The latest in infant sloganeering.
Shake it, baby, shake it.
I see London, I see France, I see Andes underpants.
"I offer myself to Saddam in exchange for world peace.
I would do it holding my nose and closing my eyes.
I would do it for peace."
-- Italian porn star "La Cicciolina," taking a tactic the U.N. never thought of.
Sometimes, when I'm feeling insecure, I fear that Side Salad comes dangerously close to this level of insight.
This idea smacks of some scam a Korean restaurant came up with so it could have an unlimited supply of fresh meat.
Then again, I'm a bit of a pessimist.
By the way, notice how many rabbits are on the island.
It's just an observation.
UN's said he's mad.
Human's sad side.
He damns Saudis.
Had damn issues.
Dead in U.S. smash?
Hissed: "Damn USA!"
He's Saddam Hussein. In anagram form, of course.
As regular readers may remember, Side Salad adopted a mascot a while back: the loveable, dependable dolphin.
We're rethinking this stance now that Takoma the bottlenosed war dolphin has gone AWOL.
Yep. Seems the slippery mammal had better things to do than poking his nose around wet places for the Navy.
My favorite part of this story is a quote from his handler:
Petty Officer Whitaker had tempted fate by saying: "Why would they go missing when they have the best food and daily spruce-ups and health checks?" Two hours later Takoma had gone AWOL. "Twenty-four hours is not unusual," a nervous Petty Officer Whitaker said. "After all, he may meet some local company."
My guess is that he indeed found the aforementioned local company and decided he liked that a whole helluva lot better than getting blown up.
The fact that my milk comes from the other end of this gives me no solace at this time.
With so much turmoil in the world, I hereby present a moment of purity.
Hard to resist a rabbit, isn't it?
My advice: Switch to Sanka, Brent.
My favorite part of this product's sales pitch:
Super soft high end woven elastic trim
I should hope so.
First Saddam launches Scuds he said he didn't have. Now this little morsel:
British military interrogators claim captured Iraqi soldiers have told them that al-Qaeda terrorists are fighting on the side of Saddam Hussein's forces against allied troops near Basra.
At least a dozen members of Osama bin Laden's network are in the town of Az Zubayr where they are coordinating grenade and gun attacks on coalition positions, according to the Iraqi prisoners of war.
What's next? We find out he was Deep Throat?
Saw this story in the New York Times today:
Martha Burk intensified her campaign to force Augusta National Golf Club to admit women as members yesterday by invoking the war in Iraq, saying that women can serve in the armed forces and die in combat but cannot join the home of the Masters.
"It's an insult to the 250,000 women serving in the United States military," she said at a news conference outside City Hall.
No, it's an insult that you would try to leverage war in order to gain a tee time, Martha. It's also an insult when you consider the war that you're trying to use for your own personal gain is being fought in a country where rape is expected and sexual discrimination is part of the religion, not just a societal tic. The Big Berthas in your bag will get more exposure to the sun in one afternoon than a million women's faces will in Iraq this year.
Your point may have been valid when you started this, but that moment grows increasingly distant in the rear-view mirror with every stunt like this.
It's at this point that I'm reminded of a line Dennis Miller said. The issue isn't that women should be included or excluded.
It's that there are some bullshit male rituals that women shouldn't want to be a part of.
Aim higher, Martha. Your windmill is losing steam.
You say Al Qaida, I say Al Qaeda.
Let's turn the bulletin board off.
There are few times that I can't decide whether to laugh maniacally or sob like a toddler getting a booster shot.
This would be one of those times.
Pages from my Onion desk calendar:
"Motor Trend" Car Of The Year Stripped Of Title
After Appearing As "Hot Rod" Centerforld
Mason-Dixon Line Renamed IHOP-Waffle House Line
When is a bridge more than a roadway?
When a crazy-assed photographer climbs them in order to make some art.
There are times when I wish I could shake my head, Etch-a-Sketch-style, and make disturbing images disappear.
This method would work for me, too.
Just in case you need to see Baghdad like a native.
In that same vein, here's a great lead written by Tom Verducci from Sports Illustrated's baseball preview issue:
Hope, Aristotle divined, is the dream of the waking man. America, at midwinter in a post 9/11 world, challenged that notion last week.
Hundreds of bits of a spacecraft still lay strewn along miles of the Bible Belt. Duct tape, the classic punch line of handyman humor, suddenly became a serious staple of civilian defense against dirty bombs that might come from unknown agents of war. And the words weapons of mass distruction rolled too easily off the tongue, included in the foreboding drumbeat of news from the Middle and Far East. While much of the country listened for diversionary sounds of encouragement, the too-familiar scrape of a snow shovel upon the driveway or the chattering of teeth against February's chill only mired them in a deeper state of blue.
And just then, last Friday, on Valentine's Day morning as it happened, hope, as Aristotle knew it, made its presence felt in Mesa, Ariz. The Chicago Cubs' pitchers, whose degree of wakefulness in recent years could be questioned by philosophers of absolutely no repute, began their first workout of spring training. Hey, with hope - as with love, charity and a good full-bodied red wine - no helping is too modest or too insignificant to nourish the spirit.
In groups of a half-dozen or so, the Cubs climbed a conjoined strand of mounds and, before tossing baseballs, began snapping hand towels. The pitchers held the towels in their throwing hands, wound up as if delivering a pitch and, without letting go of the cotton cloth, snapped it on the mitt of a kneeling catcher at the foot of the mound. The towel snapped only when the pitcher properly extended his arm motion. It was one of those crazy sights you see only in spring training.
What a fitting start: the Cubs actually working on throwing in the towel.
There's great danger in elevating sports into something that would suggest that it has mythic importance.
I can tell you firsthand, it has no such qualities.
But there are moments that it can help someone forget who they are and where they are on this earth. And certainly that has to be worth something. Nothing heroic or cut from the cloth of Homer's "Odyssey," but temporarily transforming nonetheless.
Some could argue that a great passion for sports and competition is more indicative of arrested development.
Well, so what. So is the 58-year-old woman who has a house full of dolls or the 78-year-old geezer who spends more time with his garage train set than he does with his grandchildren.
For me, baseball holds a fair amount of allure. Don't know why. I played the game as a kid and covered it a little as an adult. There's something about baseball that keeps my interest in a way that, say, the 27th game of the season for Gonzaga's basketball team does not.
The peripheral attractions of baseball, like the ones mentioned here, are the sorts of things that keep my attention. I mean, I'll constantly be amazed when someone like Derek Jeter backhands an overthrown ball to the plate to preserve the win in Game 3 of the 2001 American League Divisional Series. I watch baseball just in case I am privledged to see something superhuman like that again.
But few things in life are as much fun as rooting through your baseball card collection and finding you still have your Biff Pocaroba from 1981.
Okay, now I'm regretting my decision to commit massive financial relief to a beleagured auto industry as a protest against the Hollywood ego machine.
I just read that Dave Barry was one of the writers who came up with jokes for Steve Martin.
I think Steve Martin is the funniest person on the planet. I memorized all of his albums as a kid. I even bought the book "Cruel Shoes." Everytime one of his stories appears in The New Yorker, I swallow it whole. I even paid to see "The Lonely Guy" in the theaters.
This link leads to a great column by Barry that gives a glimpse into the process of crafting Oscar jokes.
Here's an example of one of the jokes they didn't use:
''Halloween 8 came out. I thought it was the best Halloween ever. It made Halloween 7 look like Halloween 5.''
See what I mean. Damn. Should have watched the opening monologue.
I didn't watch the Oscars last night. I was too busy trying to replace a Jeep Grand Cherokee that clearly had intentions of automotive suicide for the better part of a year. I know I'll show my age with this war-related remark, but if it could have poured a can of gasoline over it's hood and immolated itself monk-style at the intersection of Dale Mabry Highway and Kennedy Boulevard, I'm sure it would have done so. Or maybe I'm just projecting what I would have done. Whatever.
Anyway, I was committing to the expenditure of thousands of dollars over the next 60 months for no money down at 2.9 percent instead of watching the Academy Awards. Based on what I read about the show, I could have ponied up a few million more at loanshark rates with the lives of my family and friends pledged as collateral and it would have been a bargain to have missed the public display of self-aggrandizement.
From what I read, the fulcrum of the show's weirdness came when Michael Moore, who won for his documentary, "Bowling for Columbine." denounced President Bush as a "fictitious president" who is "sending us to war for fictitious reasons."
Interesting comments coming from a man who conveniently rearranged parts of his heralded recession-era film "Roger and Me" to suit the angle of his movie and then had the giant, jumbo, elephantine coconut balls to first deny the charges and then maintain it still met the criteria of a factual documentary.
How big were the lies? Film Comment's Harlan Jacobson pointed out the number of 1986 GM layoffs in Flint was about 5,000, not the 30,000 implied in the film, which transpired over a greater range of time. The commercial projects, intended to revive Flint, all opened and failed before the 1986 layoffs, but Moore suggests they resulted from the GM cuts.
If anyone knows about fictitious, it's Michael Moore.
The New York Times, of all publications, wrote a subtle but scathing article that pricked the ribs of the self-appointed moral barometers in Hollywood. (You have to register at the site before you can read the article.)
Here's a great passage:
In good times movie stars are an agreeable reflection of our own yearning for youth, wealth and beauty. In a crisis they can become projections of everything we like least about ourselves — privileged, pampered, self-absorbed. It didn't matter what the politics were; it was the presumption.
Call it irony or coincidence, but on this day in Memphis in 1958, Elvis Presley arrived with his parents at the draft board on South Main Street to be inducted into the army. He became U.S. Army Private 53310761, and his income dropped from $400,000 a year to $78 a month.
He gave up everything in order to serve his country. Stardom. A revolutionary music career. Millions in potential earnings. Connection with a mother that he clearly needed in order to keep his appetites in line. He was paraded for the press, which watched him as he got his head shaved and as he stood in his underwear to be measured and weighed and more or less paraded like a village loon.
But he did it. And he did it with his mouth shut. He finished his tour of duty, collected his adolescent fiancee and then went home to Memphis.
I shudder to think of the infantile shrieks that would emerge from Michael Moore's prickly pear head if he ever received an induction notice. Then again, maybe it would be just another excuse to exploit public misery - like layoffs, high-school shooting sprees and war - for his own personal edification.
Jay Mohr plays the Improv in Tampa tonight.
I've been a fan for years, ever since I saw him do some standup on Comedy Central. I don' t think he did his best work on "Saturday Night Live." If anything, he's been funnier since he left the show. He's had an ESPN show that didn't get much of a chance, and he did a show named "Action" that was a little too much for mainstream TV. Then there was his work in Jerry McGuire .
But what he's really known for is his impersonation of Christopher Walken.
Click here and go to the multimedia section to listen to Mohr tell a funny story about the time he spent on the set shooting "Suicide Kings" with Walken.
From The Onion day-at-a-glance calendar on my desk:
Miracle Of Birth Occurs For 83 Billionth Time
This makes me laugh so hard, milk shoots out my nose.
Even when I'm not drinking any.
(Once you subject yourself to a birthdate frisking, click on the beer bottle to get to the video selections.)
They probably just ate some bad camembert.
San Francisco protesters stage a 'vomit in'
Bay City News -- Thursday, March 20, 2003
In a unique form of opposition, some protesters at the Federal Building staged a "vomit in,'' by heaving on the sidewalks and plaza areas in the back and front of the building to show that the war in Iraq made them sick, according to a spokesman.
In a previous life, I majored in English and considered becoming a poet. I even studied under a brilliant poetry teacher named David Kirby.
But that was before I decided that making money would help further my career as a consumer of food, housing and petroleum products. I remain big fans of those products, so here I remain, well-fed, well-sheltered and on a full tank, compensated handsomely for chronicling the weirdness of normal daily life.
But every now and again, I remember that I used to be 20 and that I spent time reading poetry about cows playing baseball and popes chanting the phrase "Hot dog, you bet."
Back when I was unencumbered by life's fishnets of mortgages, matching shoes and sobriety, I used to read a lot of beat poetry. I once saw Allen Ginsberg in the quad of the student union at Florida State University recite from his epic poem "Howl."
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machin-
ery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
There was something beyond surreal about seeing him all hairy and long-sleeved in the hot Florida afternoon recite these amazing words, while tie-dyed freaks sat cross-legged and comatose on the ground and sorority girls in tank tops and striped Dolphin shorts scurried past. I'll never forget how much hair spilled out of his head. It just seemed to billow from his scalp and his chin and god knows where else. His face seemed like it was peeking through this hair curtain, there was so much of it.
I've grown up now and moved on to less serious verse. Cowboy poet and former large animal veterinarian Baxter Black is my cup of tea these days.
Each day, Keillor talks about various writers and poets and then offers a poem that usually has nothing to do with anything of significance on that day.
Today's offering is "Dog," by beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. It's one of my favorites.
The dog trots freely in the street
and sees reality
and the things he sees
are bigger than himself
and the things he sees
are his reality
Drunks in doorways
Moons on trees
The dog trots freely thru the street
and the things he sees
are smaller than himself
Fish on newsprint
Ants in holes
Chickens in Chinatown windows
their heads a block away
The dog trots freely in the street
and the things he smells
smell something like himself
The dog trots freely in the street
past puddles and babies
cats and cigars
poolrooms and policemen
He doesn't hate cops
He merely has no use for them
and he goes past them
and past the dead cows hung up whole
in front of the San Francisco Meat Market
He would rather eat a tender cow
than a tough policeman
though either might do.
And he goes past the Romeo Ravioli Factory
and past Coit's Tower
and past Congressman Doyle of the Unamerican Committee
He's afraid of Coit's Tower
but he's not afraid of Congressman Doyle
although what he hears is very discouraging
to a sad young dog like himself
to a serious dog like himself
But he has his own free world to live in
His own fleas to eat
He will not be muzzled
Congressman Doyle is just another
The dog trots freely in the street
and has his own dog's life to live
and to think about
and to reflect upon
touching and tasting and testing everything
without benefit of perjury
a real realist
with a real tale to tell
and a real tail to tell it with
a real live
engaged in real
with something to say
something to say
and how to see it
and how to hear it
with his head cocked sideways
as if he is just about to have
his picture taken
for Victor Records
His Master's Voice
like a living questionmark
of puzzling existence
with its wondrous hollow horn
which always seems
just about to spout forth
some Victorious answer
The CBS network's Web site has a feature on its "Late Show With David Letterman" wing: This Dave In History.
The entry for today features a great moment from Letterman's days at NBC. It was one of the funniest things I think I've ever seen on TV::
1984: Chris Elliott debuts his "Comparison Test" during a viewer mail question. Tonight, he tries to determine which is lower in cholesterol -- Peanut Oil or Corn Oil -- by drinking a pint of each. "No difference, Dave."
Damn, Harry looked like the Old Navy lady, too.
Come to think of it, Harry and Lew Wasserman looked a lot alike.
Brutal dictator, or optically related evil twin?
Michael Jackson's dog.
Ann Landers' Advice Arrives 11 Weeks Too Late
By MICHAEL KUCHWARA
AP Drama Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - CBS will expand its coverage of the 2003 Tony Awards, devoting three hours to the June 8 show, honoring the best of the Broadway season.
I might have to make me a set of these, now that I know how to.
Then again, maybe not.
Your Last Iditarod Update for 2003.
Call it a race; Russell Bybee has made it to Nome and won the Red Lantern.
Russell's 44th-place time was 15 days, five hours, 30 minutes and 53 seconds. Considering that the first Red Lantern winner in 1973, John Schultz, completed the race in 32 days, Russell has plenty to be proud of. They say in aviation that every safe landing is a good landing. So goes mushing. Every trip across the Iditarod finish line is a good finish.
If you're wondering where all those dogs go at the end of the race, take a look for yourself. It's a Web cam posted at the top of the town newspaper's office, the Nome Nugget.
If you get a daytime shot, you can see a circle of specks on the white ice of the frozen Bering Sea. Those are all dogs staked to the ice. There they are fed and bed down on straw until an airplane is available to fly them back home.
In case you're wondering, that's the main drag in Nome. The ribbon of snow down the middle is what they've left for the mushers to bring their dogs into town.
Oh, and there's only one parking meter in town.
Here's a little clearer shot that shows the finish chute with snow, the burled arch and some of the surrounding buildings on Front Street.
To get a little better sense of how weird the ceremonial start of the race in Anchorage is, here are several pages of photo galleries taken along Fourth Avenue. In some of them you can see the blue and gravel facade of my old newspaper, The Anchorage Times.
Again, folks, I merely pass these along. I don't write 'em.
Apparently, even the the butcher of Baghdad needs to vent a little.
If you haven't seen the movie Office Space, you owe it to yourself to do so.
Especially if you hate your job.
Hey, Russ Bybee how's it feel to be the last man in Alaska mushing dogs at the moment?
That's right, Bybee is the odd's-on favorite to take the Red Lantern in the Iditarod.
Yesterday's laggard, Ellen Halverson, quit the race in Shaktoolik with 11 dogs still running, sort of.
Bybee is likely to finish the race, considering he's at the second to last checkpoint White Mountain, and has only 77 miles to go.
But if Bybee can't finish, Ben Stamm, who is already in Nome, would take the prize as the last musher to finish.
Here's a list of the previous dubious winners.
Here's how Dogsled.com (I am not making this up) explains the tradition:
In the early pioneering years of Alaska, dog teams were used to carry freight and mail between the Anchorage, Seward and the interior. Along the way, roadhouses were set up as rest stops and shelter. The mushers made their way across the Alaska wilderness in all types of weather. To help them, a kerosene lamp was hung outside each roadhouse as a beacon. These lamps helped the mushers find the roadhouses, and served as a notice that a musher was out somewhere on the trail. The lamp was left to burn until the musher was safely at his intended destination.
In 1986, to address and continue the tradition, Chevron USA hung a Red Lantern on the burl arch in Nome. The lantern is lit at the beginning of the race every year, and it burns brightly until the last musher crosses the finish line. The last musher across the finish line puts out the lamp, officially signifying that the Iditarod Sled Dog Race has come to a close. This practice has identified the last musher in the race as the Red Lantern musher.
It's also customary for the Iditarod winner to stay in Nome long enough to greet the final musher at the line.
The Red Lantern is kind of like Alaska's version of Motel 6: They'll leave the light on for you.
Just to show you how weird things get, this Anchorage Daily News story details the finish of the final musher in the 2002 race, David Straub:
Nome -- Star-crossed musher David Straub finally finished his first Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Sunday. And like the race's winner, Martin Buser, he did it in record time.
Straub, a 41-year-old carpenter who lives in Willow, finished last in style, becoming the fastest last-place finisher in the race's 30-year history. He earned the annual Red Lantern award by being the final musher -- 55th overall -- to arrive in Nome. Straub completed the 1,100-mile race in 14 days, 5 hours, 38 minutes, 12 seconds. Straub beat Brad Pozarnsky's previous mark of 14:05:42:04 by just under four minutes.
Straub apparently had enough. He didn't enter this year's race.
Gotta love a race that congratulates the loser for losing in record time.
Man, did I call this one.
Saddam, Farewell, Auf Weidersehen, Goodnight
By Dana Milbank and Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, March 18, 2003; Page A01
President Bush vowed last night to attack Iraq with the "full force and might" of the U.S. military if Saddam Hussein does not flee within 48 hours, setting the nation on an almost certain course to war and denouncing countries that refuse to support him.
Here's a photo caption you don't see every day. You'd almost think it came from The Onion.
The photo just came across the wire showing a long line of cars driving toward rolling mountains:
Visitor's to Great Smoky Mountains National Park travel through Pigeon Forge, Tenn., in this April 26, 2001, file photo. Scientists believe the Smoky Mountains were named because of the haze of isoprene, a visible hydorcarbon emitted from trees.
New research suggests trees play a more complicated role in air pollution than previously thought, with some species shown to worsen smoggy conditions that pose a health risk to humans.
Tribune Pop Culture Diva Kim MacCormack was kind enough to give me a day-by-day tear-away calendar for Christmas written by the folks who write The Onion.
Here are some sample headlines for this week:
Home-Schooled Student Opens Fire On Breakfast Nook
U.S. Dept. Of Retro Warns: "We May Be Running Out Of Past"
Freak Accident Paralyzes Man From Waist Up
Russell Bybee is once again the last man in the race.
Ellen Halverson scratched from the race sometime during the night.
Having parked himself in the village of Elim since about 7 a.m. Eastern time, Bybee is only 123 miles from Nome. Only three other mushers remain on the trail ahead of him. All three - Frank Sihler of Wasilla, AK; Kelly LaMarre of Geneva, Ill.; and Ben Stamm of Argyle, Wisc. - are checked in at White Mountain, the second-to-last checkpoint on the trail. Of those three, Sihler has already left.
If Bybee makes good time - and his average speed of 7.57 miles per hour indicates his dogs are healthy - he could be in Nome by Tuesday.
Click your mouse anywhere inside this box, and trail the strange pattern around. It has an underwater quality to it.
What's the difference between victory and defeat?
About .002 seconds.
Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch beat on each other for two laps of the Darlington 1.366-mile superspeedway before they slid across the finish line with the left front corner of Craven's No. 32 Tide Pontiac ahead of Busch's Rubbermaid Ford by inches.
The official margin of victory was .002 seconds, which officials tagged the closest finish in NASCAR since electronic scoring came into use in 1993. It might have been the closest ever.
Looks like theback of the pack has broken up.
The Red Lantern candidate now looks to be Ellen Halverson.
She had been traveling with Adam Scott Gibler and Russell Bybee, but Gibler scratched and Bybee went ahead.
There are only six mushers left on the course, all of whom are rookies. Halverson is in Unalakleet, about 260 miles from Nome.
My guess is that with 11 dogs, she could make it to the end by, say, Wednesday.
Which is an eternity in Iditarod years. She's going on the two-week point in the race.
This is the hell portion of the trip. Once you get near two weeks on the trail, every hour feels like a month.
This kind of remarkable stuff happens all the time in Alaska. It's what made it such a fun place to be a reporter. Rarely a day went by without some sort of "holy shit" story to tell in the paper.
Today's comes from The Anchorage Daily News. They have a story about a bear that was captured in 2001 and repeatedly released further and further into the wilderness, in hopes that he'd just stay there and keep away from humans. He was seen so often, folks nicknamed him "Old Yeller" because of the yellow I.D. tag that had been placed in his ear by Alaska game officials.
Apparently the black bear had a jones for bird seed. After emerging from its den last spring, it started raiding neighborhoods again. State biologists received 37 reports about the bear in just three weeks. On April 26, the 260-pound bear was tranquilized near an elementary school and equipped it with the tracking collar. The bear was in prime shape, weighing about 260 pounds, with glossy black fur.
The collar, originally designed for tracking wolves, was programed to record its location every half-hour through June 30 using global positioning satellites. It also broadcast a VHF radio signal so that biologists could find it. Biologists expected to see the bear pretty often, so the plan was to eventually take the collar off and put it on a wolf sometime in the future.
What happened next amazed even the most experienced experts.
For the next several months, Old Yeller wandered about 200 miles south of Anchorage, even crossing a pretty broad body of water at one point. No one can remember ever hearing of a black bear attempting such a thing in that area before.
The collar was eventually recovered - someone had cut it from the bear's neck. That means the bear was probably dead at the time.
Here's my favorite passage:
Why would a bear leave the great bait bucket that we call Anchorage and go down to the Kenai?" Sinnott said. "Who knows what he was thinking. ... It was the breeding period. Maybe there weren't enough hot females in the city."
On Friday night, I reviewed the Tim McGraw concert at the Forum In Tampa That Dare Not Speak Its Name.
Then on Saturday, my friend Alan came into town from Satellite Beach and we took Brian down to Bradenton to see the Philadelphia Phillies play the Pittsburgh Pirates in a spring training exhibition at McKechnie Field. It's a great little stadium.
Today, the itinerary calls for Al and I to go to Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven, home of the Cleveland Indians. They play the Tampa Bay Devil Rays today at 1:05.
Florida is an amazing place to live in the spring. From where I live, I have a chance to see any of more than a dozen teams within a two-hour drive, from Vero Beach (Dodgers) or Jupiter (Cardinals and Marlins) to Melbourne (Expos), Orlando (Atlanta), St. Pete (Devil Rays), Bradenton (Pirates), Clearwater (Phillies), Dunedin (Blue Jays), Port St. Lucie (Mets), Sarasota (Reds), Baseball City (Royals), Lakeland (Tigers), Kissimmee (Astros) and of course Tampa (Yankees). A little further south in Fort Myers, you have the Red Sox and Twins.
Tickets are ridiculously cheap - we bought our seats yesterday for $6 each. Today we'll break the $7 barrier for left field grandstand seats.
And you're insanely close to the field.
At one point yesterday, I saw a young boy who was sitting behind us run down and drape himself over the Phillies' dugout as they were running in from the field following the third out of an inning. The first baseman flipped him the ball from that inning.
So I told my son Brian to do the same thing the next time the Phillies came in from the field. The result? Bing, my boy has a major league baseball as a souvenir.
Not a bad way to spend the day.
I'll be sure to post pictures when I get a chance. You know, so you can be jealous and stuff.
Your Iditarod Update for today.
Almost 30 of the 49 mushers who haven't scratched from the race are now in Nome.
The Red Lantern - the prize for the last musher in - is still up for grabs.
Looks like three rookie mushers, Adam Scott Gibler, Ellen Halverson and Russell Bybee are all traveling together in the back of the race. This is a fairly common custom, so no one gets left behind. It's a good strategy to have during your first Iditarod.
All the best stories come from the middle-to-the-back of the pack. The 19th place finisher, DeeDee Jonrowe is a perennial contender and an Alaska favorite. She ran the race only six weeks after getting chemotherapy for breast cancer.
Then there's Ken Anderson.
A story in The Anchorage Daily News today says his team was made up of a motley crew of dogs.
One of Ken Anderson's lead dogs is a pint-sized pooch who spent her early life lounging on a couch. Another doesn't know her gee from her haw. Anderson's budget is so bare-boned his Iditarider, after seeing other mushers and their entourages decked out in fancy matching outfits, wondered aloud why Team Anderson didn't at least have matching hats.
Sound like a candidate for the Red Lantern?
Anderson, 30, followed a team of seven dogs -- all females -- to fifth place and a $38,857 payday Thursday in the 31st Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," he said. "After I take a nap, it'll probably sink in. Realistically, I was thinking between seventh or 10th."
Another great story this year is that of Jessica Hendricks.
Only 20 years old, she came in 20th, right behind Jonrowe, and earned the esteem of the race's veterans in only her first Iditarod.
Here's a nice passage in this story:
Hendricks is a young musher with a promising future. Mushers who saw her along the trail spoke admiringly of her team and her handling skills.
"The sport's in good hands," said DeeDee Jonrowe of Willow, who finished one position and three hours ahead of Hendricks and observed the younger musher often during the race. "She knows what she's doing," added stepfather Kerry Babcock.
It's time for America's favorite online game show, "Swiss, Swedish, Danish or Dutch''!
Is it me, or does the Owl Monkey have some serious issues in the occular part of it's melon?
Think James Gandolfini is gonna leave "The Sopranos"?
Be careful what you drink.
What you order at Starbucks tells something about your personality.
At least, that's what the Starbucks Oracle says.
According to the Oracle, the fact that I usually order Venti Mocha means that I ""don't go to Starbucks much; when you do you just tag along with other people since you have nothing better to do. You would like to order a Tazo Chai Crème but don't know how to pronounce it. Most people who drink grande Mocha are strippers.''
So be it.
Apparently the Vancouver (B.C.) Police Department is high-tech enough to post digital pics of rioters who trashed a Guns 'N' Roses concert there last month after it had been canceled at the last minute.
Some of the photos showing the frothy lipped fervor of the rioters are kinda funny. When you get right down to it, pretty much all they had to be pissed about was that they paid their $52.95 (not including the $432 Ticketmaster service charge) and now wouldn't be able to choke on a joint in the dark.
This kid, god bless him, looks like he's screaming, "DURGRRRRRR GUNS & ROSES! I AM MADE OF STRAWBERRY FILLING RRAAARRRRGGGHHH!'"
This just goes to show that the terrorists have won.
Grasshopper, snatch the soundbite from my hand.
National Dance Week 2003 Announces New SpokesMuppet
National Dance Week and Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization that produces Sesame Street, have announced a new partnership between the two organizations.
Sesame Workshop is launching a national "Zoe Ballerina" campaign to build young children's physical and social skills through dance this month. In her new role, Zoe is also serving as the National Dance Week 2003 Children's SpokesMuppet.
Patricia Goulding, Executive Director of NDW, states that this is "valuable networking since dance can and should be an integral part of all childrens' development with its allowance and potential for personal and physical expression. From classical ballet to Zoe's 'Silly, Willy, Nilly' dance, the partnership will raise the awareness of the importance of dance in a young child's life."
Um, the importance of dance in a young child's life? What child are we speaking of?
I don't doubt that the teaching of movement and performance are valued experiences for children.
But important? On what scale?
On the Houck Scale of Importance, with 1 being the equivalent of life-sustaining air, food and shelter and 5 being a rating that you would give to, say, remembering to use a chip clip for the Ruffles, I'd have to say that children's dance rates about a 4.997. Right above "Arbor Day celebration" and right below "cleaning roof gutters."
That a "SpokesMuppet" (that's capital S, capital M, one word) is being utilized for promotion of said activity could drop its standing even further. I'm still deciding.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I think we're putting too much heavy lifting on the shoulders of our Muppets to solve the social ills of the world. From racism ("It's not easy being green.") to AIDS (Kami, the South African muppet), we're sloughing too many tough conversations onto our handpuppet community.
I'm all in favor of dealing with serious issues. I just think it trivializes things a tad when you jam your hand in a sock and make funny sounds to talk about global plagues and lynchings..
Is this the next step? I certainly hope not.
This reminds me of the maxim: it's better to be pissed off than pissed on.
Click on the people at the table.
I can't decide which is my favorite of these: Saddam as an Altoid hottie or as a member of The Ambiguously Gay Duo?
Big enough for the Anchorage Daily News to publish a special edition.
I have a morbid curiousity in what papers choose to put on their front pages.
I find it amazing that a dog race and high (but common) winds outside of Anchorage were bigger stories than the rescue of Elizabeth Smart.
Your Iditarod Update for today.
Norwegian firefighter Robert Sorlie won the 2003 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race last night, crossing the finish line in a little more than nine days and 16 hours.
As The Anchorage Daily News reported:
With eight Norwegian huskies pulling strong, his 40-pound, aluminum and carbon-fiber dog sled slipped under the burled arch at 1:47 a.m. Alaska's Ramy Brooks of Healy, the nearest competition, was still miles back on the trail but solidly in second. Brooks crossed the finish line at 3:37 a.m.
Behind Brooks, the best Alaska huskies and the best mushers in the world -- including three past Iditarod champs with a dozen victories between them -- stretched back along the Bering Sea coast for 100 miles.
Having grabbed an early lead in the rerouted Iditarod of 2003, Sorlie's team hung on to beat them all. The sweet victory was good for $68,571 and a new Dodge diesel truck.
The next big event in the race will be, of course, when the last musher crosses the line in Nome. There's no telling when that will be. The prize for being the last musher is known as "The Red Lantern" award.
Right now the odds-on favorite for the lantern is Russell Bybee, a rookie musher. He's in 49th place and still mushing on the Yukon River. His last checkpoint was at Eagle Island.
To give you a sense for how far behind he is, Robert Sorlie passed this checkpoint five days ago.
Last Idtarod Update for the night.
Robert Sorlie left the town of White Mountain at 3:48 p.m. Alaska time. Ramy Brooks left at 5:17 p.m. (Alaska is four hours behind Eastern Standard Time.)
There is only a 90-minute buffer between them. Neither has reached the town of Safety, the last checkpoint, but they'll probably do so in the middle of the night.
When that happens, a fire alarm mounted on a tall pole in the middle of Nome will ring, alerting everyone in town that the musher(s) is/are only a couple hours outside of town. Everyone spills out of their homes - doesn't matter what time - and crowds around the finish chute on Front Street. It doesn't look a whole helluva lot different than what it looked like almost a century ago.
Nome is on the Seward Peninsula, 102 miles below the Arctic Circle, with its back to the hills and its face to the sea. People work hard — the land demands it. They play hard, too, and party like maniacs.
In spring, they dig out bathing suits and plunge into the icy Bering Sea. In fall, they race down Front Street in bathtubs on wheels. The Wall Street Journal once wrote: "Every night is Friday night in Nome, Alaska. Except Friday night—which is New Year's Eve."
If Friday night is New Year's Eve, then the night of the Iditarod finish is something else altogether. When I covered the race in 1991 for The Anchorage Times, I described it as "a frozen Mardi Gras."
Think about it: These guys (and a few women) have been on the trail for more than a week. They're tired, they stink, they've had no one but dogs to talk to for 1,100 miles.
In short, they could use a drink.
For that matter, so could their families, girlfriends, best friends, buddies, sponsors and everyone else in town, by god.
I saw an exhausted musher pass out on his first beer - with it still in his mouth. We carried him to his room and pulled the covers over him while he was still wearing his arctic weather overalls and boots.
The drunkest I ever got in my life was in Nome on the night of the 1991 race's finish. I had been up for about three days in horrible blizzard conditions and had filed my stories. I was so exhausted, all it took was about three beers. I actually had to break out of a bar. And when I did, I realized just in time that I was looking over a second-floor balcony. After several minutes of contemplating whether the snow berm below the roofline was soft snow that cushions or hard, melted-and-then-iced snow that would snap my legs like twigs. I can still remember looking to my right and seeing the town's streelight glow disappearing about 150 yards out into the frozen Bering Sea.
Maybe it was adrenaline, maybe it was a brief moment of clarity. I don't know. But I somehow decided the best course of action was to go back downstairs and break out of a lower-altitude door.
When I got to Front Street, it's was minus-50 out (minus -94 with the wind chill) and I stumbled my way for several blocks in the middle of the night to get back to the bed-and-breakfast where I was boarding. There was no one on the streets. No one. And everything was covered in snow, so every house and every street looked identical.
Somewhere, God was laughing to the point of hysterical bladder failure at what his cruel joke had wrought.
The next morning, we were due to fly out of the Nome airport (such that it is). I was still so drunk, I passed out in the makeshift station wagon taxi. Then once inside the one-room terminal, I decided to become one with the floor.
Now, you have to understand that Nome is a place used to seeing drunks passed out in public places. It's so common, it's almost a requirement for obtaining a homestead exemption.
In a town that is dulled by such a vision, I served as such a spectacle that people in the airport felt compelled to pose with my passed-out body on the floor of the one-room airport. I still have a photo someone gave me of several fetching Budweiser models kneeling around me as I drooled in a fetal position on the ground in my parka and snow boots. I had no clue. My face displayed the bleached pallor of liver failure. Someone could have jammed a stick of dynamite up my butt - or something far more personal - and I wouldn't have known.
It was not one of my proudest moments.
It's the reason I don't really drink hardly anything anymore. I'm not good at it and I'm too old for flashbacks of the paper-thin indigo-colored carpet of Nome International Airport.
Anyway, Sorlie's gonna win. Like I predicted all along.
One of the best reads on the Web for sports freaks: the Village Voice's Uni Watch.
Written very much with tongue in cheek, the column usually hits on some interesting topics without taking itself too seriously. It almost reads at times like satirical cultural anthropology.
This is from a recent column:
One of the NFL's lesser-known uniform guidelines is that uni numbers must be displayed not just on the fronts and backs of jerseys, but also on either the sleeves (an option chosen by eight of the league's 32 teams) or the shoulders (the other 24 teams). Why the lopsided ratio? For starters, sleeves are now crowded with other graphics, like the Reebok swish and secondary team logos. But the main reason is much simpler: Sleeves are disappearing.
NFL jersey sleeves are now largely vestigial, having been replaced by a gaping armhole and just enough fabric to stretch over the shoulder pad, often with an unsightly elasticized cuff to seal the opening. Styles vary a bit by position: Linemen and running backs, who are obsessed with minimizing their opponents' handholds, are usually near-sleeveless, while most quarterbacks and kickers still have semi-normal, loose-flapping sleeves (the former because they need free arm movement, the latter because, y'know, nobody cares what kickers wear anyway). Overall, however, the receding-sleeve trend is unmistakable.
It's been a long time coming. Up until the early 1960s, NFL jerseys were like sweatshirts, with sleeves routinely reaching the wrist. But by the early '70s, sleeves were around elbow-length, and within a decade the league had settled on a biceps-length T-shirt look. That held until the mid 1990s, when super-tight micro-sleeves began appearing, leading to today's sorry situation.
The current problem is twofold. First, many teams accent their sleeves with stripe patterns, which in most cases were designed decades ago and were meant to fall just above the elbow but have had to migrate up the arm in recent years as sleeves have done their disappearing act. Check out the Steelers or the Lions and you'll see how silly this has become—there's no sleeve left for the stripes to encircle. So the stripes now resemble sergeant's patches—more on the sleeve than around the sleeve—which isn't how they were meant to work. Consequently, they look like crap.
But the bigger problem is that those big armholes often leave players' upper torsos exposed as they lunge this way and that. Uni Watch, for one, does not need to see a 350-pound lineman's armpit hair as he goes about his business. Please, Mr. Tagliabue: Let's restore real sleeves—and with them, some real dignity—pronto.
Your Iditarod update for the minute.
Ramy Brooks is in White Mountain. He got there 90 minutes after Robert Sorlie.
Start etching the trophy, boys. That's S-O-R-L-I-E.
Your Iditarod update of the hour.
The race isn't over, but it might as well be.
Robert Sorlie is first into White Mountain. He got there about 30 minutes ago.
He'll rest for eight hours and then saddle up.
It's 55 miles to the next checkpoint in Safety, and then another 22 miles to Nome.
If, say, Brooks were to get to White Mountain, say, now, he'd be a half an hour behind.
It wouldn't be impossible to catch Sorlie, but it would be difficult. Especially for as fast as Sorlie's team is.
As if we needed evidence, here's further proof that people are complete morons.
USA Today had a story today about figures released by the Transportation Security Administration about the junk it has confiscated during security checks at the airport.
The TSA on Monday released those figures, its most thorough accounting of seizures at the nation's 429 commercial airports.
Turmail said the agency is working with airports to put passenger information on airport radio stations, but some people seem never to learn.
"If you don't know by now that box cutters are inappropriate, no amount of public education is going to make a difference," Turmail said.
Local police arrested 922 people at checkpoints, though how many of those resulted in convictions is not known.
Among the more unusual items collected by screeners: a 15-piece cutlery set, a machete, a trailer hitch, horseshoes, that kitchen sink pipe and circular saw and metal wall hangings depicting the Greek god Apollo.
Okay, the Ginsu set I can understand. Maybe someone was carrying on a wedding present and thought because it was in a box that it would be allowed. Stupid, but understandable.
And someone could possibly think that because there isn't, you know, a wall socket to be found at 30,000 feet that it would be okay to bring a circular saw.
And maybe, yeah, you might think that because a trailer hitch and a horse shoe and a pipe and a tacky tchotchke have a dull edge to them that it might not be a problem.
But a machete? C'mon.
Who was on the flight, Tony Montana?
Here's the truly scary passage:
Since February 2002, TSA screeners confiscated 1.4 million knives, 2.4 million sharp objects, 1,101 guns, 15,666 clubs, more than 125,000 incendiary items and nearly 40,000 box cutters.
Iditarod update (Better known as the Jeff Quite Possibly May Indeed Know His Shit Report)
Looks like Norwegian firefighter Robert Sorlie has been overtaken by Alaska Native Ramy Brooks along the Bering Sea coast. As I predicted several days ago.
The Anchorage Daily News says that "as the Flying Norwegian snoozed in the Bering Sea coast village of Koyuk on Tuesday, Ramy Brooks -- Alaska born and bred -- surged to the front of the fast-closing Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
And the plot thickened.
Brooks was taking a bold gamble in a bid for his first Iditarod victory.
"I gave up on him this morning," Brooks' grandfather, sprint-dog-racing legend Gareth Wright, said Tuesday night. "But now I think he can do it.
"We'll know by morning. He's got to beat the guy into White Mountain."
How far is Brooks ahead by?
Not by much, mind you. Race standings show that they left the village of Elim about two minutes apart at around 2 a.m. Alaska time. (That's 6 a.m. Florida time.)
There's only 123 miles left in the race, so rest will be at a premium now.
Assuming their dogs cooperate, I can foresee a scenerio something like this:
Sorlie and Brooks play tag along the coast until they get to White Mountain, second to the last checkpoint before hitting Nome some 77 miles away. At White Mountain, they're required to take an 8-hour rest. They'll likely do so in the same cabin, since there's only 209 people in the whole town.
After that rest, they hitch up the dogs and go balls-out for a sprint to Nome.
Once they hit Front Street (Nome's main drag) they sprint for the finish line under the burled arch.
It's happened before.
In 1978, Dick Mackey and Rick Swenson raced neck-and-neck for almost 800 miles, rarely losing sight of each other. With a few others, they jockeyed for position along the length of Alaska. At the end, they found themselves out in front of everyone else and proceeded to stage the most dramatic finish the race has ever seen.
As the Daily News wrote last year in their commemorative edition:
"By the time the two men reached the streets of Nome, they were virtually running side by side," Daily News reporter Doug O'Harra wrote. "One hundred yards out, they were even. By the time they entered the 50-yard chute, Mackey had a slight edge. Both men were running.
"Then Mackey's dogs trotted under the burled arch, the finish line." The dogs tangled. "His sled stopped just short of the finish line. Mackey collapsed.
"Swenson ... kept going and dragged his sled under the finish line. Though his leaders crossed second, Swenson himself crossed under the arch ahead of Mackey.
The decision about who won the 1978 Iditarod is debated today whenever race fans gather. But the rules and race officials said it was the lead dog's nose, not the musher's behind, that determined the winner. They awarded Mackey the victory by one second.
Who knows if we'll see that kind of drama again.
Either way by this time tomorrow, there'll be a new winner.
I have a great job. It's hard to top a title like "Leisure Team Leader" when it comes to inspiring envy.
But the job I want in my next life looks a lot like Peter Carlson's.
And while it might seem easy, his is the only magazine column that takes the right, smart-assed tone when it comes to criticizing various titles.
Here's an exerpt from his column about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue:
In several photos, the models wear only the bottom half of the bikini, shyly covering their lovely breasts with a hand or an elbow. At first I found this puzzling: Why are these models losing their bikini tops?
But then I realized what was really going on. SI is owned by AOL Time Warner, the rapacious conglomerate that was nearly bankrupted by the moronic merger-mania of its executives.
This folly apparently left SI so poor that it could afford to buy only the bottom halves of these expensive bikinis. And the models, eager to help their impoverished employer, gamely carried on as best they could. In these trying times, that's downright inspirational!
Equally inspirational is the fact that two of the photo shoots for the swimsuit issue took place in countries that the United States has, in recent history, battled in war -- Vietnam and Grenada. Now, instead of dropping bombs, we're sending supermodels. Talk about your peace dividend!
It was a Sunday morning. I was 13.
I remember because I was listening to Casey Kasem on American Top 40 and they always broadcast that show on Sunday mornings. I'd go into church at the Cathedral of St. Jude in St. Petersburg for the 9:30 a.m. youth mass when the countdown was in the mid 30s and I'd rush out of the church an hour later and rush home in hopes of hearing what the top 10 songs of the week were.
I was inflamed by music in 1979. Not good music. Just any kind of pop song I could hear. I had a stack of 45 records that my aunt had given me from the jukebox at her lounge and I carried them in a green, twist-top carrying case. I decorated the outside of the case with Baltimore Orioles stickers. I carried it on trips and to sleep overs and just about anywhere I could.
Anyway, it was Sunday and I was in my bedroom at home and I was laying across my bed with my headphones on, so my parents didn't have to hear the noise from my stereo speakers.
I had gotten home in time to hear the meat of the countdown. By the time I turned on my stereo, the show was in the low 20s when I heard the introduction by Kasem.
I don't remember the intro verbatim, but I do remember him giving some background about the next band he was going to play. About how this was their first hit. That they played a mix of reggae and punk. That all the band members dyed their hair blond for a chewing gum commercial in the U.K.
And then after he said the name of the song and the name of the band, there was a short, very pregnant pause, which struck me as weird, because he'd walk all over the first minute of a song with his words. This intro stopped. There was silence. And then the coolest song I ever heard came out of my headphones and gave me chills.
I had heard the song a week earlier on Q105 after school on the white enamel clock radio on my nightstand. The DJ who introduced it then did the same thing. He gave the name of the song, then the name of the band, explained it was going to be a little different kind of song and then played it.
When I realized that the weird little song had made it all the way to No. 21, I remember getting a strange little grin on my face. The song was beyond different, especially when compared to the disco and California pop that topped the charts back then.
It sounded like nothing I had ever heard. I felt cool by association, like I had better taste than everyone who was rollerskating in Gloria Vanderbilts to Rita Cooledge and drooling over their doe-eyed Linda Rondstadt poster.
I didn't want that song to end.
I don't remember how long it took me to get the album, but I got it and devoured it. And all the albums that came after it.
Their early songs had an infectious energy to them. As their career progressed, their music became more complex. The lyrics were brilliant, the music meshed so powerfully and the production quality on each record kept topping itself.
I saw them in concert several times. I bought everything I could with their faces on it.
The lyrics became intellectually stimulating. One album was based on a novel that explored man's relationship with machines, so I read that book. The next album explored the theory that everything in the universe is connected in some way and that all things conscious and unconscious - as well as the collective unconscious of our ancestors - had relevance within our minds.
Remember, this was rock 'n' roll.
Sure. The same way a Stradavarius is a fiddle.
When they broke up, I was disappointed. But I couldn't honestly think of a way they could have squeezed more out of their collaboration.
Tonight the band that changed how I viewed music and writing is being inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, half an island and light years away from where they debuted at CBGBs.
On this night, I give thanks by sharing the lyrics to the song I heard 25 years ago.
You don't have to put on the red light
Those days are over
You don't have to sell your body to the night
You don't have to wear that dress tonight
Walk the streets for money
You don't care if it's wrong or if it's right
Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light
Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light
Put on the red light, put on the red light
Put on the red light, put on the red light
Put on the red light, oh
I loved you since I knew ya
I wouldn't talk down to ya
I have to tell you just how I feel
I won't share you with another boy
I know my mind is made up
So put away your makeup
Told you once, I won't tell you again, it's a bad way
Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light
Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light
You don't have to put on the red light
Put on the red light, put on the red light
Oh yeah, he may be losing it.
What was the first clue? His use of a fishing pole as a hunting rifle?
When I lived in Anchorage, people from the Lower 48 used to ask me if it was anything like the show "Northern Exposure," where everyone was goofy and eccentric.
I usually responded by saying, "Turn off the TV, get off the couch and use your brain, you unimaginative, anglocentric, soulless humunculus."
Perhaps I was a bit harsh.
By the looks of this story, it appears that, yes, Alaska in places is just like it's fictional counterpart, Sicely, Alaska.
Loved this excerpt:
Eagle Island has entertained mushers and Iditarod volunteers since Ralph and Helmi Conatser opened their cabin to the race the first time the Iditarod took the southern route in 1977. The one-family settlement of Eagle Island quickly became a popular stop.
Ralph looked the part of comfortable host on Sunday, wearing a Hawaiian shirt as he kicked back in an oversized recliner stuffed into the tiny, rough-hewn living room of the cabin that is now his fish camp.
Helmi's moose stew and cheesecake were famous for years, something Sports Illustrated, the London Daily Mail and other publications noted. Rick Swenson, who won four of his five championships on the southern route, used to snack his dogs with cream cheese, and after leaving a supply of leftover cheese with Helmi one year, he returned two years later to find the favor returned: She had a delicious cheesecake waiting for Swenson and the other Iditarod mushers.
Jesus... the crap you find by just plugging in "United We Dance" into a browser...
A hearty welcome to a colleague and friend who has decided to thrust himself into the blog world.
Show my bud Craig a little love and visit his site. The explanation of how he named the blog is worth the inaugural visit alone.
Craig's a great guy with an interesting way of seeing life. I'm sure his blog will be a great read.
The true sign of his blog manhood, however, will come on the day he feels comfortable enough to show the picture of himself posing with a certain pop group.
C'mon, Craig. Give us all a look.
:::::taking a big whiff:::::
Ahhh yes. Just like a new BMW fresh from the lot, you never forget the smell of a fresh blog.
Why am I up at almost 12:33 a.m. on a Monday?
Because after reviewing a Martina McBride concert this afternoon at the Florida Strawberry Festival today, I can't seem to find the sleep button on my cranial remote control.
Sitting in front of me at the outdoor venue were a husband and wife who were dressed identically head-to-toe in green camoflage pants and t-shirts that were adorned with the slogan "UNITED WE DANCE" on the back.
I shit you not.
I saw the entire genetic boullabase today.
The lady sitting next to them was wearing a wicker cowboy hat with feathers on the back. Around her left wrist was one of those elastic coiled key chains people wear around their wrists. In her right hand was a pack of generic cigarettes and a fully stacked and dripping soft-serve ice cream cone.
Understand that her left hand was free while her right hand held a huge, top-heavy, Mount Olympus-sized cone AND a fucking pack of generic cigarettes.
Here's the capper.
She dropped her napkin and the breeze blew it on the ground against my foot, upon which time I accidentally stepped on it.
"Hon," she says, as the cone drips over her dollar store cancer sticks and her meaty wrist. "Could you hand me that napkin? It's getting kinda messy."
It was beyond bizzaro today.
I wasn't fortunate to be around for the immigrant flood through Ellis Island, but I have to think it smelled 100 times better than THE FLORIDA STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON.
For a more accurate gauge, I'll describe the olfactory buffet: Imagine a less than delicate mellange of cotton candy mixed with corn dog mixed with Italian sausage mixed with roasted corn mixed with Eastern Hillsborough County B.O.
B.O. is like nasal Hollandaise sauce. It just smothers everything in its wake.
That's the smell I can't get out of my nose right now.
And that's why I'm up at 12:33 a.m.
I'm a huge NASCAR fan. Sincerely. I just enjoy the hell out of it. I've given up trying to explain it.
But for all the tremendous strides the Winston Cup racing circuit has made, with the rebirth of the sport due to younger, more telegenic drivers who hail from all across the U.S. (not just the Deep South), this fucking trophy awarded to Bobby Labonte after today's race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway set the image of the sport back about 40 years.
What the fuck?
Do they give out race cars to guys who win Bassmaster tournaments?
No. No, they do not.
That is the ugliest fucking thing I have ever seen in my life. Even Labonte's face in that photos seems to suggest, "I drove 325 laps at 185 mph for this???"
Welcome to my latest tool for swallowing gobs of your life here on earth.
Sing with me: You spin me right round, baby, right round.
You can thank me later.
Robert Sorlie, "The Norwegian Flash," is now eight hours ahead of his closest competitor, Ramy Brooks.
The big difference: Ramy only has 9 dogs. Sorlie has 12.
As I've said before: More dogs means more speed. A least until they reach the coast and switch to their faster, lighter sleds.
Ramy is about as close to mushing royalty as it comes (if there indeed is such a thing).
Here's an excerpt from his bio.
Ramy’s great-grandfather, Arthur Wright, was an Athabascan interpreter for Hudson Stuck, the Archdeacon of the Yukon, as they traveled around Alaska by dog sled for the Episcopal Church. (Hudson Stuck was the first man to successfully climb Mount McKinley.) Ramy’s grandfather, Gareth Wright, focused on breeding and racing. He became a successful breeder and racer, winning two North American championships and three Fur Rendezvous World Championships. Ramy’s mother, Roxy Wright, followed her father’s path and became one of the most respected sprint mushing champions. She has won numerous Women’s North American Championships and Women’s Fur Rendezvous World Championships. She also carries the title of the only woman to have won both the Open North American Championship and the Open Fur Rendezvous World Championship.
I think one of the reasons I follow the Iditarod is that it reminds me of the life I lead in Florida and of how different it was from the one I lived in Alaska.
It's not like I lived the life of an Iditarod musher, but it felt more adventurous by sheer proximity. I was a lot closer to adventure there than I'll ever be in Florida.
As blessed as I am to be living where I live and working where I work, I miss that difference a great deal some days. I think I always will.
As the food editors in San Antonio can attest, even clean words can be naughty if you use them right
I'm a sucker for a double-entendre food site.
For the record, I prefer Vergina on tap.
What good is art when there are strings attached?
Newspapers don't do funny well. They do clever even less frequently.
Need I say more than the fact that I work for one?
That The Style Invitational feature in The Washington Post has done all three simultaneously for a decade without a drop in quality or consistency is remarkable.
Much of it is word play and puns built on topical happenings. What makes it work is that Washington D.C. is chock full of wise-asses who know their current events.
Here's an example:
They asked readers to submit tabloid headlines written using only the keys on the left side of the keyboard (Dec. 27, 1998). This was the winner:
BRETT FAVRE WEDS BART STARR AFTER 16 BEERS!
On this one, they asked readers to write expressions that rely on the reversal of two words or phrases (May 16, 1999):
I'd rather have bliss with two sisters than a cyst with two blisters. (Tom Witte, Gaithersburg)
Not all men kiss their wives goodbye when they leave their homes, but all men kiss their homes goodbye when they leave their wives. (David Kleinbard, Washington)
Readers were asked to give nicknames for a high school football team in a real city:
The Eutaw (Ala.) Puddytats (Jennifer Hart, Arlington, Nov. 13, 1994)
The Assinippi (Mass.) Guard Dogs (Karla J. Dickinson, Springfield, Nov. 13, 1994)
The Weehawken (N.J.) Loogies (Helene Haduch, Washington, Feb. 23, 2003)
Your Iditarod update.
From a distance standpoint, musher Jeff King is in the lead.
But distance ain't everything.
After racing his dogs to the halfway point, Robert Sorlie gave them one of their mandatory 24-hour rests.
King has only given his team a mandatory 8-hour rest.
A little math will show you that although Sorlie is about 9 hours behind King in the standings, King has yet to take his required day-long stop.
24 - 9 = 13
So King is actually 13 hours behind?
Since Sorlie hasn't taken his 8-hour rest, you have to factor that into the lead.
13 - 8 = 5.
Which means that Sorlie (although second in distance) is actually 5 hours ahead of King.
Considering that he was 3 hours ahead of Martin Buser before Buser dropped back two days ago, Sorlie has actually extended his lead.
What's interesting is that King still has 14 dogs. Sorlie only has 11.
More dogs means more speed. A least until they reach the coast and switch to their faster, lighter sleds.
Another kink in the race: Poor trail conditions are forcing another revision in the race course.
And since everyone is on new territory due to the different course of the Iditarod trail this year, plotting strategy about when to make a move for the lead gets more difficult the further the race goes on.
Stay tuned. This has a long way to go.
If you're wondering about the seriousness of the threat that looms because of terrorism, this should answer your questions.
Your Iditarod update for today
Otherwise known as, "Jeff don't know shit."
Norwegian musher collections $3,000 in gold nuggets
The Associated Press
March 7, 2003
Eagle Island -- Norway's Robert Sorlie has become the first musher to reach the halfway point in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Sorlie reached Eagle Island on the Yukon River at 3:29 a.m. Friday, maintaining the lead he has held for hundreds of miles. He wins $3,000 in gold nuggets for reaching the halfway point first.
His nearest competitor is three-time champion Jeff King, who left the Kaltag checkpoint, 70 miles back, just before 5 a.m. Rick Swenson, the race's only five-time champion, left Kaltag at 7:11 a.m.
Unlike Sorlie, King and Swenson have completed the mandatory 8-hour layover that mushers are required to take on the Yukon River stretch of the race. Swenson is now the only musher traveling with a full, 16-dog team.
Sorlie's travel times have been brisk. On the 50-mile run to Kaltag Sorlie averaged a solid 11 mph. At nearly halfway into the race, that's almost as fast as some of the other top teams traveled during the very first leg of the trail out of Fairbanks.
Norwegian musher Arne Oddvar Nilsen, an organizer of the 1,000-kilometer Finnmarkslopet, told the Anchorage Daily News Sorlie's strategy was to the get to the front of the Iditarod early and try to stay there for a couple reasons.
"Don't forget the point that one of Sorlie's main concerns is to avoid getting any gastric infection from other teams," Nilsen said in one of several e-mail exchanges. "His dogs have had a very short time to adapt to function in Alaska. ... Bedding down where other teams have been before is increasing the risk of being infected."
The strategy is reminiscent of that used by Montana's Swingley on the way to most of his Iditarod victories.
Defending champion Martin Buser remained in Kaltag Friday morning, in fourth place. He arrived in Kaltag just before 8 p.m., about an hour before King. In fifth place was John Baker of Kotzebue, who also remained in Kaltag Friday morning. He arrived in Kaltag at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday.
Just checked to see what the story looked like on the San Antonio site.
The headline has been significantly altered.
I was cruising the food newswire when I saw this:
VEGETARIAN MEALS THAT BEAT MEAT ANY DAY
(EDs: With HEALTHFUL-FOODS-RECIPES)
(For use by New York Times News Service clients.)
By BONNIE WALKER
c.2003 San Antonio Express-News
We're constantly being reminded to eat our vegetables, as though we were errant children.
While those doing the reminding are utterly correct, often their message is as inspiring as beige wallpaper.
So, being a vegetarian causes beating of meat?
I'll stick with my hamburger, thank you very much.
Got this e-mail at work today.
Beach House of Amateurs having sex to pay there rent cause there broke.
Click here! To check out the hottest amateur beach house ever,
Ryan is a single Horney guy that owns a beach house.
Ryan's Roommates are hot young teen girls who can't afford rent but Ryan will let them stay in his wicked beach house if they pay there rent in "other ways"
See online what Ryan gets in return for rent. Its amazing what some chicks will do for free rent.
If this had been a beach house of professionals instead of amateurs, the spelling of "their" "they're" and "horny" would have been more accurate.
So a major TV network has hired a guy to do a weekly segment where he will "try to do something that would help my fellow citizens" without being over the top.
"I don't care so much about making converts to my ideas,'' he says. ""As helping people to understand the issues."
So what does his wife say about it?
"If people don't agree with what he says, they should call his office, not mine."
The man in question: Bill Clinton.
I bet the thermostat is set reeeeeeeeal chilly at the house in Masapequa.
Leggo my Eggo.
I don't create them, folks. I merely pass them along.
We hereby introduce a new feature that should become a fan favorite...
Your moment of Britney.
Your Iditarod update:
Looks like Norwegian musher and full-time firefighter Robert Sorlie is still in the lead, with a three-hour head start out of the village of Galena.
What Sorlie doesn't want to see is the nightmare of every musher on the trail: musher Martin Buser, who is in second place, just three hours behind.
Sorlie left Galena with only 13 dogs. They start with roughly 16 to 18 and pare down to about 10 by the time they reach the coast. That Sorlie only has 13 and he hasn't made it to the halfway point yet is a bad sign.
Having Buser right behind him (a three-hour lead is nothing in mushing) bodes even worse.
In addition to his three first-place finishes, Buser has had 11 top 10 finishes. Since his first race in 1980, he has won more than $400,000 in purses.
But the cool thing about Buser is that he's has won more dog-care awards, four, than races. He even won both awards, as well as a slew of others, in 1997.
He loves this race, to the point he named his sons, Nikolai and Rohn, after two villages that serve as checkpoints on the Iditarod. His dogs are always among the fastest and best conditioned in the field. His equipment is tops and his institutional knowledge is expert level.
As Sorlie's wife, Elin, was quoted by The Anchorage Daily News: "Cool down. They ain't halfway. Anything can happen."
This passage in the story may prove telling:
Through the first 325 miles of the race, Sorlie has run more than he has rested.
This is a dangerous gamble so early in the competition. Most mushers believe teams need to rest about an hour for every hour they run to maintain their endurance. Dogs have shown themselves physiologically capable of going with less rest, but more than one team pushed too hard has rebelled.
Dogs asked to do more than they think they can do will mutiny. Over the years, some mushers have been forced to sit for hours, even days, waiting on a tired team to regather itself and decide it can go on.
Team revolts have happened to some of the best too. Five-time champ Rick Swenson from Two Rivers had a team balk at the Safety Roadhouse just outside of Nome one year. It cost him the race. Susan Butcher of Manley went on to win. Swenson wrote it off as one of the difficulties of the game.
I'll go ahead and say it: Sorlie is toast.
That doesn't mean Buser is a lock, though. All it takes is one bad storm on the coast to equalize the field. Three-time winner and Iditarod Hall of Famer Jeff King is in third. That should scare them both.
I don't get this at all.
Yes, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are a crap franchise. No, St. Petersburg doesn't deserve to have Major League Baseball, based on their lack of support so far.
As the story says, Yeah, we know, they've only been around for five years. But they've packed a lifetime of disappointments and embarrassing moments into that time.
But to call them one of the 10 worst franchises? EVER?
There is no way that you can lump them in with teams like the Seahawks and the Brewers and the Orioles, for whom financial management borders on the fiscally criminal. Teams like the Denver Nuggets and the Arizona Cardinals have had decades to pull things together. The Devil Rays will only start getting national television broadcast revenue from Major League Baseball THIS YEAR, for crissakes.
Thank god for sports. Otherwise, we'd only have political pundits to criticize for half-witted, poorly reasoned opinions.
As a former resident of Anchorage, AK, one of my obsessions this time of year is the running of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
This year, the big news is that there is so little snow, they had to restart the race in Fairbanks this year. That's a good thing, since it freshens up the race format a little bit and forces contestants to follow a trail that is closer to the one used during the historic diptheria-serum trek to Nome from Nenana that inspired the race. It also makes the more accessible to sprint mushers who usually crash and burn going in and out of the Alaska Range, within which stands Mount McKinley. (No, they don't mush anywhere near Mount McKinley. Yes, you can see it from parts of the trail.)
Still, trailbreakers riding on snowmachines are having trouble because the warm weather is causing the frozen rivers to unthaw around the edges a bit.
A little more than 220 miles into the 1,100-mile race, the leader is Norwegian musher and full-time firefighter Robert Sorlie.
Be still this beating heart.
You can make that puppy run a marathon by moving your mouse around on the page.
Everything in the universe has a fetish stapled to it. Nothing is beyond becoming some sort of personal kink.
Why not pictures of celebrities eating?
Fully clothed, I might add.
Even weirder - if that's possible - is the fact that the site has posted a Top 10 Most Wanted list of celeb pics of them dining.
Because I know you're dying of curiosity, here is the list:
1. Gary Busey
2. Steve Ballmer
3. Simon Cowell
4. Peter Jennings
5. Fiona Apple
6. Ben Affleck
7. Christopher Walken
8. Danny DeVito
9. Martin Scorcese
10. Joe Don Baker
Why these celebrities, I don't know. The site doesn't explain the list.
I mean, what the hell? I don't even want to see Joe Don Baker act, much less eat.
Occasionally I have a dream that is so violent and disturbing that I awaken disoriented and bathed in sweat.
What could be so twisted and bizarre to cause such a full-on psychological regurgitation?
Well, for one, a scenerio that would find me printing a story like the one I saw today on the wire.
The headline says it all.
Butternut squash: a lovable gourd
I used to drive a Volare. How sad is that?
As one person once wrote: "Owning a Volare was total ego death--the theme song, the vinyl Landau roof, the inability to pass another car on the highway."
In honor of the most impotent vehicle on wheels, go ahead and sing along if you know the words.
A helpful hint: Don't sing when it reads "Gitarrensolo." You'll just look dumb.
Kreskin has nothing on this theoretically, hypothetically psychic prediction numbers site.
Creeped me out a little.
Got a triangle-shaped FedEx box today that was as big as a horse's leg. In it was a bamboo hobo's stick with a round red kerchief tied on the end. On the kerchief, the words "Run Away to CARSON CITY" are printed over and over in black type.
Inside the kerchief was a pack of playing cards (with a lid secured by a sticker reading "Used in Live Blackjack Play"), a hermetically sealed bar of Best Western soap and a small bottle of Jhirmack conditioning shampoo.
Affixed to the bamboo stick with a rubber band was a press release with several pages. The face page, printed on a sort of marble-yellow paper, starts off:
America has changed since the 1800's, yes, but human nature has stayed pretty much the same - man is still the only animal that blushes ... or needs to.
Let me interject at this point.
I understand the need to grab an editor's/reporter's attention with a splashy display, but this goes beyond lame. I also understand the need to cut to the chase.
Yes, times are tough. Tourist destinations - especially C- or D-grade attractions and towns - feel the need to do something to churn some visitors through the gates.
But this just smacks of desperation.
I now return you to the press release already in progress.
Enclosed is your travel knapsack, complete with supplies to make your journey comfortable, as well as details and dates that will take you back to the time when people never put off until tomorrow what they could put off until day after tomorrow.
Oh, and be sure you call the good folks at Weidinger Public Relations (phone number given) so they can schedule a room and supper while you're here. But be careful, because int he Silver State, we still drink whisky and fight over water.
Yeah. I'll get right on that.
The capper on this, for me, was the signature at the bottom:
Perhaps the good folks at Weidinger Public Relations were unaware of what Mr. Twain himself wrote in 1891 to his friend, W.D. Howells:
Travel has no longer any charm for me. I have seen all I want to except heaven and hell and I have only a vague curiosity about one of those.
The lack of irony in this story from the Tribune over the weekend is disturbing:
FANS THINK THEY STILL LOVE TEEN IDOL CASSIDY
`PARTRIDGE FAMILY' STAR AT FAIR TO PROMOTE CEREAL
GEORGE GRAHAM Tribune correspondent
PLANT CITY - It's been about three decades since ``The Partridge Family'' ended its four-year run on ABC-TV, but David Cassidy's fans still love him.
`He's still hot after 30 years,'' sighed Rhonda Martinez of Seffner as she watched him perform Thursday at the Florida Strawberry Festival. Martinez was one of the millions of teens and preteens around the world who idolized Cassidy when he played Keith Partridge on the early 1970s sitcom.
``I must've been 11 or 12 years old,'' said Martinez, who now has a 12-year-old daughter. ``I had his pictures plastered everywhere.''
She brought ``The Partridge Family's Greatest Hits'' CD, hoping to have it autographed, but didn't get to Cassidy in time. A publicist took her name and address and promised to mail her Cassidy's autograph.
Tricia McIntire drove more than an hour from her home in New Port Richey to hear Cassidy sing ``I Think I Love You'' at the mock marriage of a dapper ``Cheerio'' to a seductive ``strawberry.'' The event helped kick off a new General Mills cereal called Berry Burst Cheerios, which features freeze-dried strawberries.
Question: Is it technically a mixed marriage when a cereal marries a fruit?
Hey lady, I want a royalty on that derivative phrase.
First Person Singular
Kate Kimener - Co-founder of 'On the Rebound Bulldog Rescue Foundation'
March 2, 2003
The Washington Post Magazine
I'm called the bulldog whisperer, like the book The Horse Whisperer. It means that I can communicate with bulldogs. It takes me a little bit, but I can get them calm. I'm very patient. Some people try to rush it or impede their space. I just go slow and steady. I learned by getting bitten a few times.
I got a bulldog puppy from a breeder. Then, one day, I read in the paper that there was a "must sell" bulldog. I had heard through the Bulldog Club of America that when you see a must-sell, it's usually not a good situation. So my friend and I went and checked it out. It was actually a bulldog tied to a tree with no water and no food, and it was the end of May -- 85 degrees out. Bulldogs are heat sensitive, so we had to do something. We just decided we were going to take it. When we rescue, we don't ask questions. We just ask where we can get the dog. That's how we started looking for dogs in need.
I started rescuing bulldogs five years ago. The loyalty and pure adoration they show is unlike other dogs I've known. It's quite an honor to be loved by a bulldog. But it's not just me; it's a whole group. We travel up and down the East Coast. Two years ago I got a call that there was going to be a raid on a puppy mill in Lancaster [Pa.]. And there were 31 bulldogs. They found me on the Web. People from the USDA and some lawyers were helping. There were bulldogs in rabbit hutches, like five to a rabbit hutch. I ended up with six fosters for a year until the case went to court. I had to foster them for a year because they couldn't be given up for adoption until the court case was settled. They were evidence. Some were in bad shape.
There's not anything that I wouldn't do for a bulldog.
That sort of thing seems to be going around these days.
Went to see Jon Stewart perform last night at Morsani Hall in Tampa. The show was funny to the point of urinary tract failure in some spots and it was great to see someone from TV who has such obvious talent and intelligence display warmth and playfulness onstage. Tampa took a pretty big hit from him about our insane humidity, our street festival saturation, our collective pirate fixation and about how everything with a flat surface in town bestows a "Go Bucs" sign a month after the Super Bowl. ("I drove up from Fort Lauderdale and when I got into town, I thought it was game day.") I about popped a Macy's Underdog-baloon-sized hernia in his closing bit about the pets he and his wife, a veterinarian technician, live with in their New York City apartment. The ass hair combover moment slayed me as well.
I will be smart enough not to recreate those moments.
Then I remembered that about a week after Sept. 11, Stewart gave one of the more moving post-disaster monologues about the attacks. His humanity and the shock of it all were aparent as he extemporaneously grasped for the right words.
If you didn't catch it, you missed a great TV moment - if there can be such a thing. The words are as good a depiction of the bewildering confusion and fear a lot of people felt, especially in New York City. The video with his voice and his mannerisms does it better justice.
Good evening and welcome to "The Daily Show." We are back. This is our first show since the tragedy in New York City. There is no other way really to start this show than to ask you at home the question that we've asked the audience here tonight and that we’ve asked everybody that we know here in New York since September 11th, and that is, "Are you okay?" We pray that you are and that your family is. I’m sorry to do this to you. It’s another entertainment show beginning with an overwrought speech of a shaken host. TV is nothing, if not redundant. So, I apologize for that. It’s something that unfortunately, we do for ourselves so that we can drain whatever abscess is in our hearts and move onto the business of making you laugh, which we really haven’t been able to do very effectively lately. Everyone’s checked in already, I know we’re late. I’m sure we’re getting in right under the wire before the cast of "Survivor" offers their insight into what to do in these situations.
They said to get back to work. There were no jobs available for a man in the fetal position under his desk crying, which I would have gladly taken. So I came back here. Tonight’s show is obviously not a regular show. We looked through the vaults, we found some clips that we thought might make you smile, which is really what’s necessary, I think, right about now. A lot of folks have asked me, "What are you going to do when you get back? What are you going to say?" I mean, what a terrible thing to have to do. I don’t see it as a burden at all. I see it as a privilege. I see it as a privilege and everyone here does see it that way. The show in general, we feel like is a privilege. Just even the idea that we can sit in the back of the country and make wise cracks, which is really what we do. We sit in the back and we throw spitballs, but never forgetting the fact that is a luxury in this country that allows us to do that. This is a country that allows for open satire, and I know that sounds basic and it sounds as though it goes without saying - but that’s really what this whole situation is about. It’s the difference between closed and open. It’s the difference between free and burden and we don’t take that for granted here by any stretch of the imagination and our show has changed. I don’t doubt that. What it’s become, I don’t know. "Subliminable" is not a punch line anymore. One day it will become that again, and Lord willing, it will become that again because that means we have ridden out the storm.
But the main reason that I wanted to speak tonight is not to tell you what the show is going to be. Not to tell you about all the incredibly brave people that are here in New York and in Washington and around the country. But we’ve had an unenduring pain here - an unendurable pain. I wanted to tell you why I grieve, but why I don’t despair…I’m sorry. Luckily we can edit this. One of my first memories is of Martin Luther King being shot. I was five and if you wonder if this feeling will pass…When I was five, he was shot. Here’s what I remember about it. I was in a school in Trenton. They shut the lights off and we got to sit under our desks and we thought that was really cool and they gave us cottage cheese, which was a cold lunch because there was rioting, but we didn’t know that. We just thought that “My god. We get to sit under our desks and eat cottage cheese.” That’s what I remember about it. That was a tremendous test of this country’s fabric and this country’s had many tests before that and after that.
The reason I don’t despair is because this attack happened. It’s not a dream. But the aftermath of it, the recovery is a dream realized. And that is Martin Luther King's dream. Whatever barriers we've put up are gone even if it's momentary. We're judging people by not the color of their skin but the content of their character. You know, all this talk about "These guys are criminal masterminds. They’ve gotten together and their extraordinary guile…and their wit and their skill." It's a lie. Any fool can blow something up. Any fool can destroy. But to see these guys, these firefighters, these policemen and people from all over the country, literally, with buckets rebuilding. That's extraordinary. That's why we've already won. It's light. It's democracy. We've already won. They can't shut that down. They live in chaos and chaos…it can't sustain itself. It never could. It's too easy and it's too unsatisfying.
The view from my apartment was the World Trade Center and now it's gone. They attacked it. This symbol of American ingenuity and strength and labor and imagination and commerce and it is gone. But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. The view from the south of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can't beat that.
So we're going to take a break and I'm going to stop slobbering on myself and on the desk. We’re going to get back to this. It's gonna be fun and funny and it's going to be the same as it was and I thank you. We'll be right back.