Tuesday, September 20, 2005

California Here We Come, Right Back Where We Started Butt

This was the final weekend that we were debate commitment free for the year 2005. I mean, there are other weeks that we don't have tournaments, but everything begins in two days when we officially embark on the voyage to King's College. Anyway, we took advantage to do some reasonable normal human things. We went, for instance, to the mall on Saturday for a mercifully brief bout of shopping and a viewing of Reese Witherspoon's new film. It was somewhat more interesting than I thought it would be and since I've resigned myself to seeing all Reese Witherspoon's romantic comedies anyway, it wasnt bothersome. There were some sad parts and all, but mostly just fluffy and humorous. I did however realize that the previews they show with these films are not at all directed towards me. The Iron Range sexual harassment film with Charlize Theron and Woody Harrelson was the one I was most likely to see and that one really only because it is set in Minnesota and has Woody himself. I wanted to see this animated flick about birds that they were showing a preview for but then it turned out that it wasn't really a movie but just a fake promo to tell people to turn their cell phones off.

The lack of football on Saturday (I mean, it wasn't a total lack of football, but less than the previous week for certain) set me up for a football explosion on Sunday afternoon. The bar where we watched the Pack last week was less than adequate, since it was totally lacking in food, had a beer selection slightly below that of Shenanigans and was somehow less comfortable then just standing up. While all the games were on, we had horrible sound and low quality televisions with small screens to boot. So you would imagine my excitement in discovering this fact: Casino Niagara has erected (hehehehe) a SPORTSBOOK!!!!! That is correct, sports gambling is now legal in Ontario, at least Niagara Falls. Meaning that about 30 minutes away, when you include the bridge into Canada, I can watch my Packers play on this:

That is part of the 6 plasma screen TVs and two larger screen HDTVs that compose the primary TV wall which was, on this wonderful Sunday afternoon, full of the NFL's best. Well, there were some technical glitches and for a little while one of the plasma TVs was for some reason on a rerun of Just Shoot Me. The rest of the time it was good though. There was also a wholly seperate racebook area and at least 5 random plasma screens scattered around the seating area. The chairs were pretty comfortable where we were sitting, there was a tasty cheap food assortment, and while I am too poor for it now, there is sports gambling, which is an even cooler way to lose money than poker. BTW, they also opened a poker room, which means there are three places to play cards within a half hour of my apartment, at least one of which has 2-4 hold em tables, and thats in Canadian dollars.

Again the Packers lost, but that really doesnt come as much of a surprise at this point, since they suck. It doesnt help that we lost Brett's new go to guy for the year, but thats beside the point. I've adopted an attitude which makes watching the games pretty much just as enjoyable as always, and that is this: I just want to watch Favre play well. If I get to watch #4 throw for some touchdowns and enjoy the game, than Sundays are worthwhile. He looked good in the 2nd half this week, after the two interceptions, one of which was a fluke, but his fault, and the other, which was about half his fault and half the facft that Ferguson hadn't expected to be the new speed-honcho and hence, was not ready to get the Walker-like fade route. While one of the touchdowns was an all but pointless almost game ending drive, it was still a good time. The rest of the NFC North sucked potentially even harder though, with the VIkings taking it from Cinci and Daunte looking like he did 3 years ago. Might put the Moss trade into perspective.

Beyond that I am writing and thinking about debate and trying to get all ramped up for the first tournament of the year. I've put out some decent arguments and I think we could have a quality season opener. Hippo is not excited about us leaving for the weekend, but she is very excited about the fact that she has made a good amount of Persian friends on her new catster account.



Friday, September 16, 2005

I Know That You're Gonna Have it Your Way or Nothing At All, But I Think You're Moving Too Butt

The summer reality shows are winding down and it has not been the best season ever. Thats not a diss on the programs, since Big Brother and Rockstar (the two most noteworthy certainly) are both deserving of their respective props. I was too broken up when last writing to mention that Jordis Unga, the queen of rock and roll, was completely fucked over by the boys of INXS, not to mention the voters, who I think are being unfairly dominated by Australian bastards which would be the only possible explanation for Mig's success. Yeah, the night he did Peter Frampton was good, but besides that he is a Russian fighter jet who is 100% mediocre. It won't color their old music for me, but I'm not listening to any new stuff if they choose Mig. J.D, while an asscock, is at least a talented and livewire-y artsy asscock. Mig has nothing going for him besides 1) the fact that when he played the lead in Grease, they prolly didnt need any wardrobe or makeup and 2) he could also be a circus ringleader.

Anyway, Jordis rocked out, with a quality version of We Are The Champions and a original that she wrote with Marty. I know people loved J.D.'s original and it has grown on me now that its been on the show 4 damn times, but I think Jordis singing "baby, baby" over and over to a decent tune beats it every time and there was absolutely no doubt that Marty's "Trees" was better. It sounded, in ways, like great early 90s grunge rock, the first genre of music I really truly loved. Regardless, the point is, we miss you Jordis. Whenever I am next in the TC I will be on the look out for Jordis Unga. She was one of my favorite reality contestants of all time, not just cuz she was from St. Paul, not just cuz I can totally imagine running into her at the Turf some night, not just becuz dredlocks are hawt. She just rocked all around. We miss you Jordis.

Tonight was a funeral ceremony for the other great reality woman of the summer, though she was only my second favorite member on the show. Yep, Janelle took it on the chin when Ivette, who if it were not for Jan's girlfriend/wife, would have less reason to exist than anyone else in the universe, won the final HoH. I should also note that while Katie disputes my claim that April is the dumbest houseguest in history, there is no doubt that Ivette is in that conversation. She confirmed it by selecting--despite, mind you, constantly reminding all of us how much her family could use the money to the point that I kinda want to shoot her family in the head out of general principle (not her girlfriend though, whose comment that she liked Janelle and thought Cappy was a tool made my night a couple weeks ago)--Maggie to accompany her to the final two and solidifying her complete inability to win. If she only loses 6-1 she did well with this jury. Reality TV for the fall has just begun, with Survivor's inagural Mayan adventure this thursday, but I will withhold comment until I can remember at least a couple people's names.

Had a nice conversation with one of my professors this week who was more optimisitic for my options on the job market than anyone else has been. He confirmed for me that even in the event of an unusccesful search I would get some quality experiences out of the deal, so I think all is going according to plan. Other things are falling into place too, since the convos I've had with debaters seem to be yielding fruit and the article I have been writing about CSI: NY is within about 2 hours or so of completion. It turned out better than I expected, actually, I impress myself. Writing critically about TV rocks, btw. I wish there was a Cultural Studies and Television department out there somewhere, cuz I would pwn.

We made some really tasty jumbalaya a bit ago and I am still coming down from a shrimp-sausage-okra induced high. I swear to God that Tops has been stocking fresh okra every time I have been in the produce department until the one night I actually intended to buy it. The canned stuff is fine, but I don't believe I've ever cooked with fresh and it would've been fun to try. I spose living in Minneapolis and Buffalo hasn't put me in the fresh-okra belt of the country, but I've stayed away from a good deal of racist rednecks too I suppose. Thats prolly not really fair to the South, since while they've gotten to avoid a tremendous number of hideous Ole and Lena jokes, they've prolly never had legitimately incredible sweet corn. Though there is no freaking comparison between okra and sweet corn, so thats not really fair to the midwest. Fact of the matter, the Midwest is cooler than the South, and the fact that I have never really been anywhere more Southern than St. Louis, Lexington, or Charlotte does not affect that fact. I mean, even KC has great barbecue. This paragraph turned out way more vicious than I intended it to. It reminds me of one of Mitch Hedberg's old joke (RIP Mitch): "I wrote a letter to my dad and I wanted to write "Dear Dad, I really enjoyed being here" but I screwed up and accidentally wrote "rarely" instead of "really." But I didnt want to start over so I just wrote "I rarely drive steamboats, Dad. There's alot of shit you don't know about me. I know this letter took a real harsh turn from the start."

Hippo always loves that one. Right now, for instance, she laughed and purred at the same time, which resulted in her snorting. Hella cute.



Tuesday, September 13, 2005

And it Seems to Me, You Lived Your Life, Like a Candle in the Butt

Its been a long week, busy with lots of stuff to do and the like. That was extraordinarily descriptive I got ya. Maybe a little more detail would be reasonable.

School is in full swing, my class is going well and though it through my writing off track for a couple days, I have recovered at this point. I will, in the very near future be getting my first real doses of response and commentary on the 100 or so pages I have written in these 4 odd months, so hopefully my hopes and dreams will not be completely crushed. I have also almost fully completed the essay I've proposed on the subject of CSI: NY. The students I have are all remarkably engaged and have gotten some great ideas articulated. I'm really excited about the prospect of discussion with people who entered the class out of a genuine interest in the its subject matter, or at least the idea of literature in general, as opposed to a segment of the general college population which is forced into discussing something which has at best a marginal high-school like relevance. I also am crazy about the idea of reading and grading real papers and doing it on the basis of argument quality instead of logistical crap. We will finish our first book this week and move up the ladder including some theory in the next set. While I may never be confident in my job/economic prospects, I can say witha good amount of confidence that I am a pretty solid teacher.

Debate is also in full swing. We had the first meeting with all the novices yesterday and will leave for Kings College 9 days from now. I'm actually somewhat excited about the prospects for this season, I'm not completely sold on the activity in all its forms yet, but actively coaching again at least reminds me of the things I was originally obsessive about way back in the day and at least on and off during my coaching career. I've got a quality aff mostly written, though it doesnt appear anyone wants to run it, and I'm sure I'll have some quality neg arguments as the year unfolds. Debate was very different when I had the China topic before, but it at least gives me some perspective. I would imagine that competitive impulses will kick in the first time one of my teams gets an outround panel and as fantasy football this weekend reminded me, competition can add a good bit of cayenne to even the most bland weekend in Wilkes-Barre (which, despite all ya-lls fucking overinsistance, is prounced Wilkes-BAR).

Football too, as just mentioned, is back underway. My random Buffalo people team dominated, with Payton Manning and the Colts D coming up strong and I won by about 35 points. The more important league was tragic, as I appeared to be coming back, but succumbed at the last moment to the vicious combo of Warrick Dunn and Alge Crumpler. I got a ridiculous performance by the Bills Defense but an afternoon of serious pain inflicted on the Packers meant that Brett produced only 2 points and indeed, I fell 73 to 75. The Packers game could get a rant of its own, but I will spare all of us the tragedy. Suffice to say that while my pre-season thoughts tended to the 8-8 or 7-9 area, missing the playoffs to what I had expected to be at least a decent Viqueens squad. While after watching a truly pitiful performance against the Lions to open the season and acknowledging the devestating loss of Javon Walker I am prepared to guess something closer to 5-11 or 6-10, I'm not at all confident that Daunte is ready to make a run at the NFC North. I havent really been in "no chance for the Pack" mode for a while, so it might take me a couple weeks to fully adjust, I promise I'll be cool.

TV is also back and I can't explain to you how radical a development that is. We've gotten the premiere of The OC last week and some quality Fox programs, including Prison Break which is so far fascinating and additionally has the great privilege of featuring Marti Noxon. I'm not gonna say that its "this season's Lost" two episodes in, but it has similar qualities. Further TV reviews are on indefinate hold, at least until BB6 winds down and Survivor kicks off with 2 big surprises in the form of returning important castaways. We're back to the time of year where the DVR can really get backed up, so we've got to do some preventative maintenance.

Anyway, I will try to say hey more often this week. Nonethless, Hippo, the neat-freak of a kitten that she is, really wants me to clear the dinner dishes, so I should obey her persistant meows.



Monday, September 05, 2005

I'll Be Your Number One With a Bullet, A Loaded God Complex Cock It and Pull Butt

To quote my good friend Joe Bialek "Happy Birthday Labor Movement." This year labor day was essentially not holiday-related in any capacity, but I should admit that I have very ambigious relations with it in general. As a holiday which generally celebrates the end of the most incredibly rampant forms of worker abuse in this country, I am wholeheartedly pro. As someone who will always identify as a student in Minnesota schools, Labor Day was more the last day of freedom going into another year. My mother made us breakfast in bed every Labor day afternoon, which while not elaborate, at least attempted to make up for the fact that for the next 180 odd days we would be scrambling for pop-tarts on a mad rush towards either St. Joes or RHS. Surprisingly enough, for someone who has pretty much chosen to make a career out of the school-year, I always loathe the first Tuesday after the first Monday in September. Even though it hasn't been the last day of summer in my life for a number of years, it still feels like a sign that there is a long way to go before the relief of summer kicks back in.

Last week was a little rough on a number of fronts, though I think I may be recovering from at least one of them, that being an overwhelming fear that I will never have a job, default on all my loans, drag Katie, Hippo, and myself into the gutter, so that we have to stay with my parents while I work my way back up the ladder at Wal-Mart and hit night classes at a St. Paul law school. It didnt take me long, after the panic mode had evaporated of course, to recognize that if that is my worst case situation, I should buck-the-fuck-up, since I could be far worse off than having a number of quality safety nets and at the very least a Master's degree at 25. I remain unsure about: 1) My potential to ever get a job in any context at any academic level, from high school to community college to Ivy League Univiersity--I suspect that even with a Master's, some decent grades and the like, I could get a gig teaching composition at Inver Hills after a couple years, but regardless 2) My decision to work in academia in the first place--my justification had always been that it constituted a compromise between things that I thought I could tolerate and things that I could make a living doing. I think I may have gone a little far in one direction, since I would kill to be at the point where I had passed the bar and getting a job in any random field of law. By no means am I suggesting that passing the bar or going through law school is an easy process or that I would rather be in that position. I'm simply saying that the end result, with a much greater chance at job security and the ability to pay off rapidly maturing student loans, would rock and already be in sight.

I'm in 2 fantasy football leagues, one a random EPSN assortment, the other includes some old school RHS and house homies scattered across the country. In the former league I got Peyton Manning, Javon Walker, Nate Burleson, and Antonio Gates, but am considerably lower on the running back front. In both leagues I have LaMont Jordan, but in the Wilking League he plays third fiddle to Priest Holmes and #4. I still have to determine some starting lineup questions, but in general am confident in my lineups. The latter team is a bit weaker on wideouts, lead by Reggie Wayne and one of three middle-sector players, but probably Eric Moulds. I like my chances in both my week one match-ups, assuming everyone is healthy as expected.

Because of what has variously been described as a shitstorm, clusterfuck, or tomfoolery and skullduggery we were forced to have the friend draft on instant messenger rather than the espn live draft function. That meant that not only did people not keep track of the players who had and had not been drafted (unlike me, who was smart enough to paste a list of the top 300 NFL players into a word document and delete them as they left) but resulted in some odd picks: Daunte Culpepper at #3 overall, the first defense in Round 5, the Vikings defense at all, much less in Round 7. Regardless, it should be good times.

Hippo is excited for this Thursday: her first full season of two extremely important events begin--The NFL regular schedule and The O.C. Maybe those of you who didnt spend the summer obsessed with Imogen Heap as a result of season 2's final moments or live in expectation of one of Favre's final campaigns aren't as excited. Nonetheless, in the words of my persian kitty, "MEOW MEOW READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL MEOW PURR O.C. PARTY!!!"



Saturday, September 03, 2005

Who's Gonna Talk To Me on the Phone Until the Sun Comes Butt

Since you cant't speak blgowise without referene to the New Orleans shitty, I will do so briefly. Katie and I talked for an hour or so last night, during time we should have spent watching So You Think You Can Dance, having a psuedo-theoretical argument about some of the issues involved. It was somewhat a variant of a conversation we had earlier about Survivor and the myth that informs it. Regardless.

As far as I can tell, there are three things that Katrina has been compared to: 9/11 and Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, and the Tsunami. I have nothing to say regarding 9/11 and Pearl Harbor for the most part. There is certainly more damage and more people immediately effected by the hurricaine than by these two events combined. The lasting damage on the American psyche or the state of world affairs is prolly significantly less, but judge it as you will. My thoughts concerned primarily the statement: This must be what Hiroshima looked like 60 years ago (rough paraphrase). The importance here, it seems to me, is the emphasis on the two cities looking the same. It should be noted, first of all, that this claim is bullshit because the cities look nothing the same. Here, for instance is New Orleans

Its still fucking horrible, its a disaster of amazing proportions. Here are even some better before and after shotsLots of shit is destroyed. This, however, is a before and after of Hiroshima.

The discusison Katie and I had was more or less about whether or not that comparison, were it to be even bordering on accurate, would be problematic. Katie's argument, obviously a good one, centers around the fact that the atomic bomb was of course a human inflicted tragedy, which makes any comparison with a natural disaster merely an attempt to soothe our own guilt. I think it actually has more to do with attempting to reconcile natural fury, which we couldn't control even if we did bother to prepare for it, devote the resources, etc. with the worst examples of violence we as humans can inflict on each other, a futile attempt to assert that we're not powerless. Regardless, what I find interesting in this is that there are similar criticisms of the comparisons with the tsunami. I'm not a complete idiot, I'm well aware that even with the worst estimates existing now roughly 20 times as many people died as result of the tsunami then will the hurricaine, and millions more were affected. To me the most interesting point is that the disasters in terms of their potential scale were prolly somewhat similar: the difference is in our ability to respond. Even though this is going down as "the worst natural disaster in American history" according to the majority of media coverage, the fact that we have the infastructure, the money, the awareness, to limit the scope is incredible. This is the American equivalent of the Indonesian-area-tsunami and thats not an insult to the third world or a claim to our exceptional status: it demonstrates how fucking outrageous the gap is. Not to mention, as so many others have said better than I, the split between the primarily white, primarily upper-middle class residents who got out of the city, and the primarily poor, laregely non-white population still stranded. There are more things to say, but I haven't thought through them quite enough at this point.

Haven't said anything since Katie's birthday was on its way. Its all in the rearview now, I think she liked her presents. She got alot of nice correspondence from friends and fam, some clothes, some shoes, all around products. While I had planned on giving her a nice relaxing birthday all around, we ended up spending the majority of the afternoon and evening shopping for her final birthday present, which currently resides in the parking lot, since it is a brand new Toyota Camry.

Before extolling the virtues of the new car, let me give a brief shout out to the old one, cuz it is well deserved. I bought the original Mazda in the summer of 2000, it was about a year old, but to me it was essentially a new car. I picked it up with my dad, both because I knew nothing about the purchase of a car, and because his signature was essential to the securing of a loan in the first place. I left the parking lot, lit a cigarette, and headed for the McDs drive thru. I spent the majority of my time in that car smoking and eating, through in reality, for the years I spent that car, I spent alot of my time smoking and eating. Andy had burned the upholstery with a positive ass within the first 2 hours of my possession. I drove to my house for part of the afternoon, but the first real destination I had in that ride was the House. It spent alot of time parked out front there as it did in front of the Blake school, where some jackass broke into and attempted to steal my car, that being the most significant trauma it went through. I lost all my music during that event, but it mattered not too much, since the CD player began to be fussy very soon afterwards. I essentially lived out of that car during my junior and senior years in college: I ate there, sltored my books and clothes in the trunk/backseat, I slept there, I read, worked, etc. It was a great ride. I drove it to my first date with Katie, I drove it to Mac the day I got married, it was the first car Hippo ever rode in, I drove that car back from the airport after dropping Kaitie off at the Buffalo airport, the first time in my life I was ever really alone. There were some logistical problems, but it was a great car and it deserves to be remembered as such. After 140,300 miles, the transmission had had it, and it had to be retired. Thanks for the memories.

So on our final ride with the Mazda we headed over to the Toyota dealership down the street and managed to finagle what I figured was a pretty good deal on a pretty sweet car. We paid less than the actual trade value, we got more for the trade in than we rightfully deserved, we got some good rebates and discounts, and a car payment about 80 bucks a month less than what they originally proposed to us. I don't consider myself much of a negoiator, but I told them what I could afford, they got within 10 bucks/mo of it, and, since we wanted/needed the car, we took it. Its one step up from the baseline model, it has some power seat action, steering-wheel radio controls, and a wicked freezing ac. I am happy with it, hopefully it will treat us even better than the Mazda did.

Two final notes: one sad and one happier. Geezer (my dog) passed away today. He was a really great guy and had been with us a long time. I am very sad that he is gone, but glad that he isn't in pain. I spent alot of time on the front porch with Geez, sat next to him on the couch watching football, and once got frostbite chasing him through the snow. I remember the day we brought him home and I remember the last time I petted him when we left my mom's house this summer. Love ya Geez.

A happy animal note: we went to the zoo today and got to feed a giraffe. There's a really cute picture of Katie talking to the giraffe, but I am too lazy to upload it now. Rest assured, we had fun at the zoo. Hippo was sad that she couldn't come and see her friends the snow leopards, who were very playful, but she sent her meows.