Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Butt

Tsup. I know its been a long time, there have been some delays, for which I apologize. I usually remember to mention when we are going to be MIA for some time, but the whole end of the summer not working at Wal-Mart nonsense kind of fucks it all up. While this shouldn’t be the blog updating epic that I think the wedding in June sort of ended up, it might take me a couple days to catch up completely. That will also be complicated by the fact that my laptop is in the shizop (I didn’t really want to write “shizop” as opposed to “shop” but it has better fucking rhythm) but should be around soon. I am also back in school which can be both a blessing and a curse for the world of blog.

Anyway, we left for Minnesota immediately after I finished work on the 18th of August. Work finished up pretty strongly, all the people I work with are cool and ended up throwing me a little party, we had corn dogs, cookie cake, and brownie cake. Very solid all around. The only thing that blew goats severely was that I was sick like a mofucker. I don’t get sick very often, but I will fully admit that I am a pretty miserable bastard when I am. I feel that modern medicine, even modern over the counter medicine, should be able to pretty much entirely cure my symptoms. I guess that’s what na├»ve faith in the medical sciences get you. Anyway, while I was feeling better than I had the day before, when I came home after only three-ish hours of work and slept all day and night, I was still feeling like ass.

I began by sleeping and Katie took care of the first shift of driving. We made it to the first post-Cleveland reststop on the tollway before I took over. I was feeling good for the first hour or so of driving then it started raining like it often does through Ohio, in what I imagine is a concerted effort to make me hate that state even more than is humanly possible. The rain started tired me out pretty quickly, as well as slowing me down to around 45-50, which is a crawl at 1:00 am on the freeway. By 2:30, shortly after we entered Indiana, I had no prudent option but to pull off at a rest stop. Katie wasn’t ready to take over yet, so we slept in the car for almost three hours. I would wake up every 40 minutes or so, try to convince myself I could drive, ultimately determine that I was insane, and go back to sleep. Eventually I was so furious with the devastruction this break had done to our attempt to make good time that I drove in what may not have been the world’s safest condition. My intent was to get us through Chicago before rush hour, but since I forgot that Chicago’s rush hour runs from 4 am to midnight, that was a futile effort.

We switched on and off, eventually got to St. Paul sometime in the late afternoon early evening. We dropped by Katie’s parents place, where Katie hung out while I went to James Hart’s bachelor party. I should note that besides the fact that our families live there and we love it there and all that, the real reason we were in the TC was the wedding of James Hart and Cassie Doll. James’ situation was not completely dissimilar to my own, excepting the Harvard Law School graduate, real job in Chicago situation. I mean simply that he was only in town for a short period before the wedding and since so many of his friends were from out of town the bachelor party was held at short-ish notice. Brad Hart, James’ little brother, was in charge as the best-man, and did a solid job. I think Brad had a lot of pressure on him, at least he perceived that there was a lot of pressure on him.

As someone who recently had his only brother as his best man, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that absent showing up at your bachelor party and being kicked in the crotch, flown to Abu Dhabi and sold to an alpaca farm, its virtually impossible to be disappointed by what he does. That said, the situation Brad was in was somewhat different from my brothers, most notably because Lil’ B is not simply acquainted with my friends, but is friends with all of them as well. If my brother had his own bachelor party the guest lists would be virtually identical, with maybe a few extra people from Mad-town included. I think that meant that Brad felt that he was responsible not only to James about the whole evening, but just as importantly to James’ friends, to provide whatever it is they would imagine as a bachelor party. It ended up not being an issue and I think Brad figured out fairly early on into the evening that he had gotten it right. I didn’t get to try out Mannings’ new 2 pound beast of a burger, but I will someday. I also didn’t really get to party, since I had 3 hours of sleep the whole time and still had to go down to Rosemount to meet my dad at his new townhouse. Anyway, the action was picking up as I left, with some crazy-James-drinking-challenge getting under way. From the reports I received it remained a hella-good and for the most part wholesome guys night at Brad’s apartment. That makes RHS debate 2 for 2 on naked-lady free bachelor parties, a trend which I can’t imagine continuing for too many more members.

My dad was at one of his clients’ boxing matches and didn’t get home until like 11:30, we met him around midnight. The place is right by the new St. Joe’s church in Rosemount, only about 2-3 miles from the old rents place. For one person it is quite large, three bedrooms on two floors with the living room and kitchen essentially wide open on the first floor. He has technically moved in, he has the TV and the couch and chairs and lamps and a table and stuff, his bedroom furniture etc. but besides that the place is not really furnished. I know he doesn’t need much more than a couch and a TV and a bed, since the time he spends at home is pretty much just limited to watching legal drama and football. Nonetheless, I think he felt a little awkward about the fact, though neither Katie or I could care less. After a long pseudo-argument we ended up staying in my dad’s room for the entire week we were there. It seemed to be what he wanted so we were happy to acquiesce, but next time we are around we will be more in control.

Katie had to work early on Friday morning, so we got up at a reasonable time and said hey to my dad before we left. I came back and did laundry virtually all day while she worked. When I picked her up we ran to Southdale to get a wedding present, to Chipotle for a burrito, and then to Dave and Amy’s place to play some poker and hang out. They have gotten two pretty sweet things in the past month or so, the first one is a house in St. Paul. Its in the Midway area and a pretty nice joint. Its not huge, but it has space to expand if that is something in their future. If you’ve been in an average St. Paul residence you know what I am referring to. The other one is related and probably less important in the big picture, but much cooler in my book, that being a puppy. Specifically, a golden retriever puppy named Milo, who is fucking adorable. I mean, golden retriever puppies are pretty much the picture of cuteness in the first place, but this guy was above and beyond. He was hopping up the stairs, he was chewing on my shoes and hands, he was just adorable. I am not one of those people who is hugely into the golden retriever, I mean, I dig them, but I don’t plan on getting one, but I must admit that the puppies are the me-fucking-ow.

The poker game that went on was alright, I came in second technically, since only me and one dude had chips at the end. I could have gone short stack master and tried to take him out, though he had like a 4 or 5-1 chip advantage, but nowhere near the necessary experience to finish things off. Nonetheless, it would have taken some luck and probably a bit of time, so I just won Katie’s money back and took my own, essentially a 5 dollar win for me. Not shabby. I really didn’t play much more poker the whole time I was in Minnesota, unfortunately, maybe I will fix that over the holidays.

More may come later tonight whenever I decide to go for the discussion of Saturday and the wedding proper. Check it.



Monday, August 16, 2004

She Had To Take Him Down Easy, and Put a Bullet in His Butt

I have three days left to go at work, so I think I can handle it. Nonetheless, it has gotten a little irritating to not have a day off for so long. Today was the worst, because I worked with two of the biggest idiots in the entire world. We have determined recently that one of the women in question seems to sincerely hate me and I find that more and more humorous at every passing moment. This is someone that cannot handle the operation of a cash register, or really the operation of ball-point pen, for that matter. The story I think best encompasses this woman is the fact that she is responsible for the fact that the photo-lab no longer has a battery tester. The reason for that fact: she tested a battery on it and threw it away when it did not respond. She also lost 2 rolls of film for an hour this afternoon, I found them under the counter on the opposite side of the lab. Idiots, literally, fucking idiots.

The best thing that happened today was that, while I was in the middle of doing an immense amount of work very quickly in an attempt to make up for the incompetence of my surroundings. Luckily that work all involved standing at the back counter loading film and staring off into the electronics department. Most of the people in the electronics department were wads as per the usual, old women looking for Barbara Stanwick CDs and children trying to finagle their way into old Game-Unit titles for half price by pretending they saw them at Target. There was only one person who really caught my attention and he was a dude wearing a tank top that would have been perfectly suited to a Girls Gone Wild video, but was quite ill suited to what vwas most likely the hairiest back in all of human civilzation.

For some reason this dude immediately brought to mind a comparison to George the Animal Steele. I have no idea if that is the correct way to spell George the Animal Steele or if anyone out there besides Pete knows what I am talking about. Anyway, for some reason I remember George as having an incredibly hairy ass motherfucking back. More certainly than that I remember the dude eating the turnbuckle, or at least ripping the cover off of it with his teeth. So I stood there at the back counter of what Scott and I have now officially gotten to calling "Your Friendly Neighborhood Lockport Wal-Mart Digital One Hour Photo Center" which sounds really fucking awesome when you rattle it off top speed on the phone, and I thought about why I was thinking about George the Animal Steele. It seems like a simpler day, doesn't it, when your wrestling name could just be your normal name with a one-word moniker in the middle. I mean, I guess that can still be the case, but there seem to be a lot more "Shockernator" type ones today. I don't mean to apply this specifically to wrestling, especially insofar as I am sure I will get criticized by more knowledgable fan-boys-or-girls than myself. Thats all I really had to say about that fact, besides how fucking weird it was that for 5 or so minutes today I was spontaneously reminded of George the Animal Steele, whom I hadn't thought about in at least several years. I don't mean that in any sense to be sexual and if you don't believe me, I recommend you take a quick look-see-daisy at some pictures of George the Animal Steele. All the wrestlers I liked as a child were actually some pretty butt-fucking uglyass bastards, most notably a tag team I believe were called The Bushwhackers. Enough.

I watched The Others earlier, which was loaned to me by Amy at the lab. It wasn't a bad flick, but it didn't do for me what everyone seemed to think it did. My theory is that, in many ways, The Sixth Sense runied this genre of films for us all. If you haven't seen The Others and its something you are really looking forward to, I 'd skip a paragraph here, but believe me that I haven't given away anything yet, you will instantly recognize this film's indebtedness to M. Night Shamylan and others along those lines. I think it is still possible for a movie to have some spectacular switches at the ending and not be somewhat of a letdown, many of them in fact, fall into what I would call the "Usual Suspects" variety rather than "Sixth Sense" section. Mullholland Dr. and Memento are the two best examples that immediately pop into my head, but I am sure there are others. I might even say that Signs, Shamylan's Mel Gibson flick, fits closer into this category than the supernatural-ism one. Now everytime something which even faintly rings of death and ghosts or the beyond or the like and my mind immediately says "now, who in this film who does not appear to be dead but is actually a ghost." A couple more years of moves along these lines may make it possible for someone to actually have the twist be the lack of a twist, whereby the person is simply alive. A curve a la Frailty, which both fits this pattern perfectly and is one of the few supernatural thrillers post "Sixth Sense" which really was up to snuff. I think I've gone off on that before however.

Katie has been out of town this weekend, she is at a women's debate collective thingy-ma-jigg in Phoenix. The only positive I could find in the situation was that I got the opportunity to watch a fuckload of TV I had been storing up for weeks. Katie doesn't like Six Feet Under or The 4400, both shows that I have been very excited about all summer. I know she's not into sci-fi so that eliminates the USA series and I think the fact that each episode begins with someone dying in an occassionally gruesome manner turns her off what she would probably otherwise agree is a fantastic show. I have only seen moments of this program before this season and only the premiere of this season before two nights ago. I fucking adore the characters on this show, even without understanding all the back-story. If I could afford HBO series on DVD I would be picking these up as fast as possible.

I thought this was going to go in a very positive direction when I started off with George the Animal Steele, but I realize that I have since gone on to blabber about TV and such I have been watching while Katie is gone. Three fucking days and we are headed back to Minnesota for a while. Booya!



Wednesday, August 11, 2004

You're Just a Product of Loveliness, I Like the Groove of Your Walk, Your Talk, Your Butt

Our Monday adventure continued at the Social Security office in Niagara Falls. We had a brief moment of lost-ed-ness-osity-ism but eventually found our way there. I had thought the reason the Social Security office was in Niagara Falls had something to do with the whole border thing being there, maybe people immigrating from Canada or something. I guess, I didn't think very hard about it very hard, or, alternately, or probably additionally, I think I was entirely unaware of the variety of services offered by the Social Security office. I mean, I am glad these services are provided, and I don't know dick enough aboutn the SSA to testify as to whether they should be the ones to administer these programs. Nonetheless, it meant that we spent an hour and a half in that joint and we actually go out fairly early. Notably all we were doing was getting new cards.

I guess its naive and stupid for me to imagine that all they would do there is issue cards and send out checks and collect taxes. That would be a little excessive to have an entire agency. I guess there are two things I got out of the experience. The first was the understanding about the things they do over there, which is probably good. The second was the absolute necessity for someone to figure out a better way for me to get a new social security card, since it made no sense for us to waste the time of people actually doing important things. Maybe they should do it at the DMV or have it automated or something. I mean, I would imagine that most of this frustration is borne out of my desire to not sit in their office for one and a half hours, but regardless we got it done, with only a small bit of riffing by the dude who helped us out. We stopped by the J. Crew outlet while we were in the city of NF and got Katie some tank tops and pants and such Crew-ish stuff before heading back to Lockport and going to the insurance place again and the bank. The bank is rarely a problem, and indeed it wasn't difficult to change our names and such. The woman we were working with was a complete fucking moron and printed like 15 copies of a form which wasn't necessary, typed our account number in wrong, and consulted with Shawn, who might have well has done the fucking thing himself. She kept saying that she was confused by the fact that I was changing my name and while it was a funny enough ecuse the first 5 times or so, after that just admit that you have an erection where your brain should be and get on with it. So thats the story of Monday.

We are now watching the 2004 Teen Choice Awards and despite the fact that much of it is moronic bullshit, Paris and Nicole have been pretty good. Loves it. I do watch a majority of the programs that are relevant here and enjoy many of them, but have been disappointed that The O.C. has been about as dramatically smacked by vote splitting as any program in history. Every acting and star category has featured either Summer and Marissa or Seth and Ryan and hence were robbed by Jennifer Garner and Chad Michael Murray. When they didn't have two different people to support The OC dominated best drama and I cannot wait for the new season. The ads have me totally excited and I am worried that they will not live up to the high standards set by season one, even though they are getting some phat new writers who are no longer involved in Joss-related projects, I am hoping for no sophomoric slump. Ashlee Simpson also did a live performance of the album version of "Pieces of Me," I mean, she didn't even go the step to record a live version like most pop stars, it was just the straight album version. It was still great. Loves it.

I know this was shorter, I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing.



She Thinks She Missed the Train to Mars, She's Out Back Counting Butt

We are getting to the point where my work at Wal-Mart is almost complete for the summer. I mean, I guess I still have a full week and not a signle day off until I am finished with work completely, but still I have only that week. I have 8 days as of this moment, then we are going to drive back to Minneapolis the evening Wednesday the 18th of August, getting in sometime on Thursday. That means I may even be able to go to James' bachelor party sometime on Thursday evening, though I will be skipping the tittybar portion of the evening. I find the idea of a drunken James at Deja Vu very humorous, but I will have to live it through the description of anyone I know who will be along for the ride. I find it increasingly hilarious that James' bachelor party will be the first of our friends to feature folks of the stripper persuasion, not because there is anything aboug either James or myself really makes it likely or not, but rather that in high school we discussed whether or not we would have to throw a bachelor party at Jakes for Jimmy-pop in abstentia. Regardless, I think those are the relevant plans for the immeidate furture.

I know that the Simple Life 2 is over now, but I fucking loved that program. I have determined officially that there are two Paris and Nicole-isms that I must integrate into my vocabulary at whatever the cost. I mean, two years ago I had never said either "a to the g" or "ja reuse" and they are now pretty much staples of my expressionary landscape. The first one is relatively simple and probably used by alot of people before, but not in the same sense or with the same frequency as these ladies have done it. That is of course "that's hot" when describing nothing of a sexual nature, nothing attractive, nothing fast, or not even necessarily good. In that sense its kind of like deuce, it has neither a positive or negative connotation, it can rock like the deuce or suck like the deuce. Basically, "thats hot" seems to just be a response to something, like an okay essentially. The other one might be the greatest expression since the deuce itself, and that is saying a fucking lot. My guess is that this derived from internet lingo, since it appears to have the same basic format as instant messager expresions which utilize the fact that when you type a message your username appears in front of whatever you said. Hence the expression "loves it." Obviously, this does not have the versatitlity of "thats hot" but its just great, try it out, give it a couple days. When there is something cool, just say "loves it." I cannot imagine not enjoying this expression, but I promise a full refund.

Katie and I got a piece of mail the other day, sort of addressed to us, or at least some version of our names, which was from the Minnnesota State High School League, offering us contracts to judge at the State High School Debate Tournament. Since I have been involved with debate in the state of Minnesota for a decade now, this may not seem weird to you. Even if you knew that only 6 of those years were as a judge, its a long time. I remember when I was in high school, trying to qualify for this tournament as a debater, the judges were old school, at least they seemed that way to me at the time. I mean, there were young people or younger people, my coaches were not quite 30 at that point, I think Carrie and Pete and Becky had contracts, or at least were about to get them, and they were well under 30. Nonetheless, the majority of the judiging was people who coached outside of the metro, people who had been at their programs for centuries. Not that there is anything wrong with being one of those people or that these people were not often high quality critics, but they are very much unlike me. I mean, maybe back in the day they were just like me. I don't know, but for a long time I felt like as much of a renegade figure as was possible in the activity. I don't mean that I thought I was all cool (though I did) or that I pictured myself as a James Dean outsider at the square convention, for fuck's sake I was still at a public high school at 8 am on a Saturday so I could hear 16 year olds discuss what we should do with fucking fish. Anyway, I think many people who knew me in high school as a senior or during my first few years of college would be at least somewhat surprised, as I was , that I am now in the ranks of state critics.

We were really busy yesterday running lots of really annoying errands. We finally finished off our car insurance shenanigan by signing our policy at EIGHT FUCKING FORTY FIVE. After that, we went to the DMV. I had some worries and some confidences about this process. My confidence was actually Katie's area of worry--it involved the difficulty of the male name change to reflect wedding status. We had done Katie's name change thing the week before, so I was certain we would not have problems. I mean, even if they didn't expect it, the forms and the process for chaning a woman's name on a DL is the same as doing it for a man. I was absolutely correct on this count, no one had a problem with the name change process. Every single person we spoke to made some borderline offensive comments about how Katie must have bullied me into the decision and commented about how weird it was that we were doing this, but still it wasn't hard. The stuff I was really worried about was that we wouldn't have the necessary documentation to get the car registered or they would tell us we couldn't do it with expired Minnesota plates, but none of that happened either. We were in and out of the DMV in like half an hour, which I think is a record for having three seperate transactions done at the same time.

There is more to this story, but I am literally about to pass oot. Loves it.



Friday, August 06, 2004

Its Not a Habit Its Cool, I Feel the Butt

There is this new commercial for Wrangler Jeans that is on TV these days and if you are among us in the lucky tivo-dvr crowd or you don't watch alot of hick TV (pretty much NASCAR or the WB really) you may not have seen it. Regardless, the commercial features a song that I believe is by Sheryl Crow and is entitled "Steve McQueen". It is pretty much the only interesting thing currently on the Wal-Mart TV network and since they seem to recognize this as well, it plays about once every 15 seconds. It is the one of the best things about being at work recently. Today was not a good day at work, the whole experience kind of sucked. Basically, there was a woman who worked at the store who passed away last night. When I arrived Amy told me that the place was kinda odd that day largely because this had happened and everyone was pretty depressed. I didn't really know her very well, but she was apparently very nice. All we had heard at this point was that she went home early yesterday because she had a migraine. Everyone sort of figured that it was some sort of aneuresym like thing, and while that isn't an extraordinarily common thing to happen to a 27 year old woman, it isn't entirely unfeasible.

One of the women in the lab knew her pretty well so we weren't surprised that she wasn't in the lab for the first couple hours of her shift. The corporate office had sent in grief counselors, one of the few Wal-Mart corporate policies I can support, though its pretty standard for pretty much every corporation of decent size I would believe. When that woman returned to the lab we found out that those people who were back talking to the grief counselors had recently heard that the woman did not die of an aneurysm, but instead was murdered. Thats all I know at this point, but its pretty fucking weird and a little disturbing. Since I had a little time to think about it this afternoon, I realized that it was actually less frightening when I knew that the woman had been killed when I thought she had died of an aneurysm, I think I have an etnirely unjustified belief that people who get murdered tend to have some involvement in their death, not that they do something to justify it or encourage it, but that the chances of you getting murdered are pretty low if you live in this country, and don't put yourself in dangerous situations. That may be entirely false and is probably related to the whole American dream you get what you pay for, bootstraps yadda yadda nonsense, but whatever.

Amish in the City is an awesome show. I mean awesome. The UPN rarely knows shit about shit, but my feeling is that there is one dude or dudette who is way too smart and way too cool to be working at the fucking UPN who pushes or produces or creates the few good shows they have. That was probably the same dude or dudette who booked Buffy and kept it around, versus the morons at The WB for instance. Because there is no fucking way that the people responsible for The Player came up with Amish or ANTM. When they hit babe, they put it oot of the park. Regardless, some of these people are great, seem really fun, intelligent, and loyal. Mose, for instance, is the breakout star of the summer in my mind, though probably not as good as Seth Cohen was last summer (side note, Fox is already giving me televisual blueballs with the ads for The OC, which, with Angel's demise and the absence of a Sopranos season, might be my second favorite program).

Katie made a cake tonight, it was just a box cake that someone gave her as part of a shower gift I believe, but it is tasty. I have been really in the mood for cakey sweets recently and it hit the spot. We haven't had any cookies or anything, not even really any candy to speak of and since I have been attempting to excercise on a regular basis the lack of sugar kills me. I have roxored the bike we got from my rentavos and have biked at least 11 miles each day. I am aiming to add some other excercises in there, but I would really prefer to have some comfortable place that is not my living room to do it. There is in fact a Gold's Gym that opened up in Williamsville right down, but since I can't afford a meal at the Golden Fucking Arches, I sure as hell ain't going to be able to afford those dues.

But I do have some good news, I saved a bunch of money on car insurance. I'm not using that as a lame transition, I seriously did save a bunch of money on car insurance, but not with Geico. Anyway, this agent dude found us a sweet fucking policy and we are actually going to be able to afford all the shit ass car expenses associated with the state of New York. I hate not living in Minnesota by the way, even if that be in name only, because I don't like not having MN license plates and not having to worry about the assishness consistently imposed on the rest of the state because it happens to contain NYC. Fucking city kids, screwing everything up for the psuedo-rural suburbs of an industrial shithole named after a beautifully large charging herd animal nearly driven extinct in the early days of the United States of America we know today. Ass.

I have to work early, I know this was unconnected nonsense. I'm still getting back into the swing. Anyway, sleep calls like a drunken APK.



Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Its the Eye of the Tiger, Its the Thrill of the Butt

So the other day, before I went to work, I saw my favorite commerical on a break from Sportscenter. I have seen this commercial before, but I am pretty sure it was the last musical thing I heard before I went to work on Friday or Saturday or whichever day that was. It was, of course, the Starbucks "Glenn Glenn Glenn" commercial. The funniest part is of course the "Roy Roy Roy" line that concludes the ad. I really wish there were more lyrics to that tune, because they are probably better than the original ditty. Well, at some point, probably watching some movie or something, Katie heard the actual Rocky version of that song. Apparently she had not heard it before and for at least the weekend, was in love with it. It was a very odd blast from the past, to see someone 20+ years old hearing a song like that, which seems to have been almost an iconic pop-rock song when I was a child, for what was essentially the first time. I don't think she has seen the doubleshot espresso commercial since she started listening to the Rocky soundtrack, but maybe she will appreciate it more. The other surprsing thing about that moment was that Katie had also never seen the film from which that song hails, fucking Rocky. I mean, I can understand not seeing the sequels with Mr T or Hulk Hogan, or Dolph Lundgren, but the fucking original. All the Adrian jokes on every episode of Sesame Street would even be lost to her. Anyway.

I even remember having this song on what was arguably my favorite tape of all time. I bet I could find alot of these songs online, but I have never really tried. Regardless the tape was like Alvin and Chipmunks Sing the Silver Screen or something like that and it included A+C covers of Eye of the Tiger, Fame, and, what was probably my personal favorite, Chariots of Fire. You may be thinking, its not easy to cover Chariots of Fire, since it has no lyrics. That is the genius behind this cover. It begins as a humming cover, Alvin Simon and Theodore doing the "hmm, hm, hm, hm,hm, hmmm, hm, hm, hm, hm, hm,hm." and then progressing to some dialogue about the lack of lyrics and the awkwardness of covering a lyric-less tune, especially when the cover band in question is a three-person chipmunk choir. Damn, I really need to get my hands on that shit.

We had some tasty sweet corn for dinner just now, it wasn't as good as the sweet corn I had at the fiesta de bachelores, but it was hella good. I guess Minnesota is not known nationally for its corn, thats the sort of thing you associate with Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska. I make a distinction between being known for your corn, like feed corn and shit, and your sweet corn. Iowa and Kansas, there's your feed corn, but Minnesota sweet corn cannot fucking be beat. I mean, you get a good grill going and slap that sweet corn on there, let it carmelize up and slather it in sweet cream Wisconsin butter, yummi-dee-dum-dinger. We had cheeseburgers as the other significant dinner item, which made me at least think of all the Minnesota barbecues that should be filling our summer nights and are instead replaced by indoor pasta dinners. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I just get culinarily nostalgic very easy. The corn has also reminded me of the place where one obtains the world's greatest sweet corn, the rapidly approaching Minnesota State Fair. While it is August, and technically the fair is right around the corner, I will still withhold my commentary until we get closer to the great Minnesota get-together.

I have decided that it is really unfortunate that I didn't get into poker until the fairly recent past. I know I am not an incredble poker player, but I also recognize that I haven't played alot of poker. Everything you read and see, just the anecdotal evidence even, demonstrates that smart people that learn and practice and study are good at the game of poker. In some ways the professional poker community reminds me alot of the debate community, a really insular activity (well, I guess its becoming less insular, but still, fairly tight) filled with really intelligent people who love to do one certain thing that many people outside that community don't understand. Those people in it though, tend to feel an intense passion for it, they write alot about it, do it to excess, let their whole lives get wrapped up in it. I also think there is probably a propensity for both of these activities, more so than sports lets say, or community groups, for the people involved to be compulsive in not always positive ways. That sometimes manifests in working 80 hours a week on what it is that they love, be that cutting cards or playing cards, but often also shows itself in substance abuse, emotional issues etc. Nothing about substance abuse is inherent to debate or poker, but my guess is that you will find more active or recovering alchoholics, narcoholics and the like at the NDT than you would at a comparable event in the world of comic books for instance, which in other ways can be thought of as a similarly insular, intense, and often all-consuming activity.

I suppose that both poker and debate have competition at their core and since they don't involve the physical use of the body in the ways football or basketball (to choose but a few examples) do, maybe people who are driven strictly towards competition but not towards the perfection of the body, or against the abuse of the body, lean towards them. I guess you could further say that they go to the opposite extreme of psychology and intelligence, but I wouldn't accept the argument from anyone else that athletics, especially competitive team sports, don't require those two attributes every bit as much as the NDT does. I think poker and debate both place some emphasis on "lying", though obviously without the connotations that word might regularly enjoy. That lying is employed to win, though for different reasons I think. Rarely in debate do you activiely attempt to bluff your opponent, though you may focus on some argument in the block when you actually intend to go for the 30 seconds of ASPEC in the 1NR. Instead your bluffs are usually involved in maintaining the truthfulness of an argument to a critic that you may actually believe or know to be false. Picking and choosing is important in both as well, from starting hands to starting arguments, you've got loose debaters who read 12 off all of which are crap, versus a couple more specific and quality debates.

Anyway, maybe I will come up with more to say on that subject at some point, I could even think of writing about it at some point, but not know. The only other item I really had to mention was that of Ricky Williams, who went all Robert Smith on the bit and retired from the NFL at the age of 27. I heard about this last sunday, which is apprently when it happened. I was in the car and heard them say as they came back from commercials "Ricky Williams has retired. Not the crappy washed up never any good Ricky Williams. The dread-locked Miami Dolphins Ricky Williams, who, oh yeah, plays in the same division as the Bills. We're taking your calls on that." I had my opinion on that issue then and I have thought and read about it a good bit more since. There are a number of factors which have gone into his decision, from the interviews he gave and such. Obviously the dude likes the ganj, you could have gathered that from the dreadlocks, the going to Texas, and the testing positive for marijuana three times. He has the time now to spend in Amsterdam and Thailand and Vancouver, some of the places he has apparently explicitly listed in his itinerary for the trip around the world. I have some sympathy for the argument that its not cool for him to let his teammates down at this point. Tell them now that this will be your last season, play it out, then retire. If you do it now you fuck your team over, they don't have much chance to sign a back of your quality (not that there is one available in the NFL) or even a true NFL starter. At least give them a chance to trade or draft someone, you have an offense which has no passing game to speak of (wait, the addition of the mighty AJ Feely...) and now starts Travis Miner, I'm glad I haven't had a fantasty draft yet.

Anyway, I have some respect for that argument. I have a tiny, almost miniscule non-existant respect for the other argument, well, a version of the other argument, psuedo-articulated by Mike Ditka on SportsCenter the other day. Ricky Williams is a motherfucker who pretty much has it all. He has a job millions of people in the country would kill for, that countless people want, try, and can't do. He is giving up, not only a huge amount of money, but one of the rarest opportunities on the planet and maybe its like the dude who quit on Survivor, its not okay to waste something you got to do that we didn't. That said this argument is easily defeated by the several true responses I have been dying to hear someone in the media articulate. In the first place, Ricky didn't get lucky for any of this, he worked his fucking ass off. I mean, yes, he is physically gifted, he has a perfectly built body for a running back, his natural muscle mass is enormous, and he's fast. Those things said he has trained about as hard as anyone in the world, played a game which requires non-stop attention to his body, puts him through constant pain, and isn't easy on the mental side of things either. He earned it, he wasn't chosen out of a hat.

More importantly, dude wasn't happy. Everyone who knew him has said that he had problems, he had issues, he didn't want to do this for his whole life, he has always felt constrained by the football lifestyle, and that he wasn't able to lead the life he wanted. Admittedly, he didn't handle it as well as Robert Smith and he probably isn't doing it for the primarily intellectual reasons, but still, he wasn't happy. One of the things I have always really respected about my father was the courage it must have taken to go finish college, and go to law school as a 40ish year old man with a wife and family. Three school age kids, and more than a couple bills I'm sure. Most people I would imagine, me included more than the average folk given my propensity to go with the flizzle, would have toughed it out, at least for another three years. Maybe others would be convinced by the money, the respect, the not wanting to let people down. It takes alot to give something good up for something better, I like to hope that if someday I found a job I really loved and thought I could pull off, I would have the couage to follow my dad's example, but I don't think either half of that condition is about to be fulfilled.

All that said, Ricky has enough money, enough fame, and enough skill, to make sure this is not an issue. He will live incredibly comfortably, he will have a great trip around the world, smoke the finest varieties in all the land, and grow some of finest dreads this side of Jamaica. He doesn't give a fuck about my respect, nor do I know or like him enough to give hum any unconditional respect, but he has my props for getting out of a career which most people would never give up because its not what he needs. This is essentially a sidenote to the fact that I am uber-pumped for football season. Training camp baby.