome. Kenny probably did his thing too, scoring probably four or eight touchdowns. Jesse likely mowed through the scrum and cracked some jokes in the process. True, Stephanie laughs at everything, but Jesse really was being funny.

The above is all guesswork and conjecture. Not at all like your typical recap.

Ian came into the action with about eight minutes remaining, taking the field for LAFOOB, who were, as Jerome put it, “dispirited.” Ian is well-known throughout SOFA annals for being a cheerful, positive presence on the field, so he lifted everyone’s spirits by playing to the Freudian concept of the ID...Ignoring Defeat. Deciding to let loose, LAFOOB shaped up into fine form, scoring several times in a concentrated span that may have, in fact, put them ahead. Because we didn’t care. Get it?

LME didn’t get it, because they kept right on scoring too. Speaking of Freud, Tyree activated his superego to call for an extra 10 minutes to the game. We all obliged, because the weather felt great and nobody could remember the score anymore, which made the game a lot more fun. At least for LAFOOB, because we lost.

As no real coach has ever said, “It’s not how you win or lose. It’s how you play the game.”

Game Balls:

Player of the game: Gerald, at least after halftime. He hadn’t played for SOFA in about a year, but probably only because starring in Old Spice commercials is a big commitment. Also, once you’re able to catch touchdown passes that a defensive back has full-palm batted out of your hands, you pretty much have no equal on the field. No, I’m not bitter.

Mike Bell impersonation of the game: Ian arrived to the game straight from a hike at Ha Ha Tonka in Camdenton. Which means he had soaking-wet socks and torn-sole shoes that he’d been driving in for 100 miles. Furthermore, he forgot his cleats, which caused him to slip numerous times, costing the LAFOOB defense at least two touchdowns. Gerald and Dustin, consider yourselves lucky.

Get a room: Tyree and Jesse clashed several times on the field, leading to several physical confrontations that Ian had to break up. And because Ian broke them up, you know they were joking in the first place.

Non-news of the game: Dustin intercepted a PAT and took it to the house. Or could have, but he knelt it in fear. We’re making progress on this plague.

Shout-out of the week: To the friendly staff at the Kickapoo concession booth, who offered to sell us Powerades even before they officially opened for business. Thanks, too, to Jerome, who had the only cash on hand, and spotted us. I paid him back. So, guys, you owe me.

Touching quote of the game: One of Ian’s flags was not attached to his belt, which meant he often broke out for long touchdowns. Under SOFA rules, such an issue means someone can render you down by contact. On one of these TD plays, Tyree insisted that Ian had not broken through untouched. “I touched him!” Tyree yelled. “I touched him!”
“Who did you touch?”

OK, man, you don’t have to brag.