Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ha ha ha ha ha ha! 44-6?


Reptile. Billionaire. Loser.

Pardon me for a moment.

Ha hahahahahheeeheeheeheeohhohoho. Snicker.

That felt better.

Way to go, Cowboys. Another underachieving season.

They'd been teetering on the brink for the past six weeks. . . and Sunday, when they "controlled their own destiny," they couldn't even get motivated to show up against the Eagles, let alone offer them any sort of challenged.

HA HA!

Another year wasted. Another 16 roller-coaster weeks out of the lives of the devoted, hoping, just hoping, that all that Super Bowl talk would amount to SOMETHING. A playoff berth. Even a winning season (that is defined in Dallas by The Faithful as a record that gets them in the playoffs. Salt in the wounds that 9-7 just doesn't cut it).

The off-season awaits. A few months of dissecting what went wrong, followed by an ever-hopeful draft, then training camp and once again, hope will spring eternal.

Where can The Faithful lay their blame?

Romo? Sure.

T-O (Mr. Sure Hands)? You betcha.

Offensive line? What's that.

Defense? Sure over-rated in my opinion.

The rest of the sorry squad? A bunch of chest-thumping, Me-Firsters. A team? Hardly.

Coach Cupcake? Bring back Chan Gailey! Hell, Tuna was an asshole, but he got results, and players might not have liked the guy, but they shook in their boots when he looked in their direction.

Co-ordinators? The Anointed One (in charge of that powerful offense, no less)!

How about Numero-Uno--the Big Cheese. Jerry! There's a place to point a bunch of blame. Jerry, get out of the way. Hire a General Manager. Quit meddling in the team like you're the father of a high school player living out his dreams vicariously through his kid. Sure, you've sunk your fortune into this team--step back and hire folks who can manage it. At this point, your heavy had has produced NOTHING of value, and in fact if this continues much longer, you're going to actually hurt the "brand" that is Dallas Cowboys.

This is sweet. That big, new stadium. New home of the under-achieviers.

I'm lovin it. Gloating over the yearly Cowboy collapse keeps me going til the Rangers start spring training.



Hang down your head, Tony Romo!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

As Lucky As Ken. . .


(With apologies to Chris Skow): If one over-under is great. . .

I'm not always so blessed, but this week I'm able to say I'm at least SOMETIMES as lucky as my friend Ken Fitzgerald, the celebrated Fort Worth rail photographer who is just as adept at photographing the 15" gauge Trinity Park kiddie railroad as he is hobnobbing with Union Pacific officials on their bidness trains.

A few days ago, Ken posted a couple shots on his website/blog, http://www.fl9.com/, shots of an over-under Union Pacific/BNSF meet at Vaughn, New Mexico, where the BNSF former Santa Fe transcon mainline crosses over the Union Pacific ex-Southern Pacific Golden State Route.

Been there, done that. Twice. And here's the results, from a spring trip in 1997. The light isn't as nice as Ken's attempts, naturally, but, hey, I've got Warbonnets AND SP bloody nose. Lucky, indeed. What's that cliche? "Luck is the detrius of preparation" or somesuch? Not in this case. Luck is just luck!

Mark the date: I've FINALLY been able to one-up Mr. Fitz!


. . . then two must be dy-no-mite!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Farewell, Ramon!




Looks like the Moustache has left the Ballpark.

Rangers utility man Ramon Vasquez has signed a 2-year, $4 million deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He's worth the money, having his best year yet in 2008, hitting .290.

He's a favorite around our house--not just because he's a Fort Worth native--as his very sexy thin moustache became his trademark among Ranger fans and players last year, even though he wore it only a short time during spring training. His splendid splinter happened to emerge when team photographs were taken (the same fate befell Frank Catalanatto with a spindly Fu Manchu), but a moustachioed Vasquez continued to appear on the Ballpark Jumbotron all season long. Vasquez took a bit of ribbing for this; in fact, whenever he appeared at bat, the Rangers' bullpen squad spent his at bat with a finger poised under their noses, moustache-like.


Best of luck in Pittsburgh, Ramon, and be sure to shave before photo day.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wither the Buggywhip?

I'm certainly conflicted on this proposed bail-out of the Big Three. It's certainly something unprecedented in my lifetime, seeing the CEO's of GM, Ford and Chrysler all but begging before congress for billions of corporate bailout to forestall the inevitable.

There's no winners in this end-game. And every one's to blame.

  • Union Management: I don't blame the worker--for what is wrong with wanting livable wages and benefits, health care and a good retirement. Isn't that the American Dream? Would we all be happier if these workers were Wal-Marted into $10-15/hour jobs with no health care and no retirement plan? It pains me to say this, as Union Member myself for the past fifteen years--in Texas, no less, probably the least-friendly place in the country to a Union worker--but let's point a finger at Union Leadership, who took, and took, and took at every opportunity (just doing the job they were elected to) and created a big benefit monster as a result that can no longer continue to be fed.
  • Congress: It does no one good to set fuel efficiency standards, then create enough loopholes to drive a busload of Big Three lobbyists through. We look to Government to lead us through crises, but for 30 years we've had a looming energy crunch and they've done nothing but superficially address the problem.
  • Big Three Management: They still don't "get it." They sat on their fat asses, adding layer after layer of management while the foreign manufacturers created technologies and manufacturing processes and cars that were more advanced, more fuel efficient, and cheaper to boot. Why does GM need a dozen sedans, all competing with each other? Why do we need both Chevy and GM trucks? Why do we need a Buick, a Cadillac, and a Chevrolet? Doesn't this duplication of effort erode any credibility that "downsizing" and "streamlining" talk that GM makes? Dispensing with Oldsmobile and Pontiac was too little, too late, and they they go around an create Saturn, a "different" type of car company, but, ultimately, produced cars were just as shitty as the ones Detroit built.
  • The American Consumer: We've lived on unicorns and pixie dust in this country for too long. We still believe in that rugged American individualism bullshit sold by Toby Keith and John Mellencamp singing about trucks. We don't want to believe that we're in a global energy crunch, and yet we continue to demand Hummers. What the fuck with that? Whatever happened to our own personal responsibility--that's part of American individualism, too. Just because you can afford it, do you need it? Do we still cling to the notion that you are what you drive? Just because you're an asshole, do you really need a Hummer? The soccer mom loves the feeling of security in a big Suburban, but then is the first to complain that high gasoline prices are making it tough to drive! Didn't you SEE that one coming, or are you so damned myopic with your limited world view?

It didn't take long--less than a generation--for the Big Three to piss away whatever advantage they had. Slow to react, the Big Three were ineffective in getting the wake-up call when foreign manufacturers flooded the US with good, reliable and cheap cars, then built their own factories in largely rural locations to take advanage of tax breaks on domestic manufacturing, negotiating better deals with the UAW to boot.

So, we're damned if we do, and damned if we don't in bailing the Big Three out. And there is the Catch 22. Millions of jobs are at stake. But giving an industry that hasn't proven it knows what their market is, is just pissing billions down a hole. Even if magically they can right the ship, are consumers in the mood to buy automobiles? We're told by the media we either a) can't get credit, or b)are too scared to take on any more debt in a time of uncertain economic news. So who are you going to sell these cars to, Mr. GM?


I wouldn't have imagined a world without GM, or Ford of Chrysler, but the acres of unsold pickup trucks and big SUV's accumulating west of downtown Fort Worth along I820 makes me believe that such a world is possible. There WILL always be American-made cars to purchase. They'll just be coming from Toyota. Honda. Nissan.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Essential Keith Olbermann

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

I love Olbermann. He's an acquired taste, his bombast. If you don't have time to watch him everynight, here's a minute of him. You get the idea.



Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In praise of the Necco Wafer. . .



Is there any candy better than the Necco wafer? It's "the original candy wafer," after all. Thin and compact, I think of them as flavored communion wafers--the Catholic Church actually uses them as stand-ins for children practicing for the Eucharist!

Our household is stuck with a mess of 'em following Halloween, so this otherwise bland, nondescript candy got me wondering: Wherefor art thou, Necco wafer?

They're still AMERICAN MADE, for one thing, in Revere, Mass., by New England Confectionery Company, which has been turning out treats such as Clark Bars, Sweethearts (a traditional Valentine's candy), and Thin Mints since 1847. I imagine these things getting cranked out in a big, old New England-style brick factory, hard along a river with a hard-to-pronounce name, but actually Necco moved into a new factory in 2003.

The Necco Wafer is part of history, a vital component of the nation's industrial development, as well as Arctic exploration, according to Necco's website:

"1912: Explorer Donald MacMillan takes Necco Wafers on his Arctic expedition, using them for nutrition and as rewards to Eskimo children."

I can't vouch for the nutritious nature of the Necco wafer (although the packaging does boast that it is FAT FREE), but I guess if you're north of the Arctic circle, beggars can't be choosers. Out of salted meat? Good thing we brought this case of Necco wafers along! Wikipedia claims that Admiral Byrd took two and a half tons of Necco wafers to the South Pole, or nearly a pound a week per member of his expedition on their two-year trek. I'd imagine that was the last time any of them wanted to see a Necco wafer again.

Their indestructable nature (allegedly--a good portion of those I extract from a package are broken) led the US Army to divert a portion of Necco's production to the military during World War II.

Two more fun-facts about Neccos:
  • Wintergreen Necco wafers, like wintergreen LifeSavers, will create visible sparks when snapped in half or crushed in dim light due to triboluminescence.
  • Necco Wafers contain gelatin, an animal by-product.
Today, the Necco wafer is beloved--in fact, to commemorate Necco's 150th anniversary, the company's water tower was painted to resemble a Necco wafer roll and has "become a treasured part of the Boston/Cambridge skyline."

But I digress.

If you've never had a Necco wafer, you're in for a treat. Stacked like a roll of nickles and wrapped in a cylinder of brittle tissue paper, each roll of wafers is a like a crap shoot--maybe you'll get a roll with lots of the colors you like, maybe you won't. Inside are random (I assume) combinations of eight colors, each a different flavor--although I'd be hard-pressed to tell you what flavor is which, besides the chocolate and licorice.


Some folks see Necco wafers as art. Others rhapsodize on the "dust" these wafers give off. Myself, I just like to eat them. Well, a few of the colors, anyway.

Oh, Necco wafer, how do I rate thee?

  1. Grey (licorice)
  2. Purple (clove)
  3. White (cinnamon)
  4. Pink (wintergreen)
  5. Brown (chocolate)
  6. Orange (er, orange), yellow (lemon), green (lime)--these sort of taste the same to me.

Which is YOUR favorite color?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Halloween Sugar Blast


I. provides a scary face to accompany our display of pumpkins. My contribution, of course, features the head wound, "x-ed out" dead eyes, and puking guts.


We had a great Halloween eve. I brought my dad over from Plano to spend the night, and took that day off work. Dad handed out candy to neighborhood kids while M. and I took the boys out collecting candy; afterwards, we went over to our neighbor's house, where they were throwing a Halloween party, complete with a bounce house on the front lawn. It was a great chance to meet some of our neighbors (and examine their drinking habits), which I hardly have a chance to do on weekends as I'm usually working.

The next morning, we all headed over to the ball fields for I. and E.'s baseball games, then he hit Braum's for lunch (my Dad, the fast-food hamburger connisieur, surprisingly had never visited Braums before) before I drove him back home that afternoon.

E. dressed up as a Chicago Cub baseball player (that was easy; he already had the uniform). I. went at Linny, the Guinea Pig from Wonderpets (parents of small kids will know what of I speak). M. made Linny's blue cape and put little ears on an orange cap to complete the outfit.


My dad, wearing a hat that suggests his costume is either Don Imus or Lucinda Williams. E. is dressed as a Chicago Cub, and I. as the Wonderpet Linny.


Our neighbor Tommy (who gave us the Obama sign) donned this rubber mask, scaring our Republican neighbors.


Trepidation approaching a house and asking for treats. . .


Worth it! A big haul of sugar snacks. Now, go to bed!

History Requires A Permanent Record


We bought two.

Moments like Tuesday night's historic election of Barack Obama require a newspaper.

Not to read; oh no, we've moved beyond that since the advent of the World Wide Web Internets. No one reads newspapers anymore for NEWS--for that, we go to a dot.com.

But Wednesday morning, newspapers once again proved their relevance--as a keepsake of nostalgic times. No longer something you'd open to keep up with the world's events, buyers snapped up every available copy--and then some--of major newspapers, primarily to stash them away in a box to record the historic event.

Amid nothing but gloomy news on the Editor And Publisher website (" 'Knoxville News Sentinel' Eliminates 50 Positions, 'Boston Globe' Cuts 42 in Ad/Circ, Marketing, E.W. Scripps Swings To A Q3 Loss -- Suspends Dividends" ) came one bit of increased circulation: one buyer in Bellingham, Washington, purchased 10,000 copies of the Bellingham Herald's Wednesday edition. At $.50 a copy, he spent $5,000. But he figures that, someday, he could make a profit. (Having spent two years in Bellingham as a college journalism student, an familar with both the newspaper and the recreational pursuits of some of the area's residents, I have to wonder if that guy is smoking something: WHO will want someday to buy an old copy of a shitty small-town Gannett newspaper, even with the historic news on its front page?)

Historic days should happen more often, for the Newspaper Industry's sake.

I can't imagine too many folks were archiving the home page of MSNBC.com Wednesday morning to preserve for their children, but I could be wrong.



A Country Divided


Obama supporter? You think?

University of Texas kicked lunkhead backup center Buck Burnette off the football team after he posted racist remarks on his Facebook page following the Obama victory.

Burnette wrote: "all the hunters gather up, we have a #$%&er in the whitehouse"(not wanting to offend, he didn't use that actual word, but rather put in the @#^%#$'s in the appropriate places). Burnette issed an apology saying that his actions were "immature" and that "I'm not a racist. . .I grew up on a ranch in a small town" and that, anyway, it was wrong to write that "publically" (guess it's still okay to write it in private).

Just goes to show you that we're not as cool about the race issue in this country as some would think we are following Obama's election. While certainly an electoral landslide, Obama's election is by no means a "mandate" outside of a small geographic portion of the United States . Check out the county-by-county map of the United States and see where Obama's support comes from, and you can easily pick out places where the population is overwhelmingly urban, or young, or hispanic, or college educated, or wealthy. Look at Idaho: Amid a sea of red, blue blips register in Blaine county (that mostly-liberal, wealthy crowd in Sun Valley) and Moscow (University of Idaho--young voters). The rest of the nation--the Flyover States, rural america--voted overwhelmingly for John McCain.

Where I live, in mostly-urban Tarrant County, Texas, voters went with John McCain, something like 56-44% over Barack Obama (and I'm guessing Obama won the popular vote within the Fort Worth city limits). Travel not too far west of here, the population is much whiter, and more rural, and generally less educated, and Obama's support drops like a rock: 22% in Parker County, 18% in Stephens county, and keep going west, out to Borden county in west Texas, and only 11% of the population voted Obama--88% went for McCain.

If you think such overwhelming support for a candidate that "looks like me" is just a white, rural, redneck thing, you're wrong: it goes the other way, too. District of Columbia, whose population is overwhelmingly African-American, voted 93% to 7% for Obama. Exiting polling found that black voters, nationwide, voted similarly.

We've got a long way to go in this country to heal our racial divide. And I'm not entirely sure that Obama's election helped the healing, or will drive a wedge deeper with those who absolutely do not like the black man--or the white man, for that matter.

In the meantime, Texans seem to be following Buck's lead and stocking up on guns and ammo.


Sign The Petition: No More "Saved By Zero."

You can't escape it: the horrible "Saved by Zero" ad campaign by Toyota that spews forth from your television set every few minutes. The whole premise of the "Saved By Zero" hook is absurd. You think anyone that needs "saving" can actually qualify for 0% financing? If your credit is that good, you can probably pay cash.

Now, I'm no huge fan of the Fixx, but, PLEASE, Toyota, enough already: END THIS AD CAMPAIGN IMMEDIATELY. You've permanently ruined what was a marginal song to begin with.

If you agree, go here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sarah, You're No Pat Nixon!




No designer dresses for Pat.


It's funny, this big to-do about Sarah Palin and the $150,000 worth of clothing the Republican National Committee shelled out to pretty her up and make her acceptable to America (and there was another $25K or so of makeup and hair stylin' to finish the job).


The Obama campaign I don't think has gotten too riled up about it. . .that'd just be a drop in the bucket for HIS campaign war chest, which is about a half BILLION dollars right now; rather, it's strange how the GOP is falling all over itself defending such a purchase at the same time they've pulled McCain's campaign out of several close-to-call states because they don't have the money to advertise. Palin keeps reminding us that as soon as this darn ol' campaign is over, she'll go right back to her Target and Walmart threads she used to wear, by golly! Keep all that clothes? Heavens, no! It'll be donated to CHARITY (I'm guessing it'll instead be auctioned off to other rich Republicans to help settle the bills for the McCain campaign shortly after November 4th). Ya. You betcha.


The GOP has come a long way from 1952 and Richard Nixon's "Checkers Speech." The Vice Presidential nominee, Nixon was accused of accepting illegal campaign contributions. In an unprecedented national telecast, Nixon painstakingly detailed his financial history to try to clear his name, mentioning that wife Pat didn't wear fancy clothing--instead of furs, she wore a "respectable Republican cloth coat." Nixon made his case and stayed on the ticket. You can bet there's not one "respectable Republican cloth coat" on the Straight Talk Express.





I. is rooting for Obama, too. The sign comes inside at night, as a precaution against Texas Yahoo Republicans.

The Endorsement

We're five days from the election. Who am I voting for? Does it matter in Texas? This is among the reddest of the red states, but I'm actually looking forward to stepping into the booth this year and voting a straight Democratic ticket (in Texas, that means, besides the Presidential race, only around 4 or 5 other Democrats are even bothering to contest the established Republican political machine).

Who are you voting for? If you're STILL undecided at this point, I have to ask you: Where have you been the last year? Do you even READ about what's going on?

And if you're STILL leaning towards the McCain/Palin ticket, I have to ask you: Where have you been the last year? Do you even READ about what's going on?

I've got my reasons for supporting Obama, of course. But I've got just as many for NOT supporting McCain. Around 18 months ago, I seriously would've considered McCain for my vote. But that was when McCain WAS a Maverick, before he sold his soul to the Republican base and grovled for its support. Since then, he's done nothing but morphed from a moderate Republican who will bring the parties together (i.e. George W. Bush, 1999) to a win-at-all-costs-and-don't-disappoint-the-Right-Wing-Faction Republican (i.e., George W. Bush, 2004).

I could go on all night; but you get the idea. But don't take my word for it--read what a couple of old broads from Austin have to say about it. In their latest installment, Helen makes the case for Obama and against McCain better than I ever could. Read it, and ask yourself why a 70-something "blue hair in a red state" can understand this election better than the rest of us.

But I'll leave you with a few questions, and afterwards you can play connect the dots:


  • Who is the candidate who said he'd never put the nation's best interests ahead of his own political interests--then selected an unqualified two-year Governor from one of our least-populated states as a running mate?
  • Who is the candidate who has gotten more desparate to win as his polling numbers have fallen, telling outright lies, distorting truths, calling his opponent a "Socialist" and a friend of Terrorists, turning the other cheek while those attending his rallies call for violence against his opponent and insinuate that merely because the father he'd only seen for two days in his life was a Muslim he MUST be a terrorist operative for jihadists?
  • Who is the candidate who inspires his followers with a message of bipartisanship, hope, and working together to solve our nation's problems?
  • Who is the candidate whose rallies are cauldrons of hate, rage and finger-pointing?
  • Who is the candidate who paints his opponent as a "redistributor of wealth" while proposing tax cuts that will largely benefit only the rich?
  • Who is the candidate with the running mate who is quick to describe the other presidential candidate as a Socialist, while at the same time boasting that during her governorship she bequeathed her residents with thousands of dollars of the state's monies a year--itself a Socialistic act
  • Who is the candidate who repeatedly linked his opponent's passing acquaintance to a 60s anti-War radical, while employing as the head of his potential Presidential Transition team a man who was a lobbyist for Saddam Hussein in his attempt to lessen U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq days leading to the Iraq war?
  • Who is the candidate who voted for the current President over 90% of the time, but still won't own up to the support of a President who has nearly destroyed the country?
  • Who is the candidate who has earned an overwhelming majority of endorsements from newspapers in the country, including dozens that have supported the Republican candidate for many, many of the last elections?
No matter who you support, be sure to Vote next Thursday.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Forty Years of Bad National Anthems. . .


Burn Backstreet Boys CD's, not the flag (or the Anthem)!

Disrespectful, that "performance" by the Backstreet Boys of our National Anthem in Game One of the World Series. They might as well have come out and burned an American flag.

Now, I know there are probably dozens of big Backstreet Boys fans reading this blog, and while it's perfectly okay for you to like their musical stylings, desecrating The National Anthem in this manner is unacceptable. They took liberties with the song like a quartet of drunken sailors on shore leave with a five dollar whore.

Presenting The National Anthem before a crowd at a sporting event isn't the time to "stylize" the song. White the Francis Scott Keys' lyrics were put to perhaps the most un-singable tune ever written, to me The National Anthem represents the musical equivalent of the flag. As such, the song shouldn't be messed with. It isn't the appropriate time to "make it your own" any more than it would be appropriate for a color guard presenting the flag to come out with the Stars and Stripes creatively folded into clever hats.

That means you, too, Kat De Luna (who was nearly booed off the stage prior to a Cowboy's game earlier this year).

The National Anthem has a long history of being mangled in the past 40 years, either intentionally (see: Rosanne Barr) or otherwise (try any minor league baseball game where the owner's 12-year-old daughter feels she's a young Mariah Carey). It all started with Jose Feliciano 40 years ago, shocking viewers watching Game 5 of the 1968 World Series. Though his interpretation of the Anthem would now been seen as mild by comparison to how the song is usually abused, newspaper editors nationwide were deluged with angry letters, many of them expressing the sentiment of one writer: ""What screwball gave permission to have the national anthem desecrated by singing it in the jazzy, hippy manner that it was sung? It was disgraceful and I sincerely hope such a travesty will never be permitted again."

If only performers would honor the song as sensitively today as Jose did in 1968.



Mouse Update. . .

A week since the big kill, and no signs of the rodents since. The traps are still set, awaiting a second offensive.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Most Embarassing Sports Illustrated photo. . .ever


Baum-chicka-boom!

Gotta love that Sports Illustrated "Vault" that one can spend hours and hours of time at work reading instead of working. . . only drawback is that even though EVERY issue of SI from the 1950s is available to read, very few of the photographs are on-line.

Fortunately, this super-duper image of Larry Bird from the late 1970s is. . . sorta looks like some cheesey College-themed porno DVD cover or something. . .


Speaking of Embarassing. . .


Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States. . .

Here's a light-hearted moment after the third and final Presidental Debate. Which candidate do YOU think has a more presidential demeanor? And which one seems to be acting more and more like crazy Uncle Johnny the Vietnam Vet at the family reunion?

Though there's no telling how the "real-Americans" will finally decide to vote at the last minute, you've got to think that the McCain camp are feeling pretty desparate in these last few weeks until the election.

I used to like the guy--entertained even considering him for my vote last year. No longer. When folks like Colin Powell, Christopher Hitchens and dozens of previously conservative-leaning newspapers have endorsed Barack Obama instead of the increasingly hateful and mean-spirited McCain campaign (news flash, all you conservatives: ALL taxation is redistribution of the wealth. And if that is socialism, then I'd guess that even Ronald Reagan was a flaming red Socialist), you've got to feel that any support for McCain that isn't rooted among the hard-core Christian Right, red-meat-eating, flyover-state base is eroding away.

But who knows how this will turn out. One should never underestimate the stupidity of the American public.


Cowboys 4-3? Wha' tha' hell?

Hahahahhahaa.

Excuse me.

Hehehehehehe.

And, again.

Yukyukyukyukyuk.

There, I feel much better.

Yep, seven games into the NFL Season (i.e. The Season The Cowboys Would Win Another Super Bowl) and things are not going well at Valley Ranch. I'm sure Jerry Jones' head is about to explode with rage. And poor little Wade Phillips. Sure, Bossman says your job is safe through the end of the year. . .but would you believe anything he says?

And Tony Romo? What a pussy. TO once played with a broken leg, for chrissake. Romo's no Brett Farve--he should suck it up, get addicted to pain pills, and learn to play with that broken finger. Pinkie finger. Whatever. On the same hand as the finger that will never wear a Super Bowl Ring.

I'm gloating. I'm in heaven. How much better could this be? Looking at the next few weeks, it's likely the Cowboys will by a 4-6 team. It's very possible they'll finish below .500. How sweet could that be.

All the stars are lining up for the collapse of that slimy weasel Jerry Jones' empire. A losing season. No chance of a Super Bowl Champion to open that new Billion Dollar stadium carried on the backs of Arlington taxpayers. A cratering economy. Fewer corporate fat-cats willing to pay $100,000 for Personal Seat Licenses.

When I was a kid, the NFL was THE sport to follow. Real warriors. Players so tough they had names like "Chuck" and "Bubba" and "The Hammer." Now what do we have? Millionaire panty-waists who celebrate a tackle with their team trailing by 20 points and change their name to Ocho Sinco. Give me a break. And it's 10 times worse living in North Texas.

It's almost worth being a Cowboy Hater just for the honor of listening to the constant hang-wringing, finger-pointing and crying on the area's sports radio channels.

It's a great time to be alive.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mouse Update

It's been three days since we've seen a mouse, the longest stretch since we've had our little visitors. No new poops, either. Maybe the traps and filling the gaps into the house have done their job? We'll keep crossing our fingers. . .

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pumpkin Portraits

We dragged the kids--or did they drag us?--out to the Flower Mound Pumpkin patch for the annual gather of the gourds. We got our pumpkins, all right, but the overcast skies and bright pumpkin props all around were too good to resist for a portrait session. So, here's a few views of our handsome dudes.






Euuu, I was gettin' kinda' woozy. . .

Stuart Little Must Die!


Cute in a sweater behind a car wheel, a pain in the ass shitting all over your kitchen counter. . .

We've got mice.

More than just a couple of them. It started a few weeks ago when an occasional glimpse was caught of a little shadowy object scurrying across the living room floor in the wee hours of the morning. Then it became more than just an occasional glimpse. Their little droppings were found on the floor in the pantry; in E.'s dresser drawer; and on the kitchen counter. They got into a box of E.'s school papers, chewing them up and forcing M. to throw them all out.

Why are we getting mice? I'd guess with the home construction a couple of doors down. Why are they getting inside? I'm guessing it's because of the hole I cut in an upstairs wall while expanding the model railroad. Sure enough, a close look along the stud walls inside the upstairs utility space I'd accessed was showing plenty of little mouse turds.

It's not that our place is dirty, mind you, and attracting the cute, cuddly little vermin. It's just that they've apparently found a convienent way into the house. I started our defense of the casa with a few glue-sheets, a flat plastic tray with sticky stuff on it that mice could walk onto but not leave. This produced quick results within a couple of days. We also tried a "mouse hotel," a plastic box with bait (peanut butter) that a mouse can walk into but not leave. While it caught a mouse pretty quickly, M. didn't like the idea that the mouse just waited out his captors inside the box, alive. M. has been busy sanitizing places the mice have been (amazing how much they crap and piss), and has organized the pantry with all foodstuffs in plastic containers.


M. hasn't yet climbed up on a chair, but she's getting close. . .

Over the past week, the number of mouse sightings has increased. There's a reason something is said to "breed like mice." I'm close to calling exterminators. I did contact Orkin; they want to sign me up, of course, for a full year of bug and rodent treatment, more I want to spend. I just want to kill the damned mice, I can do much of what Orkin wants to do, namely, place traps around the house. As far as the "entry points" to the house, Orkin will point them out to me, but it's up to me to plug em up.



These kick ass. Batting .750 in the first 12 hours after their placement. . .

So, we've stepped up the offensive. I filled a couple of visible gaps in the utility space with expanding foam (apparently these little suckers can squeeze through a 1/4" opening!). And we distributed more glue trays where mice have been active. Last night, we headed over to Home Depot to add to our arsenal. They sell a variety of poisons, of course, as well as deadly electronic mouse tasers, electronic noise-makers that are like listening to nonstop Slim Whitman-for-mice, and a number of "humane" mouse traps. The hell with humane. I want to kill.

We left with more glue trays, a pack of D-Con "No View No Touch" mouse traps, and some packets of poison. The trap promises that once caught, you won't have to look at the dead mouse (for a contrarian view, here's a blogger equating these sterile killing machines with the Holocaust). Sort of a Mouse Hotel with a deadly check in. You stick some bait inside, and "lock and load" the trap by turning the case til it locks into place, then place it and wait. The mouse walks in, touches the trigger, and the can of whoop ass smotes him dead. We placed a four-pack of them last night; by this afternoon, we'd dispensed with three mice. (I couldn't resist opening them up to see if the mice were really inside, and really dead. And they were). And moments after disposing of those, I. discovered another mouse had just wandered onto the glue tray in the pantry. That's been a highly-productive afternoon: four mice no longer in the residence.

The poison packets will be our tactical nuclear devices, our last stand of ridding the vermin ourselves before calling in outside troops. Apparently, mice chew into these poison packets, which makes them extremely thirsty, causing them to stroll out into the open looking for water and (here's the best part) die.


I. thinks these little mice are cute, even when writhing and squealing and unable to move on a glue tray. Next stop: trash bin.

I'm also headed back to Home Depot for more plywood to seal up the unused portion of the utility space, filling gaps around the pipes with more expanding foam. That, hopefully, should close off what I think is their entry point.


If that doesn't work, I'll take a clue from Dick Cheney and institute waterboarding.

Poor Stuart Little. He'd best not fuck with me any more.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

End of Summer Catch-Up


The Dudes yuk it up at the Legends of the Game. . .

Jeez, looks like summer is done. . .and this blog has turned into Huffington Post! So, let's get back on track to what the family has been up to the last half of the summer. . .which is, mainly, not much.

To sum it up: Baseball. That's been much of our family focus, recreationally. The kids have pretty much forgotten about rockets and NASA and NASCAR and are completely absorbed by what was once our national pasttime. M. and I are trying to look at the good side to all this: there are many facets to being a baseball fan, and while I. embraces mainly the aspect of enjoying baseball by playing it--spraying wiffleballs around the living room, sliding across the carpet, making high-pitched umpire calls of "out"--E. has taken a more holistic approach, appreciating the statistical side of the game (a good way to beef up his mathematics, we figure) as well as artistic (reading about baseball park design through the years) and historical (ditto books on baseball facts and trivia). We took the boys to a few more Rangers game (more losses than wins), toured the Legends of the Game Museum and toured the Ballpark in Arlington, and we're starting fall with both E. and I. signed up for fall little league--I. is in "blast ball," which is a sort of pre-K t-ball. . .and he lives for Friday night practices and Saturday morning games.


E. and I. are ready for fall ball. . .


I. delivers the cheese. . .

Not to say it has all been baseball--I had two weeks of vacation the end of September, and we didn't really go anywhere outside of the metroplex. We visited the boys' grandpa Lou, went bowling with a couple of their school friends, and went to the American Airlines museum in Arlington.

E. is back to school now, second grade, and he's been accepted in his school district's Gifted and Talented program. I. is staying at home this year (so far), foregoing pre-K enrichment til maybe later in the year. M. is working on Thursday's out of the house as well as keeping busy with her website and Mary Kay marketing assistance work (preparing newsletters and mail-outs for various sales directors). I'm still working my midnight shift dispatching job and selling old railroad slides on the side, trying to raise enough money to take a train-chasing trip to Australia next spring.


The boys and friends O. and J. get ready for some smack-talkin' bowling. . .


I. is the drama king when bowling. . .


Farewell, summer!

It's Over
This is really the best of times of the year, and the worst of times. Used to be, when I was a single and fancy-free young man, October meant vacation season, a time to hit the road for some camping and railroad photography in the west, stalking trains in the high deserts and passing the time between photographs with the Major League playoffs on the radio. It just wasn't fall without the voice of Jack Buck or Vin Scully broadcasting the playoffs. . .and after many years of not really following the game, it's been nice in 2007 to get back into baseball. We followed the Rangers pretty closely the last 2/3rds of the year, jumping on the bandwagon just about the time the team started their early summer climb out of sub-.500 ball, stayed with em through the all-star break and the Josh Hamilton home run derby, and didn't give up--though we were discouraged--when injuries and a faltering pitching staff dropped the Rangers back out of contention in the homestretch of August.


And now the regular season is gone, and we're rapidly chewing through the playoffs. These are the most beautiful days of the year, fall in Texas, but it comes with the bittersweet knowledge that pretty soon the Bermudagrass will finally give up for the year and the winds will push south from the frozen North. It'll seem like forever until springtime, until the grass again greens up, and until spring training.


Hope springs eternal. And we're already counting down the days.


See ya next year, Temple of Baseball. . .

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I change my mind.

Last week, I basically called the Republican leadership "stupid" for choosing Sarah Palin to be John McCain's running mate.

I now retract that statement.

I now think they were brilliant.

They clearly have a bead on the American Public that the Obama campaign doesn't have. To go from seven points down in the polls before Palin's nomination to dead even now. . . .well, I guess those Republicans know what they're doing.

I guess it doesn't matter what the truth is.

I guess the facts regarding Palin's record as mayor or governor of Alaska don't really matter. If you deny them long enough, or stay on your talking points, or change the subject, the public will lose interest and believe what they want to believe.

They won't care that Palin did indeed approve of pork barrel earmarks for the "Bridge to Nowhere," despite her denial of it today.

They won't care that Palin tried to have a city librarian fired when she refused to ban books that the Mayor found distasteful. Or fired a long-time aide and state legislative assistant because he was having an affair. Nor that the jet plan supposedly sold on ebay wasn't sold on ebay afterall.

They won't care that the Palin administration found enough money--$1.3 million, supposedly--to begin building infrastructure and roads to a proposed Wasilla sports complex before the city even had title to the land, leading to years of legal litigation and a continued drain on the city budget years after Palin left office.

And they certainly won't care the Palin found money for a sports facility, but still charged rape victims in Wasilla between $300 and $1200 for forensics kits used to gather evidence against their accusers. Those hockey kids have to have a rink, ya know, and if those sluts got raped, it's their own damn fault.

I guess none of all this matters. As long as the GOP can paint her as a "Red-State Feminist," produce an amateurish video introducing her as "Mother. Moose Hunter. Maverick." for the convention, and send their attack dogs out, it really doesn't matter what the truth is.

So John McCain "approved" an attack television ad suggesting that Barack Obama supported "comprehensive sex education for kindergartners" and who is going to care that this is a damned lie? (Actually, he supported a bill that would educate children against pedophiles by teaching them what was inappropriate touching. I guess that's sex education to the GOP. ) The ad actually cites a Washington Post editorial that called Obama "elusive" on school accountability. . . ignoring the mention of McCain in the same editorial as "not been forthcoming with any detailed plan" on education himself.

Pick and choose. Duck and cover. Shuck and jive. Repeat the lies long enough, and the electorate will lose interest.

How could I have doubted that the Palin pick wouldn't be popular? Americans, by and large, are stupid. They lack any sort of world view. They are interested only in what will directly effect them NOW, not down the road. They have the attention span of squirrels, and they are easily led to believe that a boogeyman lurks behind each tree. This is a nation of Dancing With the Stars and American Idol. What else should you expect? Guns (Ms. Palin likes to shoot moose with one)? God (Ms. Palin attends a church that is everybit as radical as the one Mr. Obama was forced to distance himself with? Gays (the Republicans again are trotting out the old Gay Marriage issue)? That's all that matters.

And if that's the case, if the stupidity wing of the American people are voting in any sort of numbers, there's nothing the Democrats can do to win this election.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palin's hate-filled speech last night?

Did ya see it?

I could comment, but this says it far better than I ever could. That's the Republican Party in a nutshell.

Oh, and did you catch a glimpse of Cowboy Troy on stage after the speech? I was a bit aghast to see a black man up there entertaining for the white folk. . but he had a cowboy hat on, which must've eased their fears.

McCain/Palin: far more right-wing than even Bush/Cheney.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Hail Mary from the Republicans. . .


The future president?

Or, should we just say "Hail Sarah"?

John McCain just chose the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, population 9,000, Sarah Palin, as his running mate. Palin has been governor of Alaska for a couple of years.

Before that. . .well, she held a couple of state offices in Alaska. She is pro-life, pro-death penalty, pro-drilling, and likes hockey. She's an NRA member. She's good looking, too (some have referred to her as a VPILF), and has five kids and a husband who likes to race snow mobiles.

In other words, she's a perfect Vice Presidential choice to go toe-to-toe with Joe Biden in the fall campaign.

Way to go, McCain. I'm sure he's winning over huge blocks of undecided voters with this choice. Probably secured a lock on Alaska's electoral college votes. Probably cemented the NRA vote with this. Likely won over the pro-lifers.

Hmmm. I'd guess most of these people were already figuring on voting for McCain.

I guess the McCain camp gives women so little credit that they'd think the disgruntled PUMA Clinton supporters will flock over to the Republican side just because the veep candidate is a woman. Which is really insulting to women, if you think about it.

By choosing Palin, I'd guess that any talk by the McCain campaign about Obama's inexperience can go by the wayside. Brilliant strategy: take away one of your best arguments against the Democrat.


Palin's experiential predecessor. . .


Some folks are comparing Palin's choice to Bush I choosing Dan Quayle, or Mondale choosing Geraldine Ferraro--a desperate hail-mary choice.

I think of it as more like Ross Perot's choice of James Stockdale, he of the "who am I? what am I doing here?"

This should be interesting. To pull a small-town mayor and short-time governor of one of our most rural, isolated, and least-populated states and offer he as being a heartbeat away from the presidency of what we consider the greatest country on earth either shows incredible naivete, an amazing amount of faith that God won't let McCain die in the next four years, or stupidity.

But, since it's the Republicans making this call, we know which of the three options is in play here.

-----------------------

Late Night update, No. 1: Did ya catch the clip of that boob Doocy on Fox News saying that Palin has foreign policy experience with Russia because they're next door neighbor? Best blogger responses: "Does that mean if she stand's next to McCain eventually she'll get POW experience as well?" and "So, I live next to Cape Canaveral--does that make me a rocket scientist?"

Late Night update, No. 2: Anchorage readers responding on line to the news via the Anchorage Daily News website are all atwitter at an upcoming photograph of the McCain and Palin families together for People magazine. . . showing an apparently quite-pregnant 16-year-old daugher, Bristol. God, it's sounding like a reality television show together: The Veep. A governor and mother of five deals with her husband's adjustment to big-city life in Washington D.C., raising an infant son with Down's syndrome and a newborn grandaugher, and an ethics investigation back home, while juggling a crash-course in foreign policy and the rough-and-tumble world of national presidential campaigns.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Democrats and Grass. . .

Is it just me, or are political conventions of little consequence anymore? When I was a kid, hell, they were knock-down, drag-out battles. Smoky room deals late into the night. Delegate fights. Dan Rather getting punched in the face down on the convention floor. God! I miss those days.
Anymore, only PBS carries full convention coverage, which is probably a good thing, because what little I caught of the Democratic convention Wednesday night was pretty dull. I caught parts of three speeches, three standard-bearers of the Democratic party past and present, and, man, were there differences in style.

John Kerrrrrry returned from. . . where has he been the past four years? I can't say he was really missed. When he got up for his speech, you could feel the life just escape from the Pepsi Center. HOW did this guy ever get the Democratic nomination in 2004? Blahblahblahlbah. John, step aside.

Joe Biden ended the evening. Personally, I'm glad he has been picked as the Obama Veep running mate. I've always been a Biden fan. One can't argue with his foreign policy experience--on a par if not greater than John McCain. It's tempting to label him as "Obama's Cheney," but let's not. His speech started off slowly, then he gained momentum and indignation; I was talking to my dad on the phone for much of his speech, but each time I turned to the tv, Biden appeared quite wound up and ripping on McCain and his continuation of Dubya values.

In the middle, the grey fox, Bill Clinton. What a speaker! He clearly made the case for why we can't afford four more years of the last eight years. He probably did it better than Obama will do on Thursday night. No one has a mild opinion of Clinton. You either love him or hate him; trotting him out in prime time was probably a big risk for the DNC, but he's a damned impressive force. He doesn't look his age; gettin' a bit of that strange probably agrees with him.

I just couldn't get that John Kerrey out of my mind, though. God, what a let-down. Kinda like watching grass grow. . .



Enough. What a waste of time and resources.

Speaking of Grass. . .

I never could get the hang of just what makes a lawn beautiful. I tried the Chemlawn route, to no avail. I water like I should--running up too high a waterbill--and it does no good. Fertilizer? Guess I should try that.


Maybe I'm just not a "lawn guy." To me, a "lawn guy" is my dad: Mr. Homeowner, a guy who loves lawns, loves watering, and flaunts watering restrictions to run his sprinkler system long into the night. It doesn't matter that his St. Augustine only needs an inch or so of water a week--by God! He's going to put as much down as he wants! I have a hobby--several, in fact. My dad, like lots of guys of his generation, didn't have hobbies. They fought a World War, went off to become that Man in the Grey Flannel Suit in corporate America, and when they got home from their business trips wanted nothing more to do on the weekend than pull weeds and water. Mowing? That was the job of the oldest son, once he reached "that age."


I can't knock the beauty of a wonderful, green, weedless lawn, but I feel sorry for those men whose lives are wrapped up in its maintenance. A neighbor a few doors down was such a fellow. Nice enough chap, I guess, but too corporate for me. I just didn't trust him. Every time I saw him, he was working on his lawn. It was perfect. To top things off, he was on the board of directors of our homeowner's association--probably the asshole who turned us in for painting our front door deep red without permission. And his wife was this perfect little preppy wife named Ashley or something like that, the kind of woman you know excelled in her class in college getting her business degree but gladly put her career aside to stand by her man as he manicured his lawn, getting pregnant every couple of years, and turning up her nose at the neighbor women. And she always wore a string of pearls.
But lawn nazi and his Eva Braun have moved on to a new neighborhod, off to California with a big promotion. The folks who bought his house with the perfect lawn have already moved in. And I see a few weeds creeping in. I think that means the new owners aren't such tight-asses. There's hope.
Our neighbor annoyed me. I don't know why. Maybe he was too much like what my dad was like as a young man at the same age: on a career track, traveling often, angling for the promotion, working on the front lawn too early on Saturday morning wearing shorts with black socks.
All the things I really hate about corporate America. . I guess because I never followed that path. Am I jealous? I don't know. Maybe it just reinforces that nagging feeling I have in my life as I near 50 years of age, wondering why I was never that go-getter guy.
.
Like my neighbor.
.
Like my dad.
.
Like all the guys with the perfect grass.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Most-Watched NBC telecast?


ALMOST as popular as Michael Phelps. . .

So, congrats to Michael Phelps on his eight gold-medals at the Olympics. Now, quick, Mike, have your agent make you as much money as possible, cause i'd guess the shelf-life of marketing promotion for an Olympic athlete is quite short.

Right now, everyone knows who Michael Phelps is. Hey, the NBC broadcast last Saturday night when he won #8 was the most-watched Saturday night program on NBC in something like nearly 20 years. We're not a nation of Saturday-night television viewers, I guess, because the Phelps Olympic broadcast bumped a "very special" 1990 episode of Empty Nest (a "Golden Girls" spinoff) from the No. 1 spot. I guess the nation was pretty gaa-ga about Kristie McNichol and Richard Mulligan back then. Thankfully, neither one was wearing a speedo during that broadcast.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bunch of Bits. .

Nothing specific here, just a few things bouncing around inside my noggin. . . . .
  • We Ain't Got No Stinkin' Tickets: So, the true sports fans who have scrimped and saved their pennies to attend the Olympic games in Bejing get over there to find. . . ticket prices through the roof! Olympic organizers have been saying that there are no tickets available and that the venues are sold out. Hmm. Seems like a lot of empty seats from what I can see on my television (or have the Chinese just digitally altered the background to make it appear so). Who's to blame? The organizers, I suppose, who invited those bastard "ticket brokers" (defined as legalized scalpers) to set up shop, purchase most of the available tickets at face value, then resell 'em at ridiculously inflated prices. So, blame the brokers at well (Stubhub, go to hell). And a mighty single-finger salute to the corporate "partners" who've also secured their fair share of tickets, only to not use them. Meanwhile, the organizers are scrambling up locals--school children, stragglers on the streets, anyone--to come and fill up the seats to make it look like the events are being well-attended. Meanwhile, the dedicated fans are left scrounging for overpriced tickets.
  • Lip-synching Chinese kid: Where did all the outrage about this come from, anyway? Where's this false indignity coming from? It's not like anyone is up in arms about China's use of essentially slave-labor to build the Olympic venues, their mixing of cute kids and goose-stepping soldiers in the opening spectacle, or their squashing of basic human rights and press freedoms. Hey, that's just the price of doing bidness, eh? These Olympics are less about the athletic competition and more about showing the world that China is more than cheap imported goods and rice paddies, Chairman Mao, and the Cultural Revolition. Oh, the Cultural Revolution? Must've missed that during the sanitize Chinese history lesson during the opening ceremonies. . .
  • Michael Phelps? Sure, nice kid. Sure, great athlete. GREATEST ATHLETE EVER? I'd doubt it. Maybe greatest swimmer. But I'm already tired about his quest for Olympic immortality. Pluheeze. So this whole thing will be a failure if he doesn't win every event and set a world record in each one? Whatever.
  • Fort Worth gas drilling: ah, now that those homeowners lucky enough to have mineral rights (we aren't among 'em) have negotiated a big bonus check and royalty deal with the evil natural gas companies, their conscience is kicking in as they drive through their neighborhoods and are beginning to see drilling rigs, high-pressure odorless gas lines, and compressor stations being built. Oh, and let's not forget the dozens of homes that are being torn down to accomodate the pipeline alignments. And the threat of eminent domain if you don't deal with them! Hey, homeowners with the new big-screen teevees--you've made your deal with the Devil and Mike Moncreif. . .too late to cry for some sort of comprehensive Fort Worth drilling plan now! This is one of my bookmarked favorite blogs on all that's happening in Fort Worth.
  • Carrot Top: When did he go from being just a goofy prop-comic to a scary-looking, roided-up, plastic-surgery-and-tatooed-eyebrow muscle-bound horror? Jesus Christ. Check out this great you tube clip of the amazing Henry Rollins riffing on the "new, improved" Mr. Top. "Non-specific, transgender. . .man, What The Fuck?" indeed!
  • Russia vs. Georgia. Ol' Dubya got lucky. It wasn't his spineless-threats that caused Vlad and the boys to back down. Rather, Russia didn't want too much more egg on their face internationally. And, really, what were we going to do about it? Send troops? From. . .where? Let this be a wake-up call to Americans that if some other superpower (we aren't the only one, ya know) decides to do a little territorial expansion, we're in no position to do anything about it. . .at least until we get the hell out of Iraq (where, by the way, the national treasury has banked billions of $$ while we continue to pay for their reconstruction. . what was that about the war that was going to pay for itself?)
  • McCain/Georgia: Is he senile, or just has no short-term memory?
  • John Edwards: never trusted him. Didn't anyone else just think he was nothing but a smooth-talking lawyer without a bone of sincerity in his body? Well, it'd be tough for anyone to trust him again. But it really wasn't THAT bad--her cancer was in remission at the time. And he didn't father that child--he'd be happy, just overjoyed to take that paternity test. Honestly. Really, now, did Elizabeth truly think that no one would find out about this after she encouraged him to run for President again? She's been labeled an "ambition enabler."
  • John McCain: you notice he's keeping quiet about the whole Edwards thing. He's in no position to talk--and indeed, where is the media giving him and his peccadillos equal time? While he was a Vietnam POW, his wife and mother to his children was involved in a serious automobile accident that disfigured her. What did Johnny boy do when he was spring from the Tiger Cages? Came home, dumped the now-ugly wife, and immediately married a younger, blonder, and much richer woman. Now, there's ambition for you!
  • Credit: Explain to me how I could be denied a loan at a low interest rate due to my credit score, but the same creditor would gladly offer me the same amount of money at a MUCH higher interest rate? Shit, if I wasn't good to pay it back with a lower monthly payment, how could they expect me to be more comfortable with a higher interest rate and subsequently higher monthly bill? I know it's all about risk, but it makes no sense to me. . .
  • D-I-V-O-R-C-E: Okay, so we've got friends who are getting divorced. I really feel for them, and especially their kids. Love changes over time. That's part of life. Careers and children are all a part of that change. Dumping your partner to get more excitement into your life isn't the answer. Deal with it. Think of the kids. And, no, it isn't a better deal for everyone involved. Your kids might not admit to it now, but eventually, it'll mess 'em up.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Birthday Party Bitch and Moan. . .


I. blows out the candle. Four kids, fourth birthday.

Yesterday, we celebrated I.'s fourth birthday with a little backyard party. (His actual birthday was the 14th, but we held off a week or so with a party for his friends so we could invite them over on a Saturday afternoon.)

M. did a great job, as usual, planning the event: she created some cool invitations, worked tirelessly getting the house all spiffed up, ran here and there getting a cake made, crepe paper hung, and selected just the right party favors for I.'s baseball-themed party. A dozen invitations went out: RSVP, they all said, and included a phone number. That seems pretty easy to figure out.

But I guess RSVP is an abbreviation lost on the young parents of today (so, look it up in your Wikipedia: ""Répondez s'il vous plaît", a French phrase that translates to "reply, please." or literally "reply, if it pleases you". It is with this meaning that invitation cards and similar documents are often marked with "R.S.V.P." It is standard practice to reply to an RSVP request whether confirming attendance or declining. " )

M.--and myself--were brought up with enough manners to be considerate enough that if someone thinks enough of you to invite you to a party, you let the person know if you'll be there or not. I guess that isn't the way things are done anymore--M. recieved no response at all from the invites. . .and that makes it a bit difficult to figure out how many kids to plan for. It wasn't the first time: the same thing happened back in January for E.'s birthday party at a rental bounce-house place. The invitations went out. . .and then, mostly. . .nothing. Oh, three parents did bother to call and say they'd bring their kid. . but two of those didn't bother showing up, nor call later to apologize. It really chafed my ass to spend hard-earned money on renting a place for the kids to have a good time, and then their parents don't even bother letting us know if they'll be there or not.

Saturday, anyway, I. had a great time, despite having only two friends come by. P., our neighbor infant from across the street, tottled over with her parents; and one of I.'s "girlfriends" from school came by as well (her mother lost the invitation, but made the effort to look up on line where we live). We all ate pizza and cake. I. and his brother E. and the two little guests splashed in a kiddie pool, zipped along a slip-and-slide, and played a little baseball. I doubt they missed the kids that didn't make it. To them, it wasn't a slight on anyone's part.

But M. and I wonder if these parties are even worth it. Especially when parents don't show much consideration in how to respond to an invitation. Call it sour grapes, or call it bitching and moanin'. But, please, call us--one way or another.



Getting a jump on puberty. . .

See, our son is IS half-Hispanic!

M. picked up some cheap costume moustaches from the party store the other day. While E. would have nothing to do with trying one on (he's SO serious lately!), I. was, of course, eager to jump in. I think he's more Ramon Vasquez than Jason Giambi. . .

Saturday, July 12, 2008

You May Be a Cubs Fan If. . .

. .you decide to have your ashes interred in a Cubs-theme cemetery. Yep, your ashes will rest in eternal repose inside a replica of the ivy-covered walls of Wrigley Field, complete with a bronze "baseball card" describing your life. Oh, and speakers broadcasting Cubs games so the mourners can get into the mood.

I shit you not.


Too Good to Pass up. . .
is Fappingfun's flickr site. Beware: there's quite a few photographs not safe for youngsters or the office. Or your wife, if she catches you looking at them. But, beyond the photos of young women with large breasts, there's some funny-ass shit in here. Mind if I rip the guy off and post a couple of em? Thought you wouldn't mind.



Self-explanatory.



I'm a fan of obscene Family Circus spoofs. There's a whole bunch of them here.



Again, no explanation needed.




Guys will relate to this one.



"Our BBQ will make U go OMGWTF!"


Flicker is an amazing place to waste time. Incredible what people post. Truly. Amazing. And they aren't shy, either. But enough about that.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ya hadda be there (and we were, sort of. . . )


It's Roy Hobbs! (AP photo)

What an amazing finish to last night's Rangers-Anaheim Angels game in Arlington! All morning on ESPN the lead highlight clip has been Josh Hamilton's walk-off two-run home run to lead Texas to a 5-4 victory.

I hope folks are finally starting to believe in this ball club. I know I do. It took me several years past the debacle that was the A-Rod deal to get me to even want to watch a sports team owned by Tom Hicks. But things are starting to fall into place for the Rangers. . .they've got a little momentum now (playing 4-games above .500 for the first time in two years) going into the All-Star break. And while the pitching still isn't anywhere near where it should be--in fact, it's a horror show--the youth and resiliency and sense of team embodied in this year's Rangers squad should bring big dividends in the future. Maybe not this year, but certainly in 2009 and later. The club is loaded with young hitting and fielding talent, and there's a whole line of 'em coming up in the Rangers' minor league system, too. Hats off to Jon Daniels. And hats off to Nolan Ryan, too, for his leadership in the front office. Not much to hear from Mr. Hicks, which is fine with me.


The Temple at dusk. A magical place. And $1.00 hot dogs to boot.


Chris and son Jake along with the always-in-motion I. and E. Jake's got a borrowed Cubs cap on. By the end of the night, he was sporting a Rangers cap. Another convert!

Our family joined my co-worker Chris Palmieri and his son, Jake, at the game last night. I gave the Rangers no chance of winning last night going into it. It's not too promising when the team doesn't have a starter to put on the mound. Instead, they team opted to use relievers--Madrigal and Rupe to start things off--and to me it had a bruising written all over it.

But Madrigal and Rupe stepped up, pitching a combined six innings and allowing two runs, allowing the Rangers to tie the game at 2-2 by the 6th inning by forcing the Angels' Jared Weaver to walk runners, and having the luck of two fielding errors which set up the Rangers' first two runs.

Rangers reliever Frank Francisco allowed the Angels two more runs in the 6th, and there it stood, 4-2, until the 9th inning, when the Angels' dangerous closer, Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez, came on to close the Rangers out.

It wasn't to be.

Rodriguez walked Vasquez, struck out Kinsler, and Catalanatto grounded out, moving Vasquez to second. With 2 outs, Michael Young sent Vasquez home on a double, bringing Hamilton up to bat with the score 4-3 with two outs. After running the count to 3-1, Rodriguez elected to pitch to Hamilton rather than walk him, and Hamilton drove the pitch deep to right field.

Pandemonium ensued. The crowd went wild, etc. and the Rangers swarmed onto the field to welcome Hamilton on his first-ever walk-off home run. It was electric. I'm sure Josh Lewin's call will be remembered for a long time.


A family photo op. You can see I. is already fidgeting to get to the team store. . .

At least it appeared that way on television. Where were we? Hey, we've got two young boys, and they absolutely needed to visit the team store rather than watch the conclusion to this exciting game. So, off we went to the gift shop (Hey, Rangers were down 4-2 in the 7th inning? What are the chances they'd rally?) While M. and the boys shopped, I watched the game conclude on a television monitor above a display of Ranger's Caps.

"What happened? Is it over?" one shopper asked. "Awww, and we were shopping!" That about sums up the experience. What the hell. We'll catch it on SportsCenter later.

Still, an electrifying win, and the Rangers are now up 2-1 in the series against the Angels. And Hamilton is being hailed as "The Natural" on baseball blogs across the country. "How f-ing awesome can that be?" one writer asked, " to hit a home run in a stadium of cheering fans, fireworks exploding overhead, and the music from 'The Natural' playing? " How f-ing awesome, indeed!

This season is getting more interesting by the moment.


My view of the Hamilton game-winner. I won't let this happen again.

Where Have You Gone, Transistor Radio (a nation turns its lonely eyes to you. . .)

Before headed to the game, and running errands, I thought I'd just stop in a store and buy a small transistor radio to take to the game. Remember those? Back in the days, when World War II vets chomped cigars while watching games in the stands and baseball fields had names like Comiskey and Crosley--not Comerica or Pac-Bell--a transistor radio was an indispensable accessory in adding to enjoyment to a game.

How tough could it be to find one? Pretty tough, I guess. I made four stops and wasn't able to find such a contraption in short-order. Office Depot? I knew that would be pushing my luck, but since they sell Gummy Bears by the tub-full, I thought I'd take a chance. Wal-Mart? Target? No, no, and no. Radio Shack had a fancy model for $39.99 (!!!), and would be "happy to order" a cheap $14 model. No thanks. I can buy it on line cheaper and easier. I just found it strange that one can find all manner of readily-available mp3 players small enough that you could insert one in many body orifices, but the lowly transistor radio--what a personal electronic device was back in the days before "ear buds"--are nowhere to be seen.

Radio Shack. You have questions, we have blank stares.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Well, this sucks, too. . .

Bye bye, J.J.'s Hideaway. . .
http://www.pegasusnews.com/news/2008/jun/26/fort-worths-j-js-hideaway-be-demolished/

What a great place this used to be to drink in. I probably won't be able to afford a whiskey sour in whatever takes its place. . . .

Monday, June 23, 2008

Goodnight, George

'
We've lost a great one. . .


Sad news for me this morning: comedian George Carlin has died at age 71.

George and I went way back. On the cusp of my teenage years, which coincided with the convergence of the final years of "Golden Age" vaudevillians (Marx Brothers, Jack Benny, Henny Youngman, etc.) and the emergence of a new hip set of comedians (David Steinberg, Freddie Prinze, Robert Klein, among them), Carlin's "AM&FM" LP was one of the first record albums I purchased. This was back in 1972, when Carlin was making the transition from a straight-laced performer to a hippy persona that really made his career.



One of the first LP's I ever bought. .

"AM&FM" was Carlin's farewell to a more traditional stand-up presentation. His next album, "Class Clown," was notorious for the "Seven Words you Can't Say on Television" . It was pretty ground-breaking for the era. The routine brought "blue" language--previously the domain of guys like Lenny Bruce and Redd Foxx--into the mainstream. Remember, this was 1972: a brief era when the old-guard was hanging it up and only a few years before "Saturday Night Live" took to the airwaves. Cable television's expanse of channels was still in the future, and the best gig a comedian could get on TV was to land a spot on the Carson show. Concidentally, Carlin was the guest host on the premiere of SNL, which at the time was merely called "Saturday Night."

Carlin in 1972 was a long-haired hippy freak, no doubt about it, cracking jokes about sex and dope and I was oblivious to most of it. His delivery, though, was still traditional in the sense that is featured bits reliant on impressions and voice characterizations. As Carlin matured, so did his approach to comedy, evolving into the social commentary and observation popular by the generation of comedians after him, like Jerry Seinfeld, Lewis Black, and in a freaky way, Steven Wright.

There were those--my wife among them--who felt that Carlin's prodigious use of profanity in his performance diminished the impact of the rest of his words. I didn't agree--if anything, his liberal use of fucks, motherfuckers, and cocksuckers actually helped take an edge off words that were, after all, just words. Strangely enough, he also was the narrator on "Thomas The Tank Engine" from 1991-1994. He was a helluva lot better than Ringo Starr as "Mr. Conductor."

George Carlin was way out in front of exposing the fear-mongering that goes on in this country by politicians and the media, and in ridiculing how life in the United States has essentially become an existance defined by consumerism, religious fraud, marketing, and lies. His specials for HBO were something to be looked forward to. While M. would work on her computer in the next room, I'd be in front of the television laughing my ass off.

Carlin's last HBO special was "It's Bad For Ya," taped in March of this year. His performance seemed flat, the spark gone, and just didn't have the angry edge of outrage his earlier specials did. Carlin just looked old.

He'd hate me for saying this, given his dislike of religion, but God bless you, George. Rest easy, you old motherfucker.


Speaking of Fear-Mongering. . . someone at work posted a call to all good Americans to boycott gasoline sold by oil companies that purchase crude from Saudi Arabia. Instead, we should spend our hard-earned bucks fattening only the pockets of companies that use non-Saudi oil. . .companies, the posting said, like Wal-Mart, which gets its oil from Arkansas (well, that's what it seemed like it was saying!). Oh, and we should boycott Venezuela, as well. Just because.

The super-patriot who posted this plea reasoned that since Saudi Arabia was "boycotting" products made in the US of A, we should boycott their oil. Yep, they're boycotting. . .what exactly do we make in this country anymore? Oh, weapons systems? Last time I looked, the Saudis were still keeping our good ol'American defense contractors in business.

I'm sure the good consumers of China and India, among the rest of the world, will be happy to purchase whatever we don't buy.

Just goes to prove that people are largely stupid in this country.