...uh, that would be me.
After all, it's tough to get worked up when you haven't seen any of the best picture nominees, or most of the best actor and actress or supporting actor and actress or director or screenplay or score or costume or... well, you get the point.
I did see Johnny Depp in "Pirates of the Carribean," and I really liked his portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow, but I fell asleep halfway through the tape because the plot emitted a strong odor of suck. The only other major film I saw was "Finding Nemo." That's was about as brilliant as it got for me this year - and to be clear, "Nemo" was beyond brilliant. But that it for me. That's as depe as I dive into the movie kiddie pool.
Oh, sure, I wanted to see "Master and Commander" and "Mystic River" and "Seabiscuit," but, you know, I have a life and an 8-year-old and not a lot of time to see flicks that aren't showing on the plasma in my home.
But I have an appreciation for the artistry and I understand that some people can get pretty worked up over this stuff. I will say that of all the awards shows, I like the Academy Awards second best (After the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards). And it's fun to watch an idiot like Michael Moore or a goober like Roberto Bennini or an emotional cripple like Halle Berry have a public meltdown in front of 3 billion viewers. It was great theater to watch Julia Roberts essentially dry hump Denzel Washington while he was trying to give his acceptance speech two years ago. I loved watching Al Pacino accept his statuette not for "The Godfather" or "The Godfather, Part II" or "Dog Day Afternoon" but for the hunk of burning ass that was "Scent of a Woman." I enjoy the uncomfortable squirming I have to perform to feel comfortable in my skin after the show's producers insist on trotting out infirmed and impaired geezers to accept Talberg awards as if they were a ticket to get on the Death Bus. I mean does it get any better than Kirk Douglas being forced to slurp through a thank-you speech after a debilitating stroke almost killed him? Or Christopher Reeve almost popping a wheelie in order to receive a standing ovation from people who so didn't like his work 20 years ago that he was forced to swap spit with Michael Caine in "Deathtrap"? I can't resist that kind of artificial drama on almost-live TV.
That said, there are plenty of places online that celebrate the Academy Awards, and they hold the interest of even bitter and sarcastic bastards like me. Here are a few:
*The New Yorker offers an online portfolio of black and white portraits of nominees. A brief registration is required to reach the URL, which takes you to a story that has a side link to the portfolio and audio commentary by photographer Lynne Hirschberg.
*The annual Golden Raspberry Awards - better known as the "Razzies" - are in. It was a bad year for Ben and J. Lo, but perhaps no one personified cinematic ass more than Worst Supporting Actor winner Sylvester Stallone, who played five roles in "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.'' That's five - count 'em - five doses of ass. I saw that film and can attest to its assy badness. Tough to beat a shitty performance like that.
*There's lots of trivia and stuff at Little Golden Guy. That's all I have to say about that.
*Former FoxSports.com compadre Paul Katcher was able to put down the porn long enough to devise his very own all-time Oscars. Paul's has a pretty eclectic taste in films. "I continue to protest the Motion Picture Academy's snub of Hamburger: The Motion Picture in 1986,'' he confesses. He offered an off-the-beaten-path group of nominees and asked blog readers to vote. I don't want to spoil all the surprises, but Randy Quaid's portrayal of Cousin Eddie in "National Lampoon's Vacation" is a tour de force.
*While not technically an Oscars page, The Onion's A.V. Club honors Films that Time Forgot, including "The Check Is In The Mail" starring Brian Dennehy. In the film, Dennehy plays an angry, paranoid, demon-possessed manic-depressive yet affable husband and father who is driven half-mad by the relentless pace, superficiality, and absurdity of American life circa 1986. A pharmacist prone to dispensing paternal counsel along with condoms and diaphragms, Dennehy is looking forward to a much-needed family vacation in Hawaii, where he plans to escape both the workaday grind and the swarthy goons intent on collecting his gambling debts. But his family's plans go predictably awry when their flight is delayed. Is it any wonder that time has forgotten this film?
*Fametracker, my favorite entertainment site, does what it calls a Fame Audit in which it compares the position of temporarily hot movie stars to the relative sun in the Hollywood Universe: Harrison Ford. They have a "Special Speculative Edition: What If They Win Their Academy Awards?" My favorite is their take on Johnny Depp, which they write as if he is speaking to the reader:
Thank you for this honour, which I care nothing about, acknowledging my effortless achievement in a film that was entirely beneath me. Please know that I take this award as a mandate to give up making entertaining movies people like to watch. Just to be contrary, as is my wont, I am to report tomorrow to the set of The Man Who Cried 2: Cry Harder."
*The prize for Dishiest And Swishiest Oscar-Related Site goes to Ted Casablanca's Awful Truth gossip column. There are numerous juicy tidbits, including one item on an actress who may be leaving her closeted gay husband.
*Want to know what's in the gift bag given to A-list stars at the Oscars? Only about 100,000 large in loot and booty. Because, you know, celebrities need a hand up (out of the limousine) and a hand out.
*Slate offers a faux e-mail correspondence volley between Lynda Obst and David Edelstein. Who? Exactly.
Those who know me best know that I carry an unnatural affection for the music of Lyle Lovett. Enough so that when I was in Nashville in January, I considered it an omen from the gods of the Grand Ole Opry that my hotel was bordered on one side by the street named above. I felt it thus was my duty and obligation to buy his latest album My Baby Don't Tolerate at the Ernest Tubb Record Store at the airport concourse on the way out of town. I played it for my 8-year-old boy one day and he immediately fell in love with the lyrics of his first track, Cute As A Bug. The refrain goes:
She's as cute as a Bug
Short as a minute
She's a pretty little package with
Everything in it
I've said enough
To praise God above
I'm crazy in love
She's as cute as a Bug
He insists on playing it in the car now on the way to school. That's how he starts his day, singing clever lyrics matched to bouncy, happy music from my favorite artist. I couldn't be happier or more proud.
I got to meet Lyle a couple years back after a concert in Clearwater. It was the one and only time I've ever gone backstage to meet a performer who I wasn't interviewing for a story. My wife and I found him on his way to the tour bus with his girlfriend and a few assistants. He graciously autographed my ticket stub, shook hands with Grace and I and said kind pleasantries after I thanked him for introducing me to the music of Guy Clark.
I like Lyle not only because of his journalism background, but because his lyrics are so well tailored to his style, which is to say highly versatileand understated, considering he vascilates from gospel to Texas swing to blues and jazz.
Unfortunately most of the media coverage of him tends to focus on either his looks or his brief marriage to Julia Roberts or his hair.
That all changed this month with this outstanding profile in New Yorker magazine.
I encourage you to read the entire story. This passage alone makes it worthwhile. It's the best description of him I've read:
Lovett is tall and thin. His shoulders are narrow. He has long, ropy arms and broad hands. There are pleats in his cheeks, and wavy lines across his forehead. His eyes are pale blue. Their expression is intelligent and measuring to the point of guardedness. His ears are large and his nose is large and his eyes are small and close together, but they are arranged in such a fashion that his face has the solemn and handsome dignity of a workingman of the thirties, a farmer who hears the sound of your tractor stalling in the field and shows up to help you get it started.
For most of his career, his persona has been ambiguous. Billy Williams, his producer, says, “Lyle mistakenly sees himself as an ordinary human being.” Bonnie Raitt, with whom he made his first big tour, in 1986, following her bus in his pickup, regarded the way he looked—the skinny-legged suits, the hair rising like a bloom—as exotic. “He was always very sartorially astute,” she says. A Texas musician in Nashville who met Lovett before he was famous once told a reporter, “I took one look at him and pegged him for a French blues singer.” Lovett is not a demonstrative person. Raitt describes his temperament admiringly as “a banked fire.” Many women find him deeply attractive. Raitt also told me that sometimes when she and Lovett perform together and he looks over at her, she feels her “knees buckle.”
Lovett is smarter than most people he meets, but he conceals it. He has something of the typical country musician’s attitude that one must never affect to have risen above one’s beginnings. He is very polite, but his manners can conceal disdain. His habits of mind are meticulous, and he says he has difficulty doing anything casually. His sympathies are mostly charitable—he says that when he writes a song he imagines that he wouldn’t mind meeting anyone who liked it—but he is also prone to judging people harshly on little evidence and holding his opinions steadfastly.
If you haven't heard, that trendy little iPod MP3 player that Apple has been pushing has a tiny flaw: its battery only lasts 18 months and costs $250 to refurbish. At that price, the company instead recommends that you just go ahead and buy another iPod.
Anyway, it seems as though some owners are less than pleased. And one of them voiced displeasure in a rather public way.
Been reading this brilliant blog lately: Just Quit Work. (No, there's no ulterior motive for mentioning this. I love my job.)
Anyway, it's written by a guy named Damien, who works in a bank branch and is less than thrilled with his gig. Oh, and Damien's black.
You think you hate your job? Throw a little racism into the mix.
He's got some great anectdotes that are straight out of something from "Office Space,'' like this one:
We open at 8:30 AM. Every few days or so, you might find a couple of people parked outside the branch before we open. You know, folks just need to stop by the bank to handle a little business before they resume their corporate whoredom...
Anyway, there was a dude parked out front when we walked in at about 8:10. A young black dude on a cell phone. He looked to be of the "throwed" variety, but looks can usually be deceiving. Usually, one person from the bank gets out the car to unlock the door and shut off the alarm while everybody else waits for the "clear" signal. I NEVER do it.
So i'm sitting in my truck, and I notice that nobody has gotten out of their cars to go do the damn thing. I look around, and notice that they're looking at me like, "YOU go unlock the door!". So i'm like, "whatever" and go inside to handle up. When I give the signal, they all hop out of otheir cars and walk to the door FAST AS HELL.
"Why are yall walking in so fast this morning? Is it really THAT cold outside?"
"You didn't see him?"
"The guy in the car out there."
"Who? Him? Yeah, I saw him."
"He made me kind of nervous."
"What did he do?"
"He pulled up around the same time we did with his music blasting and parked right next to me. I had to pull my car over a few spots."
"Are you scared of loud music?"
"No, but there was just something about him that made me uneasy."
"Hmm. Okay. He's probably just waiting for us to open."
"I wonder what he wants to do."
"He probably wants to perform a banking transaction. We won't know until we open."
"Well, I don't really feel comfortable with helping him. He kind of gave me a suspicious look.'
"He doesn't bother you at all?"
"Then you can help him..."
8:30 comes around, and I unlock the door. Dude comes up to me and says, "Excuse me, could you help me out? I need to make a split deposit, but I don't know how to fill out the slips to show that."
I look at the deposit, and it's a $7000 check that he's depositing for his parents. Turns out that they wanted him to drop it off at the bank since the branch is on the way to his school.
My co-workers had some egg on their faces this morning.
I'm glad that my manager will be out for a week and a half. I just might act a fool.
But I still hate this place...
Got a chance last night to see the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Ice Palace.
We had great seats in the corner and the game had a lot of action. Even got to see my first quasi hockey fight. It wasn't a full-on glove dropper, but Tie Domi was involved, so at least it felt authentic. Nikolai Kahabibulin made some amazing pad saves. I swear, he got down to block one and then got back on his skates so fast I had to wonder if I even saw it at all. His reflexes when he's on are tremendous.
Here are some photos of the game:
Photo 1, Photo 2, Photo 3 and Photo 4.
The strangest part of the night involved this teenager who sat near us. I know the teen years are full of psychological conflict. You have the boy who wants to be a man and the young man who wants to still be a boy. You're trying to carve an identity by being unique at the same time you're seeking full acceptance and approval from the pack.
Still, there's no logical explanation for why he'd wear a propeller beanie with this inscription on the front to a hockey game:
It reads, "I don't want to grow up,.''
He might as well have worn a shirt that said, "Kick my ass.''
My Uncle Pete sent this along in an e-mail. I've seen it in a few places and questioned whether the author is authentic, but really, who cares. These are good sentiments to pass along on a Friday.
My uncle is such a mushy sonofabitch. That's why we love him.
George Carlin's wife passed away a few years ago. He wrote the following piece. Typically sharp, and some good advice.
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.
We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space.
We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.
We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less.
We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.
These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes.
These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.
It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.
Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.
Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all, mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person
will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
My favorite yeti-smacking-the-penguin game has a new upgrade.
I don't want to say it's gory, but it makes "The Passion" look like an episode of ""Kukla, Fran & Ollie.'' The people from PETA will be pleased.
Apparently poker is the hot new hobby. It's to 2004 what cigars were to 1998. All the rich and famous are partaking. It's the new botox.
Let's see... Mimi Rogers, Sara Rue, Ben Affleck, Lou Diamond Phillips, Lolita Davidovich, James Woods...
Uh, folks, if your careers are any indication, you might want to stick to the $1 tables.
I'd like to see the warning label they make for this particular phenomenon. Should make a nifty tattoo.
My favorite quote from the story:
"This is a major study in terms of size," he said.
Who knew that sand sculpting could be so cool?
Hanan over at Grow A Brain has a ream of links to some awesome sculptures.
One of the worst interviews I've ever heard took place the other night when Larry King simultaneously interviewed NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon.
These two guys are extremely intelligent. Maybe King thought he had to talk down to them because it was NASCAR, but he asked some of the dumbest questions possible. Like this exchange:
KING: Do you drive, Dale, because your father drove?
EARNHARDT JR.: Well, I think -- yes, I guess so. I mean, if he were a plumber, I'd probably be a plumber, but...
Hey, Larry, are you a talk show host because your father had a mouth?
Jesus H. Christ.
Then there was this doozy:
KING: Where were you when he died?
EARNHARDT JR.:I was about 100 feet, probably about -- actually, yes, 100 feet ahead of him on the racetrack.
KING: So you knew about it right soon after, right?
EARNHARDT JR.: Yes, it wasn't too long after that.
Uh, Larry. They've got radios in their helmets. It wasn't exactly a secret.
Not satisfied at that level of stupidity, King pushes on to the banal:
KING: Jeff, what's the single life like in New York City?
GORDON: I'm not...
KING: Not exactly a NASCAR Hubbub?
GORDON: No, I enjoy New York. I think it's a great city. And it certainly has a lot to offer.
KING: I bet.
GORDON: I'm up here visiting some friends. I might be able to tell you what it's like tomorrow or something, when we go to dinner and hang out. But you know, to me, I think what I love about New York is that I'm just able to go get away and enjoy the things that this city has to offer and feel like I can be just an average person just like anybody else walking down the street.
KING: You been there much, Dale?
EARNHARDT JR.: Yes, I've been in New York a few times myself. I like it. It's all right.
The amount of restraint it took for these guys not to just walk off the air had to be tremendous.
On a side note, I don't want to say that Larry isn't aging gracefully, but I think I know what he's going to look like in a few years:
...these are the kinds of things you post:
I have never been so ashamed.
There must be something about Dawson City. Three mushers from the Yukon Quest scratched there within the past day.
And my buddy Rod was one of them. That makes 10 mushers down, 22 left in the "toughest race in the world.''
Dawson City is about halfway along the 1,000-mile route. He'd gotten past most of the worst of it, but decided to call things off apparently during part of his required 36-hour layover in that town.
I know he has to be disappointed. He had 10 dogs left, much like the other mushers. But he was so far behind at that point, he probably thought he'd be a burden to the race. He wouldn't have been, of course, but that would be the way Rod would think.
Dawson is a perfect place for Rod to bow out. Its a place full of adventure and dashed hopes.
Town history shows that gold, discovered in 1896 on nearby creeks, caused the great Klondike Gold Rush which turned the summer fish camp at the junction of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers into the "Paris of the North."
In 1898, Dawson was the largest Canadian city west of Winnipeg (40,000 people) with telephone service, running water and steam heat. Elaborate hotels, theatres and dance halls were erected, with Andrew Carnegie donating $25,000 towards the building of a library in 1903. During 1899 the stampede for gold came to an end, and 8,000 people left Dawson that summer. By 1902, the population was down to less than 5,000. The population is about half of that now.
I don't want to dip too deep in the metaphor bucket for a sip of wisdom, but Rod's a lot like those prospectors. He's a guy who was born in England and became a Californian. He moved to Alaska and took up mountain climbing. (Rod's the guy in the plaid shirt lookin up at the summit.)
That later evolved into a love for cross country skiing and for a sport called skijoring, which involves having your husky dog pull you on a leash while you flail behind on a pair of skis.
Rod got the skis first, the dog second, the the wife third, a dog for her fourth, then another dog for himself, then a second dog for her. A couple years went by and he eventually had enough dogs for a team. Then she needed a dog team. And so on, until he became a bonafide self-taught musher. He didn't have any prior skills. He had a yard full of dogs and good friends to point out the rights and wrongs.
He didn't let getting lost for six days get to him. In fact, he told the governor after his rescue that it was "a great state to get lost in." He picked himself up, got back on the sled runners and kept at it.
Just like he will this time. There's no way that you can take a team of dogs 500 miles through the toughest terrain in North America during the middle of February in minus-50 temperatures and return home alive and be able to call it a failure.
Here's to you, Rod. I'm proud of you, bud.
Mark your calendar: May 7 is No Pants Day.
What in the world is No Pants Day?
According to the official Web site, No Pants Day is a day where everyone, be they students, respectable businessmen, or cherished community leaders, leave their pants behind. Usually this means wearing thick, appropriately modest boxer shorts, but bloomers, slips, briefs, and boxer-briefs all work as well.
"When large groups of people parade around in public without their pants, amazing things are bound to happen. At the very least, you'll take your drab, wretched life a little less seriously, at least for one day."
At the very least.
As someone who worked from home for a dot-com and who bragged that my job made me "pants-optional," I can say that I was never more productive than when I docked my Dockers.
Casual Friday? Every day was casual. Reeeeeeeeal casual.
I was going to write a whole screed about how sick I was of the finale-palooza associated with the end of "Sex in the City." I was going to rail against the hype of celebrating a show that was a mile wide and only about 6 inches deep. I was going to moan and wail and kvetch and caterwall and lick my palms about how I'll have to see Sarah Jessica Parker's tremendous beak on magazines for the next month despite the fact her show will end several weeks prior. I was going to mock the show for its lack of, um, plot, detail and character development, but that would be giving the series too much credit as a work of television art, when it clearly was intended to achieve so much less than that. I was going to celebrate the fact that it only seemed to shine because, comparitively, "Mind of the Married Man" was such an utter hunk of manure. I had intended to suggest that rather than waste 45 minutes of my life on earth taking in the vapid moments of the finale, I'd prefer to watch the last episode of "Charles in Charge" on a weeklong loop while strapped down in this this position. I had planned to somehow find the balance between nonchalance and indifference that would mirror this sentiment.
But then Bunsen went ahead and said it so much better than I could.
I could live with that.
If you're a dog musher who got lost four years ago during a race, the last thing you want to read in a story abour your current campaign is this lede:
Chalk up another disappearing act for Rod Boyce, the Fairbanks musher who made headlines four years ago when he was lost for five days during the Tustumena 200 sled dog race.
That's right, my buddy Rod went AWOL - again - for a few hours this weekend during the Yukon Quest.
There's no explanation for his disappearance in the story that ran on the wires. He simply appears to have taken an exorbitant amount of time getting from one checkpoint to another 100 miles away. At the moment, he's taking his 36 hour layover in Dawson City, which each of the mushers are required to take.
From the looks of this elevation chart, Rod has only one major mountain summit remaining to cross - but it's the tallest one yet.
It could be worse. He could have a broken leg like William Kleedehn.
To get a gauge on what kind of personality undertakes a 1,000-mile race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, Canada, read this story from the Whitehorse Star about Kleedehn's injury:
Injured musher buoyed by good wishes
by Jason Small
“I’m first into Whitehorse.”
William Kleedehn laughs at his joke but he is right — he is the first musher in the 2004 Yukon Quest to arrive in Whitehorse. The problem is, he didn’t arrive at the race’s finish line.
Instead, Kleedehn is sitting in a bed at Whitehorse General Hospital, where doctors have been monitoring his broken left leg above where he normally wears a prosthesis.
The broken leg is what Kleedehn has to show from this year’s edition of the 1,600-km sled dog race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse.
Last Sunday morning, Kleedehn was running at the front of the pack as he was making his way toward the Mile 101 stop 220 kilometres into the race.
Kleedehn was just five kilometres outside of the stop. The trail on the way into Mile 101 was littered with sections of bare ice mushers call glaciers.
The veteran musher hit one of these glaciers where the trail was sloped sideways.
“I was just sliding down and sideways a little bit and needed to stop that. So, somehow I just slipped and I was falling back with the sled in my hand,” Kleedehn said.
“The left foot, or the prosthesis, got hung up in the sled a little bit, momentarily and I fell back.”
Kleedehn’s prosthesis, which he wears because he lost his lower left leg in a motorcycle crash in his native Germany when he was a teenager, is below his knee.
The problem for Kleedehn is his knee can only bend about 35 degrees. To bend the leg any more, he’s able to pull the leg slightly out of the prosthesis, but it is strapped to his body.
“I got hung up and my leg was down in the prosthesis because I put just weight for sliding down and I fell back. The whole combination was just good enough, boom, leg broke.”
He figures because the leg broke because it was able to come out of the prosthesis slightly.
Last year’s runner-up in the Quest knew right away he had a big problem.
His dogs knew to take the sled off the ice and back on to solid trail. In absolute agony, Kleedehn was able to get the hook into the snow.
“I never let go of that sled,” said Kleedehn, even though it was flipped on its side.
With the sled stopped and tied down, the dogs eventually laid down and Kleedehn tried to relax and find a position that didn’t hurt much.
He was waiting for another musher to come along or someone to spot him from the highway, which was not far from where the team had stopped.
Kleedehn was initially spotted after about 15 minutes by assistant race manager Wendel Carey, who was driving on the road in a pickup truck.
Officials sent a snowmachine out just to take Kleedehn off the trail to the highway and into the truck.
Kleedehn said he was lucky this happened during a race and not on a training run when he’s out on his own.
“A race is easy — there’s always someone looking out for you.”
Since I feel like I've swallowed a bag o' glass and I fear my writing skills could deteriorate at any moment, I'll keep things brief and merely pass along this link dump for your weekend enjoyment.
* A place to drop a few beats.
* Something to flip your switch.
* A device with which to mess with your favorite Web site.
* A voyage to the moon.
* Two rovers on Mars.
* I can see clearly now. And in all directions.
* A pirate's life for thee.
PLAYING WITH WORDS
* Get your double word score on.
* Get your heart on. Or put a plate in your hed. Or just label yourself. Or flake out. Or have a beer (label) on me.
* It's easy to forget how much this guy has accomplished.
* It's got a good beat, but you really don't want to dance to it.
* Got any gum?
* This made me sleepy.
* This made me hungry.
I've been home sick for two days with Strep throat. You know I'm really sick when:
1.) I stay home for two days.
2.) I watch an entire soccer match on cable between USA and the Netherlands.
3.) It takes me four days to even bother to look at the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue when it arrives in the mail. And then it does nothing for me. (Okay, it hasn't done anything for me since I was 12, but that's not the point.)
If it's February in Alaska, it must be time for my friend Rod Boyce to do something crazy in the snow.
Four years ago, Rod decided to test his newfound dog mushing skills by entering the Tustumena 200 sled dog race on the Kenai Peninsula.
Problem was, he picked a year with one of the worst storms in the Kenai's history and he got lost. Six days later, rescuers finally found him. He was down to his last Reese's piece. You can read the entire account here. I highly recommend it. It's gripping stuff.
Anyway, Rod's back at it. He's taking time off as news editor at The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner to run in this year's Yukon Quest, a 1,000 mile race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, Canada.
A lot of mushers use the Quest to train for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. What many find out is that although is a longer race in terms of distance, it's a slice of heaven compared to the Quest, which Alaskans consider a real test of skill since there is so little race support compared to the Iditarod.
Rod's doing a great job this year. He's in 20th place at the moment, out of 31 mushers. Eight of those 31 have scratched from the race.
You can tell by the race standings that he and the three mushers above him are all traveling together - there's only about 45 minutes separating him from the No. 17 musher. And he's only dropped 2 dogs from his team, which means that everyone in the pack is healthy.
But weather is always an issue.
In fact, according to The Whitehorse Star, one musher who was having trouble decided to scratch instead of continue because the temperatures were dropping and he didn't want to push a point.
The musher was helped to the checkpoint by another musher. Normally this is forbidden in a race unless there are life-and-death circumstances, but the race marshall made a decision not to disqualify the good samaritan musher since the temperatures were so cold.
The race marshal didn’t have an exact temperature on the trail though to make his determination.
"My truck thermometer said -40 F and it’s been logged there all night and other people had -50 F, and I figure down there in the creek, they were looking at 55 to 60 below.''
Unlike the Iditarod, which finishes underneath an arch of burled wood, the Quest finish line is a small motorhome parked to one side, two powerpoles with the banner stretched between them, some wooden road barricades to hold back the spectators, and three or four sets of portable bleachers so those in the back can see over those at the front.
Inside the motorhome can be found volunteers who take holidays or leave-without-pay from work to satisfy their own fascination with dog mushing. They sleep, eat and wait patiently in shifts, 24 hours a day, watching the river for approaching teams. They move into the vehicle a day or so before the first musher arrives and won't leave the area unstaffed until the last one is safely across the line. It can be minutes, hours or even days between teams.
Because of the uncertainty of predicting the exact times of arrival, crowds at the finish line tend to be small. A few minutes after each musher crosses the finish line, the crowd size almost doubles as news of a new arrival is spread.
When a musher does roll in, the crowds see some unusual things.
In 1986, former Iditarod champ Joe May finished his 12-year racing career with a camp fire in the Quest's finishing chute. With a tear freezing on his eyelash, he announced his retirement by placing his snowshoes on top of the fire and watching as the flames consumed them.
Ron Aldrich was greeted by a woman standing in the snow wearing a yellow polka-dot bikini. It was minus 20 degrees when Aldrich finished in 1984 and his wife wore a warm overcoat that she opened to flash her garb at him at the appropriate moment. A lot of the bystanders never knew who she was or what she wore, if anything. All they could see were her bare legs under a long coat.
Lorrina Mitchell was the first woman to ride to the finish line in that first Quest in 1984. Only a few spectators were on hand to greet her, but the one she remembers best was sitting across the river from the finish line.
"It was a cat and, you know, the dogs didn't even look at it. They couldn't care less. They could see the finish line across the river. This cat was sitting on the riverbank just terrified, staring at us, but we went right on by."
I've decided who will get my vote this year for president: Lobsterman.
After all, none of the other candidates is running on a hot-butter platform in 2004.
Hello and welcome to the song that will haunt you for the rest of the day.
This is perhaps the most pathetic thing I've seen in a long time: a blog dedicated to a blue, berry-flavored version of Pepsi. Which is now being discontinued.
There are links to message boards crying over its cancelation, online polls about the product - even a very sober report from a fan of the beverage:
I just got off the phone with the good folks at Pepsi;bad news. Production of Pepsi Blue is being discontinued. I had guessed that might be the case as the PepsiBlue.com website is now just a redirect back to Pepsi.com, but it's been confirmed.
I had no idea that this product even existed.
I feel so old, so out of touch, so disconnected from the world and the things in it that are filled with blue chemicals and artificial sweeteners.
Somebody hold me. Please.
Nachos were consumed, burritos were devoured and the cerveza flowed like wine.
By any measure, Romancing the Sombrero 2004 was a tremendous success.
Many friends and neighbors stopped by to sample a ton of authentic Hispanic food, to scan Al's impressive display of baseball memorabilia and to bask in the moderate temperatures and soft sunshine only a February afternoon in Tampa can offer.
To see more photos of the festivities, click here.
It was a sad weekend at the Malibu Beach House...
As I announced last month, Feb. 15 is the official date of the Romancing the Sombrero party. (For more background, click here.)
Anyway, if you can come, by all means contact me and ask for directions. We're looking forward to a big shindig. We've discussed the possibility of karaoke and makeshift wedding ceremonies. Alan even found this great chip-and-salsa bowl for the occasion.
Sombreros are optional, but highly encouraged.
If you can't make it for the 1 p.m. start time, I'll be taking photos, of course.
|Pholph's Scrabble Generator|
My Scrabble© Score is: 11.
What is your score? Get it here.
For those new to Side Salad, (all three of you, pay attention), I thought I'd guide you through the various offerings on the plate here.
There's been a bit of a renovation. Translation: I finally figured out how to write the code to fix up the page. I've been castigated for not fixing things up sooner. This hopefully rectifies some of those deficiencies.
First things first...
The Ala Carte section allows you to select the last 10 entries. If you click on a headline, the Web address at the top of the new page is the easiest way to trackback to the entry.
Why daily? Because they're sites that I visit every day. Why special? Because they just are, dammit. There's no rhyme or reason or particular subject or topic. A few are blog friends, but most are not. They're just the sites I check in with each day because they amuse and entertain me and there's usually a new entry or two.
Like the namesake culinary salad accent, these croutons are sites that I usually visit each day so I can remind myself what a rank amateur I am. Great designs, great writing, original concepts... all can be found here.
This list includes a growing roster of friends who have blogs or Web sites. They range from the highly inventive, like Alan's, to the highly creative, like Pat's. You'll find personal rants at Jaqueline's, municipal planning at Joe's and travel at Cherie's.
Think of this as a warehouse for the various ridiculous photo projects I've started. The most recent is The King Project. I'll feature some of the photos on this blog, but these links go to an off-site gallery at Webshots. If you like them enough, they'll put the pics on a mug or T-shirt or any other object they offer.
This area offers links to photos of various sporting events I've attended. This one is the most popular of my various sections at Webshots.
This one's pretty obvious. They're the monthly archive of previous posts. Some months have more material to read than others. Hell, I practically took off the entire month of October 2003.
And if you're still reading by this point, you need to seek mental help.
Now I have a better idea of what kind of axe Mini Slash is playing onstage:
Rock on, my little bruthas. At least until nap time.
Talk about a bad case of "Crab toe."
With a force and momentum all its own, The King Project rolls on with a few bizarre additions:
For those of who who wonder what a $600 pair of Manolo Blahnik pumps look like when they impersonate Elvis, here you go.
Phil was no doubt trying to portray what The King would look like with too much fried peanut butter sandwich in his mouth.
So many people wrote to say that they liked the last batch of angry and bitter and generally off-color valentines that I thought I'd give you more:these are the stuff that child nightmares are made of.
No wonder the divorce rate among plastic action figures is so high.
Speaking of creepy...
Karl Rove has groupies. Or at least one.
The site asks a disturbing question: Are you a RoveHo?
There's no need to answer. It was a rhetorical question.
By now, you've no doubt heard the devastating news: Barbie and Ken are going their separate ways.
Color me jaded and maybe it's just me, but this very well could be just a cheap publicity stunt. Can a civil union between Ken and Stretch Armstrong be next? I wouldn't put money against it.
Regardless, you have to wonder if the release of this compromising video didn't accelerate the divorce.
Apparently, there are a few among us with some significant Valentine's Day issues.
Where I come from, they call this maneuver "Pulling a Jeff.''
Few things can match the debasement experienced when you drag everything you own and can't stand and then let total strangers dicker you on the price while the neighborhood gets to judge the quality of your unwanted possessions and make snap judgments on your quality of life.
We did that at our house over the weekend. We called it a garage sale.
Even better, I got up at 5 a.m. on Saturday, because I knew the freaks would be there at 6:30 a.m. - not the 7 a.m. time listed in the ad. When did it become okay for people to just show up at your house? When garage sales were created, of course.
That's my neighbor Drew on the left there drinking coffee. He and my wife spent the better part of the morning second-guessing me on prices. Here's the scenerio:
Her: "How much for this?"
Me: "I don't know. Three bucks?"
Her: "Three bucks!?!?"
At this point, I can tell I've offended the gods of domestic retail by either pricing too high or too low, because then she turns to the neighbor(s) and they mumble to each other until I adjust a price to where they like it.
Imagine this scenerio repeated 400 more times on objects varying from Spiderman torsos torn in half to enough computer equipment to run the shuttle. Then you know what my Saturday morning was like.
I tried to push the point that this was about moving product, not getting rich. I tried to make sure it was about regaining garage space. Didn't matter.
Even the dog was up for sale. His price? Very reasonable.
This was our first customer. Time: 6:30 a.m.
She came flying up in her compact car, got out and, with laser directness, went right for this frame with four $1 bills in it. I got this once as a present. I hated it, quite frankly, and never put it up on my wall. I wasn't sure what the gift-giver was trying to signify, since I wasn't going into business and I wasn't exactly a collector of low denominations in sequential order. So I sold it. For $3. She actually made money buying it!
The woman who picked it up thought I was nuts, but that's how bad I wanted to sell stuff that day. Plus, it encouraged her to buy other stuff that was worth more money.
Genius is so underappreciated.
People came in droves. Just waves and waves of them, like they were all being released from some bargain-hunting hatchery. At one point, my neighbor's wife accidentally spilled coffee on an old pair of my son's baseball cleats. She was upset but I told her not to worry. I told the next person who picked them up, "They're coffee-flavored." Guy bought them on the spot.
I saw this woman a mile away. Anyone who is going to wear Pooh overalls is gonna plunk down a sawbuck for a "Night Before Christmas Pooh Robot.'' She asked me not to take a photo of her face.
"You can shoot from here down,'' she said, drawing an invisible Maginot line at her bust.
I decided I couldn't do that to Pooh.
You may have gotten him for a buck, lady, but I exacted a psychic toll.
The Lucky Strike was a nice touch, I thought. Pooh's gonna have a few burn holes by next Christmas, mark my words.
I liked this guy. He showed up and immediately announced that he was a licensed gun collector and was looking to buy weapons. I told him I didn't have any for sale.
Then a thought hit me.
"How about a harpoon?"
Someone gave me a decorative harpoon at some point. It's been carted around for years from garage to garage. The guy looked at it, shrugged his shoulders and said, "What the hell."
On his way out, he picked up the framed Beatles portrait.
"You know,'' I told my neighbor, "I don't think that guy got up this morning and said, 'Today, I'm buying a harpoon and a Beatles photo.'"
There are so many things to talk about here. The shirt. The dog. The hair.
I'm gonna leave those alone. I think.
Okay, maybe not. I just have to say that although I love dogs, if you're a man and you're carrying a full-size poodle - not a toy poodle - to garage sales, just go ahead and have your testicles removed. They obviously haven't been used in a while and you won't be using them in the future.
Especially when you adorn the dog with purple beads and bows.
The best part about this original photo is the guy just over his shoulder:
This poor Joe, who had an extremely thick Charles Bronson-like accent, decided it was time for him to get on the Internet. He needed to get a computer. Cheap.
So he bought a monitor from me. Price: $3.
Then a printer. Price: $3.
Then a mouse. Fiddy cent.
"This all I need?" he asked.
"I don't know what you have already,'' I told him.
He grunted something, handed me my $6.50 and stormed off.
He came back 20 minutes later.
"You have cord?''
I had a cord for him, sure.
He gets in his truck and leaves.
He comes back two hours later.
"What about the... the.. the..." after which he makes the universal hand gesture for "THE FUCKING HARD DRIVE!!!!''
I walked into the garage, picked up a slower-than-molasses refurbished Gateway that my son had used maybe twice and handed it over. Didn't even charge him for it, it was that much fun to screw with him.
This game is proof: Timing is everything.
If you enjoy the wonderful repetition of obsessive-compulsive disorder and hate insects, you'll love this game. Not only will your OCD slake its thirst, your carpal-tunnel will burn for a week.
Janet Jackson cupcakes anyone?
(I'm not obsessed, really.)
Get the recipe here.
T-shirt Hell has a new Janet Jackson design.
Following in the grand tradition of The Sombrero Project and its subsequent parts (Dos, Tres and Quatro),and the Hulk Hands Project and The Mullet Project comes The King Project.
The idea: give the glasses to people and let their Inner Elvis come out to play.
There is no grand plan here. (One co-worker asked, "What's this for?'' "Sheer stupidity,'' I replied.)
It's amazing what you can get people to do just by letting them wear a pair of shades.
Susan, the folks down at personnel have a cup they'd like you to fill.
Phil's from Tupelo. He has a ceramic Elvis bust with silver skin and green lipstick on his desk. He knows how to strike a pose worthy of The King.
One question: Whatcha putting in the holster there, big fella?
This one of Nick screams "casino pit boss."
Nick is building quite a body of work.
Duke's upper lip was born to snarl.
I mean, look at that detail.
Duke also is acquiring an impressive portfolio.
Andrea channeled The King for this shot (the bottle was borrowed, for the record.) I've named this pose, "4:30 a.m., Hilton Penthouse, Las Vegas."
This shot was taken against the subject's will.
The profile is even more impressive. Looks like a mug shot.
Again, another inanimate object. Unfortunately, the gnome looks less like Elvis and more like Truman Capote. Maybe it has something to do with the bow tie.
Cropping helps somewhat. But few poses will be as stunning as this one. Truly breathtaking.
If you've ever heard the phrase, "Less is more," you know that it doesn't apply to Allyn.
Still, it's hard to top The DiVito Bandito.
Mitch is a fan of reality programming. Here, he attempts to recreate The Last Defecation of Presley. (The white dot was added for your protection, not his. The size of the dot is arbitrary and does not correspond to any specific part of his anatomy.) Mitch, quite frankly, didn't care whether the unedited version was shown. Such was his level of dedication to the project.
But to me, a man should withhold a little mystery. Especially when it comes to the eternal question of boxers or briefs.
(Photographer's note: You don't want to know the conditions under which this shot was taken.)
Mitch's daring swan dive into the kiddie pool of dignity was breathtaking enough for Rommie to feel that a gantlet had been thrown down. There was a new standard to meet, a new bearing to hew his compass by.
As a result, Rommie made a conscious decision to let his beard grow in so that he could exhibit a King-like set of sideburns/muttonchops/facial skidmarks that were worthy of the shades.
What's interesting to note here is that Rommie did not inform his wife of his plan to plow the follicular field of his face in such a manner. He just did it, "Damn-the-torpedoes-and-quite-possibly-my-marriage"-style.
Oh, and he had a meeting with the vice president of operations that day.
Gotta give him props for the commitment.
Honda makes some great commercials. One of its latest shows a series of people who look like their cars. The resemblances are uncanny.
The companion Web site has photos from Honda owners who submitted photos of themselves with their vehicles.
I'm pretty sick of Nipplegate or Boobgate or Super Boob XXXVIII or whatever you want to call it, but this link is pretty damn hilarious.
Stumped for a Valentine's gift? The good folks at Archie McPhee have a suggestion: Parasite Pals. Think of it as a mix of the cuteness of Japanese cartoon characters with the enduring fun of parasites.
Few things say, "I love you,'' the way that Tickles Tapeworm, Dig Dig Head Louse, Blinky Eyelash Mite and Zzezz Bedbug can.
If that doesn't warm the cockles of your heart, try the elephant cigarette dispenser that shoots cancer sticks out its butt.
And to think people say we're becoming a more coarse society.
My Uncle Pete sends along this joke. (I'm not sure why, because this is a Texas joke and he's not from Texas, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.):
A man from Texas, driving a Volkswagen Beetle, pulls up next to a guy in a Rolls Royce at a stop sign.
Their windows are open and he yells at the guy in the Rolls, "Hey, you got a telephone in that Rolls?"
The guy in the Rolls says, "Yes, of course I do."
"I got one too... see?" the Texan says.
"Uh, huh, yes, that's very nice."
"You got a fax machine?" asks the Texan.
"Why, actually, yes, I do."
"I do too! See? It's right here!" brags the Texan.
The light is just about to turn green and the guy in the Volkswagen says, "So, do you have a double bed in back there?"
The guy in the Rolls replies, "NO! Do you?"
"Yep, got my double bed right in back here," the Texan replies.
The light turns and the man in the Volkswagen takes off.
Well, the guy in the Rolls is not about to be one-upped, so he immediately goes to a customizing shop and orders them to put a double bed in back of his car.
About two weeks later, the job is finally done. He picks up his car and drives all over town looking for the Volkswagen beetle with the Texas plates. Finally, he finds it parked alongside the road, so he pulls his Rolls up next to it.
The windows on the Volkswagen are all fogged up and he feels somewhat awkward about it, but he gets out of his newly modified Rolls and taps on the foggy window of the Volkswagen.
The man in the Volkswagen finally opens the window a crack and peeks out. The guy with the Rolls says, "Hey, remember me?"
"Yeah, I remember you," replies the Texan, "What's up?"
"Check this out...I got a double bed installed in my Rolls."
The Texan exclaims, "YOU GOT ME OUT OF THE SHOWER TO TELL ME THAT?!"
On the eve of Groundhog Day, there's news out of Punxsutawney, Pa.:
Janet Jackson's breast came out and saw its shadow.
There will be six more weeks of winter.
My son walks out of his bedroom yesterday morning, sleep still in his eyes, with his Tampa Bay Buccaneers helmet cradled under his arm.
"Last day for us to be world champions,'' he says.
Dreams die hard, little man.
Here's hoping everyone enjoys this year's Super Bowl. For this household, there'll never be another like last year's.
I don't watch "American Idol,'' but I've seen enough from promos to know what it's about: regular people taking a shot at the dream, risking only humiliation and verbal abuse. Sounds like a pretty good trade to me.
One of those, apparently, was William Hung, a civil engineer from L.A. who sang Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" for the panel. (You can see his audition here.)
It strikes me on several levels. First, Billy did way better than I could have done. Second, Bill hears the same orchestra in my head that I do when I sing in the shower or in the car on the way to work. Third, had he not taken a shot, then there wouldn't be a Web site in his honor.
And fourth: Girl in the white skirt sitting behind him, put on some clothes, young lady. You're not skank enough to go for Aguilera territory.
Someone's gone and made a steroid-choked version of my favorite - and highly addictive - penguin smacking game.
There goes the rest of my week...
I clearly have some areas I need to visit...
Create your own visited states map.
This is wrong on so many levels.
In a related note, I understand Lil' Axl fired the rest of the band.
On Super Bowl Sunday, you'll see a lot of commercials, but none better than this one.
As the former owner of a Volare, I can sympathize with Tim.
As he says, "It's not only the performance, it's the luxury.''