Wednesday, December 30, 2009


(Blogsplosion Post #16, and I think it's official that there's no way I'm getting to 27)

The trip from Madison to Knoxville is supposed to take about 11 hours. For whatever reason, it took us a hearty 14 this time. (There was some rain, and there was some traffic in Louisville, but that should not have added three hours--it's a real mystery as far as I'm concerned.) Basically, the background information you need for the following story is that we were bored.

In this age of the internet, one gets used to having almost all information one wants at one's fingertips. That is why KGB is pretty genius. Have a question you really want answered, but are out somewhere, not in front of your Google Machine? Text that question to KGB! (Well, I guess the limitation to this genius is that an ever-increasing number of people have phones that are practically computers anyway, but for those of us that still mostly use our phones to talk, it's very convenient.)

While we were bored, Neal and I got to wondering--how does KGB deal with questions that don't have easy answers? What would they say if you asked something super-obscure that's not on Wikipedia? What if you asked them something interpretative? What if you asked which came first, the chicken or the egg? What if you asked them something un-knowable? Then Neal came up with a question that I found so hilarious that I had to send it in.

"Was Jesus handsome?"

We wondered how they would answer this question. Would they have some cop-out, an "I don't know" dressed up with non-handsomeness information about Jesus? Or would they, as we hoped, just say, "Yes. Yes he was." (Or, more daringly, a plain "No"?) Instead, they exceeded our expectations.

"In a letter to Tiberius Caesar, Jesus is described as having golden hair and an angelic, sweet, and serene face. Sounds like someone the ladies could like!"

So we asked them a ridiculous question and they answered it. For telling me that Jesus was handsome (even if they made up that letter--I haven't verified that it's true--at least they went to the trouble to make something up), KGB has earned my undying respect.
Click here to read more . . .

My Last Football Post OF THE DECADE

(Blogsplosion Post #15)

Sorry, I just wanted to get on the "last [whatever] OF THE DECADE" bandwagon.


That bowl game was pretty bad, huh? I told my brother-in-law before it started, "Our special teams aren't very good." So, uh, thanks for proving me right, special teams. I guess. That game had it all--a blocked field goal attempt, a kickoff return for touchdown, a blocked punt, a botched long snap--and it all went in Georgia's favor, so it ended up not mattering that the Aggies' offense (and even the defense) outclassed Georgia's. This is exactly why people should care more about kicking and punting. When you're not a very good team, it's at least comforting if your special teams are very good, and if your special teams aren't good, well, that's just a disgusting way to lose.

That's all I have to say about that. Let's talk about Mike Leach locking a kid in a closet and then getting fired.

Just in case you haven't been following this story (and why haven't you? Mike Leach stories are always crazy), here's what went down: on Monday evening, the story broke that Texas Tech was going to suspend Leach from Tech's bowl game because one of his player's parents had complained that Leach had mistreated the player. The parents were likely emboldened to complain because one of them is Craig James, a pretty senior college football talking head for ESPN. (James had been scheduled to call the Alamo Bowl, in which Tech is going to play Michigan State, but--unfortunately for anyone who enjoys comically awkward situations--he's n longer going to.) Leach decided to file an injunction to try to make Tech not-suspend him. But today, just before Leach's lawyer and Tech's lawyer were going to fight the thing out in court, the Tech lawyer handed the Leach lawyer a "P.S.: Leach, you're totally fired" letter. And since they're claiming to have fired him with cause (which is to say, so they don't have to pay him the rest of his contract), Leach is still going to take them to court (unless they settle, of course) to get that money.

It was entirely clear as soon as the Adam James story broke that Texas Tech was going to use that as an excuse to fire Mike Leach. The Tech brass just hate him. It doesn't matter that he is far and away the best coach they've ever, ever had; they hate him for being a weirdo (and probably for being arrogant and not gladhanding the boosters enough, but I bet it's mostly for being a weirdo). Remember how they wanted to fire him just for not accepting a contract that was clearly unfavorable to him? They were just waiting for an excuse.

That being said . . . why did he lock a kid in the closet?

The James family accused Leach of making Adam James stand (not sit, not lie down) in a dark equipment shed for two hours after James sustained a concussion. Then, two days later, the coach made James stand in a closet for a couple more hours, with a trainer posted outside the door to keep him in there. Leach's response to these allegations was, in a nutshell, "So?" That is to say, he didn't disagree that any of that had happened, although he did add that James is "a slacker" and that Craig James is some kind of overbearing Little League dad. But, um, that doesn't explain anything. Neither of those are explanations for locking a guy in a closet. Even though it's Mike Leach, and he's crazy, I'm still confused.

Now I'm worried about Mike Leach. Do I want to see him get another job? Of course I do! The man is pure entertainment! Sure, he caused me quite a bit of pain as an Aggie fan, but as a fan of the sport in general, I always want him in the mix. You know who that previous sentence equally applies to? Billy Gillispie! So here's my idea: they team up as a pair of wild, rebel outsider coaches and go to some downtrodden school (because that's who would take them), then build up their respective programs and take the world by storm! As long as the place they go to has a pretty relaxed athletic director who wouldn't get into ego contests with Leach and who'd get Billy a grad assistant to drive him around (because, let's face it, in the drinking + driving equation, driving would be easier to talk Billy out of), it would be totally great. I would buy that school's sweatshirt tomorrow. So come on, somebody in the WAC, or somebody in a major conference who always gets pushed around! Take a chance! It will probably be worth it.
Click here to read more . . .

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Notable Street Names in the Knoxville Area

(Blogsplosion Post #14)

Nubbin Ridge

Chert Pit Road

Click here to read more . . .

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Today's To-Do Lists

(Blogsplosion Post #13)

Things I've done that needed to get done:
1. wrapped presents
2. returned text books to bookstore
3. washed dishes

Things I've done that were nice to get done:
1. bought a memory card for the camera
2. cleaned out the trunk
3. cleaned snow off the car (there will be at least a little more by tomorrow morning, though)

Thing I did that I shouldn't have had to do, because the dudes on the second floor supposedly get paid by our landlady to do it:
1. shoveled the steps and the sidewalk (but only enough to get suitcases through in the morning)

Things that still need to get done:
1. wash the rest of the dishes
2. pack
3. charge phone

Things that should get done:
1. straighten up the living room (so it will be nicer to come home to)
2. charge camera battery
3. make sure I bought the right memory card for the camera
4. check weather forecasts along route tomorrow (although I'm afraid it might just worry me)

Thing I'm really looking forward to doing:
1. opening the presents we aren't taking with us! Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve to us!

P.S. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the box of presents. They got here today! We're very excited.
Click here to read more . . .

Things I Found When Cleaning out the Trunk of the Car

(Blogsplosion Post #12)

These are only (but all of) the things I didn't throw out or leave in the trunk.

1. a plastic mug

2. the lid for the plastic mug

3. one shoe

4. one bookend

5. a blue plastic clothes hanger
Click here to read more . . .

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Need Some Input, Please (Mostly from Ladies, but Dude Input is OK Too)

(Blogsplosion Post #11)

I have been working, off and on, on a project. It is my belief that almost all girls and women of a certain age bracket (roughly, my age bracket and below) with internet access have, at one time or another, taken a Disney Princess quiz. Here's a typical example, with questions like "My favorite outfit is" and the options "A flowing ball gown," "An arabian belly dancer's costume," "A swimming costume," or "A kimono." I think you can tell what I'm getting at here: that's lame. Asking "What would you most like have for a pet?" is all well and good in some situations, but if you pick the option of tiger--because what would be more awesome than having a tiger as a pet?--that doesn't make you Jasmine. That in no way gets at the essence of Jasmine. (There's also usually a hair color question. Hair color does matter, princess-quiz writers.)

So I am attempting to write The Definitive Disney Princess Quiz, one that isolates the essentials of what it means to be one princess or another. It's pretty tricky, which is why it's taking me so long. For one thing, it can't just be a boring multiple-choice quiz. Those are inadequate for my purposes. This is another thing you guys might be able to help me with, actually: I remember learning about a thing in 7th grade science. The example thing that we used was about birds. It was like, "If the bird has any red feathers, go to step 3. If it does not, go to step 4," and then at step 3, it would break down red feathered birds more until finally, after going through many steps, it would tell you exactly which bird it was. And I cannot remember the name of this thing. It would be so much easier to explain my idea for the princess quiz if I could.

Anyway, another reason it's taking me a while to write the quiz is that I've been re-watching all the princess movies to make sure I've got all my facts straight, and to observe them more closely to get more material. And do you know how hard it is to get ahold of a copy of Beauty and the Beast? Pretty hard. Admittedly, I've only checked at Blockbuster twice, but I also waited in line for it for weeks and weeks at my library and it still hasn't come through. I've had to inactivate my request so that it doesn't come in while I'm away for Christmas.

However, none of that is what I wanted to ask you about. My question is about the lineup of princesses. To decide which gals needed to be included, I consulted Wikipedia. It was actually pretty clear-cut who Disney counts as an offical princess (Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mu Lan) and who they don't (Alice, Maid Marian, Giselle from Enchanted [because Amy Adams wouldn't let them license her face in perpetuity and who can blame her?]). But I first looked a couple months ago, before Disney released The Princess and the Frog.

Do I need to include the princess from The Princess and the Frog?

On the one hand, Disney clearly made The Princess and the Frog for the express purpose of adding Tiana to the Princess lineup. Right? On the other hand, people older than 12 or so aren't going to consider her part of the "real" princess group, because she's brand new. But back on the first hand, all of the princesses were brand new at some point. But then back on the negative hand . . . that movie looks pretty bad. I don't want to see it, but I have the feeling I have to in order to uphold the integrity of my princess quiz. Is my suspicion correct? Is that what I need to do in to make my quiz truly definitive?

All your thoughts on this question, or thoughts on anything else I should consider to make the quiz the best it can be, are much more than welcome.
Click here to read more . . .

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pride and Prejudice

(Blogsplosion Post #10)

As a possessor of two X chromosomes, I of course love the miniseries/Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice. I'm making Neal watch it right now. But, as ever, and let's face it, Jane looks kind of like a dude.

A pretty dude, but a dude nonetheless.
Click here to read more . . .

Goat Cheese is on the Line! Act Now!

(Blogsplosion Post #9)

Do you know my friend Craig? He invented a goat cheese recipe, and he would like for you to vote for his goat cheese recipe in a goat cheese recipe contest. Here, let me quote him verbatim; that'll be better:

I don't quite remember how I got on the mailing list of Ile de France cheese company. But I got an e-mail in November announcing their $1000 holiday appetizer contest. To make things even better, they offered to supply the cheese to the first 50 bloggers to respond. So I responded, and my goat cheese came a few days later (I actually asked for the goat brie, but I let that slide). My cheese odyssey started on a bad note when the UPS man, instead of taking my temperature-sensitive package to the apartment office on the Friday he delivered it, took it back to the UPS office until Monday. By the time I got my cheese, it was not very cold. But I ate it all and did not suffer, thankfully. [Editor's note: he didn't have to share because his wife has a tiny blond Republican under construction, and when you're undertaking that project, you're not supposed to eat "soft cheeses." You learn something new every day, right?]

When it came time to prepare my recipe entry, I figured that it was wrong to just copy something I found on the internet. I decided I should create my own recipe. So I scoured the internet for goat cheese dishes, and wrote down some ingredients that seemed to go well with it. I then compared this list to what was in my kitchen already. I'm cheap. I knew that I wanted to prepare something that wasn't too pretentious and didn't have too many ingredients. At the same time, my recipe had to be somewhat sophisticated. Thus, I decided to make arugula part of it. It seems to be all the rage these days, and it's not too expensive, despite what Obama might have you believe.

In the end, I came up with BLT wraps. I stacked bacon, tomato, and goat cheese, wrapped everything in arugula leaves, and secured each wrap with a toothpick. I then took about 30 photos of my creation, trying to get a good contest entry photo. I knew the fate of my recipe would hinge on presentation. I think I did OK. You can see the result, and my recipe, here. It tasted pretty good to me.

While you're over there looking at my recipe, I could use your vote down at the bottom of the page. 5 stars is the best vote, and the one I would prefer. There are 25 other competitors. A couple of them have an excessive number of followers, so I won't beat them, but I think I have a shot at 3rd prize. That would be neat, and it just might launch me on the path to stardom. Or I'll win some free cheese. Either way, I'm happy. Thanks for your support.

Anyway, you should vote for Craig. I didn't even know what arugula was before I saw the picture of his recipe, so I'm bowled over just by that. You only have until the 21st to vote, so like I said, act now!
Click here to read more . . .

Monday, December 14, 2009

Favorite Christmas Songs

(Blogsplosion Post #8)

I shall now break down my favorite Christmas songs by category.

Favorite overall: "Carol of the Bells". "Carol of the Bells" is funny because it doesn't sound like anything else you'd usually consider "Christmas-y." It's not merry, it's more wild and strange. But it's also awesome. I used to be very picky about the versions I would listen to, but I'm starting to branch out a little. I just got this awesome bluegrass one--I unfortunately can't find it on YouTube, but it's on iTunes (off the album Christmas Grass) and there's a sample on this page if you're curious and don't have iTunes. It's just really cool.

I only saw Home Alone once (and did not care for it), but this is a pretty perfect version of the song.

Most quintessential: "The Christmas Song" (the Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire one) by Nat King Cole. It's not my "favorite" per se, but I feel like if I were stranded on a desert island and could only have one Christmas song, it would be the right choice.

Favorite to sing: "Angels We Have Heard on High". Gloooo-o-o-o-o-oooo-o-o-o-o-oooo-o-o-o-o-oooo-ria!

Favorite from a Christmas cartoon: "O Christmas Tree" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, from A Charlie Brown Christmas. I bought the whole Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack and frankly, all the jazz starts to sound the same after a while, but this one is always fun.

Favorite that has nothing to do directly with Christmas: "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch". It's funny how a song that's just a long list of insults can put me in such a cheerful holiday mood.

Favorite that makes me sad (but, you know, holiday-sad): "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Judy Garland. I know that it was originally sung by a young Judy in Meet Me in St. Louis, but her voice in it always makes me think of older, sad, drunk Judy. And on top of that, it's just a sad song about not being able to be with somebody on Christmas. I love it anyway.

Favorite that is not "good": "Donde Esta Santa Claus" (or, as I thought it was called until I looked it up just now, "Mamacita".) This one makes me laugh on its own merits and because it reminds me of some college hijinks.

Favorite oldies Christmas carol: "White Christmas" by the Drifters. I don't like it as much as my dad does, though.

Favorite newer popular artist Christmas carol: "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings" by the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah MacLachlan. Gotta love that stand-up bass.

Favorite church-type Christmas carol: This is the hardest category by far, since this is where all the classics live. After much deliberation, I'm going to go with "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," because it's so triumphant, it has an exclamation mark right there in the title.

Most quintessential, church carol division: "Silent Night". It's actually harder to imagine Christmas without "Silent Night" than without "The Christmas Song," even the Nat King Cole version.

What about you guys? Favorites? Categories I missed? Suggestions for songs I should acquire? Seriously, I'm always in the market for more good Christmas carols.
Click here to read more . . .

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Football Part 3: My Picks

(Blogsplosion Post #7)

It's been longer than I thought since I last posted about how I was doing on all my various football picks. To sum up: pretty ok!

To expand: I gave up on the Facebook picks a few weeks into the season. The application is just terrible, picking straight up is boring, and none of my very few friends in the group cared either. It was No Good.

On ESPN, where I pick NFL games, I'm doing OK, I guess. I'm in the 90th percentile on ESPN overall, but that's only good enough to be tied for 2,153rd place in the Bill Simmons group. I really need to recruit some people I know to have a manageable group next year. (If I were in the 15-person "featured entries" group within the Bill Simmons group, for example, I'd be in 5th place, which would feel a lot more special. Too bad I don't personally know Bill Simmons.)

The best news comes from my Yahoo! college picks group, where I played against people from my dad's work. It ended last week, and I won! (It actually wasn't even close--I had a five point margin heading into the last week, when there were only nine games to pick. That's when I knew I had it sewn up.) I asked my dad (who came in second) whether the dudes from his work were embarrassed that they'd been beaten by a girl, and he said he'd be sure to rub it in. So that's good.

Anyway, Craig is right that I should play fantasy football next year. I think I'm going to get a whole league together, in fact, so everybody reading this: let me know if you want in. (I know it's a while from now, but it's never too early to start laying the groundwork.)
Click here to read more . . .

Football Part 2: Tournament of Tears Revisited

(Blogsplosion Post #6)

I said I'd keep tabs on the Worst Teams in Football, so let's check in on them, shall we?

Unfortunately, we're all out of winless teams. Sorry, 2008 Detroit team, you're going to remain uniquely awful for a while longer.

Teams that have exited the tournament

The new threshold for the Tournament of Tears is five wins--that seems to be a pretty good dividing marker between the very sad and the merely mediocre. (Caveat: Chicago is at 5 wins, and they've gotten remarkably bad remarkably quickly. I considered adding them to the tournament on the strength of their multiple 30-point losses.) That means that Tennessee and Carolina have clawed their ways out. I can't get over how improbably the Titans' comeback has been--Vince Young has not just gotten better, but has turned the team around? Really?! So weird. And I'm happy for Carolina because one of those wins was over the Arizona team that out of nowhere destroyed them in the playoffs last year. So, good for you guys.

Four-win fellas

The four-win teams are both unpredictable. However, the Bills are just a little unpredictable--can't beat the Browns but you can beat Miami? Weird--whereas the Raiders . . . . Well, they're terrible. How can a team be terrible and still beat the Eagles, the Bengals, and the Steelers? (Yes, I know that these days, everybody beats the Steelers, but the Raiders were the first very bad team to do so.) That just doesn't make any sense.

Three wins is probably not a charm

I haven't seen the Chiefs play all year, but word on the street (which is to say, my dad told me) is they're shockingly bad. Nevertheless, they show flashes of . . . something. Not brilliance. Competence, maybe? I mean, they took the Cowboys and the Steelers to overtime (and even beat the Steelers--seriously, those guys are wreaking havoc in the Tournament of Tears, to the extent that they may soon join it). The same can be said of the Redskins--they mostly stink, but have flashes of . . . something. They had a big flash just last week when they really should have beaten the Saints. To paraphrase Bill Simmons, I don't think the NFL fixes games, but if by some chance they do, that was one they fixed. The Redskins needed all kind of crazy breaks in the Saints' favor (and bad, bad calls) to lose that game. (Although, even if they'd won, everybody would still get fired after this season. It's going to be a bloodbath.)

Repeat winners!

I have a friend whose dad is a Browns fan. He's angry at the team for beating the Steelers (or is he angry at the Steelers for losing to his team?) because it's going to hurt their draft pick. As Neal pointed out, it's always a bad sign when that's the fans' main concern. Their one other win is notable for having produced the most hilarious stat of the season: quarterback Derek Anderson lead his team to victory with a staggering two (2) completions out of 17 pass attempts. Hopefully there will be a good quarterback left at the third or fourth pick in the next draft.

I like to think that Detroit's fans are just psyched to be better than last year--two wins is so much more than zero, it really is. But I don't know any Detroit fans, so it's hard to say. I wouldn't blame them for being disappointed about losing to the Rams, though. I know I was disappointed. Speaking of . . .

One-win wonders

Like I said, it bums me out that the Rams managed to beat the Lions. It's hard to say whether I was more disappointed by that or when the Packers lost to the Buccaneers. On the one hand, I am personally invested in the Packers and I watched that game, in which they looked atrocious. It wasn't fun. On the other hand, I really believed the Rams could go winless and would have if they hadn't beaten Detroit. So if Detroit had won, it would have been a double victory--one for the wins column, and one for feeling better by having company in the 0-16 teams category.

The race for the first draft pick is a tight one, but I think the Rams will prevail as the Worst Team of 2009. The Bucs' quarterback, Josh Freeman, is a wild card--he has the ability to play really well or really lousy--and he may end up winning them another game. The Rams don't have a wild card, and without another Detroit-caliber team on their schedule, they're in excellent shape to get that #1 pick. (Ndamukong Suh?)
Click here to read more . . .

Football Part 1: The Independence Bowl

(Blogsplosion Post #5)

Since I last posted on the topic, three important things happened for the Fightin' Texas Aggie Football Team. First, they beat Baylor/achieved bowl eligibility. Whoop.


Second, they played respectably against t.u. I will also give a whoop to that. (Whoop.) They didn't win, but they did look good on national TV, which is the second-most important thing to do. I think it made up for the Arkansas game. Going into the game, I thought there were three possible outcomes--in order of probability: 1) get just destroyed, a la the Oklahoma game; 2) lose but look good doing it, whilst making Colt McCoy look bad and torpedoing his Heisman chances, a la the 2005 game where Stevie McGee and the Ags took away Vince's Heisman; 3) win! I turned out to be wrong, because if McCoy doesn't get his career-reward Heisman, it will be because of the Nebraska game (although I think the close game against the Aggies has looked worse for him in retrospect since the Nebraska embarrassment). Anyway, this was probably my second-favorite t.u. game since I've been an Aggie. It's behind 2007's 38-30 victory, of course, but ahead of the 2006 12-7 Aggie win, because I really disliked that game. That one featured the worst late hit I've ever seen (an Aggie tackling Colt McCoy as Colt was taking his chinstrap off); this one featured everybody realizing, "Hey, that Jerrod Johnson is pretty good, huh?"

That guy is pretty good.

Third, the Aggies got invited to the Independence Bowl to play against Georgia. I'm excited about this. Georgia is not just a name school, but one from the best conference in college football. That means it won't look super bad if we lose (depending, of course, on how badly that hypothetical loss is) and it will look pretty darn good if we win. Because the even better thing about Georgia is that they can be beaten. If Kentucky did it, we can do it. Plus, when Kentucky did it, they hadn't just fired their defensive coordinator. Georgia is coming off a disappointing season while the Ags are finishing up a season of improvement. I doubt Georgia will be as motivated to win as Texas A&M will be. (If this columnist is representative of Georgia fans, they aren't excited.) If the Aggies can turn the game into a shootout, I like our chances. Whoop.
Click here to read more . . .

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


(Blogsplosion Post #4)

According to your friend and mine, the National Weather Service, "A BLIZZARD WARNING IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 12:00AM CST THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10." They inform us of "* Snow Accumulations: 10 To 14 Inches Is Expected By Wednesday Afternoon Most Places... With Locally Higher Amounts." Furthermore, "This Will Be The First Major Winter Storm For Wisconsin... And Will Likely Have A Significant Impact On Society."

And indeed, I got a call from The Head Librarian*, who told me that mayor is shutting the town down, man! This includes the libraries. Some of the clerks at my work today (I was there for awhile but came home early because I had a headache that felt like hyenas were eating my brain) were discussing the unlikelihood of the libraries closing--there was some disagreement as to whether it's happened once or twice in the past several years. If that's not enough to convince you that this 'un is a big 'un . . . the university cancelled classes. That winter year before last, when we got 100 inches of snow, often parceled out by the foot or so? They called off class once, in the afternoon. The University of Wisconsin-Madison apparently only calls off school once every decade or two. This storm is going to be crazy.

*When I refer to my boss, since we don't really use words like "boss" at my work, I tend to say "the head librarian." Neal says this conjures the image of someone behind a big desk in a darkened room, stroking a cat in a sinister way.**

**She's not actually like that, though.
Click here to read more . . .

Monday, December 7, 2009

How I Won $350

(Blogsplosion Post #3)

If you're familiar with The Pioneer Woman, raise your hand. Now, all of you with hands unraised, here's your link and here's your explanation: there's this gal, see. She lives on a ranch and she likes to take pictures and cook. Then she writes funny little stories about living on a ranch, taking pictures, and cooking and puts them on her blog. And she is phenomenally popular.

Here's how you can tell, item 1: here's a post about how much she likes her basset hound. It has almost 500 comments on it. But that's not much compared to, say, the last volume of her telling of her and her husband's how-we-met story, with its 1,564 comments. (I must say, the how-we-met story ["Black Heels to Tractor Wheels" is totally riveting. If you have several hours--preferably spread over several days--I'd recommend it.])

Here's how you can tell, item 2: there are sometimes ads on her homepage from national companies tailored to her website. I always get really impressed by that.

Here's how you can tell, item 3: she just wrote a cookbook (and is still in the midst of a book tour), and it recently hit #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List . . . in the hardcover advice category, but still. (It's still there at #4.)

Here's how you can tell, item 4: the contests. Oh, the contests. She takes money that she makes off the blog to buy prizes to give away to her readers. And I mean, the woman gives away a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer about once a week. She also gives away trips, fancy camera equipment, and . . . Amazon gift cards.

The problem with the contests is that, usually, it's just a random drawing out of the thousands of people who comment to enter. That's practically impossible. Sometimes, she has "smartypants quizzes." However, those are also practically impossible. They're usually very random collections of questions, and they usually include at least "who is this?" question with a picture, which makes them un-Googleable. Recently, though, she's been on a book tour, so she's done quizzes about the cities she's visited.

She announced that she was going to do a quiz about Denver. I thought, "Hey, I know about Denver! Maybe I'll have a shot!" Even though I do know stuff about Denver, I still had to look up several of the answers, but I discovered that most were available on Wikipedia. I started typing in answers as soon as I saw the quiz go live, but I still didn't make it in until comment #17. The commenters who made it in at #1 and #3 got the answers right and the prizes.

Well, a few days later, it was my day off, so I happened to be at home in the middle of the day, looking at my computer. I saw that the Pioneer Woman announced a Salt Lake City quiz for about twenty minutes later. So I spent the next ten or so minutes reading the Salt Lake City Wikipedia page, and I kept it (and, on a hunch, the page about the 2002 winter Olympics) open for easy reference. I did the thing where I refreshed and refreshed and refreshed her blog until the quiz showed up and then got to typin'.

And I won! I didn't make it in until #3, but luckily for me, the first two entrants assumed for question 2 that Salt Lake City, like the rest of Utah, leans Republican. I, on the other hand, had just learned from Wikipedia that it goes left. (Wikipedia also claims that SLC is very gay-friendly, but I remain skeptical about that one. Remember Sad Keith from Season 4 of Project Runway? He was gay and from Salt Lake City and he seemed really sad about it.) And the prize was a $350 Amazon gift card! And since you can buy anything from Amazon, that's basically just money.

So that was both the story of where all the Christmas presents I buy this year are coming from and a how-to guide on how to win Pioneer Woman smartypants quizzes. Unfortunately, it does require some being in the right place at the right time, but other than that . . . it's pretty doable. Not bad for free money, anyway.
Click here to read more . . .

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Things I've Found in Library Books Recently

(Blogsplosion Post #2)

1. a coupon for a free canoe rental

2. a flattened box elder bug

3. sketches of the Iron Giant

4. a blue crayon

5. a postcard from India

Three of those got returned to their rightful owners.
Click here to read more . . .

FISTFIGHT: Bertie Wooster vs. Chandler Bing

(Blogsplosion Post #1, in response to this comment)

If Bertie Wooster and Chandler Bing got into a fistfight, who would win? Wooster, at 6' 2 1/2", would have the height advantage, though not a tremendous one, over the 6' Bing. (Chandler's weight has been known to fluctuate noticeably, so the advantage there is hard to call.) Both men are considered by those around them to be, frankly, sissies, making this a pretty interesting matchup. Since neither one has a clear physical or temperamental advantage, it would come down to strategy. Before the fistfight began, Bertie would clearly consult with Jeeves, who would then come up with an ingenious plan. However, Jeeves' plan would likely result in Bertie's defeat in the fistfight, which would somehow help one of Bertie's friends get the girl or perhaps thwart Aunt Agatha.

Winner: Chandler Bing
Click here to read more . . .

A Blog Post about Blog Posts

I had a goal.

2008 was a pretty lame blogging year here at Sconnie 'Ventures (as I sometimes like to think of it). As you can see over on the sidebar, I only managed to publish 80 entries the whole year. I wanted to beat that in 2009, and it was so easy that I accomplished it in April. The loftier goal was to beat 2007, when I blogged 186 times. I was going strong for awhile, but then got to feeling uncreative and, well, un-bloggy. The goal seems distant now.

But I'm not giving up!

No, it's time for one final blog push! I've got 26 days of 2009 left (including today) and 27 entries (not including this one) to beat 2007. Can I do it? I don't know. But as my blogging year began with a blog streak, I will try to make it end with a blog-splosion!

(Incidentally, if you guys have any ideas, suggestions, or requests for things for me to write about, I will receive them gladly. [I'm already planning on an Aggie football post, but I figure that by now I might as well wait til their bowl bid is announced; I'm also almost done watching the 7th season of Friends, so I should be able to write that one soon.])

And since we're on the subject of blog-writing, I'd just like it put it out there that I haven't given up on Monarch Moments. I'm hoping it will come roaring back in 2010--maybe if I shoot for two updates a week instead of three, it'll help?

Finally, I have used the word "blog" in various forms eleven times in this entry. Just in case you were wondering. (I thought it would be more.)
Click here to read more . . .

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wait . . . Talking Dinosaurs?

It is high time--no, well past high time--that I told you about Dinosaur Comics. Some of you may already know about Dinosaur Comics; if so, congratulations. As you have discovered, your life is richer for it.

To those of you who do not yet know of Dinosaur Comics, let me say this: it took me a couple tries to "get" Dinosaur Comics. My old roommate showed them to me, and I was confused and distracted by the way that the drawings are the same every time. It's always six panels with three dinosaurs, one of whom stomps on a house and a very small person. This is what I have learned: just ignore that. Especially the house. The house isn't important.

It's just a comic where the main character is an excitable T-Rex who has conversations with his two friends, a dromeceiomimus (she actually doesn't get to talk that much) and a utahraptor. And sometimes God. And ocasionally the devil, but he only likes to talk about video games. T-Rex likes to talk about linguistics, philosophy, and life in general. Who doesn't? And speaking of "who doesn't?" who doesn't enjoy headings like "A METHOD BY WHICH SOCIAL CONSTRAINTS SERVE TO LIMIT PERSONAL FREEDOM (a comic)"? We can all learn something.

Here are some (only some) of my favorites (click to see them larger):

Just in time for Thanksgiving:

I'm particularly fond of this one, since it makes the King Midas fable the horror story it ought to be:

Click here to read more . . .

Sunday, November 15, 2009

So . . . How 'Bout Those Aggies?

Guys. I do not understand this team. Let's review the conference games so far:

Loss to Oklahoma State, which is a pretty good team, by a mere five points. If that wasn't a moral victory, it was pretty close.

Loss to Kansas State, which had up to that point been an awful awful team, by 48 points. As I decided at the time, it was the second-worst game that has taken place since I've been an Aggie.

(Tangent: the interesting thing about K-State, who finish up the regular season by playing Nebraska next week, is that if they win their last game, they win the Big 12 North and go to the Big 12 Championship game. If they lose, they don't even become bowl-eligible. [They have six wins, but they need seven since they played two FCS teams.] Isn't that weird?!)

Win against Texas Tech, a perfectly decent team (whose only other losses have been to ranked opponents), by 22 points. This would have been astonishing even without the shaming dealt by K-State the week before.

Win against Iowa State by 25 points, which would have been more if Coach Sherman hadn't decided to be classy at the end of the game. This was a game that the Ags should have won anyway, but Iowa State is better than usual (who knew getting your coach stolen would work out so well?) and the Aggies looked very good in the win ("looked" metaphorically, of course, since that game was broadcast nowhere). So it was an encouraging performance.

Loss to Colorado by one point after having led by 10 as late the fourth quarter. This was heartbreaking. Colorado is eminently beatable, and if A&M could have held onto the lead, they would have become bowl-eligible.

And last night, the Aggies lost to Oklahoma by 55 points. And Oklahoma isn't even that good this year. I DON'T GET THIS TEAM.

My friend Lindsay offered the explanation that they're just a very young team. And this does make sense. There are several very talented players on the team, explaining the upswings, but they aren't experienced, explaining the utter lack of consistency.

But still.

The upshot of all this is that the Aggies HAVE to beat Baylor next week and that I don't know if they will. The Ags have five wins; six is the magic number. I enjoy that whenever commentators talk about whether texas will get to the national championship game, they say that the only possible obstacle is their game at Kyle Field, but realistically? Gots to beat Baylor to get to a bowl.

It doesn't help that Baylor is also something of a mystery--they lost their surprisingly good quarterback, Robert Griffin, but they managed to beat Missouri last week anyway. On the other hand, their score at halftime against t.u. yesterday was 40-0. (That's horrible.)

And of course, we'd need to beat Baylor anyway to keep the streak alive--no losses to Baylor at Kyle since 1984. Keep the streak alive, Ags! Pretty please?
Click here to read more . . .

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Few More Disney Thoughts

1. So, in my previous Disney post, when I used the phrases "watched ad nauseum" and "burned into my brain" to describe my childhood relationship to Cinderella, I spent my hyperbole too soon. I subsequently re-watched The Little Mermaid and HOLY COW. Not only could I still probably sing you every song and recite every line (with the appropriate vocal cadences and everything), but I could pinpoint words that The Little Mermaid put into my vocabulary. This was particularly true in Ursula's song "Poor Unfortunate Souls." Ursula taught seven-year-old me what "gossip" and "body language" mean. For real.

2. Pocahontas (and Pocahontas in Pocahontas) is just kind of dull. That answers the question of why my sister and I never looked into watching it ever again after seeing it in the theater.

3. Mulan doesn't get a lot of love, but I will defend it entirely. That movie is funny (not quite as funny as I thought it was when I was younger, but still funny) and interesting, visually and thematically. Verdict: much better than Pocahontas. Or Sleeping Beauty.

4. Man, Aladdin is just good. It's just a good movie. The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast have not (yet) made appearances in my re-watch-fest, but those three--like most Pixar movies--clearly qualify as Quality Cinema. Aladdin might be third out of those three, but still.

5. Watching 90's Disney movies is a much different exercise than watching Snow White. (At least, generalizing based on myself, for grownups.) How do you judge Snow White? There's a lot about it that's kind of dull or uneven, but--it was the first time somebody made a whole animated movie. It's hard to blame them for the stuff that no longer really works (the several long scenes of Comedic Dwarf Business, the extremely rapid ending) when they couldn't have known better and, moreover, when they did so much that does still work. It surprised me, for instance, how good the songs were and how ADORABLE Snow White's forest friends all are. Are those just the cutest cartoon animals ever, or what?!
Click here to read more . . .

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Few Disney Thoughts

For reasons that shall become clear later, I watched both Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty today. My sister and I watched Cinderella ad nauseum when I was a child but hadn't seen it in years and years. Sleeping Beauty played a much less prominent role in my childhood--I maybe saw it once or twice? But I had seen it more recently, since I rented it out of curiosity in college.

It turned out I still had some parts of Cinderella burned into my brain: the stepsister singing "Sing Sweet Nightingale," the Cinderelly song, and Gus trying to carry too many food units* under his chin and dropping them (I think of this often, when I try to carry too many things). But I also realized some things I never did before. Namely:

1: There is NO POSSIBLE WAY they could have given Prince Charming ANY LESS to do. He stands. He bows. They dance for a little while, but do not appear to talk to each other (they sing, but it's apparently in their heads). He speaks, like three sentences when he tries to stop her from running away at midnight. (Also? Way to run slower than a girl in heels, yutz.) He doesn't even do the glass slipper tryouts himself! The only personality he ever shows is when he yawns during the every-girl-in-the-kingdom-come-and-curtsey session.

It's a good thing Cinderella is kind of dull, too. They'll be perfect together.

2: The King is hilarious! He wants grandbabies so bad! He more than matches up to stereotypical mother-of-an-adult-child-who-really-wants-said-child-to-procreate that I've ever seen. Bravo, King from Cinderella. Bravo.

As for Sleeping Beauty, the impressions I gathered from watching it the last time were confirmed. It is not good.

I'm pretty convinced that I felt this way as a child, too, and that's why I didn't want to rent it over and over and over and over and over like I did with Cinderella.

Now, I know there are many adamant Sleeping Beauty fans out there. You are all probably outraged. My reasons are these:

1: It's not well-written. Watch it with a critical eye, you'll see. It's sloppy and formless instead of structured and focused. (And why did they bring her back to the castle before sunset on her 16th birthday?!? That's 16 years of exile [and very sad parents] flushed right down the toilet.)

2: The "Good Fairies" are incredibly stupid. They are therefore very annoying. And since they're the main characters, this is problematic.

2a: So, for 16 years, they've lived without magic, presumably making clothes and food for themselves, and yet on Aurora's birthday, they totally fail to make clothes and food? Did the other two just force the little fat one to wait on them hand and foot for a decade and a half? And then as soon as they get their wands back, they have a magic fight that gives away the Secret Princess Location (not that it really matters, because the Princess left the Location before Maleficent showed up, making it--again--entirely worthless for her to have been there in the first place)? And the fight only happens because they're such idiotic children they can't compromise on dress color? SO STUPID.

2b: I didn't time it or anything, but the fairies are onscreen and carry more of the story than any other characters, up to and including Sleeping Beauty. It's The Good Fairy Movie. I think this is an example of the poor plotting I mentioned in point 1.

3: That fight at the end between Maleficent and the Prince is very boring. (When I was a kid, I'm sure I was scared by the dragon part, but I was probably bored up until then.)

In conclusion, the more I think about it, the more I hate Sleeping Beauty, and I will not apologize for that stance.

*When I was a kid, I thought they were little cubes of cheese. I didn't realize until today that they're kernels of corn.
Click here to read more . . .

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Friends: Season Six

In general:
Before I embarked on this project, I had thought that Friends peaked with Seasons 3, 4, and 5, then dropped off a little bit in Season 6. But on further review, it turns out that the Season 6 dropoff is a little steeper than I believed. Most of the episodes are made up of a couple OK plots and one annoying one, or maybe two medicore plots and one based on one strong joke (examples of the latter: "The One Where Phoebe Runs" and "The One with Ross's Teeth." They ride the title jokes really hard, because they're hilarious, but there's not really much else going on.)

That said, there's not much that's terrible, either. There's no one subplot that sets my teeth on edge. "The One with the Unagi" is fairly lame, what with Chandler being a weasel about making a Valentine present for Monica, the weaksauce plot with Joey trying to get into a twin study, and the fairly repugnant scene where Ross tries to get a self-defense instructor to tell him how better to attack women. But even so, the "unagi" jokes are good enough that the episode isn't a waste of time. All in all, the only truly horrible aspect of this season is Elle MacPherson's acting. (Wow, she's bad. Wow.)

Season 6 is a fairly aimiable one (although that would be more true if you could subtract most of what Ross does) and, of course, an important one. It finds Ross a fitting job; it shifts roommates around until it comes out with the surprisingly good pairing of Joey and Rachel; and it makes Monica and Chandler an officially serious couple and then gets them engaged. Plus, it shows us what an alternate reality would be like, and that's always fun.

Little things that drive me crazy:
It's always weird to realize how long they had Phoebe living with Monica and Chandler, because they did very little with it. But then, what little they did with it showed that it did not offer many comedic possibilities. I think those three characters just bring out the worst in each other.

Directly from my notes: "Ross handles embarrassing situations poorly."

At the end of "The One with the Routine," it's the Christmas season and Joey and Janine kiss. At the beginning of "The One with the Apothecary Table," Joey burts in to brag about how he and Janine just kissed. It's no longer Christmas and everybody's wearing different clothes. (They do better with the short gap between "The One with Rachel's Sister" and "The One Where Chandler Can't Cry"; Monica's not sick anymore, but at least everybody's wearing the same clothes.)

Speaking of "The One with the Apothecary Table," I've liked that episode much less ever since I saw it pointed out that it's one long Pottery Barn commercial.

Joey says he'll give Ross free stuff at the coffee shop, as Joey has done for a particular hot (?) girl, "when you look like [she does] in a tight skirt." A tight skirt? A tight sweater, yes; a short skirt, yes; but does "tight skirt" make any sense? That's just not a thing.

Just little things:
They leave it unresolved, but I have a hard time believing Chandler didn't make up the joke about the doctor who's a monkey.

I, too, don't know what a pashmina is.

Little things I love:
The studio audience gets so sad when Monica and Chandler break the news to Joey that Chandler's moving out. Their hearts break for Joey's heartbreak!

The ambiguity of whether Phoebe's roommate, Denise, really exists.

When Monica was a little girl, she didn't have a crush on the Six Million Dollar Man; she had a crush on Kermit the Frog. (Girl, I can identify.)

Phoebe's magic purse (containing, among many other things, a goldfish in a bag).

Ross being touched that Rachel remembers what a trilobite is.

The sunburst-shaped lightswitch plate by Monica's front door. (I just noticed it.)

{removed: a Hulu video, can't remember of what}

Chandler's Tintin shirt in "The One that Could Have Been."

Monday = One Day, Tuesday = Two Day, Wednesday = When? huh? what day? Thursday = the Third Day.

Rachel's insistence that she can beat up all game show hosts.

How Matt LeBlanc plays the scene in "The One with the Proposal" when Joey tells Chandler that Monica's run off (although it turns out she hasn't really): it's fairly subtle, but he does it as Acting Joey instead of Regular Joey.

  • Phoebe: "Your tombstone can say whatever you want it to say! . . . Mine's gonna say 'Phoebe Buffay: Buried Alive.' "
  • Joey: "When I had insurance I could get hit by a bus, or catch on fire! It wouldn't matter! Now I gotta be careful?!" Chandler: "I'm sorry, man, there's never a good time to . . . stop catching on fire."
  • To Ross, who has crazily over-whitened his teeth--Chandler: "What was wrong with your old . . . human teeth?"
  • Monica: "Do you want to try this highlighter again?" Ross: "Nah, I think it poisoned me a little."
  • Chandler: "Why haven't you told them?" Monica: "I was going to, I really was, but then somehow--just outta nowhere!--I didn't."
  • Rachel: "Look, I'm melting butter!" Monica: "Great, Rach! You now have the cooking skills of a hot day."
  • Ross: "It tastes like feet!" Joey: "I like it!" Ross: "Are you kidding?" Joey: "What's not to like? Custard good, jam good, meat GOOD."
  • Ross, after promising to be cool: "OH MY GOD IT'S JUST LIKE I DREAMED IT!"
  • Rachel: "Well, you don't want to try too much, too fast. You do remember what happened to The Little Girl Who Tried Too Much Too Fast, don't you?" Jill: "What?" Rachel: "She . . . she died, Jill."
  • Monica: "You're jealous of Princess Caroline?" Rachel: "Do I have my own castle?"
  • Phoebe: "C'mon Ross, you're a paleontologist, dig a little deeper."
  • Joey: "Chandler is a complex fellow, one who is unlikely to take a wife."
And then there's Phoebe's prediction of how all their lives will play out:
Phoebe: "Well, first Chandler and Monica will get married--and be filthy rich, by the way--but it won't work out."
Joey: "Wow."
Phoebe: "I know. Then I'm gonna marry Chandler, for the money, and you'll marry Rachel and have the beautiful kids."
Joey: "Great."
Phoebe: "But then we ditch those two and that's when we get married. We'll have Chandler's money and Rachel's kids--and getting custody will be easy because of Rachel's drinking problem."
Joey: "Oh, what about Ross?"
Phoebe: "I don't want to go into the whole thing, but, um, we have words and I kill him."

Let's talk about Janice:
Friends fun fact: this is the only season in which Janice does not appear. Her voice shows up in "The One with the Unagi" (on the mix tape Chandler had claimed to make for Monica), and that's the least Janice any season ever has.

I've got a theory about Janice.

There are really two Janices. They have a lot in common, sure--whiny voice, that laugh, a distinct lack of social-and self-awareness. Janice 1 exists from Season 1 to Season 3; Janice 2 exists in Season 4 and beyond (except, arguably, for her appearance in Season 5). Janice 2 is born in the Season 4 episode "The One with All the Rugby." As Chandler explains, "You know all those little annoying things that she did before we fell in love? You know, like her voice and her laugh and her personality? Well, they're all back! And she's picked up like nine new ones!" From that point on (except in Season 5's "The One with Chandler's Work Laugh," to which we will return later), Janice is deployed to create uncomfortable/horrible situations.

In Season 10, she might move in next door to Monica and Chandler, because she'd be the worst neighbor ever! In Season 9, she sees them at the fertility clinic because who could more embarrassing to see at a fertility clinic?!? In Season 8, she ends up in Rachel's semi-private hospital room, because there's nobody worse to be trapped with in a small space! Janice is probably worst in her seventh season appearance. After she finds out that Chandler is marrying Monica, she starts trying to invade their lives, becoming the House Guest That Will Never Leave, thanks to her total inability to realize they want her to leave. She's annoying in every possible way there is to be annoying. (Incidentally, it's fairly infuriating that the writers repeated the Janice solution from Season 7--pretend Chandler's still in love with her to scare her away!--in Season 10. That's just insulting.) "The One with the Unagi" show that just the reminder that Chandler used to date Janice is insulting to Monica once he's dating her. The tone for all of this is set in Janice 2's first appearance, when Chandler is so desperate to get away from her that he pretends to move to Yemen. And apparently flies there, or something. I don't know. The Yemen episode also sets the low standards that Janice 2 episodes got held to.

Janice 1 episodes are more interesting. Janice starts out as the woman that Chandler is terrible at breaking up with. In her first appearance ("The One with the East German Laundry Detergent") she's a cool photographer who cares about Chandler enough to give him Rocky socks to match his Bullwinkle socks. Chandler makes a mess of their breakup because he's a mess when it comes to relationships. Janice is more overtly annoying in "The One with the Monkey," when she goes overboard gushing about how she and Chandler are "back together." She doesn't know that he just wanted Some Girl to be with at a New Year's Party, and he can't set her straight without hurting her. Again, Chandler is inadequate at handling the interaction.

Then there's "The One with the Candy Hearts." Chandler and Janice accidentally get set up on a blind double date. And oh, Janice is angry. ("By the way, Chandler, I cut you out of all my pictures, so if you want, I have a bag with just your heads. . . . You could make little puppets out of them and use them in your theater of cruelty.") Here too, she's overreacting, but it's not like Chandler is blameless for his behavior. They end up in bed together and once more Janice thinks they're officially Together while that's the last thing Chandler wants. Or is it? Chandler tells her it's not happening and Janice responds in what is, I think, her finest moment:

Season 2's "The One Where Heckles Dies" is all about Chandler's relationship inadequacies. He decides he's too picky and will therefore die alone. In desperation, he calls up his safety net. Janice (in her second-best burn) shows up married and pregnant. No dice, Chan-Chan Man. (Side note: "The One Where Heckles Dies" only aired eight months after "The One with the Candy Hearts," and Maggie Wheeler was pretty big, pregnancy-wise. Janice moved fast! [Maybe that's why it ended up not working out?])

I also like "The One with Barry and Mindy's Wedding," at the end of the second season. Chandler meets a girl on the internet who gets him; she calls him on his nonsense and makes him happy. He's devastated when he finds out she's married, but is willing to give it a shot when she says she wants to meet him.

Of course it's Janice. In her finest moment, she was right.

The first several episodes of Season 3 show Chandler not just dating Janice, but really happy with her. The conflicts in their relationship don't come from her flaws. Joey dislikes her, but that only causes friction between Chandler and Joey (which Janice does her best, bless her heat, to fix). They hit a slight rough patch when Chandler gets freaked out about being in a committed relationship, and then he overcompensates and freaks Janice out ("I'm hopeless and awkward and desperate for love!"). But Janice forgives him readily when he finally manages to explain what he's feeling. (And they even exchange "I love you"s. Aww.)

The only thing that breaks them up is Janice's Complicated Situation. She's got a kid and has a chance to make it work with her estranged husband (although she and the husband apparently don't have "movie love"). Chandler does the grown-up thing and steps aside. The dating-Janice-for-reals arc show a lot of growth in Chandler's character. (Not too much, since Chandler's attempt at a mature breakup goes awry and turns into shoe theft. "You can't leave without your shoe!")

Janice 2 is all about Janice's flaws. Janice 1 is more interesting because she's all about Chandler's flaws. Like Janice 2, she has her quirks, but any story with her in it is about Chandler's inadequacies and/or his efforts to grow out of them.

Furthermore, Janice 1 is secretly awesome.

She is! She's funny and cheerful and occasionally lays the smackdown where the smackdown is due.

That's why I'd classify Janice from "The One with Chandler's Work Laugh" as Janice 1, even though it comes after the Yemen one. This is the episode where Janice hooks up with Ross. Then she dumps him because he's just too whiny. BURN! See?

Janice is awesome.

Top five episodes:
"The One Where Joey Loses His Insurance"
or: "The One Where Phoebe's Going to Die" or: "The One with Ross's Accent"

"The One Where Chandler Can't Cry"
or: "The One with Rachel's Sister, Still" or: "The One with Phoebe Buffay, Porn Star"

"The One with the Proposal"
or: "The One Where Joey Buys The Mr. Bowmont" or: "The One Where Ross Dumps Elizabeth" or: "The One with the Backups"

including the total classics:
"The One Where Ross Got High"
or: "The One with Rachel's Trifle"

"The One That Could Have Been"
Click here to read more . . .

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Aggie Football and its Surprising Turn for the Better

In the comments for my previous post, both Angela and Craig wondered why I never put up a post celebrating/gloating about Texas A&M's shocking beatdown of Texas Tech last week. I have come up with several possible answers.

1. I . . . don't know.
That does seem just like something I should have done, doesn't it? I mean, my team beating the team whom I have most often expressed extreme loathing for, especially when it's only the second time we've beaten them in nine years, and the first time we've beaten them in Lubbock since 1993. 1993! I was in the fifth grade in 1993! Now I have two college degrees! It has been a long time since 1993. And I didn't even blog about this win? That's pretty weird, yeah. I don't know what was up with that.

2. My teeth hurt?
I was all, like, drugged up and stuff from my wisdom tooth pulling. (By the way, I keep meaning to write a wisdom-tooth-wrap-up post, but the drama continues to unfold. I got the dry socket, and it was just as unpleasant as legend foretold.)

3. I hate to admit this, but . . . I don't think I hate Texas Tech as much as I used to.
I know! This is shocking! It needs its own subheadings:
a. I live in Big T(elev)en Country, right? When you're deep in the heart of Texas, fellow Aggies are easy to come by. You band together against your enemies, i.e. people who root for texas, Texas Tech, and ever so occasionally, Baylor. But out here, any fellow Big Twelve person is a great find. When I was at A&M, KU was a rival, a lower-level one at that; here, me and my Jayhawk friend are the only ones around who "get it." And then of course, I've gone from being able to watch my team in person on a regular basis to being grateful when I can see any Big Twelve game on TV. It's a whole different dynamic.
b. I think I think Mike Leach is funny. My feelings about his weirdness have gone through a gradual progression from scorn to bewilderment to amusement. OK, amusement/bewilderment. Is there any other response when, for instance, his loss to A&M prompted him to contrast his job to coaching the "Swedish bikini team" and to blame the loss on his players' overconfidence, said overconfidence having been instilled by the players' "fat little girlfriends."
c. Angela has convinced me that not all Tech fans are soulless devil fiends, which was really the basis of most of my hatred. I mean, a lot of them are really terrible, but not all.

4. I did not listen to the game.
This might be the biggest reason I didn't write anything--I couldn't say anything from any particular authority, because all I did was follow the score on the gamecast. And the reasons I didn't listen were that it takes concentration and effort for me to listen to a football game as opposed to watching one (and I was all drugged up, remember?) and that I really didn't want to jinx it. I mean, after I listened to the whole K-State debacle, can you blame me?

All of this is not to say that I'm not excited. Of course I'm excited! And yesterday's victory over Iowa State, I think, confirms that this team has turned a corner. They have an offensive line now! That means they can, like, run the ball! And Jerrod can throw without having to run for his life first!

Most importantly, the Ags are only one game away from bowl eligibility! (Sure, maybe I aim low, but it's exciting to have the team achieve my hopes for them anyway.) Seriously, I could do a Chinese fire drill of football happiness right now. The Aggies only have to beat Colorado or Baylor, and with the way they've played in the last two games, those are both achievable. Heck, if they can maintain this level of play, I wouldn't rule out (knock on wood) a Thanksgiving Day surprise at Kyle. (I'm not saying it's going to happen, I'm just saying I'm not ruling it out.)

In conclusion, did the victory in Lubbock cancel out the massacre in Manhattan? Yes. Yes it did. And if that's not saying a lot, I don't know what would.
Click here to read more . . .

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A New Low

Let's be honest: I am a huge klutz. I don't fall much, but I trip quite a bit; I run into doorframes and doors as I try to walk through them; I drop stuff. A lot.

This problem is exaggerated at work, because I'm always moving and always carrying things. (The very essence of my job is to take books from once place and to put them in another place.) The soundtrack of my shifts at the library is liberally punctuated by the BLAM of books hitting the floor, the CLANG of movies falling over on metal carts, and the occasional KR-THAP-THAP-THAP of items tumbling across a computer keyboard. But today, for the first time, I accidentally threw some stuff at a baby.

Here's what happened. I was putting childrens' DVDs onto the cart where they go between getting checked in and getting put on the shelf. Behind the cart, a little girl who, I'm guessing, was maybe 15 months old, toddled over toward me. I smiled, because I smile at babies and at library patrons, and she was both. What I intended to do was use my hands to grasp about 4 DVDs and then place said DVDs gently onto the cart. What actually happened was that I picked the DVDs up, and then they shot right out of my hands, first up into the air, and then down into the immediate vicinity of the aforementioned baby. Probably three of them grazed her arms and legs. She looked at me with an expression of surprise and betrayal, and I apologized profusely. Her mom came over and was like, "Oh, it's fine." The baby did not cry, but it looked like she was considering it.

So as far as work-klutzitude goes, it's a new low. I hope not to match it anytime soon, but I can't promise anything.
Click here to read more . . .

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NFL Surprise

There's still a lot I'm learning about pro football. I've never followed it as closely as I have this season, so I often discover things that are brand new to me. But none have surprised me as much as what I found out just now.

So, I've been hearing and reading quite a bit about Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins. Here's what his deal his: he's super-rich and he's over-involved. What everybody says about him is that he acts like a fantasy football owner, thinking that if he throws enough money around and hand-picks a bunch of big-name guys, his team will automatically be awesome. However, since he's his own general manager, he can't get quality coaches because he won't allow them any real power. And since he's his own general manager, he won't fire his general manager, who is not very good at running a football team.

When I hear about this guy, I am always reminded of those other too-visible, too-powerful owners, Al Davis*

and Jerry Jones.

What I did not know about Snyder until I read this article this morning is what he looks like.

What?! He's just some nerd?!? Call me shallow, but I think my perception of him has changed. In my mind, he who once was a power-mad ogre is now a power-mad dweeb. (No wonder he likes his real-life fantasy football, right?)

*When you type "Al Davis" into Google Images, the third suggested search is "al davis crypt keeper."
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