28 February 2004

Down goes Staunton

The Bulldogs lost Thursday night to Litchfield by a score of 53-47.  It was close to the end, and they led after three quaerters, but they just could not pull it out.

They gave it their best and were playing as well as they have all season at the end.  I think that means their season was a success.

So my nephew's high school career is done.  I am happy for him that he was able to have this experience, of doing well in his last season, so he can remember it for the rest of his life and use it as a lesson to do his best no matter what he does in life.  And I have no doubt that he will.


27 February 2004

Live from virtual hell

To update my experience trying to buy Cub tickets online today, I gave up at 5:30, after actually buying tickets to one game and spending the rest of my time in the virtual waiting room.  I'll be watching the Cubs take on the Giants on the evening for May 18th from Wrigley, otherwise I'll be in the virtual waiting room.

But again, no real complaints about this.  It beats actually standing in line, or getting a wristband, I guess.

Some other quick baseball notes:

Jeff Kent proves he is an idiot and makes me hope the Cubs beat the Astros even more.  Is he sticking up for Barry Bonds?  It didn't seem like they got along when they were both in SF.  Has Kent ever seen a picture of Babe Ruth?  This is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard a professional athlete say.

Kerry Wood will not be a free agent after this season.  This was the biggest possible distraction for the team this summer.  Jim Hendry is as good a GM as there is in the game right now (And YES, THIS IS A BIASED CUBS FAN OPINION!), and all he needs to do right now is get Derek Lee signed.  Maybe my virtual waiting room needs padded walls...

But we're "compassionate", remember?

Doesn't really surprise me that the US will not support a ban on land mines.  Bothers me, of course, but doesn't surprise me.  And like the Kyoto global warming treaty, I'm getting tired of the "if everyone doesn't have to do it, then we don't have to either" excuse. 

It is truly ironic that we can be leaders when it comes to avenging botched assassination attempts on fathers-who-just-happen-to-be-ex-presidents, but when we really need to set an example, we just turn away.

I'm really getting sick of being so cynical. 

From the Republican inside me, dying to get out

Why is anyone thinking of voting for Blair Hull in the democratic primary race for US Senate on March 16?  I knew very little about him until I read a profile in the Sunday Trib last month.  I couldn't believe what I was reading about his life.  Here are some samples:

-He was a professional blackjack player for a short period in the 70's

-He started a commodities trading business, which was later fined exensively for rules violations

-He's been married and divorced several times, twice to the same woman, who filed an order of protection against him during their last divorce.

-He moved to Illinois in 1980 but did not register to vote until 1995.  He also didn't vote in the 2000 election.

I'm not saying the guy is a criminal, but he certainly does not have an impressive resume.  Yet he leads in some of the polls.  Why?  Because he is shown in a commercial busing seniors to Canada for their prescription drugs?  Well, partly.  He'e leading for one reason, and one reason only: he is spending the most money.  And a lot of it is his money.  He's on television the most, so he is the most recognizable.  And if it wins him the nomination, the Republicans will slaughter him.   If the Democrats of this state are dumb enough to nomiante him for Senate, they deserve the pounding that will result.

I think it's a shame that Peter Fitzgerald, the incumbent GOP, is not running for re-election.  He's done a great job.  I disagree with him about O'Hare (he is dead against it) but I admire how he has stood up all through the debate and not wavered his stand at all.  And he had the guts to appoint a US Attorney in Chicago that was not part of the Daley machine.  He's been helpful to all people of the state.

How ironic is it, then, that the primary reason Fitzgerald gave for not running for re-election was that he has grown tired of the constant fund raising competition in politics.  And we show him how much we care for his opinion by christening the candidate the man with the most money one of the front runners to succeed him.  And we deserve it.  Until we decide to take this process much more seriously, we deserve it.  I hope the results of the primary prove me wrong and that the nominaion is not bought. 

Watching paint dry

I've been floating in a virtual waiting room on the Cubs website since 9:30 this morning.  It's an interesting concept.  When I logged on to try to buy tickets I received a message that due to enormous demand, all online customers are being randomly selected to buy tickets.  Then a clock counts down thirty seconds and when it expires, my browser refreshes.  So far I have yet to be lucky enough to get into the virtual ticket office.  And I am losing my virtual mind.  I've paid my bills, cleaned out a file cabinet, and read a few old magazines, all within a few feet of my laptop.  This is truly the first time that I crave a wireless connection.

I only want to go to three or four games at most.  I had partial season tickets for the prior five years, but while last year was a success for the team, it was horrible for me.  The Cubs were 3-10 in games I attended last year, including two playoff games.  I've been going to games for a long time, and I never had worse results.  So this year I am only going to attend a select few (a virtual few perhaps) and let the rest of what I hope will be a historical season play out before me on my television.

Hey, hey, I'm in!  Let's see what happens...

OK, it's 20 minutes later.  I wanted to get four tickets to the game against the Giants on the night of May 18, but I could not get four together anywhere in the park.  I had to settle for two down the right field line, ironically not far from the same seats I have sat in for the last five years.  After being informed that I could not get four seats, it took fifteen minutes to see if two were available because of "high traffic errors."  No idea what that means.

Not that I am complaining.  I'd rather spend a wasted Friday trying to do this inside my apartment rather than camping outside, which I always avoided in the early 90's (it was my job, I swear, not the fact that I don't camp ever, especially not in mid-February.  Hello, Donny...) and was fortunate enough to have a friend or two to get me some tickets.

Let's hope I can get to a Cardinal game.

25 February 2004


Tomorrow they blow up the "Bartman Ball."  It is my hope that this ridiculous stunt ends once and for all any discussion of the events of Game 6 of last years playoff series between the Cubs and the Marlins.  It's time to accept the fact that the Cubs blew it and the Marlins were the better team.  No foul ball should overshadow the rest of the deciding action on the field.

Actually, I am surprised at how quickly I got over the fact that the Cubs blew their best chance at a World Series in my lifetime.  It took me less than two weeks.  I'm sure it is because that unlike prior Cub playoff teams, this one seems primed and ready for many years of success.  I've never been more excited about a season as I am this one (and yes, I do realize that I may indeed be setting myself up for an incredible fall, but you can't enjoy the view if you don't get close enough).

With spring training underway, I have no desire to rehash the events of last October, and surely I no longer want to hear anything about a curse.  Unfortunately the media and those involved in the destruction of this baseball seem committed to never allowing us to forget.

So here's what I hope happens tomorrow, when all the media is gathered at Harry Caray's restaurant to watch the ball go boom: a mistake in calculations leads to too much of a charge placed in the ball, and the walls of the restaurant come tumbling down.  While no one is hurt, the collapse seals everyone inside.  Hey, it's a restaurant, there will be plenty of food and water available for everyone for quite a while.

Excavation will be tricky.  It should take at least until the end of October before anyone emerges from the rubble.  Amazingly, everyone is OK.

And I will be even better, because they'll miss the entire baseball season.


Mr. Huckabee, God on line 2

I saw something on "Countdown" on MSNBC (and if you are not watching this, you are missing the best news show on television) last night that I have not seen anywhere else, nor have I read about it anywhere.  At the meeting of Republican governors Monday night, Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee received a phone call on his cell in the middle of his address to the group.

The phone call was from God.

Yes, the Almighty decided to blow a call into the elected official with the goofiest surname in America.  Unfortunately Governor Mike does not have a speaker phone on his cell so we had to listen to him repeat God's words.  Predictably, God told Huck to make sure that the GOP governors continue to work to keep the country safe, keep taxes low, and most importantly (say it with me), keep marriage sacred!

It continues to amaze me how Republicans continue to believe that they are the party of God, and it amazes me more that the Democrats do not question them on this at all.  Clearly the idea of separation of Church and State is as much under attack as any other social issue in this country.

And I don't understand why this idiotic and insulting stunt from Huck is not receiving more exposure.


I'm not quite finished

While I think I have sufficiently proven why an amendment to the Constitution is a pandering to a certain constituency group, I find I still have things to get off my chest about it:

First, for those I continue to hear on sound bites lamenting how gay marriage lessens the meaning of your "normal" marriage, get over yourself.  If you can allow this to cause stress in your marriage, there was a weakness in it before this came up, and you are ony repressing blame upon people that you will most likely never know. 

As I contemplate my own marriage next spring, I find it to be the most intense individual experience that I will ever partake.  It will be just myself and Kristen.  In marriage we can surely be influenced by the actions of others, but ultimately only we will be responsible for our union.  Just two of us trying to make a life out of whatever time we have left on this Earth.  I do feel a certain religious presence guiding us to the altar, but the thought of two males or two females having the opportuntiy to share this feeling does not lessen the spirituality.  In fact, I would be excited for any couple who chooses to partake in marriage, so long as they take it seriously and are sure that they are prepared for it.

Ah, which leads me to my next point.  With 50% of all marriages in this country ending in divorce, who is anyone to judge the capacity of a person to marry?  Where were all these marriage KGB'ers when Elizabeth Taylor was dating?  Why didn't anyone stop Mickey Rooney?  And who let Zsa Zsa Gabor out again?  Plenty of heterosexual people make a mockery of marriage in this country (and please do not think that I am labeling anyone who has been divorced as mocking marriage, you know what I am referring to), yet there is no cry from the right about this.

My last point: it is statistical fact that approximately ten percent of the population of the US is gay, so let's estimate it at 30 million.  Today, the President essentially told 30 million people that they are not as good as the rest of us, that for whatever reason, they do not deserve what everyone else can have.  That is discrimination, and it is wrong.  The President should be ashamed of himself for even considering to add such a thing to the greatest document in the history of recorded time, the United States Constitution.

Amend this...

Tuesday we saw another inspiring moment from President Bush, as he "reached out" to the far conservative wing of his party, the one that he has been pissing off regularly with his fiscal irresponsibility, by declaring his support for an amendment to the US Constitution banning gay marriage.

You may recall, as I do, that the President spent a good deal of time in the 2000 campaign reminding us that he was a "compassionate conservative."  He was also for smaller government, less spending, and the idea that the decision whether or not to allow gays to marry be left up to each individual state.

Yep, that's right, the President did not support the same amendment he called for today back in 2000.  Smaller government, remember, so leave it up to the states.  Besides, the money it would cost to lobby for the amendment and such would be too much.  And since we'd be cutting spending, where would the funding come from anyway?

We all know that 9/11 changed this administrations policy on spending and small government.  9/11 changed everything, so we have been told several times.  So of course I am waiting for the President to tell us how 9/11 has changed his policy on this amendment.

Let's play "sentence association": I will give you a phrase and you tell me what a Republican will reply.  Ready?  Here goes:

I say "Gun control"

You say "We can't change the Constitution!  It's a sacred document that gives us all definitive rights!"

BING BING BING!!!  You play this game very well.  We will retire you as champion right now.  Yes, we cannot change the Constitution just because 10,000 people on average are killed by guns each year, but we CAN change it if you want to burn a flag or marry someone of your gender.  Makes complete and total sense to me.

I remember when I was in high school it was required that we pass a state wide test on the US Constitution in order to graduate. I recall that every single thing I read about it pounded the same thing over and over into my skull, that this is a country of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, where all men are created equal. 

The Constitution exists to give us things, not to take them away.  The only addition to the Constitution that took things from us was prohibition, and we all know how wonderful that turned out.

Think if only Al Capone was gay...

Just a friendly reminder

Before I address the inspiring words of our President today regarding gay marriage, this friendly reminder:

We still have soldiers in Iraq.  Over 500 hundred of our service people have died since March.  Most since the President declared "Mission Accomplished."

May I please have a Constitutional amendment banning American soldier deaths in bullshit wars?


My nephew's high school team, the Staunton Bulldogs, won their opening game of the Class A playoffs tonight 60-58 over Mt. Olive, which was heavily favored.

The Bulldogs have won three games in a row, their longest streak of the season (hey, small steps before big ones, remember?).  They play Litchfield Thursday, and will again be heavy underdogs.

Good luck!

23 February 2004

Additional Nader buzz

You can read about how some Nader 2000 voters feel here.

Be it Kerry, Edwards or Mickey Mouse for the democrats in the fall, I believe most who voted for Nader in 2000 will not do so again.

Run, Ralph, run!

Ralph Nader running for President is the best thing that the Democrats could ask for, short of a grand dragon costume being found in a storage locker belonging to George W. Bush. 

I know a few people who voted for Nader in 2000.  For most of them, there was no way they could ever vote Republican, yet Gore had no appeal to them.  Nader was a viable alternative for those who could not vote for either.  I also know of people who voted for Nader in the hope that he would capture 5% of the overall vote, which would have qualified the Green Party for federal campaign funds in subsequent presidential elections.  Every person I know has at some point in the last three years expressed regret for voting for Nader, given what this country has experience under our Bush.

It is wrong to blame Bush's "victory" in 2000 on Nader.  Gore lost because he is Gore, a unique specimen of how to squander eight years of prosperity.  If Gore does not spend every night lying awake wondering how Bush 1 was elected solely on the basis of being vice-president during the Reagan years yet he could not after being Clinton's VP, I'd like to see the size of his prescription bottle.

Nader's run in 2000 had a certain nobility to it.  This time, as an independent, it is nothing but an ego trip.  He will get less than one percent of the vote, if he is even able to get on the ballot.  People will see him for what he has become, an aging, irrelevant man who cannot accept that his time in the spotlight has dwindled.  What has Nader done for the last three years to prepare himself and the country for this run?  Nothing.  He presence will be a non-issue.

And there is no way that the Democrats will ignore him.  He will be blasted often, and we will all tire of the comments of how his presence in the 2000 race gave us GW and a war.  I predict at some point we will see advertisements that show Bush and Nader together ("a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush").

Nader is making a mistake.  His time in the national light is long gone, and he should step back, admire his accomplishments, and pass along his wisdom and experience to others who can better present his ideas. 



Adios SATC

I admit I was never much a fan of "Sex and the City."  I only started watching this show within the last year, though I had seen it and read enough about it since its debut to know that it was not for me.  I never felt an attraction to any of the characters, as people, nor could I identify with their surroundings.  As such, it always felt like unbelievable fiction.  Good television shows make me feel like I could be there or that something like what is going on in the show could happen to me.  I never felt that way about "Sex and the City."

Maybe I am missing its value.  I know plenty of people who were absolutely devoted to this show, and they are not all females.  I have no idea what it is like to live in New York (though I also have never lived in Miami, but "Miami Vice"-NOW THAT WAS A TV SHOW!!!), nor pay $400 for a pair of shoes, yet these two things seemed to be the focal point of every episode.  I watched every episode this past season, and aside from the occasional great one-liner, I would have sworn I was watching a soap opera.  It was way too serious.  Not enough humor, way too much unbelievabilty, and too predictable.

So this will come as no surprise: I thought the finale was lame, and was written for the devotees who demanded that all loose ends be fitly tied up all neat and pretty.  Why do people who write comedy shows feel the need to abandon it when it comes time for the end?  Critics said that the series worked because it was timely, trendy and funny.  Yesterday was none of that.  The finale was what would have been written by any above average fan.  The people who produced this show for six years missed a real chance at demonstrating a lasting example of creativity.

I would have liked to see something completely outrageous and unpredictable.  The finale of "Seinfeld" was truly horrible.  Why not do it again, this time with Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha being forced to listen to the full roster of past characters slam them for being self-absorbed, over-spending socialites who refused to assist a crime victim because they weren't wearing proper footwear?

Only two weeks until the Sopranos!


20 February 2004

Things you learn in a small town

Not a lot of inspirational stuff going on this week.  A bunch of us went downstate to see my nephew play his last home high school basketball game Tuesday.  I forgot how much I like the closed-in setting of a high school gymnasium for basketball, how you can hear the pound of every dribble, every word the coach says to his team and to the officials, and the assorted noises the players make as they play the game.

That's where my nephew comes in.  He's not an offensive force, though he is active without the ball and reacts properly should he find it in his possession.  But the kid can play defense.  He holds a defensive position as well as any seventeen year old I've seen play and has the uncanny ability to not leave his feet unless the ball is going in the air.  He can rebound, block shots and get steals.  But the highlight of this particular game was his ability to draw offensive fouls.  He did it three times and had a fourth one waved off by a foul on another player. 

Coaches love that stuff.  And it's clear that my nephew has spent time studying defense, because each time he took a charge, he sold it with the way he fell and the sounds he made.  He was not flopping, every charge was a legitimate call, but he made sure the officials noticed it.  And in that small setting, you could hear the lift that it gave his team as well as the frustration that it caused their opponents.

My nephew knows that this is most likely the end of his organized basketball career, yet it was refreshing to see him concentrate so hard on a part of the game that most kids his age ignore, because it's not the part of the game you see on Sportscenter or read about in the paper. 

I'm biased, of course, as he is my only nephew, but I don't worry about his future.  His performance on the court mirrored the way he lives his life, paying attention to the smaller things that most of us ignore so that he helps others feel good about themselves.  He achieves success without advertising it, and everyone around him benefits.  I don't know many people his age who do that. 

I don't know may people of any age who do that.


19 February 2004

Read this now

This week's issue of "Newsweek" has an excellent article by Jonathan Alter on page 32 that sums up this country's president better than I could ever possibly express.

16 February 2004

What's next for Boston vs. New York

Item: the New York Yankees trade for baseball's best and richest player, Alex Rodriguez, the ultimate trump move in the "can you top this?" game that has been going on between Boston and New York the entire off-season.

Rumor has it that satellite photos of Fenway Park show missiles being deployed into silos pointed towards Yankee Stadium.  The Yankees are exepected to respond by deploying nuclear submarines into Boston Harbor.

We are at Def Con 4

How long til spring? part 2

I think for me that baseball changed for good in 1993, when the Cubs let their best pitcher go and cried that they were too poor to pay him what he was worth.  That was Greg Maddux, who ironically apears to be returning to the team, but only because this is where he can get the most money.  I watched as player after player signed contracts that continued to rise until someone inked a deal for $100 million, money that at the time would have taken me 2000 years to make at my current job.

And of course, the players and owners managed to cancel a World Series.  1994, the year baseball played an exhibition season of 130 games.

Now there is a player that will make $200 million over the course of his contract, and he has just been traded to the Yankees.  Alex Rodriguez joins a team that will pay five of its players more than three teams in the league will play their entire roster.

Baseball is now a game where half of the thirty teams go to spring training with no chance of making the playoffs.  The Cubs are one of the "haves", so I continue to be sucked in. 

I've heard people say "hate the game, not the player", which I think describes my relationship with the Cubs, except that I can't call it a game anymore.  I'm not sure what to call it, other than what it is, a business, more concerned with money than success. 

Yellow easy chair not included!


How long til spring? part 1

Aside from my family, the only other thing I can say has been a constant presence in my life is baseball.  I love it.  I started watching it when I was four.  Our grandmother was living with us then, and she would watch every single game.  She would sit in her yellow easy chair in her bedroom with her small black and white television on a table about ten feet away.  She used an earpiece to hear the play by play better, and I can remember watching just the images of the game, without sound.  This was in the early seventies, when the Cubs played all of their home ganes during the day, and the White Sox were not telecast on a channel that we could receive in our house.  Through the grace Grace (grandma's name) and WGN, I became a die hard Cubs fan.

I used to play whiffle ball in the backyard by myself.  I used to invent baseball games I could play indoors in the winter time.  I'd use a toy light saber from "Star Wars" for a bat and a nerf ball for a baseball.  Anything hit over the cornice above the windows was a home run.  I could name the entire 25 man roster of every team in the national league.  I'd beg my father to buy me the season preview books every spring and read the thousand pages of info in a few days.  I used to run four blocks home from school when it ended at 3:20 in the hopes that I could see the last inning or so.


I am trying to remember when I realized that baseball was not a game anymore, that it was a business.  Big business.  I remember that Nolan Ryan was the first player to ever sign a million dollar contract.  I remember when Ryne Sandberg became the highest paid player in the game.  I think that lasted a week before someone else signed a higher contract.  I remember when lights were put into Wrigley Field so that the Cubs would be better able to contend.  That was in 1988, and there was still no mention of finances, so I think then I was still naive enough to think baseball as just a game.

I remember the Cubs made the playoffs again in 1989.  They lost to San Francisco in the league championship series, and the powers that be responded with an earthquake.  And it was still a game. 

see part 2


13 February 2004

I really don't want to do this

It's only mid-February.  The election is still 8 1/2 months away.  There's still a ton of time for the issues to be addressed, minds to be made up, and votes to be cast.

There were two primaries this week.  Do you know where they were?  Did you hear anything about them?  Of course not, because instead we have been bombarded with National Guard pay stubs, pictures of Jane Fonda, dental records, and rumors of more democratic infidelity.

I like to think of myself as a calm individual.  However, if you indulge me, I'd like to say something to the spin doctors of both parties:


There.  I feel better.  Sorry to yell, but sometimes it's all you can do.  Can't promise that I won't do it again.

Big heads under the golden dome

It's been a slow sports week here in Chicago.  The Bulls and Blackhawks are having miserable seasons, there's no news to report on the Bears and spring training is still a few weeks away.

Ah, thank God though for the alumi of Notre Dame  412 of them have sent a letter to the university demading that changes be made in the athletic department so that the football program can "return to its greatness."  I must disclaim-I despise Notre Dame football.  I always have.  And I'm Irish AND Catholic-go figure.  For as long as I can remember I have been turned off completely by the attitude and pomposity of a majority of its supporters, and the way the media feeds off it.  The campus is quite a distance from Chicago, but if you check out the front page of the Tribune sports section on Sunday during the college football season you would think the school is downtown.  The coverage is all over the place.

I realize that the Notre Dame network is extensive, especially in the midwest, and I have nothing against the school, or even the other programs in the athletic department.  But I am fascinated by the attention their football program receives, how nothing else there seems to matter.  I'm all for history and lore, but I fail to see how 412 graduates writing a letter complaining about the football team demonstrates the priorities of a university from an alumni perspective.

I went to Iowa, which for the last three decades or so has had a fairly decent football program.  Some of my fondest memries of college are of attending football games.  The team went to the Rose Bowl my senior year.  It's always better when the team you support wins instead of loses, of course, but if someone approached me and asked me to sign a letter essentially telling the school that I am unhappy about the team losing, I'd be tempted to say yes, then burn it when it was given to me to sign.  I'd rather Iowa field a team that plays to the best of its ability and graduates every player, rather than an undefeated team that graduates less than a third. 

I received a BA from Iowa.  On my diploma it says "Bachelor of Arts." 

I assume at ND it would say "Bachelor of Arrogance."

11 February 2004

Two cups of coffee, and one complete life

Something happened this past Sunday that I was fairly certain would not occur in my life: I asked a woman to marry me, and she accepted.  I'm sure any competent therapist could spend plenty of time figuring out why I would say that I was certain that I would not get married ever, but only one thing had led me to this assumption.  I was happy living life single and saw no reason to ever want it to change.

In fact, I was so adamant in my love for the single life that I chose to go public with it.  I saw an article in a section of the Sunday paper asking for single men over the age of 35 to participate in a group discussion on why you enjoyed being single, and I decided to respond.  I was invited to attend a meeting with the reporter that would lead to my appearance in an article on bachelorhood.  It was OK.  I was low key and thought I was one of the better men represented in the piece.  I was surprised, however, at an inclusion at the very end of the article that invited anyone who might be interested in contacting any of the men in the article to email the reporter.  She would then pass it on to the participant.  Frankly, I was embarrassed to read that, and had I known that was going to be part of the article, I would have declined to be a part of it.  I'm not saying that to be snobbish, it is just not my style.

I was fortunate enough to receive a few forwarded emails of people who were interested, and I felt it was right for me to acknowledge them.  It had to take a certain amount of courage to contact someone you had just seen in the paper but did not know.  I thanked them for their interest and mentioned that I would be open to meeting, but I was leaving for a week's vacation that next day, and upon returning home I would be moving to a new apartment. 

Two weeks later, when I was back from California and settled into my new place, I made a date with a girl named Kristen, to meet at a local restaurant for a cup of coffee.  The date is now forever etched in my mind, April 12, 2003.  It was cloudy, windy and cold.  But I also have to admit that I was not nervous.  Here I was, meeting a woman for what was essentially a blind date, except she already knew what I looked like, and there were no nerves at all.

The restaurant was very crowded, and I have never felt more on display than I did at that moment.  After a few minutes, Kristen approached me and introduced herself.  We both got a cup of coffee and sat down at a table that she had been sitting at for a few minutes.

Those cups of coffee lasted four hours.

Now four hours has turned into ten months, and ten months into forever.  I gave Kristen a ring Sunday morning, concealed in a coffee cup, of course (it was empty and clean).  Now I see that ring on her finger, and I think of all of the things that had to happen for us to meet, from me agreeing to appear in that article, her writing to the paper, and I know that this was meant to be.  I believed this before, but now more than ever, that there is a script for everyone, and it is a matter of time before it pierces your life and becomes reality.

And reality is that my single life has come to an end, and I could not be more lucky.

Kristen, all I can say is thank you.  I love you very much.




I approved this entry

I was in Oklahoma and New Mexico last month when both states were getting ready to hold primaries (technically, there was a caucus in NM) and I noticed that every time I heard or saw a political ad that at the end, the candidate said "I'm (candidate), and I approved this ad."  Upon my return to Illinois I have noticed the same thing as more and more ads run in anticipation of our March 16 primary.

I've since read that this "approval announcement" at the end is a result of the campaign finance reform law that John McCain sponsored last year.  If you are going to politically advertise, you have to tell the public that you approve of the message in your ad.  I love this law, not because it tells me that the candidate that I just saw assuring seniors they will fix their prescription prices, surrounded by out of work factory workers telling them they will find them jobs, and teaching inner city kids math, that they approved these fluff images. 

No, I love this law because I hate negative political ads.  I still haven't gotten over the fact that I waited all through the summer and fall of 1988 for Willie Horton to show up at a weekend BBQ.  I can't wait to see candidates appear on the screen and tell me that they have approved the ad that I just saw, the one that says that their opponent is "too extreme for America/Illinois" while black and white images of people running around waving guns and/or standing in soup lines are shown while music plays that makes you think you are about to be attacked by a great white shark. 

I live for media moments like this, and I think I'll have to vote for the candidate who does the best job at keeping a straight face during these approval snippets.

Man I love this country!

I see numbers

I have to admit that I do pay attention to the box that appears on the left side of the main page of this log telling me how many times it has been visited since a certain date.  As it approaches 150, I am humbled that people are actually reading this.  I am enjoying this opportunity to express my thoughts into words as I continue to find the way to make a living out of this.

I would welcome any kind of feedback to something that is posted here, bad as well as good.  If my style becomes lazy I have hope that someone will let me know.

If you are reading this, thanks.

09 February 2004

And the winner is...

In 1995, when O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murdering two people, I assumed that the title of "dumbest jury ever" would have to be retired.  However, nine years later, that group of twelve has been bumped into second place.

I was reading about the case in Florida of the eleven year old girl that was abducted and later found dead over the weekend.  I've heard of plenty of crimes committed by people that should have been in jail for prior acts, but I don't recall hearing of a situation where the man accused was tried for a related crime previously, only to be found not guilty.

Several years ago, the man accused of abducting and murdering this girl was on trial for attempted kidnapping, and the victim testified that he threatened her with a knife and also said that if she did not cooperate that he would kill her.  While not having seen an actual transcript of the testimony, it seems rather conclusive.  Or maybe not.  The defense instead argued that the man was only trying to help the victim because she looked as she was going to fall into the street and there was quite a bit of traffic.  He was actually saving her, not threatening her.

The jury bought it and found him innocent.  The guy has been in constant trouble since, up to this incident. 

I'm all for innocent until proven guilty, but I think we should change the wording to "You will be judged by a jury of your peers, who may in fact be complete idiots."  And I think that would make for some interesting questioning when juries are being screened: "Have you ever watched an episode of "The Simple Life?  Yes?  Your honor, I accept this juror."

I can't imagine what any of those jurors that acquitted this guy must be feeling today.

07 February 2004


My father was born seventy years ago today.  This morning I was thinking about what it has been like in the twenty months since he has been gone, and I can't seem to come up with the one word to describe it.  There is no one emotion or feeling that rises above all others.

I am an arch-realist.  It is the one trait that I can unequivocally say I inherited from Dad.  I have never known someone who looked at life in the way that he did, how he kept everything in the proper perspective.  He was never overly excited, he was never overly down.  He was as steadfast a person who has ever lived a day on this planet.  As I look back on things I am thankful for his gift, the way he taught me to be realistic, because it helped me immeasurably when he passed away.  I had accepted that fact that in the normal course of life, a son buries his father.  I was ready for that long before it actually had to happen.  I have never felt any anger, denial or regret about our relationship.  I was lucky enough to be taught to appreciate the things that you have now, today, because there will be a time when they no longer exist.

But I do have to admit to a certain level of sadness today, because in my scheme, I had always assumed that today, his 70th birthday, we'd celebrate the last "milestone" birthday of his life.  I always thought he would live at least this long.  I know Dad had no desire to be "old" and that he would never stick around long enough to feel the severe effects of aging, and in my realistic world I thought that meant he'd live until about 73 or so.

Now when talking about my father and birthdays, I realize that it is silly to mourn this missed opportunity of celebrating one of his; he was not one for celebrating his birthday.  I have had root canals that were more pleasurable than trying to get him to give me a gift idea or two.  And age is just a number.  Someone who claims to be as realistic as me should know that.  So why do I feel like I am missing something more today that the other days?  I think it is because I have found that the second passing of specific events since his death have been harder than the first.  Every first holiday without him was a learning experience, a way of trying to understand what it feels like to go on without him physically here.   

Every second holiday has just been a reminder of what that first one was like.  In my opinion, this past Christmas was harder than Christmas 2002.  But now that I am aware of what it feels like to repeat the experience, I expect all of them to be easier from now on.

I can't say that I have learned anything about Dad since he died, and that statement makes me happy.  I feel that I knew him as best as I could while he was alive.  Again, no regrets.  I feel fortunate to realize that.  I have learned things about my friends, my relatives, my siblings and their families.  But by far, I have learned more about my mother than everyone else combined.  Throughout my life, I would describe my mother as the kindest, most thougthful and caring person I know, but now I would also have to say that she is by far the strongest person I know.  She always had to be this way, I just never realized it.  No one could possibly just acquire the strength that she has shown us in the last twenty months.  I can't speak for others, though I am sure that they agree, but I know I would not have been able to deal with everything as well as I think I have without her.  She has the most class and greatness of anyone I know.

So we move on, because that is what you do with your life.  I think about my father every day, and I am amazed at the memories that continue to come to me that I had long forgotten about.  Recently I came across a bunch of cassette tapes that he made of Irish music that was broadcast on the radio every Saturday morning when we were kids.  He would play these tapes over and over again.  I never cared much for the music as a child, but as I grew older I learned to appreciate it.  I took these tapes with me on my last two week drive down south.  It was a pleasure to be able to hear them again, a gift really.

I have found that we seem to be fortunate enough to continue to receive gifts from people even after they have died.  That is the true legacy of my father and his life.  I can be sad from time to time about missing his physical presence, but the happiness that I get just from the knowledge of the time I had with him far outweighs it.


06 February 2004

Ozzie rocks

The White Sox have started their radio ad campaign for the upcoming season.  They feature their new manager, Ozzie Guillen, talking about how every game is important.  It's in response to the last few years when the Sox have started slow, then played better to get into contention, only to fall short of the division title by the end of the year.  The idea is simple, win in April as much as you do in August and you will win championships.

But the point is overshadowed by Guillen.  He rambles throughout the commercial, so much that I can close my eyes and see a whole bunch of interesting sound bites this year on the south side.  I think the Sox will be boring this year if they win.  If they lose, it will be a memorable year.  Ozzie's going to go nuts this year, I guarantee it.  He'll be just as entertaining as Mayor Daley.

UPDATE: A local DJ in Chicago has combined this commercial with part of Al Pacino in "Scarface."  It's impossible to tell them apart.  I can picture Ozzie going to the mound to take out a pitcher this year: "Say hello to my little friend..."

Burn this

The comic strip "Agnes", which I read daily in the Chicago Tribune, makes me laugh regularly.  It has been killing me this week, though.  If you don't read it, Agnes is a schoolgirl with enormous feet who lives in a trailer home with her grandmother.  She doesn't have a lot, but her mind is always working and she comes up with some strange ideas.  Anyway, for the past few days Agnes has been concerned about spontaneous human combustion and is convinced that she is seconds away from bursting into flames.  In today's strip she has rigged a portable shower system that connects to her body and will activate should it detect any sparks.

I realize that it is always hard to accurately describe in words what something looks like in pictures, and I'm sure it doesn't seem as funny as I think it is.  What makes me laugh about it is the memory of having a discussion about SHC with a friend sometime in the early 80's who doubted the existence of this phenomenon and came up with several hilarious scenarios where it might occur.  I believe coming home from the grocery store with a bag of marshamellows was deemed the absolute best time for one to spontaneously combust.

I love the fact that a comic I read in 2004 takes me back to an obscure occurence on my life from over twenty years ago.  I sometimes wonder if I remember way too much for my own good, though anything that makes me laugh is a welcome distraction.

And I've noticed lately that whenever I talk about comics with someone, that the person tells me that they don't read them.  When I was a kid I thought all adults read the comics based on the way my father hoarded the Sunday comics as soon as he walked into the house with the paper.  It was always a challenge to see if someone could abscond with them before he noticed. 

And today, as I near the age of 37, the first thing I read on Sunday is the comics.

05 February 2004

Anyone? Grumpy? Grumpy? Grumpy?...

So yesterday was not inspiring, as my two entries show.  I have always felt that if someone is going to comment in a political forum, they'd better be able to have a style that distinguishes them from all of the other blowhards out there.  That's why the only cable news show I watch is "Countdown" with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC.  It's the closest thing to SportsCenter that politics/news can be. 

I encourage anyone to tell me when I get too pompous, too annoying, and most importantly, too bland.  Venturing into political commentary is risky, because it is hard to get beyond the tone of condescension, but it is also exhilirating when you can pull it off.  It's a long, long way until November.


04 February 2004

Short takes on things you may not care about

Item: Haliburton admits over charging the government for meals supplied to troops in Iraq.

This follows the news last month that Haliburton over charged millions of dollars for gasoline in Iraq as well.  Everybody knows Vice-President Cheney was the CEO of this company before he accepted the VP role. 

George, can you say "conflict of interest"?  Most organizations do everything to avoid even the hint of a potential conflict of interest.  You need to sever the relationship that this administration has with Haliburton.  I can't believe more people aren't talking about this.

Item: Howard Dean still hasn't won a primary/caucus.

Has there ever been a media-christened front runner that failed to win a single event?  Dean's done, obviously.  Everyone will look back to his post-Iowa caucuses rant and point to that as his downfall.  I don't get that.  What is wrong with showing a little passion?  If Dean was a football coach, people would have applauded that speech.  We need a few more politicians who show emotion. 

Item: FCC to launch official inquiry into Super Bowl half-time show.

Here's an idea: promote the off button on all television remotes.  Or maybe have the Church Lady be the entertainment at next year's game.

Can you spare a trillion?

News item: President Bush submits $2.4 billion budget to Congress which calls for a deficit of almost half a trillion dollars.

As just a number, deficits are overrated.  The true measure of a deficit is how it compares to the Gross Domestic Product.  Usually a deficit is targeted to be no more than 3-5% of the country's GDP.  But if you spend some time researching it, no one can tell you what the deficit is anyway.  Every group has their own way of calculating it.  Today, a democrat will tell you that the deficit is huge and out of control, while a republican will say that it is not a big deal.  The opinions were reversed when there was supposed surplus during the late Clinton years.

Here's all that matters to me: the president was "elected" on the premise that he would cut everyone's taxes, which he has.  But he's nuts on spending.  Basic economics tells you that if you take in less revenue yet spend more, you're going to be in trouble.  To assume all the money saved on lower taxes will go back into the public sector is ridiculous.  People have to pay their bills first.

This president lost me economically when he insisted on going forward with his tax cuts while telling us that we were in a war time economy.  I would have been eternally impressed with him had he stood up before the nation and said "this is war, war calls for sacrifices, and I ask that you understand that I am taking your tax cut and putting it towards the war effort instead."

But that would never happen, of course.  The cost of a deficit is much less than the cost of lost votes.

03 February 2004

Why don't they call it Roundtine???

I just saw the "Ovaltine" episode of Seinfeld here in Tulsa.  "Ovaltine, Jerry, that's rich!"  Classic.

But when you think of it, why is it called Ovaltine? 

It occurs to me that for the last ten months, I have lived in an apartment complex called "Lincoln at Ovaltine Court."  This property used to be an Ovaltine factory.  The original building still stands, so does the giant smokestack. 

The truth to the origin of its name has to be here someplace.

I'm all over it.  More info when I figure it all out.

What did you expect?

I had a ten hour drive today from Albuquerque to Tulsa.  Despite my earlier post promising to stop listening to conservative talk radio, I found myself unable to avoid it today.  Of course, the big story was the half-time show of the Super Bowl and the baring of half of Janet Jackson's bossom (one s?  If I'm only talking about half of it do I leave out one s?).  Outrage, outrage, outrage!  There was enough hot air coming out of my radio today to pop a lot of popcorn.

The best thing I heard today, as far as humor quality, was the assertion by Sean Hannity that the entire half-time show was basically a training video for Al Qaeda.  "This is why they hate us..." blah blah blah.  Hysterical.  My ribs hurt from laughing so much.  Of course, St. Hannity was being completely serious.

I didn't see the half-time spectacle.  In fact, I haven't seen a Super Bowl half-time show for as long as I can remember.  I also can't remember the last time I watched any "concert" performance affiliated with a sporting event.  I believe the NBA and NHL have musical performances at their All-Star games, and I know that the NFL has done it for other games besides the Super Bowl.  And I haven't watched any type of music award show for at least a decade.  I don't watch this stuff because I don't care for it.  Call me old and crotchety, but I find the excessive marketing of sex and thuggery in pop music disconcerting.

Alas,  I choose not to preach about it (though I guess I just did).  For everyone who is outraged about yesterday, what did you expect?  Of course it was over the top, it's called marketing.  Here's an idea, watch the game, turn to something else at the half, and then watch the rest of the game.

I'd like to apologize for any potential misspellings in this entry as a "blog malfunction."  Finally, if I may paraphrase OutKast:

I'm sorry Ms. Jackson, for ever doubting they're real.

(That one was for you, Brian!)

01 February 2004

New Mexico road rules

It snowed today in New Mexico.  I had decided to drive to Santa Fe from Albuquerque for the day and didn't let the flakes stop me.  It's about an hour drive.  Santa Fe is at a considerably higher elevation than Albuquerque, so the roads were tricky.

I made it safely, of course, thanks to the folks at the New Mexico dept. of transportation.  But they do things a little differently out here.  I don't know what they use in place of road salt.  It's not sand.  It falls off the back of the snow plow in large clumps, the largest about the size of a bowling ball.  Most break up, but some stay intact and bounce around until they hit your car.  As you might imagine, it makes one a bit jumpy to have clumps of "whatever" hit your car as you motor down the Interstate during a winter storm.  I felt like I was fleeing the eruption of Vesuvius.

And the stuff is purple.  Maybe it's grape tang.  All I know is my car looks like it was in a head on collision with Grimace.

Those who can't play, coach

Saw the last quarter of the Super Bowl, and it seemed like a good game, but...the two point conversion has got to go.  It's been around for five years or so, and I've lost count how many times I've seen coaches misuse it.  It killed the Panthers today.  There were almost 13 minutes left when the Panthers scored a TD to make it 21-16.  They went for two and missed.  Had they kicked the extra point instead, the score would have been 21-17, and here's how the rest of the game would have went:

Panthers score TD, kick XP and lead 24-21; Patriots score TD, kick XP and lead 28-24; Panthers score late TD, kick XP and lead 31-28; Patriots kick field goal with five seconds left to tie game at 31.  Game goes into overtime.

Of course, there's no guarantee that the Panthers would have won the game in overtime, but only one team had four wins in OT this year: Carolina.

And let the record state that this post was written before anyone on TV said a damn thing about it!