Wednesday, November 23, 2005

One Thing I'm Sure of, I'm in the Deep Freeze, Cold Turkey Has Got Me on the Butt

It’s almost Thanksgiving and I am officially excited. I think I’ve done all the prep work I am gonna do before the morning, that includes brining the turkey, prepping the bread for the stuffing, cleaning the kitchen, shopping for wine and produce, and now am kicking back, waiting just a bit for the proper time to open my first Sierra Nevada Celebration of the season. It ain’t Summit Winter but it’s a damn tasty beer and certainly the best winter brew available to me at the Lockport Tops.

Our meal tomorrow is gonna be incredibly good, I believe. I am adapting my turkey technique slightly, based on an article in Bon Appetit and another in Gourmet. That joins with the traditional roasting maneuvers we all know and love alongside Alton Brown’s classic episode “Romancing the Bird.” I’m following that up with Sausage Stuffing with Carmelized Onions and Leeks. Then a White Cheddar Butternut Squash Gratin, which I think looks incredible. We have the mashed taters, turkey gravy, and Katie’s incredible fresh rolls. She is attempting to outdo her own baking expertise with a chocolate pecan pie, which I can already taste. I’m making some white cheddar puffs with green onions as an appetizer, really just because I was concerned that otherwise Katie me and Hippo, with our 14 pound turkey, would not have enough to eat. My hope is that this is the last Thanksgiving we will not have people enjoying our tasty feast with us, and I think that is distinctly possible.

Jean-Luc Nancy, author of, among many other notable books and articles, The Inoperative Community, came to Buffalo yesterday. It was probably the biggest event the department has had since Žižek was here, almost three years ago. I thought there were probably in the area of 150 or so people there, a couple other people I talked to estimated between 120-175, which is a pretty big deal for a free lecture on “Church, State, Resistance.” I know people were in attendance from New York, Toronto, and Rochester, but my guess is there were a couple from other areas as well. It was his only stop on this North American tour, which I suppose makes it not much of a North American tour. Regardless, despite some really odd questions, it was pretty sweet to see him speak. Hippo told me that she jives with a lot of his argument about the constitutive nature of the separation between church and state, but I got more out of the discussions of political theology. Very cool though.

In just a couple hours the greatest holiday of the year begins. This will be Ms. Hippo’s first celebration of football, food, and alcohol as a Baxter-Kauf. She is not quite as excited for the large bird as I am, but purring in anticipation none the less.



Well We're Movin' On Up, To the East Side, To a Deluxe Apartment, In the Butt

I started writing on blurty a long time ago and to be honest, I did it simply because it was the first free journal thing I found. While I am obviously not tremendously technologically inclined in general, the fact of the matter is that virtually every new internet-related device is built to interact with blogger. Google has a bunch of applications, Flickr is linked into it, and the list goes on. I guess my point is this. I hadn't switched over cuz I am far too lazy, a problem that Katie solved. So after a good amount of her long boring work, I give you:

Dizneuce Redux

Yep, my wife and cat go and I am soon to follow. Meaning every creature I am aware of with the last name "Baxter-Kauf" has a message like this on their original blog as we speak. Kinda sweet I spose. All the archives have moved and are now prolly kinda searchable. Also sweet. Hippo approves, since Katie did some consulting for her too.



Saturday, November 19, 2005

For You I Know I'd Even Try To Turn the Tide, Because You're Mine, I Walk the Butt

We've had an incredibly ridiculously normal suurban weekend. Since there was no debate tournament we got to avoid spending our Friday-Sunday driving vans full of college students to college towns in the NorthEast and butchering pop-culture philosphy in relation to human rights questions, and instead, go on a date of sorts. I'm generally a very chill-at-home sort of guy. We have tivo and hbo/showtime as well as pay per view, so I don't need to go to movies for enjoyable entertainment. I think the fact that I spend so many weekends in various Econolodges and other meh-ish motel chains means that I want to enjoy my couch and remote control when I get the chance. Still, the upcoming holidays encouraged us to leave Hippo by herself for a Friday night.

The stage for that evening began to be set the night before, when Thursday ushered in our first lake-effect snowstorm of the season. It was beauftiul and sunny when I left the house for class on Thursday morning, around 8. The radio began to read a list of schools that were closed and I literally laughed out loud, assuming it was a joke based on the uncharacteristically mild fall-winter season we've had. Apparently though, as the cars in the UB parking lot testified, about 10 miles South of school, it was coming down in sheets. Every school in the "Southtowns" had been closed, as well as at least some of the community colleges in the downtown Buffalo area. It was apparently 6-ish inches of blowing snow since midnight, so nothing to scoff at. The band of precipitation didn't hit us until late that afternoon as Hippo and I plugged away at our analysis of "Kant avec Sade." I know that snow can be annoying, it can cause bad driving conditions, slow you down, etc. But fundamentally, I kinda like the snow. It looks cool and generally makes even pointlessly ugly parts of landscape fairly pretty.

I had to go in for a lecture on Friday, a very good one actually, though the turnout was less than I would have imagined. After some cleaning and grooming and the like, we left home around 6:30 on our way to the Red Lobster. I know RedLob is far from fine cuisine, but they do rock the unlimited shrimp boat pretty hard and I was in an all you can eat shrimp sort of mood. While I admit that their cocount shrimp is fundamentally no better than anyone else's coconut shrimp, their dipping sauce has a sweetness that no other one in my experience can match. Its like shrimp frosting, delicious. We were keeping up the long-standing Baxter-Kauf tradition of seeing Reese Withersppon movies on opening weekend, so we braved the Harry Potter crowds to see Walk the Line.

I had predicted that it was a good night to go to a movie that wasn't Harry Potter, and I was really dead on. a number of great things ensued: 1) our neighborhood Regal theater has an ATM/ticket buying machine in the lobby, which I adore. I just choose my movie and the number of tickets, run my card through, and it spits them to me. I have no idea why people were waiting in line for a teller when two of these machines were wide open on the side of the lobby, but as long as morons continue to populate Western New York by the assload I will take advantage. My only thought is that people were actually buying their movie tickets with cash. I think that the use of cash at virtually any establishment which isn't a bar or a hot dog cart is pretty ridiculous these days and although the Buffalo/Lockport area has improved drastically since I've been here, I'm still blown away by the idea that there are businesses that don't use them. Anyway, the good thing was simply that I got to skip by the line and buy tickets from a machine. 2) The lobby was divided in two: half for the Harry Potter fanboys/girls and half for the rest of us. That meant we got our own concessions with really short lines, we didnt have to stand with the people dressed as Dumbledore, and didnt have to interact with all the children up way past their bedtime. Seriously, the popcorn challenge in the HP pen was probably 5-10 minutes, I had one person in front of me. They were jammed in shoulder to shoulder and some of them had without question been there for an hour or more. 3) Our theater was way less full than a movie with this kind of buzz should be on an opening Friday. I don't think the movie is gonna have any problems, but at least some of the crowd was probably deterred by the snow and the over-representation of wizards. I could put my feet up on the seat in front of me, my jacket on the seat beside me, and not worry about anyone finding the necessary amount of seats. This was a 9:00 show too, I might add, not exactly out of primetime.

Unrelated to the Harry Potter situation, but still awesome, was the movie itself. I expected good things, especially since I am a fan of both Johnny Cash and bio-pics. I had read good things, since Katie had directed me towards a couple solid reviews. Still, I was very impressed. Joaquin Phoenix is legitimately incredible, with both quality acting and incredible singing. I mean, really, dude is legitimately good in addition to sounding an incredible amount like Johnny Cash. Going for the music alone would not be a poor choice. There are even a couple scenes where the camerawork and editing were brilliant and unexpected. Some of the things Katie read suggested that Phoenix was overshadowed by Reese Witherspoon's work as June. Her voice was good, a really hawt Southern twang, and she's good in the role. But on no level that I was aware of could she be said to outshine Wah-keen. Regardless, you should go see Walk the Line.

This morning I felt like Frank the Tank, when I woke up and Katie and I decided to run some errands. We had to go to Wal-Mart, Home Depot, the grocery store, maybe Bed Bath and Beyond. I don't know, I don't know if there'll be enough time. Seriously though, it was totally suburban couple-dom par excellence, buying shelving at the Home Depot, ice-scrapers and gravy seperators, and having lunch at Panera. I don't think I'm risking the little bit of indie-cred I had in the first place by confessing to all this. But maybe I should listen to Lifter Puller or something, just to be safe.

Hippo and Katie are napping on the couch at the moment, so I can't pretend that Hippo is demanding I go and play. I can, however, simply turn my attention back to the Iron bowl. Hippo does love her SEC football.



Thursday, November 17, 2005

Raw Metaphysically Bold, Never Followed a Code, Still Dropped a Butt

I am thinking that the crew at the Colbert Report has the same challenge creating a new intro that uses the word truth every day as I have with my blog. Of course, they're daily and I am semi-weekly at best. At the same time, I'm much more restrictive about where the word itself fits in the whole thing. It can only replace a one syllable word and has to come at the end of a lyric, prolly stuff that is patently obvious. I don't really have the same sarcastic self promotion comedy bit down Colbert style, but maybe I will start working on it.

Last weekend featured two different debate tournaments: Wake and UMass. The former is a the season's biggest tournament, is long, complicated, stressful (I would imagine), and filled with the best teams in the country. The latter is one of the smallest tournaments of the year, elongated on Saturday but generally concise, the most laid back thing this side of napping on a Sunday afternoon, and essentially having only novice and junior varsity teams. Since neither Ken, Gordie, or myself, had any desire to make our way to North Carolina, Katie took a hit for the team with the top two teams and the rest of us rolled to Amherst, Mass. We made killer time on a beautiful day, arriving before 8:00 at the most expensive Howard Johnson in the country. We hung out with some folks from Vermont, watched a good amount of The Wizard of Oz on TBS, cut some cards, blah blah blah. Saturday's rounds didn't start until 8:30, which gave us a nice respite. Leaving the hotel at 7:45, rather than 7:00 on the dot, makes a huge difference.

Besides all those qualities I also got to see Maggie, who came down with a JV team from Dartmouth. It was actually half an open team and a raw novice, but you get the point. I haven't really talked to her at all since Blake last year, but I always enjoy trading stories of high school and onwards. Thats not even to mention the fact that having her around gave my teams the chance to be judged by her and consequently get an rfd from someone I respect without any reservations. There are a number of people in this region I conditionally think is a good judge, people who can comment on at least some things with authority, whose comments and/or decisions are probably more accurate marks of what happened in the round than the debaters, for instance. There are probably even a couple whom I cannot imagine disagreeing with, but I just haven't known them for that long or had anywhere near enough discussions with them. I haven't coached Maggie for 5 years now and I'm not trying to simply be a "great, late elims at the NDT debater=great judge sort of person, but I have confidence that she will give my students comments pretty near to the same ones I would have provided, which is invaluable when I'm among the only ones who doesn't start the RFD with "I usually think topicality is evil." We talked during lunches and breaks and the like, she also came over to our HoJo on Saturday night.

Outside of Maggie and the less than difficult schedule, the weekend was still alright. We had alot of people debating for the first or second time, alot of others debating a division higher than they are used to. Still managed to clear half the teams we brought, including the wonder novice squad in their first tournament as JVers and a 6-0 JV team. The drive home was just as easy as the trip out, but with a decent conversation amongst the Merk, Heroin, and myself. Nicknames on the squad have progressed a little bit over the past couple weeks, but a substantial portion of the team is still referred to by their first name. It just doesn't seem right for a team atmosphere, maybe I'm still stuck in sports mode or something, but I don't think I called anyone who hung out in the Loo by their Christian names either. Gordie's analysis, that every squad needs at least a Sparky and a Pepper, really rings true for me. Pepper just hasn't fit with anyone as well as Strategery or Team Crack+Smack, still half a year to go.

OMG aim has launched these two stupid bot things that you can ask questions of and get movie and shopping info. Its especially stupid because its less convenient than just going to any of a million websites that contain the same information in better packaging and easier to search functions, but that is beyond the point. The point is that I was playing around saying rude things to the bots and seeing how they might respond. First, I might note, it is humorous. Secondly, if you pretend that you are just talking to Andy and type the word "balls" you get two movie hits: Balls of Fury and Guys and Balls. I will see these movies just for their titles. Without question. One is a terrible looking film about ping pong, which does feature Lt. Dangle from Reno 911 and the other a German flick which appears to be a gay male romantic comedy. I was certain they were both pr0n until they showed up on imdb. If I was a movie producer I would simply insert the word balls into every title. It would be so awesome to have pre-built authority or responsibility without having to go through the whole "earning it" phase, cuz I have some awesome ideas.

Hippo appears to have an awesome idea of her own: stop typing on your blog and get my freaking bag of catnip down from the cupboard.



Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Time Doesn't Wait, It Will Only Accelerate, As the Days and the Months, and the Years Go Butt

I should probably finish up the whole Eugene thing, since its been weeks since I came back. I'm not gonna detail every moment of the trip, since I don't remember them that specifically and it would bore you even more than the regular blog reading thing. We had good times at a couple bars: one was a lesbian joint that which Sanjay did not realize was a lesbian joint until the night he entered it sober, the other notable one was Max's, which apparently is the inspiration for Moe's tavern on the Simpsons. It certainly does have similarities in terms of the rough set up of the bar and is at least cited by several online sources as the inspiration. Wikipedia disagrees while Maxim argues that it is at least partially responsible. Regardless, we had a couple beers. Andy also convinced me to play erotic memory on the Touch Maxx bar video game thing, which I endulged since he was driving and not drinking at all. Not to mention that I fucking wasted him at it, cuz I have a way better erotic memory. Other brief mentions: ate breakfast at a pretty sweet hipster diner joint with great hashbrowns and biscuits and gravy, for the first time I successfully won a game of Risk based on the Siam at all costs strategy, came in 2nd to Jimmy in both poker tournaments we played, and tried a bunch of high quality local beers. My favorite was the Terminal Gravity IPA, a tasty hoppy beer with a pretty dark finish. The beer selection at just the grocery store was incredible, it made the Tops out here, a store probably 3 times the size of the market we were in, look like a case of Bud Light and a couple 40s of IceHouse. Not that its much more than that anyway, but you get the drift. There were probably 30+ various ales that I had never tried in just this cooler, so I can't imagine what the really "great" beer selections in Oregon look like.

On Sunday afternoon, sometime after both the Vikings and Packers had their weekly losses solidly in the bag, we jumped in Andy's car for a trip down to the Oregon coast. It was actually the first time I had ever been to the Pacific Ocean. We walked out onto these jettys, and by jettys I mean big piles of rocks that extend a ways into the ocean. We had a good time out there, but I could not in any way make it out all the way to the end. At some point we got from "rocky ground" to just "big rocks stacked on one another." I could probably have gone all the way out, given a bunch of time, more suitable clothing, and less fear of death. At some point though, I decided to stop. I have never been the most co-ordinated of gentlefolk and it would have surprised me not at all had I fallen, smashed my head open and/or twisted the hell out of my ankle. I stopped not only in the interest of my health, but in the interest of the near impossibility of my getting back to the car in the event of such a situation. Regardless, it was a beautiful afternoon, even without the sun. There were some crazy fools surfing just beyond one of the largest beaches I've personally ever seen. The drive there had been directly through the mountains and I really can't explain how much I like the combination of mountains and water. If I have to spend my life outside Minnesota I would drastically prefer it to be somewhere with those elements.

We had our best food that night at the Bridgewater Restaurant, right on the coast. Sanjay had a delightful Halibut Parmesan while Andy opted for the traditional but still delightful fish and chips. I myself took advantage of my geography to chow down on some grilled oysters. Andy didn't appreciate their freshness and oceany flavor, but I loved it. We had a full dinner, with some tasty dessert, a couple drinks and so on. The clam choweder was also great, especially the bowl we got covered with cheese and peppers. It wasn't the best chowder I have ever eaten, but its certainly the best I've eaten outside of Massachusets. We still managed to get back to the apartment before the West Wing started and got to catch the Bills blow a late game lead to the evil Pats. The flight home was alright, though it had to go through both freaking Cincinnati and Atlanta. The Portland airport has free WiFi, while parts of Atlanta don't appear to have access at all, which seems impossible for an airport that size. I had tasty chili in Cinci, at the Gold Star, a chili joint which I had seen on the food network a while back. They wanted very much to refer to it as "Cincinnati style chili" since it is served on spaghetti. I was cool with their use of the terms "Three way, Four Way, and Five way" though I snickered as I read the menu. But growing up in a family that was at least half Wisconsin born and bred, chili on spaghetti is just chili. Maybe its the same thing Chicago style hot dogs if you are from the Windy city, I don't know.

I was having a discussion the other day about how I think every significant sized city in the country should be required to develop its own specialty food. It just makes travel and eating so much easier when you are out of town. It can be really easy if you have some sort of proximity to where specific foods are grown or made or harvested or whatever that would work fine, if not, just choose something and run with it. Its not like they raise special cheesesteak cattle in Philly for God's sake. You could pretty much just choose your favorite sandwich, build some carts to scatter on important street corners, and convince local restaurants to start braggin that they have the best. Even if they don't, to start with, give any area with 100,000 or more people the desire to build the best tuna salad and you will probably end up with some freaking delicious sandwiches. Every city doesn't even have to have a unique food, Chicago and New York both claim pizza and hot dogs after all. It would just make regional travel way cooler if I knew that I was looking for the best corn dog in Amherst, Massachusets or could count on a great batch of waffles in Ithaca.

Regardless, at the end of my descriptions of the trip to Eugene I wanted to add a public shout out to Andy and Sanjay, as well as Sarah, for the comfort and the great times. Hippo wanted to add that she enjoyed having the house to herself but would appreciate my bag being spiked with catnip before I came home.



Sunday, November 06, 2005

Paid My Dues, In the Mood, Me and The Girls Gonna Shake the Butt

I should start this discussion by noting that the Packers suck. I am aware of that fact, fully aware, and have been saying as such even before the season. Losing your first three runningbacks doesn't help, along with half your o-line and a couple receivers. Those things are neither here nor there however, since my point is merely this: we are precisely just a little bit worse than whomever we play in a given week. Brett played pretty well this week, though his stats don't reflect it. 200 odd yards and an INT isn't hideous (its more passing yards then the Bills starter has recorded in almost 2 seasons, a fact the local sports rubes attribute even more laughability to then I do) especially when you consider that the interception literally bounced off Driver's hands. It was a first down that hit him dead on and in stride before he bumped it into the air volleyball style for the Steeler's secondary. Brett didn't play perfectly, coughed up a fumble that was returned for a touchdown and threw an incomplete pass when he could have easily run for a first down. Those are both things you have to live with when you play #4, they happen when you have a QB who is always shooting for the win. Still, we didnt get blown out by Pittsburgh, at times the defense even looked good, since 17 points came off turnovers, 7 didn't require an offensive play, and for another TD Charlie Batch only had to work a 25 yard field. It seems that whether we play the Vikings, who suck in approximately the same proximity as the Pack, or the Bengals, who look pretty legit overall, we play badly enough to come within a touchdown or so of the game. Anyway, I can't get too upset about the fact that we lost number seven when six were already down the tubes. At least I got to sit at home and spend the afternoon watching the foosball with my Katie and my kitty.

We just finished watching the live debate on the West Wing. Overall I am pretty impressed by the episode, both because of the way it was done (unscripted, Smits and Arkin studying briefing books and position papers to prepare) and based on the actual product they put out. To some extent the "lets forgo the rules and really debate" theme is a little too trite for Vinnick to bust out, but it was still interesting. I overall felt like, evaluating the debate on its own terms, Vinick won. From what I have heard it would only make sense for them to not decide who was supposed to win and let it develop as it might. I think that Alan Arkin is simply better and more forceful a person in his own right than Jimmy Smits. Santos' closing argument was far better and the arguments that he was winning he was pwnzing him on, still perceptually it just felt like he was behind. There are apparently rumors that whoever wins the poll after the debate was who NBC was going to have win the election, an argument that I think is obviously crap, you aren't that far behind on your storylines in mid November. I know the election isn't gonna take place next week or anything, but you can't stretch it out until March without any idea whats gonna happen. Not to mention, if the writers are so un-Sorkin like as to leave their storylines up to chance like this they don't deserve to end the series without jumping the shark. The great thing is that, they have an easy argument based on the reality of the last election to say that even if Santos gets destroyed in the debate he can win the election. Anyway, as Ihave been saying, I am a sucker for gimmick episodes. I loved it when the West Wing did "A Day in the Life of CJ", I like all the temporally fucked up episodes they've done on Buffy, Dawson's Creek, West Wing and others. Sucker, right over here.

Back to Eugene, I suppose, I should return, but only for a couple quick notes. Andy and I went to LCC on Thursday morning for the presentation itself. I felt good about my speech, though I'm not sure anyone besides Andy really felt what I was talking about. Thats not to say there weren't smart people involved, both the mayor and the PoliSci professor Andy had invited seemed to be on top of their respective games. The student was kind of weird and did end his speech by essentially saying that we should help the homeless because it looks good on a college application, but overall it was a decent conversation on a complicated topic. Andy and I had a good convo with the professor guy after the lecture and I think he may be even more conspiratorially inclined than I am. There were only really two hilarious parts of the morning: 1) Andy's cell phone went off as he was giving the opening remarks which made his authority oh so much more convincing to his assembled student body. Secondly, we stopped on our way to the lecture to pick up food and beverages for the speakers. Andy bought a decent selection of donuts, some pastries, and some bagels and shmear. He had a specific drink order from the student and I had him buy me a Starbucks DoubleShot. Besides that he assembled random beverages from the drink area, including a Snapple Peach Ice Tea, some Minute Maid Lemonade, a Sobe, and Diet Rockstar. It was freaking hilarious to me to offer the Mayor of Eugene (with all the prestige and power such a title confers) a Diet Rockstar or a bottle of Sobe. When the Mayor asked him for a bottle of water he was only able to come back with one of the above and even he could laugh about how ridiculous that situation was.

Other hilarious story. Sanjay is at a bar, waiting for a drink. Some guy is standing next to him and doesn't like, for one reason or another the cut of his jib. So he turns to Sanjay and says "Did you win the lottery?" Sanjay has gotten some bad vibes from this guy and responds with a slightly antagonistic swagger. He says "Does it look like I won the lottery?" The guy responds, I shit you not, with the line that I have adapted to nearly everything I have said to Sanjay since "Does it look like I'm asking, A-rab?" Seriously, who says A-rab, outside of maybe the high school debaters referenced by Natalie? Maybe its an opportune time for INS guy to make a comeback.

Katie and I rearranged the living room a bit last night and Hippo has been somewhat confused about where to sit all day. She has been alternating between Katie's laptop and the windowsill all day, but now looks in a mood to play in her persian kittenish fashion. I cannot even express how cute she is when attempting to determine whether she can make the jump onto the console table. She stands on her back legs like an ewok and tries to see what is there before she leaps. Better safe than sorry. Regardless, I have to grab her crackly fish toy before she attacks my leg in retribution.



Friday, November 04, 2005

I'm The Luckiest Guy, On The Lower East Side, I've Got Wheels, and You Wanna Go For a Butt

Landed in Portland and got picked up by Andy and Sanjay in a car belonging to their friend Jimmy. Jimm'y s a really sweet guy, he hung out with us pretty much every night when I was in town. Dude's got a gambling problem and an unhealthy obsession with men with monosyllabic names, but a sweet guy without question. It was totally awesome that he let us use the car btw, since it would have blown to ride the 2 hours from Portland in the back of Andy's mid-80s Camry. While the Pac Northwest at least has Jack in the Box, and can hence claim one measure of civilization beyond Western New York, it has not been well graced by the Krispy to the Kree-ame so we made our way to the closest one to Eugene in the Western suburbs of Portland, I think. Jimmy, Oregon boy that he is, had never had a Krispy Kreme donut. I felt horrible that he did not get to experience it while the hot light was on, but check this out: THE PORTLAND KRISPY KREME IS NOT 24 HOURS!!! We got there about 30 minutes before it closed and the ordering process was a disaster, since Andy kept insisting on selecting random donuts despite sitting in the backseat, not being in condition to reasonably order donuts, and yelling over everyone. There was also a significant dispute over how many bottles of milk were required and some moments which bordered on Tenacious D at the drive-thru. Sanjay for some reason reacted to this nonsensical explosion by ordering half a dozen of our assortment to be Raspberry Filled Glazed donuts, which, in my mind should be illegal. We did buy 3 full dozen that evening, so I got my share of the Original Glazed that I wanted (fundamentally there is no other Krispy to the Kre-ame in my world).

We spent the parts of the drive back that were not crammed with donuty goodness making fun of Sanjay's I-Pod. Not becasue there is anything wrong with Sanjay's I-Pod, but Andy had informed me that Sanjay is really pissed at the Nano because everyone wants it and so his favorite toy (the big I-Pod) is not considered as cool, though he insists it is better in every way shape and form. If you are ever in a conversation with Sanjay, ask him how he can even walk when he is carrying that gigantic tank of a music player, wouldn't it be easier to just carry a boombox on your shoulder like a stereotyped breakdancer on a Fat Albert cartoon or something. There are moments from the trip to Oregon that simply aren't appropriate for public discussion, but believe me when I say they were awesome. We partied for a little while on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning and I didn't get to sleep until somewhere around 4:30 AM.

When Andy reads this, if he ever does, he will inevitably get pissed that I am making fun of him. I have attempted to elide this complaint by first mentioning a funny story about making fun of Sanjay and second, by intedning to include all the positive impressive things Andy has been up to. That said I am going to make fun of Andy on occassion, there are just too many good stories. For one, Andy has like 4 alarm clocks requiired to wake him up. There were at least 5 total alarms between the various clocks and cell phones he set the night before. He did manage to get up and get going the following day at least, but returned home sometime in the afternoon and canceled his class. If you havent been in college for a while, you may have forgotten that this is something proffessors do, its one of the good parts of our gig. Its not high school and sometimes other shit gets in the way. This is not funny. The funny thing is that one of ANDY'S STUDENTS CALLED HIM ON THE PHONE AND CHEWED HIM OUT FOR CANCELING CLASS. I cannot imagine what I would even say if one of my students told me that I was not allowed to determine whether or not class would take place. Not to mention, who gets mad cuz their class is canceled. I mean, yeah, it can be kind of frustrating to get something done in time and then find out you didnt need to put in the extra work, but still. Maybe I'm the only one who loved it when you'd show up, assuming you were condemned to an hour or two of boing ass French lecture, for instance, and then realize that you had 2 free hours. If you want you can do your work, its bonus time. If not, you hadn't planned on gettting anything done then anyway, so there is no loss.

Hippo is, despite my assurances to the contrary, content in her belief that the cords to my computer are attacking her and as a result she has deployed her vicious finsihing move the "Multi Paw Hippo Fire" against them. Before she chews her way into my hard drive, I am gonna go play.



Tuesday, November 01, 2005

And I Guess That's Why They Call it the Butt

Been a long time, been a long time, been a long busy travlin etc. time. I said hey right before West Point, so I will pick up with a brief description of that weekend, In some ways there is not a tremendous amount I can add from my previous descriptions of the beauty that is the Hudson River valley in the fall. I mean, its incredible, the colors are magnificent, the river is perfect at that point, and the campus, despite the occassionally pain-inducing severity of the architecture, is actually quite lovely. This was the first year I have ever actually driven to this tournament, since we rode Rochester's coach bus the past couple years. Thankfully it wasnt snowing, cuz I really got my rented minvan trucking on those downslopes.

OMG I have to make a brief sidenote about the worst minivan in the history of civilization, which, not surprising, I was driving on this particular weekend. It was supposedly, a brand new, Kia Sorento. I can testify that it was indeed a Kia Sorento but it appeared to me to be from somewhere in the mid 80s. Sure it was somewhat shiny and blue and crisp outside, but inside everything was analog, it lit up with a dull green glow and the radio, I swear to God, was slightly less sophisticated than the one in the Corsica I drove in high school. The gray plastic panels just refused to seem new and the fucking shift lever was in the middle of the front panel exactly where my knee rests when I put on the cruise control. The car might, and I emphasize might like a South Dakota novice policy debater on a solvency flow, have been designed by a blind monkey. It was a horrible horrible minivan and I think that the Enterprise Rent-A-Car was taking a chance at my death, but regardless we got back in a reasonable amount of pieces and the like.

We had a fairly successful tournament, clearing 4 of our 6 teams, losing in octos, quarters, quarters, and finals. I judged all but one of the rounds but had Saturday's last prelim off and managed to drive around and find the Catholic chapel on the West Point campus and went to mass on Saturday evening. It was a really pretty old building, not large or elaborate but beautifully done and positioned a level or two above the rest of the campus on the hillside. Perfectly timed to, so I got to investigate, go to church, drive a little bit longer, and was still back in time to greet Ken's arrival and catch the kids coming out of round 6. I was hella tired, we got back hella late, had some nonsense with certain debate programs I'm not gonna mention, but all around a good time. The car ride back featured excessive discussion of laced Eggs Benedict, which was way funnier than it currently sounds.

We got home and didnt have a tremendous amount of turnaround time before Katie and I began our journeys for that particular week. We got to spend Monday recuperating and enjoying each other's company in the absence of hotel rooms, debate rounds, and so on. We had a nice dinner, didn't cook though, and we probably should have tried to break up the monotony of fast and otherwise prepared meals that dominates one's schedule in the abscence of a kitchen. Regardless, it was a very good day, followed by a pleasant evening, and a bright, but early morning.

Andy had booked my ticket through whatever crazy ass travel agent he is required to use by Lane Community College and the ticket she finagled was among the worst itineraries in all of history. At first glance it appeared that I was flying from Buffalo to Hotlanta, and Hotlanta to Portland. Thats not bad, you can't expect to get non-stop flights from an airport as small as BUF to the other side of the country. Closer inspection revealed that the flight from Buffalo to Hotlanta stopped in Detroit. Yep. Not only did they make me fly west, before flying south and east, to again fly north and west; not only did they put a 50 minute break, for no apparent reason, in the middle of my day, they made me get off the damn plane. I was perfectly content to sit with my computer, my Nintendo DS and my enormous novel by Norman Mailer, doing whatever I needed to while waiting for them to reload. I even mentioned that I would be happy to move to a seperate part of the plane if they had to clean row 14 and put new copies of SkyMall in the seat back pockets. Nope, had to literally leave the aircraft and walk around the DTW terminal for 25 minutes before they let me board again. I watched their giant screen TVs and poked around in a shop that catered to cat and dog lovers. Still, it was a bit infuriating.

Had to sit in the Hotlanta airport for closer to two hours, but there was a comfortable bar near my gate where I could watch Sportscenter, the opening moments of the world series, and have nachos and whiskey, a classic combination if ever I've heard one. It turned out that the three people sitting next to me at the bar were all on my flight as well and my initial optimism that the plane might be undercrowded was put in momenary jeopardy. I got pleasantly intoxicated for a reasonable price and hopped on the plane. I should back up to one of the people who was sitting with me at the bar however, cuz she was the drunkest person I have ever seen actually fly on an airliner. When she showed up in the bar she already sounded drunk, but since she was just off a previous plane and wandering into the bar, I decided to assume that this was just the way she was. I should note that my experiences with this woman were fairly limited, between 7:45 Eastern and 10:55 Pacific, so maybe she is like this all the time, but at this particular moment, she was drunk. She hit on our incredibly unattractive bartender. After sitting there for approximately 15 minutes, in a fairly smoky room (since it is also the ATL smoking lounge), surrounded by people sucking down their Marlboro Lights, she exclaimed "I can smoke in here?!?!" This would be a somewhat tolerable thing to do except for the fact that she followed it up by 10 minutes later exclaiming in exactly the same voice "I can drink in here?!?!" Maybe you could write that off as a funny joke or something based on her not remembering to drink her beverage despite its sitting there for however long. Each one, however, was repeated at least two more times, including one while she was holding a still burning cigarette. She had a tall beer, a rum and coke, and two lemon drops in my sight, though I left the bar about 5 minutes before she did. I was certain that this lady would never get on the plane, but about 30 seconds before they closed the aft doors she comes a-stumbling in.

There was no body on the plane, maybe 25 of us for the whole plane. I don't remember precisely what kind of plane it was, but a big one with two aisles and 9 seats per row. No one in the aircraft sat in the same set of seats as anyone else and while I didnt' even attempt to sleep during the flight, it would have been money to stretch out on accross the whole situation. I had decided to characterize my trip to Eugene as a vacation, so I decided that my commencing of drinking signaled the end of my working for the day, so I ordered a beer on the plane and sat back to watch the movie: Batman Begins. I was a little surprised they would show this movie on the plane, though I was totally psyched to watch it again. It was less good on the small screen and even less good given the editing applied by the airline to make it acceptable for all ages. Still, its a decent flick and kept me busy for 2 hours. They followed that up with an episode of Nightline and some other crap that I didnt watch before they got to Bewtiched reruns and the Travel Channel's list of Top Ten Ballpark Foods. The final item was cut off after Wrigley field so we could get off the plane and all, but I appreciated the effort.

The trip has a multitude of stories in itself, but I figure I will convince myself to go in manageable batches. Not to mention, Hippo has been very excitable since I got home and is ready to play with some cat toys. OMG, Katie ordered checks with Hippo's picture on them today. Absent the presence of the fluffy Ms. Hipp herself, they are the cutest things ever.