"Blogging your world for a little while now."

April 4, 2006

CALLING ALL KAMANITES…

On the way home from class tonight I flipped on the radio on the chance that the Jazz might have pulled off a win against San Antonio, thus preserving the fleeting hope that they could still make the playoffs this year.

Nope. They lost, 95-86.

Technically they're still in the running for the final playoff spot, but it's getting to the point where Sacramento is going to have to lose every game from here out (with the Jazz winning all theirs) to pull it off. I'm no quitter, but I think we're going to have to wait until next year to see some postseason action in the Salt Lake Valley again.

On the plus side, I think there's a very good chance we'll be in good form next season. This season, like the last one, was decimated by injuries. Our best lineup has only been playing together for the last two weeks. It's almost like we're watching the preseason in April.

In this case, "wait until next year" is more than wishful thinking.

Anyway, in the middle of watching the game against the Clippers the other night, I noticed a couple of things–things I feel constrained to share with what's left of my loyal audience.

  1. Chris Kaman, the Clippers center, looks like the genetically fused hybrid love child of Kurt Rambis and Hulk Hogan.
  2. Chris Kaman is now my favorite player in the Pacific Division. If he buys himself some Rambis goggles, complete with nosebridge tape, he'll be my favorite player in the entire Western Conference.
  3. Mehmet Okur had 700 Turkish countrymen in attendance at the Clipper game. Mehmet Heads, if you will.
  4. I think what the NBA really needs are player-specific cult followings, just like all the Turks, who will follow a player around the league and sit in large groups during ballgames. Chris Kaman's fans will be the Kamanites.
  5. If the trend catches on, it should spread into the regular workforce, so that guys like me can have travelling entourage/fan clubs. I'll borrow a name from the aforementioned Mr. Hogan for mine: The Loveslaves.

WAS ANYBODY PAYING ATTENTION???

Much has been said, and will yet be said, about Sunday morning's address from President Hinkley. But I have yet to find anyone that realizes that following his talk, the choir sang his very own version of "I Know That My Redeemer Lives". I'm not sure anyone even realizes President Hinkley wrote the second version of "I Know That My Redeemer Lives".

Finally my knack for reading CD liner notes pays off in a spiritual context…

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS EES GOOD

One other General Conference note: We've had a German apostle for a while now, but last weekend I counted THREE speakers with German accents. I think that's pretty cool. The German accent is one of my favorites.

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March 17th, 2006

SALUTING KEN

Yesterday I found out that Ken Brewer died. Nine months of fighting pancreatic cancer had passed, and the time had arrived for Ken to retire with honor.

Ken was one of my professors in grad school at Utah State. He was also serving as Utah Poet Laureate when he died. I had him for a fiction writing seminar back in 2003, and even though the course was taught online, I managed to corner him at his office for a few hours to get feedback on some of my writing.

Not that I was twisting his arm or anything. That was the thing that always impressed me the most about Ken. He was always generous with his time and attention. He completely lacked the awkward distance that exists between a lot of professors and their students. In fact, the morning I went to see him, I figured we'd talk for about an hour. Four hours later I felt like I'd made a lifelong friend.

Ken had thirty-two years worth of students to remember him by, not to mention all the additional fans he touched through his poetry. But as a teacher myself, I felt like I had a special privileged relationship with him that was more exclusive. An appreciation for what he was really doing, since I was faced with the same challenge myself. Sometimes in the middle of a thrashing grading session, it gets hard to pay close attention to the soul of what it is you're reading. But Ken could recall insightful details about my work; he really cared about it.

All the best, Ken. You were a great inspiration to me.

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March 4, 2006

QUICK HITS

Once again it looks like I have to try to make up for some lost time, since it has now been nearly two months since my last entry...

*While I was "away", our local authorities were luckily not neglecting their jobs--police managed to break down a cockfighting ring in central Utah. Cockfighting has to be one of those tragic-comic subjects you love in spite of yourself. Obviously not something you want to encourage, but the simple notion that it still exists within our civilized world of cell phones and high-speed internet--and that nineteen people were arrested in connection to it--brings a guilty smile to my face.

*I recently learned that David Lee Roth has been spending his time working as an EMT these days. I guess I could make all sorts of jokes about the former Van Halen frontman working with a wide array of narcotics, or take a shot at his failed solo career, but all I really want to say is that it would be pretty far out to get in a car wreck, then come to in the back of the ambulance and groggily mutter to the paramedic, "Hey, are you David Lee Roth?"

*For some inexplicable reason, I continue to see otherwise dignified writers make use of the hopelessly cliched term "riveting" in their reviews.

*Word is the Sex Pistols snubbed an invitation to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, since obviously it wouldn't make sense for a group of original rebels to deny the true rock and roll spirit and join the pantheon of commercially justified sell-outs in Cleveland. I get that idea, but doesnt anyone realize that the Sex Pistols were a fabricated act? Isn't their Hall of Fame snub kind of like The Monkee's blowing off induction?

*I apologize if this is an unsettling topic, but it's so stupid I have to say something: if Andre Kirilenko really thinks he can cash in his pop-star wife's "gift", he is a complete moron. I may not know much (if anything) about women, but I'm not dumb enough to think his wife is really going to turn a blind eye to one yearly infidelity. Come on, if your girlfriend/wife were to tell you, "oh, honey, don't worry about me this Valentines; I want you to go hang out with the boys", would you be dumb enough to go for it? All the writers I've read must be, cause none of them seem to be catching on to this. They all think she is some sort of ultimate uber-wife, or at best, a brilliant psychological manipulator. Honestly? I think they just wanted to come up with something "cool" to put in their ESPN article.

*Bud Light is still running their Ted Ferguson ads--the ones where some goober tries to do "impossible tasks" for timed periods--like talking to his girlfriend about their relationship, or having lunch with the same girlfriend without checking out a tablefull of models nearby--and is rewarded with--what else?--beer.OK, it's sort of a funny idea, but it has one huge fatal flaw--his girlfriend is gorgeous. And this moron doesn't want a serious relationship with her. They should have made the girlfriend homely or psychotic or something, because only a drunk would be wasted enough to buy the idea that this loser isn't blowing it big time.

*I was thinking about making this into a full column, but it's not a very funny topic, so I'll just hit it here. Now that the Olympics are over, I'm not sure I read a single positive article about them that didn't come directly from the Olympic Propoganda Machine itself. Everyone keeps moaning about how dull they are, how the sports are obscure, the athletes are phonies, or how things "just ain't the way they used to be". Well, I don't necessarily disagree; I just think it's our own fault. The Olympics are supposed to be about the pure amateur athlete, but that concept went down the tubes when Ben Johnson tested positive and we decided to send the NBA's best to kick some foreign butt. Watching the Dream Team beat Angola by 200 points may have been vindicating and fun to watch, but it cost us all, whether everyone else was already doing it or not. We also shouldn't have made the games alternate every two years. Every four years, the event is unique. Every two years, the event is "so what?"

*One final item: my own personal "Seinfeldian" moment. At the beginning of February, I began working in the administrative office of the USU Salt Lake Extension as a project coordinator, which means I have joined the legions of Americans who attend regular meetings in conference rooms. At one recent meeting we ordered sandwiches for lunch, and anticipating a lack of options, I brought along my own bottle of Famous Dave's Devils Spit Barbecue Sauce. So throughout the whole meeting, I kept getting these curious glances from my new co-workers as they took note of the bottle sitting on the table in front of me. I felt like George Costanza cutting up my Snickers Bar with a butter knife. After the meeting, the Director of the Extension commended me on my selection. Good times.

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January 11, 2006

BACK IN BLACK...

I may have been a little presumptive in my last entry, since I wasn't as "back" as I thought I was. Turns out that the process of getting the internet up in my new place was a bit more involved a process than I had suspected. So to be safe, let's just say that any entry could be my last...

Rather than address a lot of specific topics, it may be more appropriate to just write a general "catch-up" entry, then pray I get back in the usual rhythm soon after.

OK, then, so just after last Thanksgiving I moved into a new place in Bountiful with two of my old friends from the 32nd Ward, Aaron Johnson and Nick Smith (Erik Glanville joined us after Christmas, giving as a total of four swinging bachelors--half the population of my last bachelor pad.) Around that same time I ended my 18-month reign of terror as the 32nd Ward Sunday School President to begin a new reign of terror as Stake Sunday School President of the Salt Lake University 2nd Stake. Training instead of teaching. It kind of feels like I'm retired.

At the beginning of December, I picked up a second job, working as a baker for the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. For those of you keeping track, now I have been a professional baker, English teacher, humor columnist, movie critic, bouncer, cartographer, public affairs writer, fact checker, framer, web designer, actor, bagger boy, checker, greenhouse assistant, TV cameraman, TelePrompter operator, ticket salesman, rock drummer, graphic designer, and farm laborer.

Be assured, a bakery column is coming in the future...

Oh, yeah, I also got a new car. My beloved Maxima started raking in the repair costs last summer, and in November I figured out that I'd put in over two grand since last spring. It was sad, but I had no choice but to retire Mad Max with honor, trading it in for a 2002 Honda Accord Coupe, which I have tentatively named "The Batmobile" due to its black exterior and black leather interior.

Back in black.

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December 28, 2005

I AM NOT DEAD!

All I can say is what a long, strange trip it's been. And it's not even close to being over. Last month I moved right after Thanksgiving, and while I've been able to keep up with e-mail and ESPN's Page2 web site, I haven't managed to update anything on my own until tonight. So with what little time I have this evening, I will do my best to rattle off a handful of random thoughts on the events of the last few weeks…

1. OK, so Utah won the big annual battle with BYU, nothing new there. But why is it called the "Holy War?" I understand that BYU is the "Mormon school", but does the U really have to be considered the unholy university? Especially when a large percentage of their students are LDS? Wouldn't the real holy war be between BYU and Notre Dame? Yes, I know this is old news, but this is stupid. I have to say something.

Besides, Brigham Young founded both schools, didn't he?

2. Here's a new catch phrase for the "DTR" (Define The Relationship for the uninitiated): "State of the Union Address". A friend told me that. I thought it was funny.

3. If I were stranded on a desert island and only allowed one type of music, I'd probably go with 60's Soul/R&B. If I only could listen to one band, though, I think I'd go with Creedence. Something tells me that's a band that would take a long time to get tired of.

4. There is a surprising amount of religious programming on at 5AM. I'm not talking about Christian reading groups, either. I mean full-on faith healers performing concussion-inducing head slaps that would have gotten Lawrence Taylor kicked out of the NFL.

Another interesting 5AM discovery? Kenny Rogers and Lionel Ritchie singing a duet on CMT.

5. A while back I heard a news blip about a turtle celebrating its 175th birthday. Apparently Charles Darwin studied it. CHARLES DARWIN STUDIED IT. That's like finding Abraham Lincoln's cat at an animal shelter. What do you even say about that?

6. Saw (and enjoyed) the new Harry Potter movie. I was particularly impressed that they got the lead singer of Midnight Oil to play Voldemort.

7. Is the ultimate sign of post-jock domestication the guy that shows up to play full-contact basketball in sweat pants?

8. For the last four weeks I've been working at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building Bakery preparing desserts and having fun with propane torches. (Obviously a column will be forthcoming). What I want to say here is that after an entire season's worth of Christmas music on FM100, I've realized that there are only seven Christmas songs. We just rotate through about 7000 versions of each one.

Merry Christmas, on behalf of Target employees everywhere. It's good to be back.

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November 7th, 2005

BRAVO, EAGLES

I just became a big Eagles fan for the rest of the 2005 NFL season, if not longer. They just did what I wish a lot of professional (and college) teams had the guts to do. In ditching Terrell Owens for the rest of the year, they're showing me that they're more interested in what's good about football than cowering to a crybaby's genetic gifts. It may be true that they really are better off and more likely to win without him, but too many teams keep hold of the proverbial "spoiled child" athlete because of what they can produce on the field, and at the cash register.

The tragedy is that my opinion of Terrell Owens went up considerably when he came back from a leg break to play in the Super Bowl last year. He was a loon, sure, but a tough one at that. I've never seen a guy burn so much goodwill so fast, though. Maybe he really is crazy.

Go Eagles.

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November 3rd, 2005

WELCOMING DERON

I had a great moment last night. Around 7:30, while debating about what to do with a seemingly dull evening before me, I suddenly realized that there was a Jazz game on. It occurs to me that the Jazz may be the last sports franchise, college or pro, that I feel any serious loyalty to. I still love football, and monitor the Utes, Raiders, Browns, and Bears, all for their different reasons, but I don't get nearly as upset to see them lose as I used to, nor do I feel as elated when they win. But I still love the Jazz.

That affiliation (or affliction, depending on your point of view) may me a topic for a full column, but for now it is merely an intro to my happy news that last night the season got off on a great note, beating Dallas by 11 and showcasing the debut of Deron Williams, heralded point of the future. Do I smell championship? Nope. I'm not even going to commit to playoffs at this point. I do think the team will be much better than last year, and more fun to watch.

Go Jazz.

PURE ADRENALINE RUSH?

As happy as I am about the new season, I'm not sold on the "pure adrenaline rush" slogan. Sounds like a bit of a stretch to me. But as I am not one that likes to highlight a problem without providing solutions, here are a few alternatives:

  1. Jazz 2005: Not your Grandma's Jazz
  2. Jazz 2005: We've Still Got Jerry Sloan
  3. Jazz 2005: We Can Still Beat the Lakers
  4. Jazz 2005: The Very Definition of Cultural Diversity
  5. Jazz 2005: Drinks Are On Our Mayor!
  6. Jazz 2005: You Know Some Of These Guys!

or, perhaps we could go with…

THE REDEMPTION OF GREG OSTERTAG

I've always been a halfway guy with Ostertag. I sensed some of the lethargic attitude he gets criticized so much for, but I hesitated to be as hard on him as everyone seemed so willing to be. All I knew for sure was that good intentions aside, I didn't think he was a great candidate for a larger-than-live billboard on I-15. Bottom Line: The Jazz (and the fans) probably expected too much, and Tag took the hit when he got overpaid for it and didn't live up to it. I think he's a great asset and a role player, and as long as we treat him that way, everyone will be happy. That was in evidence last night: he leaves the game in the first quarter, Dallas goes on a 15-0 run. We put Tag and Andre "I'll block your mama if I can" Kirilenko in there together, and I think we've got a pretty decent defense.

Welcome back, OT.

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October 20, 2005

BACK ON THE WAGON (?)

As at least two of you may have noticed, I haven't been doing a lot of updating to the site lately. It's not because of a new job or a new woman, nor is it because I haven't been doing anything worth writing about. It isn't because of a total lack of inspiration, as I have been turning my creative energies towards a couple of other projects (including the next "episode" of Planet Venison). I guess the only valid explanation is that I haven't felt like it.

OUR MODERN WORLD

The other day I was watching the remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", and besides seeing Leonard Nimoy in one of his only non-Spock roles ever, I noticed that several important plot points involved an inability to access phones. I just thought it was kind of funny; these days most everyone is accessible 24/7 in that regard. In fact, I almost feel insulted whenever I get a busy signal anymore.

THE WALL

I think that the word "nice" is one of the most powerful verbal brick walls in the English language. No matter what you say in front of it--"really", "very", etc.--the word "nice" brings any further evaluation to a screeching halt. If someone asks you about your blind date, and you refer to them as a "nice" person, that's it. They might as well be condemned. Of course, I know about all of the exceptions to the rule, where one person isn't impressed initially, then falls for the same person later, but I think my theory holds water in general. I'd almost rather be described as a weirdo than a nice guy.

ANOTHER CLINT SIGHTING!

First it was Uncle Rico, now it's Clint Howard. Saw him in "Gung Ho" last week. He plays a long-haired auto worker in Pennsylvania. Therefore anyone playing "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" can connect me to Michael Keaton and George Wendt in two films. Of course, by that reasoning, I can also be connected to William Shatner in the same number of steps. Finally.

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September 30, 2005

CLINT SIGHTING!

As at least three of you read in my Movie Extra column a few months back, Ron Howard's brother Clint has a starring role in the upcoming film "Church Ball". Anyway, last night I had another Clint sighting, courtesy of an old Star Trek TV series DVD I rented a few days ago. I'm watching Episode #3, "The Carbomite Maneuver", and I can't shake the feeling that the alien dude at the end looks really familiar. It was something about his eyes. It occurred to me that it could be the eight-year-old version of Clint Howard, which would have been right given the show aired in about 1966. So I waited patiently for the credits to roll.

I was right.

Man, I can't even pick out eight year old photos of some of my good friends. 

JOINING THE CLUB

I made my first iTunes downloads about two years ago at the beginning of year #2 at Utah State, and since then I've picked up about 250-odd songs. (The song total and price total is skewed because of the only complete album I downloaded, the "Napoleon Dynamite" soundtrack, which yielded about 40 songs for ten bucks.) But until last weekend I hadn't obtained the second half of the current Mac revolution: the iPod.

Thanks to my sister, I now have my own mini iPod. She got it free with the iBook she picked up last week, and since she already had an iPod, I became the grateful beneficiary. Katie told me that since she got hers she hasn't burned a single CD. Now I know why. I was so excited about my new toy I found the motivation to jog twice this week just to try it out.

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September 23, 2005

VIVA LA COMISARIO!

The tailgate bandwagon continued rolling along yesterday afternoon, this time with five salsas from the Salsa King and three choices of meats for fajitas. But most importantly, yesterday's event featured a visit from the self-appointed "Commissioner of Tailgating", Joe Cahn.

Joe used to run a culinary school in New Orleans, but several years ago gave it up to tour the country visiting tailgaters all across the nation. Our own Commissioner, Tip, called up Joe and arranged for him to make a pit stop at our little local up in the golf course parking lot yesterday afternoon.

The artists rendering of Joe makes him look kind of like a balding Bob Villa (check his website, www.tailgating.com) , but in person he looks like the ideal tailgater: stocky, medium height, and a big smile. Outside of his personal tour guide and consistent phone calls, you'd never take him for a celebrity. He showed us some cutting techniques for our peppers and told us some stories about his nationwide tour. We were all convinced the guy managed to land one of the greatest gigs of all time.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck about the same time when Tip tried to chop his finger off slicing a lime. He missed a big part of Joe's visit getting his stitches, but we still had Joe sign a copy of SI for him. Guess he was kind of excited to have his guy around and all. Of course, with Tip out of the lineup, I was about ready to ask Joe to cook our food for us. Thing is, Tip is pretty much the only one who really knows how to cook.

AND NOW…THE REAL A-TEAM!

Just finished Season Four of "24". I'm finally caught up with the rest of the free world. Not that I'm thrilled about it--I don’t know that I'm going to like having to watch one episode a week when Season Five starts.

However, I do have some ideas for the next season, if it's not too late. I love the idea of Jack walking off into the sunset after faking his own death, mainly because this gives the writers the opportunity to let him truly embrace his calling as a vigilante superhero. He could form a legitimate A-Team, and I wouldn't even fault him for bringing Mr. T along. The possibilities are truly endless.

Other thoughts on Season Four:

  1. Glad to see the guy that played the Mummy in those Brendan Frasier movies is still getting work. It's guys like that that make me feel better about shaving my head.
  2. I wonder how long they're going to go with this "beautiful assassin" thing. Between Nina and the two brunette assassins in Season Four, I'm thinking there are a lot of guys that wouldn't mind being taken hostage these days.
  3. I know that it will be important for the writers to continue to develop new permanent characters (as permanent as you can be in "24", anyway), but I was glad to see them bring back Tony, Michelle, and David Palmer as the season went along. When the series finishes, they should all form a rock band.
  4. On a similar note, I think Chloe and Edgar should date. It's a match made in personality disorder hell.
  5. Do you think that if the network ever has administrative or technical problems with the show, they'll delete an episode and claim that you only need 23 episodes to cover a daylight savings change day?
  6. It would be easy to assume he's dead, but I think Beruz should come back in Season Five, maybe as Jack's right-hand man or something. I just think the character has potential.

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September 16, 2005

DON'T MAKE ME MAD…UNNNNGH!

A couple of weeks ago I was led to a site called stupid.com via Bill "Sports Guy" Simmons "Daily Links" page on ESPN's Page2 web site. The draw was a product called "Mr. T in your pocket", a palm-sized chunk of plastic that plays six different Mr. T sound bites when you hit the corresponding button. I passed the link on to my buddy Randy, a longtime proponent of the inspirational T. classic "Be Somebody, or Be Somebody's Fool" video from the 1980's.

He bought one. He's using it to teach his children discipline.

Simply put, a fine piece of cultural art, a celebration of everything America stands for. I'm sure I'll have one myself inside of six months.

ONE MORE RICO SIGHTING

I realize that this is probably contributing to the gradual damage being done to the "Napoleon Dynamite" legacy by driving it into the ground with constant public references and bad quotes, but I keep seeing Uncle Rico turn up in obscure movies. A couple of weeks back I finally sat down to watch "Real Genius" from beginning to end, and sure enough, he's the dude in the closet. Then last night I popped in "Monster Squad" over dinner, and there he was again, this time as the Werewolf guy.

BANDWAGONING SPORTS GUY A BIT MORE…

I think my single favorite Sports Guy feature on ESPN.com are his mailbags. Every few weeks or so he'll answer a dozen or so reader e-mails online, usually with classic results. I'm a downright normal guy compared to a lot of his readers. I'd do mailbags too, if people actually e-mailed me. Somehow I've got to get some more publicity for this thing…

Anyway, last week's mailbag was one of my all-time favorites, mostly because of a letter in which a 27-year-old reader mentions an episode at Macaroni Grill where his waitress thought his 39-year-old girlfriend was his mom. (Instead of recapping the whole thing, I'll just send you to the page via the link to Page2 off of the Smooth Jerky page---that way you can give credit to the source and give me good karma).

The episode reminded me of a similar occurrence in Kankakee, Illinois just under ten years ago. My trainer, Elder Crow, and I had stopped in for a 10AM visit to a guy who'd recently ordered a church video off the TV. To our amazement, the man (somewhere in his late 30's, agewise) was already plastered at 10AM, but that wasn't the funny part. As we walked into the living room, a little lady shuffled by us, and Elder Crow came out with "Oh, do you live with your mother?" to which our intoxicated friend replied, "Hey, don't say that about my wife."

So much for building a relationship of trust.

ONE MORE AGE MIX-UP

Now that I think about it, that wasn't even the funniest episode I've encountered. Previous to my mission, I spent a few months as a cameraman at KSL, shooting the 10PM broadcast. During that time I got to know a few of Utah's local familiar faces, like Craig Bolerjack and Mark Eubank (met him after I stole his parking space).

I think my favorite anchor was Ruth Todd. She was just a great lady, warm, friendly, she was thrilled when I got my mission call to Chicago. She always struck me as having very motherly qualities, maybe too many, as I think back on it.

One night Ruth comes to the studio with another girl in tow, one that looked about my age. I thought she was pretty attractive, and mentioned to one of my co-cameramen that I wouldn't mind dating Ruth's daughter. Apparently Ruth had made such a motherly impression on me that I failed to realize that for that girl to be her daughter, Ruth would have had to have given birth to her at the age of sixteen.

So when my co-worker and I were getting our cameras ready for the broadcast, Ruth comes out to sit at the anchor desk, and my buddy says, "hey Ruth, I know someone that wants to date your daughter." Ruth gets this queasy look on her face, because at that time her oldest daughter was about ten years old.

While I'm cringing behind my camera, Ruth asks through clenched teeth, "how old is he?"

"He's about 18."

"Well tell him he should be going on a mission."

"Oh, he's going on a mission. He's already got his call." I could feel him smiling behind his viewfinder.

If he'd told her the guy had been called to Chicago, I would have killed him on the spot. But he didn't, and I escaped to Chicago unscathed. I never did meet the girl (maybe Ruth's sister or niece?), and I'm sure she's got a couple daughters of her own by now.

Par for the course, my friend, par for the course…

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September 15, 2005

MISSY'S BACK ON THE MARKET

I'm trying to figure out what the theory is behind these Yahoo Personals ads that keep popping up whenever I log out of my e-mail. All I can think is that these people are using cookies or something to find out that I'm single, cause I'm constantly getting fed banner ads and pop-up ads trying to recruit me into some online dating service.

Most of the time they show a picture of some girl, who I suppose is meant to represent the marvelous potential of these systems. I've noticed (hard not to notice when you check your mail seven times a day) that most of the time I get a photo of this smiling blond girl named Missy.

About two weeks ago, I got a different picture of Missy, this time in the arms of some other dude. I figured this was Yahoo's way of telling me that I had moved too slow, and that now I had lost Missy to another man. But then today I log off, and what do I see but the same old photo of smilin' Missy again. I guess her social life is just like mine, when you get right down to it.

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September 14, 2005

BEWARE OF PRIDE

I was just reading about the midfield scuffle between Atlanta and Philadelphia before Monday night's NFL game. Wow, all I can say is some people are pretty stupid. I didn't join the game that night until the back half of the fourth quarter, and I was wondering why Philadelphia was struggling so much. Now I find out that they were without their best linebacker because he got tossed out for fighting AFTER PRE-GAME WARM-UPS.

The Atlanta players never should have gone back to challenge the Philly Jr. High crowd that was dancing on their logo. For pete's sake, they were about to play a FOOTBALL game. If you want to make your point, beat them up on the field. It's ok in football, you can do that. The Falcons were lucky it was the other team's best defensive player that got tossed.

The NFL should really start handing out idiot penalties.

THREE DOWN, ONE TO GO

Last night I finished Season 3 of "24". It occurred to me that once I see Season 4, I'll be stuck with everyone else watching one episode a week. In my fury to catch up with the rest of the world, I've had the luxury of watching the next episode any time I wanted to (which usually turned out to be right after the last one ended). Plus I didn't have to worry about commercials.

Another thought: Is Jack Bauer ever going to catch on that every time he faces a major crisis, it isn't going to be resolved for a full 24 hours?

I guess it's more of a rhetorical question.

REMEMBERING PHIL

A couple of weeks ago I rented the "Best of Phil Hartman" SNL DVD. I was never big on his era, always being more of a Belushi/Aykroyd guy. I thought Hartman was one of the few bright spots in a sub-par cast (of course, that cast seems like a golden age compared to the following ten seasons). Let me just say I had forgotten how funny Hartman was. Watching Walken's DVD was painful, because most of the time the cast let him down with lame sketches (save for "Cowbell", of course). But Hartman's DVD was brilliant, he made mediocre sketches great. If I were to put together a starting five all-time SNL cast, it would be something like Belushi-Center, Aykroyd-Power Forward, Hartman-Small Forward, Eddie Murphy-Shooting Guard, and maybe Bill Murray at Point Guard.

(As many talented actors as SNL has seen, I still have a tough time seeing one playing point guard. Maybe it's just a bad metaphor.)

Best part: the DVD includes his original SNL audition. It's hilarious and stunning at the same time. You watch it, laughing your head off, and at the same time feeling a little strange knowing everything that will take place for the guy over the next fifteen years.

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September 9, 2005

A RUN FOR THE BORDER

This is getting ridiculous. Every morning I scan the online D-News hoping to find some material on the Jazz. Today I find out that they've announced the location of their pre-season training camp. It's in Boise, which is just fine. Boise is a fine town with a nice Outback Steakhouse, and my buddy Zach and I had a nice nap on the grounds of the Boise Temple. The problem I have is with the name of the arena the camp is going to be held at.

The TACO BELL ARENA.

Do I really have to say anything else? Does my point go without saying?

I certainly hope so.

AN ANTI-HERO? MAYBE AN ANTI-ANTI-HERO?

As I make my way through Season 3 of "24" (a process made much easier due to the cold I've been fighting for the last few days), I have been tempted on more than one occasion to start a running "body count tracker" for Jack Bauer on Planet Venison. Maybe if I get through seasons 3 and 4 before Fox starts airing Season 5, I could do it for the new series. At least it would be timely that way.

Bauer is far from the first action hero to put up a huge body count. It's just that in the fictional universe, he's doing it all in the same day. I'm pretty sure that Arnold, Stallone, Chuck Norris and even Charles Bronson were spreading their carnage over a week or so at a time. Well, I don't know about Bronson. I'm still reeling over "Death Wish 3".

Funny thing is, both Bauer and the character of President David Palmer are presented as having unflinching moral compasses. With Palmer it's a little easier to see, since he's not shooting any of the bad guys. He's just facing down all the people around him that seem bent on finding the unethical solution to every problem. But Bauer isn't necessarily an anti-hero in my book. He's a tad reluctant at times, but everything he does--even when it looks unethical--has the greater moral value in mind.

Does anyone else find it ironic that at the same time television has been under assault from one of the most base, manipulative entertainment trends ever (reality TV), we're also enjoying two of the best-written series ever in "24" and "Arrested Development"?

REINFORCING MY POINT

Something I forgot to mention yesterday in my rant against the New England Patriots:

In his NFL Preview, Bill "Sports Guy" Simmons picks the Pats to win Superbowl XL, a completely justified and predictable decision. But look at his pick for the final score…

37-34.

The difference? One field goal.

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September 8, 2005

MY SUGGESTION TO THE NFL

I'm tired of hearing people call the New England Patriots a dynasty. Yes, they won three Super Bowls in four years, and that surely says a lot. But a dynasty? Nope.

Here's why: field goals. When I think dynasty, I think domination, brutal domination. Like Pittsburgh in the 70's, Green Bay in the 60's, or even the fear that the Bears shot through the league in 1985. I think about the 49ers and Joe Montana hitting Jerry Rice on a fifteen yard cross that somehow turns into an eighty yard touchdown.

What I don't think about is a team playing neck to neck with everyone until the very last possession, when they get down around the twenty-five and then trot a kicker out on the field. There is no more anticlimactic way to end a game than with a stupid field goal. Dramatic, maybe, but there's no justice to letting someone kill you at long range. The New England "dynasty" is built on field goals.

Now, as an Oakland fan, it would be easy to think I'm still just bitter over the whole "tuck rule" debacle from a few years ago. And I am. It was a sorry way to turn an important game.

But bitterness aside, just consider this: what would happen to football if we eliminated the field goal and the punt for one season? Would it improve the game or hurt it? Suddenly the game becomes more of an all-or-nothing affair, with a dozen more clutch plays than before. You don't have the luxury of punting if you get buried on your side of the field, and if you get down to the twenty, you don't have the luxury of sending out an ex-soccer player to cherry-pick a few charity points for you. You could bag the point-after, too. Just have everyone go for two points and have done with it. Send out some linebacker to kick off and leave the soccer players to the soccer fields.

You know what the best part would be? At the end of a close game, when a team got the ball back on their own thirty with two minutes to go, everyone watching will have the comfort of knowing that the game isn't going to come down to some benchwarmer kicking a ball from forty yards away. Victory will be left squarely in the hands of the players that have been battling for the whole game, all or nothing. And that's where it should be.

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September 5, 2005

UNDERSTANDING REVOLVING-DOOR CHIVALRY

Had a thought the other night while I was on a date. Actually I had several. The first was, "hey, I'm on a date!" But later on, it occurred to me that there doesn't seem to be a palatable rule for chivalry when it comes to revolving doors. Car doors are easy. So are regular building doors. You step up, open the door for your date, and hold it open as they walk in.

I've already addressed the door-opening question on a pair of occasions, here and here. But the revolving door is, as John Cleese would say, "a poser". Do you let them step in the--what is it called, anyway? a "slot"--first? If so, you make them do all the pushing. But if you step in first, you push away and make them step into the second slot, essentially amounting to the same effect as opening the door and stepping through by yourself. This is not chivalry.

You can't both jump in the same slot together, unless it's a very large revolving door, which in most cases these days would be automated anyway (thus making this argument moot). Two people in a slot is painfully awkward, with lots of stepping on heels and making short staggered trotting motions. This is not chivalry either.

So it seems to me that for the true champion of modern chivalry, the only solution is to find another entrance.

WELCOMING DEVIN?

The Jazz have signed another guard, this time soon-to-be-ex-San Antonio Spur Devin Brown. He's a restricted free agent, so the Spurs could still match, but with the Spurs recent signing activity, it looks like Devin should be on his way to Salt Lake. (I don't want to get too cocky, though--just look at the summer of 2003).

So far this guy kind of reminds me of Raja Bell. Two years ago Raja came here from a serious playoff contender (Dallas) because he wanted a chance to prove himself. He came when no one else would. Now Brown comes over from a team that just won their second NBA trophy in three years. And no one has been lining up at the Jazz's front door this summer, either.

All I'm saying is this: if Devin Brown is anything like Raja Bell, it will be good to have him around.

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September 1, 2005

WELCOMING MILT THE…STILT?

For the last month I have dutifully checked the D-News sports page in search of the long-awaited "dream deal" article.

"Jazz acquire Jason Kidd from New Jersey in exchange for 200 tons of brine shrimp!"

Actually, I just wanted them to get somebody. The whole "Return of Ostertag" thing has been a bit weird, and though I think he really will help the interior defense, we still need a ton of help at guard. So I get on the net this morning and learn the Jazz finally picked up a veteran point to help rookie Deron Williams:

Some guy named Milt.

I thought it was weird two years ago when the Jazz point guard rotation was named Raul, Carlos and Mo. They sounded more like the Three Stooges. Now we have Keith, Deron, and Milt. Well, whatever works.

Welcome aboard, Milt. Just don't try to pull any crap with Jerry and you'll do fine.

I LOVE THE 40'S!

The most addictive network on TV is VH-1, hands down. I've been religiously avoiding it for a few months now, well aware that the slightest flirtation could lead to an unintentional three-hour marathon of "I Love the 80's, Vol. 2" until 3AM. I'm just too vulnerable to semi-recognizable comedians reminiscing about Voltron.

But recently I heard that they've already gone as high as 1999 with their "I Love the 90's" series. Is this true? (I'm afraid to log on or tune in to find out for myself). Is this not absurd? Yeah, I remember 1999, it was six years ago. I think I still have milk in my fridge from then.

See, I think VH-1 should head the opposite direction. They've got the contemporary 15-40 demographic, now let's go back further. How about "I Love the 40's"? I want to see a bunch of WWII vets laughing about Benny Goodman and George Bailey. Fond memories of Louis Jordan and Ingrid Bergman. Truman jokes.

I also want to see more photos of FDR so I stop thinking of Jon Voight whenever I hear about him.

A MOMENT OF CLARITY

Usually the Wounded Mosquito is used for purely comic commentary (at least I hope it's funny), but I've got to comment on something that falls a little more on the side of "ironic" than "comic".

In 2000, my sister Katie took a trip with her high school madrigal group to New York City, and she came back with photos of her standing on the observation deck of the World Trade Towers. What with subsequent events and all, those pictures are a little eerie.

Now all of my New Orleans photos from last year have the same quality.

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