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you are all a bunch of idiots

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MTV does not have a “new logo” — it’s not even a revised or “refreshed.”

It’s the same damned logo. It’s just cropped to a widescreen format, JUST LIKE THE OLD SQUARISH TELEVISIONS YOU USED TO WATCH MTV ON ARE NOW WIDESCREEN.

[Yes, i realize the negative-space stroke on the v is removed, but I’m standing ground that it doesn’t constitute a revision, only the removal of what then becomes after the crop a distracting element.]

MTV has had the same “official” logo since 1981, and I put that word in marks because FROM DAY ONE IT WAS AN AMORPHOUS, NON-STATIC BRANDING. Indeed, they took pride in the fact that the logo never looked the same twice, though the cake be it made with different ingredients WAS ALWAYS COOKED IN THE SAME PAN.

Next, you idiots are making a huge deal of the cropping of the words “MUSIC TELEVISION” and feeling fresh, mighty, and orgasmic that your bitching about “MTV NEVER PLAYS VIDEOS ANYMORE” has been quietly acknowledged by the network.

If MTV was supposed to be about music videos, it would have been named MVTV. The M means MUSIC, and in 1981, the primary external (i.e. non-radio) music promotional avenue was the short-form video.

That hasn’t been the case for a very long time. Indeed, ONLY THREE YEARS AFTER MTV LANDED ON THE MOON the new promotional tool for music was discovered, or invented, by Michael Mann in his executive production of Miami Vice. Do you not remember USA Today PRINTING A LIST OF THE SONGS THAT WOULD APPEAR ON THAT NIGHT’S EPISODE?

[Note to readers who were not yet born in 1984: I’m not talking to you. In fact, I’m not really talking to any of you who read this.]

Of course, Brandon Tartikoff, the most brilliant human in television history, came up with the idea for the show, and titled his idea “MTV Cops” in his memo.

The point is, we’ve been a long time coming in the shift of music promotion from short-form video to dramatic (and, later, reality) television inclusion. It’s kind of hilarious that Michael Mann had to PAY THE RECORD COMPANIES TO USE THEIR MUSIC, but I doubt many others have had to do so ever since.

And guess what? MTV’s programming now is engaging viewers with the exact same music promotion that they started with 29 years ago. Hell, I’d argue that there is MORE music content on MTV now than there was in the 1980s. Every single program on MTV has a soundtrack — where was the soundtrack on Remote Control?

Go back and watch the first (and best) season of The Real World. Then watch an episode of Jersey Shore and tell me which one is exposing you to more music.

MTV is still music television, their logo is the same as it ever was, and if you think for one minute that cable subscribers aren’t subsidizing the promotion of corporate music to themselves any less now than they did in 1981 then you’re nuts.

My, he is accomplished

2010 January 8 8 11 50.jpg

  1. That really tells us nothing about this guy. After all, I edited an underground newspaper when I was a senior in high school.

  2. That fact is something that, by definition, is something that has to be self-disclosed, and if it’s to the degree that it is being listed in a Chyron sidebar, well, he must be awfully proud of it.

  3. Yeah, I’m proud of my underground newspaper too, but I don’t list it in my Vita.

logic is easy

I attended a university that requires all students take some form of logic class. You could take it in philosophy, math, computer engineering, whatever. But you had to take logic.

I thought all colleges required students to take logic, as it was pretty much the only class they had at the original Academy (along with Public Speaking, of course) and it just seems like it would be a rather important class to require for all college students today (along with Public Speaking, of course).

I took logic in the philosophy department from a master’s grad assistant named Liza. Sicky took the class, too, and while Liza wasn’t the best lecturer (neither was I, my first year teaching) I learned what I needed to.

That is to say, I can take this test and find it rather insulting. Though, really, anyone with a functioning brain should be able to get all the questions right. If the massive global food shortage ever requires sacrificing half the world’s population, I move that requiring a perfect score on this test be the arbiting factor in whether you live or get eaten.

Hint: It’s helpful that Americans are fatter than the rest of the world, since we’re the ones who are gonna get eaten first.

so old!

NBC is running the premiere episode of SNL right now, in honor of George Carlin who hosted that night.

A full 50% of the people on here are dead today, I think. Carlin, Belushi, Andy Kaufman, O'Donoghue, Radner, Jim Henson... Billy Preston in the band...

I think that's more than 50%, now, and there's still 50 minutes of show left.

Post interview with American Gladiator Siren

I'd forgotten we ate in the same dining hall. I was nerdy and too nervous to talk to pretty girls back then, so I never talked to Valerie outside of history class. She also says she loved the CI, but I sure don't remember ever seeing her there.

The Post: Alumna ‘Siren’ wails on foes in TV competition

Election being played under dispute

On November 3rd, 2000, I wrote this article, one I think might be the funniest piece I ever wrote. If the phrase "Pine Tar Incident" doesn't mean anything to you, read this first.

ORLANDO (ROOTERS) -- Voting authorities have announced that the presidential election is being "played under dispute" following new allegations that some citizens voted with an illegal amount of pine tar.

Governor George Bush's campaign is arguing the votes previously recorded for Vice President Al Gore should be thrown out in all-important Royal Springs County.

Bush Deputy Campaign Director Billy Martin declared, "The votes shouldn't count. Gore should be out. The voters had more than 18 inches of pine tar from ballot to pen."

Election officials are considering the plan to throw out the votes, while Florida Attorney General Lea MacPhail is promising to overrule her own umpires if they make such a decision.

"If the votes are called out, we will have a resumption of the voting at a later date," she said.

Meanwhile, voters are furious. "I've been waiting my whole life to see Al Gore finally win an election. I can't believe that these officials are going to throw my vote out based on such an irrelevant and silly rule that no officials ever enforced before," stated Gore supporter and Cuban immigrant Jorge Brett.

Bush supporters are adamant he won the election. "I couldn't beat Al Gore before, but I think I know why now," stated former vice presidential candidate Goose Gossage.

So, yeah, I got tagged...

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So two different people (Mel and CT) in two different states (Ohio and April and July) tagged me to play this game, and I figure it's high time I get around to actually playing.

What are the rules, you wonder? Well then, allow me to explain. What you are about to read are ten - hopefully - interesting facts and/or habits of mine. After you are done reading you will find a list of ten people in no specific order. These are the names of the innocent bystanders whom I have tagged and thus drawn into this game. They will then be forced to write their own blog listing ten interesting facts about themselves, and also select another ten people to tag - No Tag Backs! Very simple, hopefully interesting. Now, sit back, relax, and be amazed.

(I didn't write that part.)

10. I love coffee, but I hate Starbucks.

I am not enough of a coffee zealot to reject Starbucks entirely; indeed, I am drinking Starbucks as I write this. Yet I think on the whole that Starbucks tastes like burning. I prefer Dunkin' Donuts coffee, and keep fresh beans in the house. Except Rob brought over all this pre-ground Starbucks stuff, and I can't bear to waste it, since wasting food is a sin.

9. I enjoy doing laundry, but find it difficult-to-impossible to put it away.

There is a heap next to me, a mound of substantial size, and it is my clean laundry. It belongs in various locations in the room; the sweatshirt belongs in the armoire, the t-shirts in the dresser, the jeans in the closet. That would take me about five minutes to accomplish, yet I can't do it. The physical will it would take to get me to engage in putting my laundry away leaves me with a great deal of anxiety and fatigue.

8. I don't know how people function with only one monitor.

When I'm at work, and have to use only the Macbook screen, I feel almost claustrophobic. At home, I have a 17" CRT that functions as an extended desktop. That's where my IM and IRC apps (and whatever movie I'm watching, if I'm watching one) hang out, while actual work gets done on the 13" Macbook screen (which, despite being four inches smaller, has a higher resolution than the CRT). Having to crowd all those things into one screen, regardless of size, is almost impossible for me, and I've used secondary monitors connected to my notebook computers for five years or more.

7. My car hasn't been washed in months and months.

6. As mentioned earlier, I want -- need a crush, but I don't actually want a relationship (I just want bang-bang-bang) because women are crazy and just eat up all your available time with their nonsense, and as someone who lives with a guy whose entire life was eaten up by his girlfriend (my roommate) I feel quite strongly in this conviction.

Also, the always-reliable source of popular film iterate this opinion, as I sit here watching Down By Law.

5. I deleted what I wrote for this one. Essentially it was about how I can argue successfully with reasonable people but can't argue for sh*t with irrational people, and how 75% of people are irrational.

4. I have dozens of unread magazines in a box. I take a few with me to baseball games, because that's the only setting where I have the free time to read them.

3. I have a lot of alter egos you'd never even guess me having in places you wouldn't expect.

2. This is another coffee-related tidbit, and it's this: coffee makes me tired, and alcohol wakes me up. I have a cross-wired metabolism.

1. Every day I'm ashamed to be with the person I was yesterday. Yet I keep archives on this site! I'm a madman.

This meme has been around for months, so while I'm supposed to tag people, I'm not tagging anyone. That's me working.

The rise and fall of Starter Jackets

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My sleepwear options change on a nightly basis. Sometimes I wear a white, longsleeve Texas Longhorns T-shirt with one of my orange pairs of J.Crew pajama pants. Sometimes it's a Napoleon High School Tennis t-shirt with forbidden gym shorts, or one of my many sports jerseys (few of which are actually mine, save the 1984 Bernie Kosar Miami Hurricanes throwback and the 1998 Carolina Hurricanes Sean Burke jersey). A trip through my closet is like a trip to the ultra-discount store, which is not coincidence as I obtained many of these items at the ultra-discount store.

This image courtesy the STARTER JACKET FETISH SITE. No, srsly.
Last night, I wore one of those "borrowed" jerseys, namely a New Jersey Devils belonging to my brother (Hot Dog Man, you haven't been looking for your Devils jerseys, have you?) The back of the jersey notes that it was manufactured by Starter, which made me wonder,

"What happened to Starter Jackets (and related clothing)?"

Once the domain of athletes, gangsta rappers, and actual gangstas (and gangsta wannabes) Starter clothes have virtually disappeared from Foot Lockers and Champs Sports locations nationwide. Where once an Oakland Raiders Starter jacket identified one as an "O.G.," now the thugs and ballaz are wearing NASCAR gear (or at least they are here in St. Petersburg) proving that even the uneducated are capable of understanding irony. In the early '90s, Starter jackets found their way to the nightly news, as people were regularly shot and killed for their bulky, unattractive sportswear. The story of the rise and fall of Starter appears to be as-yet untold on the internets, so here I am, telling it.

Michael Wilbon says that throwback uniforms are today what Starter Jackets were in the late 1980's.[1] The source of the success, he alleges, is the same: hip-hop culture.

Starter was once the darling of the sports world, having exclusive contracts with, among others, Major League Baseball; in 2000, MLB switched contracts to Majestic Apparel, and that seems to be the beginning of the downfall (though, notably, the New York Yankees consistently wore their old Starter Jackets throughout 2000[2] ).

Contemporary news articles most often feature Starter Jackets in descriptions of crime suspects, such as:

Police were seeking a black man, 24, with a dark complexion, wearing a blue Starter Jacket with white lettering (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 27 August 2000)

Police say the gunman is a black male in his late teens, wearing blue jeans and a blue Starter Jacket (Little Rock Democrat-Gazette, 25 September 1997)

His accomplice was described as 25-30 years old, 6 feet and 200 pounds. He was wearing a ball cap and a University of Miami Starter Jacket (Columbus Dispatch, 21 June 1999)

A man wearing a black Starter Jacket, blue jeans, and brown boots got out of the car with a gun drawn, punched the victim in the side of the face and demanded money (Newark Star-Ledger, 17 April 2003)

Elyria police Detective Chuck Gallion said Steckman used candy, beer and Starter Jackets to persuade pre-adolescent boys to have sex with him (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 16 September 1997)

Starter Corporation was founded in New Haven in 1971 by David Beckerman. By the mid-90's, it was selling $365 million in sports apparel. Did the association with crime (both in suspects' descriptions and murders over the jackets themselves) lead major sports organizations to end their affiliation with Starter?

As it turns out, Starter faded into obscurity for a several reasons:

1. The hockey and baseball labor stoppages of 1994.

Hockey didn't start its 94-95 season until January, and baseball's season ended August 12th -- making for a quiet sports autumn. Starter, which had exclusive contracts with both, saw earnings fall $33.3 million in 1994 and the company never recovered. While the $4.8 million deficit did improve to a meager $1 million profit line in 1995, shareholders weren't impressed, and the company that went public at $21.50 a share was staring at $5 a share only two years later.[3] It's possible this is mere coincidence, but the association is striking.

2. Starter made inferior merchandise but sold it at upscale establishments.
because its products sucked. "No one ever bought a Starter Jacket because it was the warmest jacket out there," explains a retailer, "They bought it because it was a cool brand."[4] Nike and Reebok were much better-prepared to produce quality athletic apparel, and were prepared to sell it at discount prices -- something Starter refused to do.

3. Brand extension instead of brand expansion.

Starter could have mitigated its problems by seeking new markets for athletic wear (a brand expansion) like non-licensed performance apparel (a role now filled by Under Armour) or non-mainstream sports (soccer, Arena League). Instead, they extended their brand to children's wear by Disney, school supplies, and socks.

In 1996, Brandweek wrote "Once the ship is righted, the vision is a Starter that could look a lot like Nike or Reebok."

As it turns out, Starter declared bankruptcy in 1999, and was purchased for $46 million by a consortium led by, yes, Value City (bringing this post around full-circle if you bothered to click the link in my introduction).

So that's where Starter went.

  • Wilbon, Michael. "Throwback jerseys: An old fashion statement." Washington Post, 6 February 2003: D01.
  • Robbins, Lenn. "Wrong Yankee Jackets? Sew What?" New York Post, 18 October 2000: 069.
  • Lefton, Terry. "Starter: In licensed athletic apparel, Starter owned authentic." Brandweek, 9 September 1996: 52.
  • Jacobsen, Michael. "Performance ANXIETY." Sporting Goods Dealer, 1 January 2004.
  • This Old House (sucks now)

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    When I was 21, I bought a house. It was an old house, and a small house, but it had lots of room and I spent the next three years making it a nice house. I tore out the carpet and restored the hardwood. I painted everything inside and out. When I moved to Florida, it looked something like this.

    That thing to the left is the apple tree in my front yard. You can also see my arbor vitae along the alley side, and the bows above the steps and each window.

    Two years to the day I sold the house, I happened to find myself in Zanesville, and I decided to drop by and see how my house was doing.

    It broke my heart. I don't know what troubles me more: that they tore out my apple tree? The hedge? The bushes along the porch? That they tore out my front door and hastily replaced it with a steel one? That the bows are gone? That there's a nasty "BEWARE OF GUARD DOGS" sign stuck to the front of the house?

    I think the fact the hedge has been replaced by chickenwire hurt me the most.

    Here's a view from the back. I had about five trees of various species in the backyard, as well as a hedge that continued all the way from the edge of the house to the property line (from where this picture is taken). Note that all vegetation on the entire property has been torn out. Note yet another "BEWARE OF GUARD DOG" sign. Note the door (one with beautiful plane glass, the original door) in back has been replaced with yet another grey steel door. Note the enormous doghouse made of scrapwood and the crap on the back porch.

    *sigh* What makes someone think they need steel doors and guard dogs at a house that looks like a complete piece of sh*t? I almost went knocking on the door to confront the people I sold my house to about their horrible treatment of it, but I was afraid of having a guard dog or two rip off my manhood.

    People suck.

    Fight! Fight! Fight! | Soul Asylum vs. Gin Blossoms

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    When I was a kid, I loved hockey. I went to bed every night during the season listening to WJR out of Detroit, and Steve Yzerman, Joey Kocur, Bob Probert, Steve Chiasson, and Petr Klima were my best friends. I had a babysitter one summer who was from Buffalo -- a huge Sabres fan, and we'd watch ESPN's fantastic coverage (though in retrospect they seemed to highlight Gretzky and Gretzky only) while my parents were out doing whatever grownups do.

    One night I watched an amazing hockey fight between the Soviet and Canadian junior teams that was being talked about on SportsCenter. I'd pretty much forgotten about that fight until someone brought it up in a Fark thread about SI's greatest fights -- and how it was left off the list. Helpfully, a poster provided a YouTube link to television coverage of the fight. It's one of the more amazing things you'll ever see.

    Truly awesome, especially when they turn the lights off. Perhaps Kurt Cobain was referring to this incident when he wrote the words, "With the lights out/It's less dangerous."

    --

    Had you come up to me in high school and asked me to list my five favorite bands, I'd probably have answered thusly:

    Counting Crows
    Gin Blossoms
    Soul Asylum
    Toad the Wet Sprocket
    The Refreshments

    One of those bands has been active since then. Two of them broke up, and the other two (Soul Asylum and Gin Blossoms) have been on hiatus... until this summer. Both bands released their first albums in several years (eight for Soul Asylum, ten for Gin Blossoms) and I anticipated their release with baited breath.

    Reviews for the two records criticize that the bands' sound hasn't changed despite the lapse of time. Critics blame the bands for being "stuck in the '90s." Yet I argue that if you're going to emerge after a long hiatus, you HAVE to sound like you used to. Otherwise, you have no audience. An old band that returns with a new sound is going to alienate the only guaranteed buyers of your record. Plus, I LIKED how those bands sounded, and I'm happy that they sound like they did when I was a pimply-faced high school sophomore without a date to Homecoming.

    So here are my reviews.

    Gin Blossoms - Major Lodge Victory

    Some say the Gin Blossoms' downfall came before their first full-length record, New Miserable Experience, was even released. At the end of recording sessions in 1992, the band fired Doug Hopkins, guitarist and writer of NME-bound tracks like "Hey Jealousy," "Found Out About You," and "Lost Horizons."

    The record eventually became a huge success, Hopkins committed suicide, and critics proclaimed the Gin Blossoms a one-album-wonder. Their followup, Congratulations I'm Sorry, didn't find the same commercial success from the previous album, and the band faded away into county fair and rib-fest headlining obscurity.

    After four years of promising rib-fest fans "A new album is on the way!" it was finally released a few weeks ago. What's missing? Strangely, not Doug Hopkins -- I got over that part early on. Sadly, longtime Gin Blossoms drummer Phillip Rhodes elected not to join the band in creating the new record, and his absence is conspicuous. I feel people ignore drummers a bit too often when they listen to music -- overemphasizing the singers and lead guitarists. Rather, I argue the drum beat is the primary component of a band's signature sound, and changing drummers can considerably affect how a band comes across.

    That having been said, Major Lodge Victory isn't a bad album. It sounds considerably like vintage '90s Gin Blossoms. Just different. And more boring. The first two tracks, "Learning the Hard Way" and "Come On Hard" are fantastic, but after that, things sort of fall off. It didn't hold my attention very well, and I've only listened to it a few times since then. Is it better than 90% of the records that have come out in 2006? Absolutely. But music sucks.


    I once saw Soul Asylum and Gin Blossoms back-to-back nights at a venue in Kentucky that no longer exists. Interestingly, the first time I saw the bands play they were also back-to-back -- literally, performing consecutively at the 1995 concert for the opening of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at the late Cleveland Stadium. Gin Blossoms performed the Beatles song "Wait" and Soul Asylum rocked out with Iggy Pop.

    Eight years later, in that dingy garage in Covington, Jarvin P and I stood watching Dave Pirner thrash around onstage with Soul Asylum in front of about 150 dedicated fans. "This guy used to f*ck Winona Ryder," I whispered to him, and wondered if Pirner was thinking the same thing, now that he's in a garage singing to your average Sociology 101 class.

    The Silver Lining is Soul Asylum's return from the grave (dancer's union). Referring, I assume, to the death of bassist Karl Muller (which happened amidst recording) and Katrina (New Orleans being Dave Pirner's adopted hometown), the record is even more like vintage Soul Asylum than MLV was vintage Gin Blossoms. You've probably heard at least one track from this record already: ESPN uses "Stand Up & Be Strong" all over the place during college football highlights. It's a good song, but the intermission track of "Standing Water" is maybe the best song the band has written since "Runaway Train."

    All this being said, the greatest surprise for me is the hidden track. The iPod revolution has changed the nature of looking for hidden tracks; simply by looking at the time remaining on the last song one can ascertain whether or not there's something extra afterward. Most hidden tracks are throwaways, and maybe that's the case with "Fearless Leader," but two seconds into it I recognized one of my favorite songs.

    That's an interesting aspect of The Silver Lining. Most of the songs are actually quite old, and finally making their way to an album. "Fearless Leader" was written almost 20 years ago, during the Reagan Administration -- yet it, like Grave Dancer's Union track "Black Gold," could be a current criticism of President Bush. "Fearless Leader" was originally a B-side to the CD Single of "Misery," released in 1995, if that tells you anything. "Success is Not So Sweet" dates back to the multi-platinum days of 1994. "Slowly Rising" refers to "Weapons of Mass Destruction" yet was written long before 9/11 -- and the aforementioned "Standing Water" could be a perfect paean to New Orleans, and it is... but it was written years before Katrina.

    Perhaps the prescience of these tracks makes the record what it is. What I do know is this: this record melted my face off, and having been conditioned by Major Lodge Victory to be disinterested, it was a real shock to find a record I was jamming to amidst rush-hour traffic. I hope this record sells well. I hope pop music hasn't evolved while we were all holed up listening to Replacements records (btw, Replacements bassist Tommy Stimson replaced Muller for the rest of the tracks on Silver Lining). I hope. I do.

    Best. Soda. Ever.

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    My Best Soda Ever list is rarely modified.

    Junior High: Cherry 7up
    High School: Kick (remember this post? Probably not, since it was like the second or third post I ever made)
    College: Faygo Orange
    Grad School: Schweppe's Ginger Ale
    2003-2005: Canada Dry Cranberry Ginger Ale
    2005-2006: Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi
    2006, August:

    Diet Pepsi Jazz: Strawberries & Cream

    Seriously, this stuff is freakin' awesome. It makes Wild Cherry taste like Faygo Diet Moon Mist. Find it now, unless you live somewhere it's not sold, which might be everywhere (I had to search like hell to get that link).... anyway, I could totally see the traditional Wimbledon snack being taken over by Diet Pepsi Jazz: Strawberries & Cream. It tastes like those "[X] and cream" suckers that were popular back in the early 1990s.

    You know, the Lifesaver ones. They were only the best suckers ever. They're probably not made anymore.

    It's summer, 1991. I'm twelve years old and getting ready to start the eighth grade. With the reality of having my mom for teacher the next year looming over my head, I busy myself and hide from my anxiety in two pastimes: playing baseball, and watching MTV. And it's the summer MTV introduces its last great innovation -- an innovation as simple as playing with blocks.

    Not only does MTV still play videos in 1991, they really make an effort to reach out to diverse music audiences. Into hip-hop? Watch in the afternoon for Fab Five Freddy, Fat Dr. Dre and Ed Lover's Yo! MTV Raps Today. Evenings feature the Top 10 Countdown, and there is always the frightening Riki Rachmann's Headbanger's Ball on Saturday night.

    I'm pushing hard against adolescence in a podunk farm town. Thank God for cable TV! MTV is my conduit to the pop culture world, and the "block" system presents the summer's hits to me in a convenient, portioned format.

    Rap Blocks feature D.J. Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince's Summertime, Marky Mark's Good Vibrations, and LL Cool J's Mama Said Knock You Out.

    Rock Blocks hit you as hard as they can with Van Halen and Right Now, The Scorpions' Wind of Change, and Damn Yankees' High Enough (awesome sunglasses!). And oh, yeah, there's the new video from the first single off Metallica's new self-titled (or untitled) album. That one's particularly popular.

    Pop Blocks introduce me to C & C Music Factory, who pledge they're Gonna Make You Sweat. Pop Blocks also play that Robin Hood video by Bryan Adams a lot and the double-alphabet combo of EMF and The KLF (my favorite video EVER) are part of the Pop Block schema.

    Finally, you have Hit Blocks. Hit Blocks sort of combine whatever's popular at the moment, so you might have Amy Grant's Baby, Baby or R.E.M. and Losing My Religion or Boyz II Men's Motownphilly or Mariah Carey's Emotions.

    Somehow, Paula Abdul's fancy Keanu Reeves-a-thon Rush, Rush manages to get played in every block.

    Tonight I'm watching the Top 10 and there's a premiere tonight. It's a video that doesn't get an introduction from the veejay, but it pretty much speaks for itself. For five minutes my best friend Todd Stults and I stare at the screen. The song is beautiful. The cinematography is beautiful.

    The girl is beautiful.

    And I am forever changed as a human being. I see the world in a sexual way -- a way I hadn't even considered before. I know it was an important moment because even Adam Curry came on after showing the video, his jaw dragging along the floor, and managed to say,

    "That's the hottest video ever made, and I think it'll be the hottest video forever."

    Todd and I can't look at each other for several minutes after the video ends. And then we go back to behaving like kids. Except, at least for me, I feel a bit less like a kid.

    And tomorrow I'm gonna buy the CD.


    Fifteen years. Fifteen freakin' years since sitting on that beat-up sofa in the basement with the springs that stuck you in the back if you leaned the wrong way.. 1991 was a badass year for music -- and video. All the videos linked above are great songs with great videos (most of them the best video that act produced). And what I mentioned is just the beginning. It was a time when the music controlled MTV rather than vice versa. It's very possible Summer 1991 marks the zenith in American pop music -- a curve that began trending downward with the September release of a certain little record called Nevermind. Discussing the music of Summer 1991, however, is for future posts.

    Tonight one of my favorite performers sang his signature song on Leno's Tonight Show. I don't watch Leno, but I usually catch his musical act while waiting out the gap between the [adult swim] midnight show (currently Pee-Wee's Playhouse) and Conan. And when he sang, in his perfectly-tailored suit, strumming that enormous Gibson, being a g*d man, the kind I want to be... well, those fifteen years melted away as easily as a scoop of ice cream on a Clearwater sidewalk.

    I've never tested it, but I'm pretty sure that the majority of straight men and women alike would find Chris Isaak's video for Wicked Game more sexually titillating than anything Justice Potter Stewart might have "known when he saw it." The black-and-white video puts you into a trance; Herb Ritts' brilliant shooting, the simple, throbbing shuffle bass beat, and the slllllllllllow slide guitar servce as surrogate to the hypnotist's watch. Helena Christensen's complete lack of clothing or facial expression just add to the heat. As one YouTuber notes, even her nail police is perfectly chipped.

    Seriously, all y'all be bustin' it up on the dance floor to your booty shake music... you're several degrees of magnitude below this sh*t.

    And yet 1991 is years after "Wicked Game" was released. And the Ritts video, the one we can't help but see in a mind's eye projection whenever we hear the heavy delay-reverb of the Gibson guitar and silky Isaak falsetto, isn't the original video.

    Heart Shaped World was already almost two years old by the time the Ritts video hit MTV around this time fifteen years ago. Whatever inclined them to take another shot at success as a single baffles me, but even more baffling -- considering the content and nature of the video we all know and love -- is who directed the original video:

    David Lynch.

    And boy, is it appropriately Lynchian. Go ahead, check it out for yourself.

    Freaky, ain't it? Watching a music video that has the music, but visuals that make you want to slit your wrists, compared to usual, which makes you want to...

    Quarter to three. Time for bed.

    We might as well be debating perestroika

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    On Monday, June 12th, Major League Baseball suspended Jason Grimsley 50 games for his role in a federal investigation involving human growth hormone (HGH).

    The suspension of the already-unemployed Grimsley -- a folk hero of mine for his role in the Mission Impossible-style replacement of Albert "Joey" Belle's bat in 1999 -- precipitated a torrent of attention toward the substance now considered a bigger threat to fair play in professional sport than steroids, which, unlike HGH, can be detected in testing. Baseball's launched its own investigation into HGH abuse, and sports talk radio has latched onto the HGH debate as its primary topic of conversation.

    Thing is, they're all about 20 years late into the conversation. This isn't a matter of closing the barn door after the horse has escaped, it's more an issue of returning to the farm after it's been a Wal-Mart for a few decades.

    In 1988, I was a ten-year-old fifth grader at St. Augustine Catholic School, a tiny K-8 institution in my hometown of Napoleon, Ohio. My father, coach of football, basketball, and tennis, also directed the NHS speech team, having been introduced to forensics in college and turning out to be quite successful at the activity. Eager to introduce me to competitive speech, he brought me to the high school one evening to observe practice. One of the young team members was a boy who was my first real role model, a St. Augustine alum named Matt Gunter. Matt would later go on to graduate from Notre Dame and find a successful career in accounting. Four years ahead of me in school, Matt exhibited academic and athletic leadership that I really wanted to emulate. That evening, though, Matt was a freshman practicing a persuasive speech he'd written about the abuse of a substance called human growth hormone. He presented anecdotes about people suffering from pituitary gland disorders that stunted their growth -- mentioning a diminuitive fifth grade classmate of mine named Melanie -- and how HGH was ending up in the hands of professional athletes instead of people like Melanie, who actually needed it.

    The speech provided solutions on institutional and legislative levels, suggesting reform in the methods of manufacturing and distribution, and I was moved by the idea that public speaking could target a specific social problem and provide ways for the public to act on a solution.

    That was 18 years ago, and we're just now bringing the HGH debate to a national level.

    Why weren't we listening to people like Matt back then? Denial about the lengths to which athletes will go to enhance their abilties is one reason. The August 23, 1983 New York Times featured an article discussing the possibility of doping issues creeping into the upcoming 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. At the time, the USOC head of drug testing was a West German named Dr. Manifred Donike. Donike dismissed the value of HGH, explaining work to stop its proliferation would be useless, and future drug scandals were unlikely:

    Dr. Donike said those days might be over. He said drug problems in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics should be minute. He dismissed claims for the effectiveness of HGH (human growth hormone), supposedly the newest wonder drug for athletes. ''Chances are small,'' he said, ''that's there's anything else out there.''

    HGH was one of the first genetically-engineered substances, and the first to result from the Genentech organization, which enthusiastically promoted its synthesis at the cost of research into its possible abuse (April 18, 1984 Financial Times).

    Genentech is now the world's leading biotech firm with a value of $82 billion.

    In 1989, West German (forgive my consistent use of the term, I'm dealing with a bit of ostalgie today) magazine Stern published a report that Seoul Olympic tri-gold medalist Florence Griffith Joyner had received HGH from a fellow runner. Joyner laughed off the allegations.

    The 1992 death of NFL star Lyle Alzado brought new attention to the debate. Alzado maintained his fatal brain tumor was due to his years of steroid abuse, though individuals familiar with Alzado's regimen have maintained he switched to HGH after the NFL's introduction of drug testing in 1987. As HGH directly affects the behavior of the pituitary gland, situated at the base of the brain, it's not a stretch to assume HGH might have been a contributor to his cancer.

    Joyner herself died in 1998, having experienced a major brain seizure. Joyner retired from competition immediately after the '88 Olympics, and suffered major seizures starting in 1990 and continuing on until her death.

    Did HGH kill Alzado and Joyner? Is it more than a "natural body substance" as suggested in a 1990 New England Journal of Health article? Are the side effects more severe than enlarged facial features and "gigantism"?

    I'm not laying out those arguments here. What I am saying is that the current investigations being undertaken by Congress and Major League Baseball are laughable. HGH has been a problem in professional sports for more than 20 years, and it shouldn't have taken the search of a journeyman reliever's house to instigate the investigation of its abuse. It's time for sports organizations to confront their denial and for the public to ask why it's taken so phenomenally long to get to the bottom of the issue.

    This has been #3 in a series of "30 in 30" essays.

    Twenty years

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    20 years ago, Len Bias lost his life to a cocaine overdose.

    1986 marked the awakening of my sports-conscious being. While I vaguely remember sitting in the back room of my parents' first house in 1984 and watching Carl Lewis completely pwn the rest of Earth's Olympians (minus the Soviets who were sitting out because we totally ditched their party four years earlier. Place was dead anyway), I wasn't really sports-aware until 1986.

    It started, of course, with Super Bowl XX. Those dancing, rapping Chicago Bears and their "Super Bowl Shuffle" were the stars of the first major sporting event I really remember watching with my father.

    (Who let the unbelievably white/uncoordinated backup QB Steve Fuller dance in the front row? Even worse, they LET HIM SING! Err, "rap." Mike Singletary is particularly bad, too. And check out the punter! More cowbell!!!)

    That's about the same year some outfit called the "Bleacher Bums" recorded a song about a man who was my idol, both athletically and professionally. Did I mention I just received my throwback #20 Orange Bowl jersey of his? Of course I didn't. But here's "Bernie, Bernie" to remind all you Clevelanders of the good ol' days. (Listening to it again, I swear I hear Peter Griffin in the background.)

    Anyway, 1986 also found me discovering hockey, thanks to Jill, my babysitter who was from Buffalo and a rabid Sabres fan. (Until this point, I'd been a Red Wings fan without really knowing why. This is pretty much still the case.) I watched Montreal defeat the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup finals and am pretty sure no Canadian teams have been back since then.

    (Sorry? Edmonton went this year? Cool... I would have watched, but I couldn't figure out what channel the games were on.)

    Yet it was the NBA season that really got me interested in professional sports (outside of Cleveland, at least). My father loved Larry Bird and the rest of the Celtics, maybe because of our Irish heritage, or maybe because Larry Bird is freaking awesome. The Cavs were a year away from being any good, so I latched onto the Boston Celtics bandwagon and watched them dismantle the Houston Rockets in that year's NBA Finals.

    Days later, the Celtics took Maryland star Len Bias with the 2nd overall pick in the NBA Draft. (I am not entirely sure how the Celtics had the 2nd overall pick after winning the championship, but the draft also had five more rounds then than it does now.) I was excited for this new player, and read all the newspaper articles about the role he would play as the future to Larry Bird's past and present on the Celtics.

    Two days after the draft, Bias died of a cocaine overdose.

    Of course, the news shocked the sports world, from Tony Kornheiser's fantastic column in the June 20, 1986 Washington Post to Sports Illustrated:

    I was a mess. All of seven years old, I didn't really understand drugs, or drug abuse, but the name "Len Bias" and the words "cocaine" and "overdose" would forever be inseparable for me.

    They still are.

    I break several laws every day. I do stupid things, dangerous things, and consume mind-altering substances with regularity (caffeine, alcohol, etc). Yet I have never touched cocaine, and never will.

    Why? Len Bias.

    The Benoitian restorative goal in the post-Bias period was that the incident would serve as a stronger deterrent to drug abuse than any Nancy Reaganesque "Just Say No" campaign. Transcendence trumping tragedy, if you will. Unfortunately, the government wasn't willing to hinge the future of drug control on that kind of incident, and Democrat Tip O'Neill introduced strong anti-drug legislation in Congress as a response to the outrage that rightly followed the Death of a Dream. The repurcussions -- millions of Americans jailed for drug possession, and billions of taxpayer dollars wasted to the incarceration of nonviolent offenders -- resonate as violently twenty years later as they might have seemed to the sports world after Bias' death.

    I don't know how many other men my age have stayed away from cocaine because of Len Bias. I'm sure I'm not the only one. Lonise Bias has dedicated her life to helping her son's legacy be a disruptive one; getting in the way of possible paths to drug abuse. They're finding kids today don't react like the children of Generation X. It seems it was necessary to experience the shock... the horror... the disbelief... to create a fear response far stronger than any curiosity could overcome.

    This has been entry #1 in an attempted "30 in 30" campaign, invented by StevenL and brought to my attention by Charlie.

    Roundup time

    ESPN's E-Ticket covers Euro smash success "chessboxing"

    Yes, a combination of boxing and chess. Is that not the best thing ever? Seriously, I want to see Mike Tyson take this on. I would pay good pay-per-view money for some Chessboxing. I bet Lennox Lewis would pwn people in this sport.

    Meanwhile, if you've ever been lucky enough to listen to Bob Lassiter's radio show in his heyday, you know how utterly hilarious he was and how there has never been anyone like the "Mad Dog" since. Once upon a time, crazy liberal radio hosts could actually keep jobs, but the talk radio airwaves are dominated by fascists now.

    Anyway, Lassiter's dying, and he's been keeping a day-to-day log of his failing health at www.bloglassiter.com. It's heart-wrenching and amazingly moving to watch a man die, virtually. It's an act of performance art unlike anything I've ever experienced.

    If you don't know the "Mad Dog," check this call out from 1987, with "Mr. Airstream." "I bet you live a very loose lifestyle. I bet you smoke Marijuana and other drugs. I might report you. I'm going to report you to the..." Lassiter:"Trailer Park Association?" 7 minutes 54 seconds, courtesy Lassiter Airchecks

    (Stay tuned for the guy talking about how great Jim and Tammy Faye Baker are. "I'm going to write the Chamber of Commerce! I bet you have a surfboard, don't you? I bet you wear cutoff jeans, and haven't shaved in three months! Are you married, or living in sin?" Lassiter: "A little of both.")

    What do you do when your nemesis dies?

    | 1 Comment

    Mike Price dead at 41

    Despite my ethos of schadenfreude, and my overall caustic demeanor and black sense of humor, I'm not one to dance on people's graves. Yet finding out today that Mike Price is dead has me... a bit.. confused.

    Most of you don't know who Mike Price is, but a few of you do. Mike Price was the speech coach at Grove City College, and was an enormous thorn in my side for most of my career as Director of Forensics at Muskingum College. Price is most famous, or infamous, for walking out on the Rhetorical Criticism speech of Ohio State's Jordi Matsumoto in the quarterfinal round at the 2001 National Forensics Association tournament in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Jordi's speech analyzed the messages presented in a Bible-related theme park. Grove City is known as one of the most conservative four-year schools in the country, and for reasons never fully explained, Price became extremely offended by the speech, and simply walked out in the middle of Jordi's speech, an unprecendented act in Nationals history.

    It necessitated a drastic, but proper, scoring decision by the tab staff, though that decision continues to be debated. Jordi went on to finish 5th in Crit at that tournament, emerging from the quarterfinal despite only having four ballots. But Mike Price did a whole hell of a lot more than that. During the tournament I was hosting in 2003, he famously refused to leave the extemp prep room (coaches are not permitted inside it while speech preparation is going on) despite being ordered to by Ryan Donaghy, who was running the extemp room for me. He would regularly screw up ballots on purpose, judging speeches not on their merit but on his own religious principles. His students commonly would be disruptive and antagonistic toward other competitors, and his grasp on the rules of forensics was tenuous at best. We avoided having him judge at all, if possible, and when postings would go up for final rounds, students would audibly groan if they saw his name at the bottom as one of their judges. He was a prick, in and out, and the cause of a large amount of stress on the part of myself and other speech coaches. He was a true nemesis to me, often barging into the tab room (off-limits to all coaches) to argue about some issue or another.

    And now he's dead.

    (Betsy, remind me of any other Mike Price stories I'm forgetting, as my mind isn't working as well as it used to. Mad Cow, you know.)

    So yeah, no time to put pics up yet, but I do have a YouTube video showing off how cool the wedding venue was. This was actually where both the wedding service and the reception were, just with different configurations. Verdin Bell & Clock Museum, Cincinnati, OH. (LiveJournal kiddos, you know the routine.)

    Alphabet meme

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    This is how it works: Comment on this entry and I will give you a letter. Write ten words beginning with that letter in your journal, including an explanation what the word means to you and why, and then pass out letters to those who want to play along.

    aeonite gave me "B". He also mandated a first-person present tense presentation. I add the stipulation that the stories be linked. Here goes.

    Bye, Mr. Furley | I love me some boxing

    | 3 Comments

    Our esteemed landlord here at Apartment 201 has moved on to that great bachelor pad in the sky. We'll miss you, Mr. Furley, and your utterly foppish ways whilst sipping whiskey at The Regal Beagle.

    We'll miss you, Ralph. Someone said today you used to be a sheriff's deputy in some small redneck village. How interesting.

    Meanwhile, Fernando Vargas, despite talking serious smack on Rome's show this week, done got his face beat in like a mofo.

    "Maybe it's a tumor."
    "IZ NOTTA TUMAH!"

    The Angel On My Bike

    I love this house. It's huge, quiet, and I have all the space in the world. We have great furniture, an enormous kitchen, nice appliances, and lots of windows. I love my roommate who is smart, reliable, and pretty, and her cats, and her boyfriend, who is down to earth but on the ball.

    I lose it all on June 1st.

    Per my conversation with Jenn's dad this afternoon, the house is up for sale (realtor was over taking photos ALREADY today... my room and bathroom are a WRECK) and I have until June 1st to get out. Now, that might sound like a lot of time. It is, comparatively. But when you have as much furniture, tools, and boxes as I do, figuring out the logistics of it all will take... a long time. Add in that I have some huge papers to write and yet have to have the place ready for showing by Friday... well, this is some stress I really wasn't hoping for.

    Yet I can look past all the stress. I'm most concerned with the fact that I've had this nice little egg in which to live and from which I have seen Florida since the day I moved here. I'm losing all that. I'm losing the cats, losing the nice house, losing the roommate. Inevitably, I'll be moving somewhere smaller and more expensive -- and without a driveway or garage. So, yeah, I'm bummed. And I have to find a new place to live -- and hopefully a new roommate or two. Dave's offered me his place, and it's nice, but it's freaking tiny. I'd have to rent an entire apartment just to hold all my stuff.



    We hardly knew ye.

    So, yeah, that was a bit of a bomb dropped on me this weekend. I have 15 more pages to write. I'll be back when I finish them. Gimme an hour.

    Eight years ago

    Eight years ago, I unleashed a little nugget upon the world. My first "real" web page, it's possibly the ugliest thing in history. The fact I still have a copy of the site is hilarious to me. Most of the links actually work, but are of the wrong capitalization/etc to be loaded properly by apache. You won't want to look at the screen much longer than about three seconds.

    1998. USA Hockey captain Cammi Granato.

    Man, the internet sucked in 1998. To my credit, I really did have the only web site dedicated to Cammi Granato, and I got so many hits after we won the gold that my little Windows 98-based Netscape server (on Pentium 133 hardware) choked and died.

    I have a million things to get to, kiddos, so this is all you're hearing from me for a while.

    A belated retrospective

    So a few days ago we passed the first anniversary of my making this little place on the web. While we've had our ups and downs, occasionally I've written some items that I'm proud of. In light of my impending (within days) departure to Movable Typeland, here's my ten favorite posts from the past year. They're not in any order, really. Except chronological.

    23 January 2005 - I investigate the disappearance of my favorite soda, Kick

    07 February 2005 - The annual Super Bowl Ad Review (parts one, two, and three). Don't worry, I'll be doing it again this year. Or worry. 'Cause I'm doing it again this year.

    08 February 2005 - I write a story about my grandfather's wake

    08 March 2005 - I take a trip back home to Ohio that ends up a lot more interesting than I'd expected

    20 March 2005 - Memories from the NCAA Tournament in Nashville

    03 May 2005 - Gender trouble

    10 May 2005 - Old women playing beer pong

    11 July 2005 - My dad's retirement party becomes more than I was looking for

    21 July 2005 - Vignette from an airport

    06 September 2005 - On "refugee"

    07 September 2005 - I break down a local shooting

    08 October 2005 - The glory of baseball

    21 October 2005 - Memories, memorials, and my lost green jacket

    24 November 2005 - I have a conversation with SmarterChild

    Okay, that was more than ten. Sorry.

    Ten years ago today

    sickdogg and I in the Toledo Blade

    Stuff to be excited about

    So, yeah, the baseball season ended today, on account of the Indians losing (again) and the Red Sox winning (again). Sure, there's the drama of the postseason yet to come, but... it'll be a little empty, knowing how close we came.

    I used to love the show Get Smart. I would sit over at Matt Beltz' house and lay on the sofa all day, watching it. I think I saw every episode four times. There were some amazing quotations from that show, and with the passing last week of Don Adams, I was reminded of some of the best:

    Agent 99: Oh Max, you're so brave. You're going to get a medal for this.
    Maxwell Smart: There's something more important than medals, 99.
    Agent 99: What?
    Maxwell Smart: It's after six. I get overtime.

    KAOS Agent: Look, I'm a sportsman. I'll let you choose the way you want to die.
    Maxwell Smart: All right, how about old age?


    However, my favorite line to hear from Maxwell Smart was the oft-repeated, "Missed it by that much." It was always such a useful catchphrase. And it kind of reflects how I've been feeling lately. A lot of my goals, aspirations, or relationships come crashing to Earth, having missed it... by that much. My high school class' Senior Motto was "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." (popularly attributed to Les Brown).

    Unfortunately, Brown is unfamiliar with the concept of gravity and astrophysics. A failed shot toward the moon is most likely going to end up in a fall back to Earth with considerable velocity, culminating in a fiery explosion upon re-entry to Earth's atmosphere. Sound like fun?

    So that's me, lately. Burning up upon re-entry.

    However, there are things to look forward to. And one of those this is the film Waiting..., which opens this weekend. Starring quite possibly the funniest man alive, Ryan Reynolds, the film will (I assume) capture daily life in a TGI Friday's-type restaurant/bar. Now, any Ryan Reynolds film is bound to be fantastic -- and if you never saw him on Two Guys, A Girl, and A Pizza Place, it's currently available (all four seasons!) on your local Bit Torrent site (no DVD release planned, alas) -- but this one is looking like a real home run. I'm particularly fond of these quotations from the TV trailers:

    Monty: Hey, Natasha. How's my favorite minor?
    Natasha: I'm only a minor for another week.
    Monty: Good answer!


    Or perhaps the best line:

    Monty: Every time I see you, I wish I was a lesbian.
    Lesbian: Every time I see you, I'm glad I am a lesbian.


    So, yeah. It's either going to be the next Office Space or the next Ski School 2. Here's hoping for the former, rather than the latter. And that Ryan Reynolds is the next Fletch.

    I wonder if there's any lines in the movie about Bush voters.

    Okay, I have 400 pages to read by tomorrow morning. Off to work.

    Goodnight, Good Night

    The last time I slam danced ("moshed" depending on your part of the country and/or musical influences) was January, 1993. I was a freshman in high school, and we used to have after-basketball game dances in the high school Commons. Being someone who always enjoyed seeing and being seen, I never missed an after-the-game dance -- ever -- regardless of whether my friends went or not.

    I was a nerdy, five-foot-ten 125 pound fourteen year old. My high school wasn't big, but suffice to say that I wasn't exactly a BMOC. I tended to make a name for myself, then, by doing bizarre, stupid shit that would be memorable. In this case, I would go to those after-the-game dances and get into mosh pits with senior football players. I would get the shit beat out of me, but I earned their respect. I think. I also seem to recall doing a Michael Jackson impersonation, complete with a shiny, single glove.

    Anyway, after a while moshing was banned at school dances and 15 months later Kurt Cobain killed himself and nobody really wanted to listen to Smells Like Teen Spirit anymore anyway. So that was the last time I slam danced.

    Until Friday night.

    On graduation day

    Slightly long, but worth reading.

    There is no better litmus test of a town's true nature than a stroll through its Wal-Mart. Particularly in towns where there is no other big box store, Wal-Mart serves as a microcosm or cross-section of a community at any given moment. Simply observing the mannerisms of individuals in a small-town Wal-Mart can give you a pretty good idea of what the people in that town are like.

    My observations began early, when I saw not one but two cars that formerly belonged to high school friends of mine in the parking lot. Both small, GM convertibles from the early 90s, and both in truly rotten shape.

    My brother and I had driven up in my shiny silver Cobalt rental, parked in a spot close to the grocery store side of the Wal-Mart. This Wal-Mart was built a few years ago, to replace the one up the road. It was built with massive local government subsidies, as clearly life for local citizens was made better by the fact their Wal-Mart now has a grocery store in it. Never mind the eyesore along the US-24 highway that the empty shell left by the old store.

    We walked inside. Immediately, my eyes took in an interesting coincidence: every man in the store was wearing a tank top. (I am trying to get away from the usage of the obloquy "wifebeater" for while I appreciate the negative light it casts upon the article of clothing, I find the term rather misogynistic.)

    Most had hairy backs and deformed, twisted tattoos that used to resemble something on their flabby arms. All wore mesh trucker's caps and several were accompanied by homely, obese wives and unruly children with either fittingly unruly hair or a mohawk-in-the-making.

    This is my hometown the place where my parents live.

    I proceed to the bakery with the Hot Dog Man. We are tasked with picking up the cake for my father's retirement party. After several minutes of waiting, a short, elderly woman emerges from the back room. My brother, who worked at Wal-Mart for four years before finally finding gainful employment last week in Columbus, recognizes her immediately.

    The woman recognizes me, too. I am blank. Hot Dog Man says, "You remember Mrs. Fisher, right?"

    Ah, yes. Mrs. Fisher. The woman who spooned out applecrisp and square pizza to me for eight years as the head cook of the Catholic grade school I attended. She hands me the cake, which reads -- not surprisingly -- "Happy Retirement, Mike," and I head toward the front of the store. I get in the "20 Items or Less" line and remark, as I always do, that the sign features improper grammar and curse its position just slightly out of my reach. I would be tempted to fix it myself, but instead look around for anyone capable of comprehending why it's grammatically incorrect. I see many people, but I see none who fit that category.

    I conclude that as I saw no one I recognized in Wal-Mart (mind you, even five years ago I could go to Wal-Mart to pick up batteries or something and be there an hour owing to the number of acquaintances I would run into and my fairly loquacious nature) that the town suffered some sort of nuclear blast that eliminated its residents and replaced them with imported citizens from the Ozarks.

    We arrive at Rick's East, a restaurant/banquet club on, yes, the east side of Napoleon. It was, once upon a time, a disco. Then it was a supper club, then a bar, then condemned due to knifings happening on a nightly basis. The Rick (not his real name) of RIckety Rick's purchased it and it's actually a very nice place. Nicer than I would expect.

    The food my parents have been slaving over for days is spread out, and as some of my parents' closer friends arrive, they bring more. I pray that people show up, and that they eat the food, because there's a ton. Chicken wings, cake, fruit, veggies, crackers, cheese, and the other typical party foods reside along the south wall. Inoffensive music from XM plays on a small PA system. Notably, however, is the large pot of my father's piperki, a dish i cannot even find info on via google. Suffice to say, it is roasted peppers and sausage in a kind of sauce that you dip bread into. It's Macedonian, yeah. Also, there is [info]piperki who has the best LJ user name ever.

    People start to arrive. Teachers. Coaches. My old high school principal, one of the few men I hug instead of shake hands with upon seeing. [info]sickdogg and Jen arive. My senses are a little overwhelmed; many of these people I haven't seen in five or ten years, and I can barely remember their names. My grandmother and aunt show up, and I'm impressed because they aren't even from my father's side of the family. Everyone wants to know what I'm doing, and if I'm glad I'm not in Florida right now. (For once, I am.)

    I see an old history teacher of mine and tell him I continue to use the phrase he taught me back then ("The weak will fall by the wayside. The strong will somehow endure. I am a living example") in my classes. I make my rounds and try to talk to people as quickly as possible, because while we were expecting 40 or so people, more like 70 show up. The bar is open and I am lubricating my throat with Miller Lite and Black Velvet (separately).

    My parents' speech coach, who taught me speech my freshman year at Heidelberg, arrives and we have one of our famous conversations of rapid speaking and conversation about academia. This dude's pretty much been the reason I've been successful at anything in my life, so I oblige him the time and enjoy it.

    Then someone shows up whom I would have never expected.

    For about five years, I had a crush on this girl who was a year behind me in school. We worked together a few summers teaching tennis lessons, and became pretty good friends. I'm not even sure anyone ever knew I had a crush on her, but [info]berrydip and [info]sickdogg would have to attest to that, because they're the only ones whom I would have told if I did.

    She and her sister had played tennis for my dad, and they came in with their parents (including her father, whom [info]berrydip once worked for and dubbed "Jizzbrain"). I think his real name is Steve.

    Anyway, she looked ... great. I mean, you always say that, but for some reason, I thought she looked amazing. I hadn't seen her in at least five years. She lives in Oregon, now, works for Planned Parenthood, and drives a VW Golf. I tentatively ask if she's a Mac user, too, afraid that if she says yes I'll ask her to marry me right then and there. And yeah, I checked for a ring. There was none. (Though [info]sickdogg had a longer conversation with her elsewhere, so she quite possibly could be in some committed relationship, but I didn't ask. Hopefully he'll chime in with an answer to that question.)

    She said, "yeah... why?" and I reminded myself to breathe.

    As people started to leave, I prepped myself for the "Hey, I want your email address" question but she beat me to it. We laughed about how we're old now and have abandoned our silly email addresses for simple ones that are firstname.lastname@generic.com.

    She walked away, and I lingered upon her for a little too long, for dramatic effect if any other reason.

    We cleaned up. I came home and napped off my booze-haze. I dreamed about my ex, again. Except she didn't look like my ex. She looked like that girl.

    Time to drive back to Cincinnati.

    The summer I was 21, I was living at home [Napoleon, OH: population 8,000 and high school graduating class of 152 for the uninitiated], working (kind of; that's a story for another day) and waiting for the fall to arrive and bring with it my first real full-time college teaching job at Eastern Michigan.

    But mainly what my friends and I did that summer was sit out on our boat on the Maumee River, go to our play rehearsals for Hello, Dolly! at night, and follow it up with a trip to Napoleon's newest and nicest (and only, for the most part) bar: Rick's Sports Tavern, retitled "Rickety Rick's" almost immediately by my buddies and I.

    We hit Rickety Rick's nearly every night of the week. We were some of the bar's best supporters in the early days, and knew nearly everyone who frequented the place. As the years rolled on, and we went our separate directions, we still hit up Rickety Rick's on Saturday nights, and it's a sure bet to see most of the people we went to high school with there on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

    Thus, I had concluded I was going to go there Saturday night, regardless of if any of my friends in town were interested in going with me.

    My parents, the Hot Dog Man, and I headed over to BW3 in Defiance for some beers and trivia, and we spent maybe two and a half hours there, fumbling through trivia and eventually giving up and playing poker instead. It's weird that I spend enough time in bars that I go into "bar mode" regardless of the fact that I'm with my parents; I had to keep telling myself, "no, you can't go talk to those girls." But it was a great time, and we got home around midnight. I asked the Hot Dog Man if he wanted to grab a beer at Rick's and he said he was tired. So I headed out alone.

    One thing about living in a small town is that your sense of distance gets totally warped. A drive downtown seemed like a bit of a haul, when we lived here, but I timed it and discovered it takes four minutes and 15 seconds to drive from my parents' house to Rick's. What a joke. I can't even get out of my neighbourhood in Tampa in four minutes.

    I walk into Rick's and look around. I recognize no one. This falls in line with the article in the paper about a bad car accident near my parents' house that killed three people, ages 24-27, all from Napoleon, yet listing names I did not recognize. Everyone I knew here moved out and the replacements came from who-knows-where. They looked at me suspiciously, like I was infringing on their territory. I felt the same about them.

    I was about to leave when this beautiful brunette comes through the door in a dress that is just slightly gaudy enough for me to recognize as a bridesmaid's dress. I look more closely and realize it's a girl I went to school with for eleven years and whom had always been a little strange toward me, for reasons I have never nor will ever understand. She was cute when we were in school, but she's grown to be a real stunner.

    I almost didn't recognize her, but then I was like "LISA" and she was like "OMG TIM" and we decided to have a beer. I asked if the dude she was with was her husband; it was, and he introduced himself and those were the last words he said. Why all the cute girls from high school married quiet, gruff men I will never know.

    So we talked for 20 minutes, catching up on who got married (one of her friends from high school, someone who was always much nicer to me than Lisa was) and who was at the wedding, what I'm doing, et cetera. The conversation was far longer than any conversation between the two of us previously in the 20 years I have known her. She and gruff husband left.

    I went into the other room and realized two twin brothers that were in my high school class, collectively known as the Youngbuddies, were sipping bud lights and smoking cigarettes along the bar. I was not friends with these guys; they were well-known as drug dealers and punks. Truth be told, they're nice guys now, and I sat and talked with them about life, gossip, and how our hometown sucks now. We closed down the bar, pledged to see each other at our ten-year next summer, and I headed home on the frighteningly short drive. Napoleon used to be a "nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there." I'm not so sure it's even a nice place to visit anymore.

    Sipping warm beer

    I had a hell of a weekend.

    Saturday night, out to Ralph's for a dinner-type party and some poker. Ralph's girlfriend Megan's parents are in town from Joe-Juh so we had a grand old time. Got home around 3:30. Then Monday sat around, made lunch, watched Field of Dreams, and met up with Ralph, Megan, and her parents to go to St. Pete to drink some beers and watch the fireworks.

    St. Pete's fireworks were pretty badass. Moreso, though, I was happy just to spend time with Ralph & Megan. I really, really get along with Megan well, owing mainly to that she and I are far closer in age than I am to the rest of my friends (I'm 26, Megan is 23, our other friends are in their 30s) so we have that going for us. It's nice to have people around you who legitimately care about your wellbeing and offer advice based on this.

    We came back from St. Pete and Ralph's neighbour Les was about to set off his display of some quite complicated fireworks. Amazingly (at least coming from a state where you can only buy sparklers) pretty much all fireworks are legal here in Florida. So Les had this enormous box that shot out dozens of real exploding shells just like a real fireworks display. It was pretty cool, except he set it, strangely, on top of a cardboard box. Mind you, this man is a safety inspector for a living.

    So the box collapses and exploding shells of a dozen colors go shooting off in all directions across the neigbhourhood. Some go in his garage, some are shooting at my car, et cetera. I am laughing uncontrollably as I hide behind Megan's truck. Megan goes sprinting down the street, trying to avoid a laser beam that ends up hitting her in the head... she was okay, thankfully. though she was in panic mode for a while, she thought it had singed her hair.

    it reminded me of an incident in high school when a gross of bottle rockets sitting on eb's driveway was accidentally ignited by a spinning color thing and 144 bottle rockets started firing in all directions. it's the closest approximation to warfare i've ever been in. well, i'm guessing that real soldiers in real warfare aren't laughing their asses off the entire time.

    pegasus lounge tonight for open mic. allegedly i'm in a play, or something, though they haven't called me in a week.

    25



    Today is the 25th anniversary of the Sunshine Skyway disaster.

    The 35 who died:

    Michael Curtin, 43, of Apollo Beach | Duane Adderly, 21, of Miami | Louis Lucas, 62, of Birmingham, Ala. | Yvonne Johnson, 22, of Miami | Monisha McGarrah, infant, of Tallahassee | Wanda McGarrah, 24, of Tallahassee | Sharon Dixon, 21, of Miami | Myrtle Brown, 58, of St. Johns, Newfoundland | Willis Brown, 57, of St. Johns, Newfoundland | Phyllis Hudson, 58, of St. Johns, Newfoundland | Aubrey Hudson, 62, of St. Johns, Newfoundland | Horace Lemmons, 47, of Kings Mountain, N.C. | Gerda Hedquist, 92, of Charlotte Harbor | Louise Johnson, 59, Cataula, Ga. | Melborn Russell, 38, of Chicago | Robert Harding, 63, Glen Falls, N.Y. | Alphonso Blidge, 22, of Miami | Marguerite Mathison, 82, of St. Petersburg | Delores Smith, 50, of Pennsville, N.J. | Harry Dietch, 68, of St. Petersburg | Hildred Dietch, 73, of St. Petersburg | John Carlson, 47, of Pinellas Park | Doris Carlson, 42, of Pinellas Park | Tawana McClendon, 20, of Palmetto | Charles Collins, 40, of Tampa | Leslie Coleman, 52, of St. Petersburg | James Pryor, 42, of Seminole | Woodrow Triplett, 33, of Bainbridge, Ga. | Sandra Davis, 35, of Boardman | Lillian Loucks, 69, of Winnipeg, Manitoba | Ann Pondy, 57, of Winnipeg, Manitoba | Brenda Green, 19, of Miami | John Callaway, 19, of Miami | Robert Smith, 37, of Pennsville, N.J. | Lavern Daniels, 20, of Miami

    In happier news, I cleaned out the garage today. It looks spectaculler. I am fixing a lamb roast tonight. Wish me luck.

    Edit: the lamb roast might be the greatest thing I have ever cooked, ever. Wow, wow, wow. Either I got really lucky or I am a master chef

    four dead in o-hi-o

    Today is the 35th anniversary of the massacre at Kent State.

    My father was a senior in high school on May 4th, 1970. He attended Lorain Catholic High School, which is about an hour from Kent. His older brother, my uncle, was a senior at Kent that year, though he was at work that day and thankfully (or, narratively, "sadly") missed the massacre.

    Several of my father's friends would end up being drafted a year and a half later, though the 1971 draft lottery did not end up taking anywhere near as many men as the previous years'. Many more of my father's friends were high school seniors enrolled to attend Kent State that fall. (My father was not one of them; he attended a small college in NW Ohio).

    Imagine, for a minute, that you are one of those seniors. For thirteen years, you've suffered through a Catholic education that has seared memories and scars into your psyche. For thirteen years, you've navigated the series of nuns whom have sworn their lives to helping you learn, by whatever means necessary. In one month, you graduate. In one month, you escape this world to enter the drunken lovefest that is university.

    Except you're headed to the place where four students, kids like you, were just killed by a volley of 65 bullets fired from a distance of over 250 feet.

    Only one of the four students killed were actually participating in the protest. In fact, one of the four was a member of the campus ROTC. With the passage of time, we forget that this wasn't a "kill or be killed" scenario. The protesters weren't a danger to the Guardsmen, nor were they assembling illegally. (Yes, a handful of the protesters did throw rocks at the Guardsmen, but remember the distance: 265 feet.)

    I know it's a bit different for me because it seems "closer." I know it's a bit different for me because I've been to the space where the shooting occurred. I'm not a doomsayer who says "beware as the neocon imperialists will bring back the draft and we'll all be sent to war" like many of my friends, but I do think that the events of 35 years ago and the four who died as a result are worth reflecting on for just a minute or two:

    * Allison Krause
    * Jeffrey Glen Miller
    * Sandra Lee Scheuer
    * William Knox Schroeder

    Yeah, this was a blog-ish post and not a journal-y one, but my blog isn't up and running yet (WordPress is fuckin' complicated, man)

    A swift Kick

    | 2 Comments



    "WARNING: Contains Stuff you don't even want to know about!!"

    "Do Not Taunt, provoke, or aggravate this product."

    "WARNING: May be too intense for some members of the general public."

    It came from the great minds of Royal Crown cola. Their goal: to compete with Mountain Dew for the coveted "young person's highly caffeinated citrus drink." Brought to national market in 1995, the fizzy drink had an equal amount of caffeine as the Dew with twice as much attitude. Mind you, this is before Mountain Dew became "extreme." Kick was the first beverage to feature a URL on the can and the first soda to appropriate the wide-mouth style that had been previously introduced by Coors ("Less glug," anyone?).

    I was an early adopter of Kick, and took to carrying sixpacks with me everywhere I went. It tasted better than Mountain Dew and was only 35 cents in machines (I don't remember how much six packs were but they were cheap, apparently). Not everyone thought Kick was as great as I did.

    From: g...@arh0280.urh.uiuc.edu (Geoge Gruschow)
    Subject: Re: Kick Soda
    Date: 1995/08/31
    Message-ID: <424tds$i7m@vixen.cso.uiuc.edu>#1/1

    I bought Kick the first time I saw it (I'll try almost anything), and I
    hadn't ever seen an ad for it (still haven't).. not even the people in
    the store knew what the heck it was. I took it out to the picnic I
    was going to, and I was astounded.. It was Mountain Dew! I mean, it
    wasn't really Mountain Dew, it was just the same taste again (you know
    that funny milky citrus type taste in Mello Yello, Mountain Dew, and
    Generic Citrus Drinks). I hate Mountain Dew!

    Moral of the story.. GG's opinion of Kick: It sucks. Jolt Kicks Kick's Ass.


    Well, he is a losar. Huge losar.

    Ryan Flannery of the Kentucky Kernel didn't like it either, as he wrote on September 8th, 1995:

    The following warning, yes, warning appears on cans of Kick: "Contains stuff you don't even want to know about." Needless to say, I read the ingredients. Among those listed were gum acacia, sweat from the brow of Larry (a worker at the bottling plant) and other natural flavors. Certainly, gastrointestinal juices from a dead opossum on New Circle Road would fall into the "other natural flavors" catagory (among other things). If you look up gum acacia in the dictionary, I'm pretty sure you'll discover it's just tree sap. Sounds refreshing, huh? They were right. I didn't want to know about this stuff.

    Clearly this guy thought he was some kind of amateur Burke and Kline or something.

    Anyway, Jenn didn't remember Kick, nor did her thugged-out boy toy of the moment, so it might have never been a national product. Or perhaps others didn't have the love affair with it I did. Oh well. I miss it. After it went off the market, I switched to drinking beer, and I haven't really gone back to soda.

    Maybe some day.

    nostalgia

    top five retired fast food products in no particular order

    burger king rodeo burger
    taco bell steak burrito bellgrande
    mcdonald's McDLT
    KFC Chicken Littles sandwiches
    wendy's cheddar lover's cheeseburger

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