Sunday, November 30, 2008

Macy's Parade Screen Caps

As faithful readers should know by now, I was up in New York to catch my son march in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We knew that the Georgia Tech Marching Band was the second band in the parade. My game plan was to go up to Columbus Circle and get some video footage and then call my wife with the heads up that they were on the way. As you can see in this picture, I never really got very close to the parade itself.

I actually had a pretty clear view of the parade route but as soon as the Snoopy balloon passed, the crowd started jostling and pushing and the video footage was crappy. At best I saw some plumes and tubas go by.

My wife had a much better view. We were staying at Crowne Plaza in Times Square which is on the parade route. Their restaurant was holding a brunch during the parade so we made reservations and she went before the parade to get our table. In the picture below, the restaurant is just over the Hershey's Store on Broadway and 48th Street. The NBC camera just cuts off the window in this view.

But my son had the best view of parade since he was actually in it. Here is the band captured crossing the Macy's star at Herald Square.

And I'm not completely certain that the person I'm pointing to is him, but he is one of the saxophonists. I've sent him a picture for him to try to identify himself in. We'll see if it can be done.

As I warned you, I have plenty more pictures and stories and celebrity sightings to come. For now you can look at the Flickr set that has some of our pictures from before and after the parade.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: I'm taking questions to be answered either in the comments or future posts.

Disclaimer: The pictures in this post are photographs of screen shots from the DVRed broadcast of parade which probably violates various copyright laws a good half dozen ways. To the NBC/Macy's lawyers, I say "Tough." My kid is only going to march in that parade once in his life and I'm going to document it nine ways to Sunday.

Friday, November 28, 2008

More Plane Nuts

IMG_1879While out in California, one of the events was held at the Palm Springs Air Museum. The whole night had a patriotic theme. The entertainment had a Andrew Sisters tribute group and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator worked the crowd. This museum has over a dozen flyable World War II airplanes in its collection. For the dinner they had pushed a bunch of the planes out of the hangars to make room for the tables, which meant I couldn’t get very good pictures of them in the dark.

What they did leave behind were some real beauties. The top three planes of interest to me were the following:

Every museum with any WWII planes at all has to have a P-40. I’ve seen one at Udvar-Hazy and the Air Force Museum. The one in Palm Springs is a bit of a cheat. It is really a two-seat training version done up in Flying Tigers colors. One of the docents had the whole story of how the Flying Tigers were recruited pre-war from various military units around the country.

One of the speakers at the conference was James Bradley, author of Flag Of Our Fathers. He had a whole inspirational riff about doing the impossible and one of his examples was the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. These land-based bombers were taken by aircraft carrier to within range of Japan. They took off from the carrier, but were too heavy to land on the deck, so they continued on to China. As luck would have it, the Palm Springs Air Museum had one on display with a big presentation board about the raid.

The real centerpiece of the museum is this B-17 Flying Fortress. It had a crew of ten with guns festooned all over it. The line to walk through this stayed several people long all night. You could look into the cockpit, walk through the bomb bay, and exit by the ball turret.
It was very cool to see all these planes. And, of course I have a link to even more pictures.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Creeper

Being a morning person and having nothing better to do, I headed two blocks over from our hotel to the Fox News Building where Fox and Friends is broadcast from. They had the Georgia Tech Band set up outside and would cut to them during commercial breaks. After the show, the hosts Steve Doocy and the pretty blond guest host I didn't recognize came out with country star Trace Adkins to schmooze with the band in a web-exclusive post broadcast segment.

If you paid very close attention you would have caught a stalkerish looking guy in a navy blue GT baseball cap taking pictures. That was me. I show up on the far left part of the screen with 2:15 left on the clip and again with 1:10 to go. Go ahead and watch it again.

My son has nicknamed The Creeper because I spent the entire morning taking pictures of the pom squad. In my defense, the majorettes were set up between the sidewalk and the saxophone section. My son does his best to hide from my camera whenever I am around. That leaves me to to take pictures of what I can.

When I have the photos culled and uploaded, I think you will find that I have plenty of pictures of the drum line, tuba players, and flag wavers and not just the pom wavers, even though they are pretty photogenic.

After the camera crews left, the band director released the band until 2:15 a.m. Thanksgiving morning when the band has to show for final rehearsal before marching to Macy's. That is a mighty long time until the 9 a.m. start time. Those kids will be marching zombies by the time they reach Herald Square.

And we will see if The Creeper makes a return appearance. After all, what do I have to do other than sleep?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Macy's On Peachtree

Updated: 11/26/08
I am headed to New York to chase my son down somewhere in Times Square. He called me Monday asking me where Ollie’s Noodle House is but I had to warn him it had moved to 10th Avenue. He and the rest of the Georgia Tech Marching Band are painting the town red trying to get as bleary-eyed as possible before they have to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This is the 100th anniversary of the GT Band and they wrangled an invite to New York out of the occasion. It’s been a big season of prep work for them. When I was in Atlanta for Parent’s Weekend, they had coaxed the city officials to close the section of West Peachtree Street next to the Civic Center MARTA station.

The band needed to send the Macy’s folks a video of the performance so the talking heads could have a script written on what to blather on about. So the street closing doubled as a dress rehearsal. The event went so far as to paint a star in the middle of the road, measuring it out as meticulously as a freshman drafting class.

We had to catch a plane home before the big video production commenced, but I did snag this snippet of practice.

So, wake up early (or set the Tivo) and keep an eye out for my kid marching down Broadway. He’ll be one of the saxophone players on the left side (as they are marching). And wave to him if you are in the crowd. I know I will be.

The band will be on Fox and Friends this morning (Wednesday, Nov 26)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

When Worlds Collide

or Apologies To Amber

I was in the new area of Baltimore called Inner Harbor East doing some post-movie browsing in a chi-chi store when a woman approached me and asked me if I was yellojkt. Since I was wearing a Georgia Tech jacket I thought maybe she had asked if I was a yellow jacket. I looked back puzzled. She said “I’m Josh’s wife.” I thought back searching my memory banks for fellow alumni named Josh.

My wife jabbed me in the ribs and said “Your blog dummy.” And then it all clicked into place. This was Amber, the very lovely wife of internet celebrity Josh Fruhlinger. The Amber I had met just a few months earlier at Josh’s Jeopardy party. A person whose picture is on my blog.

I felt so embarrassed. We exchanged pleasantries and I told her to say “Hi” to Josh for me. I just want her to know that it’s me not her. I have a mind like a sieve that gets very disoriented when I run across people in unfamiliar contexts. I have a couple of equally embarrassing stories like that that I tend to pull out.

The classic one happened in college. My fiancé (now wife) had brought up her brother to Atlanta for week one summer. We decided to take him downtown to see the sights. We took the subway downtown and were coming out of the station when a large black woman started waving at me. My fiancé looked at me and I looked at this lady until she said “You don’t recognize me. You’re the turkey club.” And then it clicked. Every day for lunch I went to the cafeteria and had the same thing. A turkey club sandwich on a hoagie roll with mayo, lettuce and tomato. And this woman was the cafeteria worker that made it for me. Every day.

The really brutal moment was Monday at lunch when I had to go in for lunch. When I got up to the front of the line, she yelled to the whole line “Hey, I saw this guy downtown Saturday and he didn’t recognize me.” The whole line game me the raised eyebrow stare. I just grinned foolishly and took my turkey club.

The other time was right after I graduated from college and moved back to my hometown for a job. I hadn’t been to a dentist the entire time I was in college which is a ridiculously long time. My wife suggested I use the dentist she had used as a kid, so I made an appointment.

So I’m in the chair and the hygienist started the cleaning. Then she goes “Hey yello! How have you been? I haven’t seen you since your graduation party.” I just stared blankly. She sees my bafflement and introduces herself. Still no click. Then she says “I was dating Bob back then.” And at least I remembered Bob. Bob was the salutatorian of our graduating class. The guy that at our five year reunion got drunk and accused me of ruining his life. But I still couldn’t place her which is very embarrassing when the person with her fingers in your mouth know you but you don’t know them.

There you have it. If you run across me in real life and even if I have met you before, feel no shame in saying “I read your blog, dummy.” I need those kind of anvil-heavy contextual clues because I truly am that clueless.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: Do you have trouble recognizing people you should know?

Thursday, November 20, 2008


The great thing about blogging is that just when you think you have blogger’s blog or you just don’t have time to get in the post for the day, some shiny object will cross your path. Today’s is a website called Typealyzer that claims to analyze your blog for intellectual and emotional type. It does this in a very vague but highly flattering way that would make a cold-reading spiritualist embarrassed. Read this below:

ESTP – The Doer

The active and play-ful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.


This show what parts of the brain that were dominant during writing.

Yeah, I’m a regular triathlon trainee. And exactly wtf is ESTP? You have to think that any attempt to convince a blogger they have a problem with sitting still is doomed to failure. Nevertheless, this silly bit of pseudo-psychology has been linked to by Andrew Sullivan and Wonkette, and by noon tomorrow, the entire blogosphere. Because it's viral yet still fun to ridicule and because flattering quasi-scientific horse hockey is irresistible to bloggers that want to just throw up a post and go to bed.

But not just yet. Instead, I have thoroughly analyzed my blog for content and here are the major themes and intellectual trends.

I can see I need to work on sneaking more Angelina Jolie content into the blog. But don’t hold your breath on the pro sports and Kantian philosophy.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: Just how bogus is this crap? And how soon until you post it on your site?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mystery Airport

My big boss signed up for a conference but ended up with a conflict. My boss didn’t want to go, so I drew the next short straw. So Sunday I boarded a plane for the eleven hour door-to-door trip. I like to post pictures of places I go, but I am so uselessly paranoid about work related information that I don’t like to post the actual location I go to on business. So once again, I am posting a few pictures and letting you guess where I am.

Clue 1: The last leg of my flight required me to take a small regional jet from Phoenix to the final destination. On these planes you don’t walk through the typical ramp, but have to go out onto the tarmac to board the plane. When we arrived at the destination I was surprised to find that most of the terminal was open air. The terminal had two halves, one side for the commuter jets like I arrived on and a taller set of gates for bigger jets with the real rampways.

I’m a big fan of those silly fiberglass sculptures that have become a staple of civic boosterism. Right in front of the terminal was this ram or sheep or something painted in desert colors. I have no idea why they selected this particular critter.

Clue 2: As I mentioned, the terminal was all open-air. It was also seriously under construction. This particular location is famous for being the home of celebrities famous and infamous. The terminal is named after a famous resident that turned politician. There are lots and lots of airport terminals named after celebrities and this one sounded particularly silly until I had the “a-ha” moment that put the significance all together. Sure enough, there was a statue of this celebrity in a little nook just off to the side of the escalator.

Clue 3: I have always wanted to get to this town, but being at a conference resort hotel is the worst way to see an area. You take a taxi from the airport and spend three days in seminars and social events. There is no chance to see the local attractions or dine at the local restaurants outside the resort. I have had two travel goals in life that I expect will never be fulfilled. One is to go to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. And the other is to come back here during the first weekend in April, but I doubt I could book a room anywhere near the Shore that week. I'll just have to stay in the kitchen.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: So where am I now? Wild and improbable guesses welcome.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Frii The Miis

Our family used to have a Wii but it followed my son to college. So I was shocked to sii a brand new one on the dining room table one afternoon. I asked my wife why shii had gotten a Wii. Shii said because they were on sale at BigMembershipWarehouse-OfOversizedStuff for five dollars less than regular riitail. Can’t argue with that logic.

But you can’t play a Wii without a Mii. My previous Mii which I have been using as an avatar all over the place is now trapped in the lost Wii off at college so I had to start over. The key fiitures are an oval face, pale complexion, short reddish hair and glasses.

While the new Mii looks better, I miss the smirk of the old Mii.

There is still no way to get a Mii onto a computer. You can carrii Miis around in your Wiimote when you travel and transfer them to different Wiis, but they can’t leave the Wiiniverse. As before I resorted to the photo capture kludge of taking a photo of my Mii off the TiiVii and uploading it into my computer

So I make this plli to the powers that bii at Nintendo: Pliise frii our Miis. Let them bii where wii can sii them on our PiiCii. Don’t be so griidy by kiipping the Miis proprietarii.

I would be diilighted if you would help mii with my follii. Let us siize the day and put this scriid on every site you sii:

Frii The Miis!

The Gen Game

In my last post I bloviated about baby boomers and even made up some brand new categories for them. I came up with four different semi-distinct generations that precede, coincide with, and follow the Baby Boom. But rather than get all sociological and philosophical about the differences between them, it's easier to just use examples.

That is why I've invented the Gen Game. You just have to come up with four related people, groups, events, or things with one belonging to each of my generational divisions. The relationship can be as explicit or as subtle as you want. Here are my examples:



Generation X

Lee Harvey OswaldSirhan SirhanSqueaky FrommeJohn Hinckley
Strom ThurmondGeorge WallaceJohn AndersonRoss Perot
Apollo 1Apollo 13ChallengerColumbia
Leave It To BeaverBrady BunchCosby Show90210
Dobie GillisRoom 222Welcome Back KotterSaved By The Bell
American GrafittiAnimal HouseDazed and Confusednone
Sock HopLove-InDiscoRave
The Day The Earth Stood Still2001Star WarsThe Matrix
Krazy KatFritz the CatGarfield the CatBucky Katt
Bye Bye BirdieHairXanaduRent
Marilyn MonroeJane FondaFarrah FawcettKathy Ireland
Ed SullivanAmerican BandstandSonny and CherTRL
The QuarrymenThe BeatlesWingsPaul McCartney
Buddy HollyJimi HendrixJohn LennonKurt Cobain
Diana RossJanis JoplinMadonnaBritney Spears
BeatlesOsmond BrothersBay City RollersNew Kids On The Block

I invite quibbles, substitutions, and additions. Feel free to explain why something does or does not belong.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: Now it's your turn to play. Just leave your Gen Game list in the comments.

Friday, November 14, 2008


In my last post, I tried to argue that Barack Obama is not a Baby Boomer despite having been born in 1961, well within the traditional chronological range. Part of the problem is the vastness of the usual definition of the Baby Boom. Anything that spans eighteen years can’t be considered a single entity. Instead I propose the following reclassification:

Proto-Boomers (1938-1946)

While not part of the Baby Boom proper, kids born in this range (which includes my father) set the precedents that paved the way for the Boomers to follow. They invented rock and roll, established teenage rebellion as a cultural phenomenon, and codified the post-war paradigm.

Rock and Roll - Elvis, Chuck Berry
British Invasion - Beatles, Stones, Herman's Hermits

Politics and History:
Cold War

Hippie-Boomers (1946-1958)

These are THE Baby Boomers, the drug-taking, free-loving, psychedelic stereotypes that have dominated the cultural landscape for half a century. Admittedly, the years are fuzzy. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were both born in 1946. One I would call a hippie, one I wouldn't. These are the people that don't remember the sixties because they lived them. Call them the Woodstock Generation whether they went or not.

Psychedic Rock - Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix
Hard Rock/Heavy Metal - Zeppelin, The Who, Black Sabbath
Art Rock - ELP, Yes, early Genesis

Politics and History:
JFK Assassination
Moon Landing

Tail-Boomers (1959-1968)

People just a little to young to have hit the heyday of late 60s and early 70s, myself included, spent all their life hearing how great the sixties were without having any real connection to it. Former hippies are like an exotic extinct species to us. We know they exist, but we've never seen one in the wild.

Us peak-to just-past peak boomers are tough to classify. One recent commenter has coined the term Generation Jones with "Jones" meaning both generic and bland like Mr. Jones or envious like "jonesing". I think that makes us sound like a soft drink or a Cheech and Chong routine. Another name often used is Late Boomers which sounds like we are developmentally slow in some way. I call us Tail-Boomers because we are the downside of the baby boom, as the birth rate began declining again. And we are the part of the baby boom that goes through the door last.

Disco - Donna Summer, Bee Gees
Corporate Rock - Kansas, Styx, late Genesis
Punk Rock - Clash, Ramones
New Wave - Flock of Seagulls, Human League

Politics and History:
Iranian Embassy Take-over

Generation X (1969-1980)

Another ill-defined group that has gotten a lot of undeserved bad press for being cynical slackers that reject the peace, love, and understanding ideals of the baby boomers. Also known as (depending on whose book is being hawked) the 13th Generation or the Baby Bust, they tend to be darker in mood, music and dress.

Alternative - Depeche Mode, The Cure
Grunge - Nirvana, Pearl Jam
Rap - Beastie Boys, LL Cool J

Politics and History:
Ronald Reagan
Fall of the Soviet Union

And that is where I have to stop. In 1990 I had a kid and entered the Barney Generation, so I'm not qualified to evaluate the generations between me and my son. I'm sure we can dice and slice these groups lots of ways, but I find these spans of about a dozen years each to be a pretty good separation. You either remember Woodstock or you don't. You either had a draft number or you didn't. The name Squeaky Fromme means something to you or it doesn't. And I have only touched on the many, many cultural clues and touchstones that can be used to help you pigeonhole people into a demographic or mindset.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: What generation are you and why?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Barack Boomer

With the election of Barack Obama, we finally have a leader that crosses barriers. A man that unites two very separate aspects of the American Experience by firmly straddling a divide that has been the cause of acrimony and bitterness for a long, long time. His very existence causes both camps to claim him as their own even though he is really neither.

No, I’m not talking about Race, this is about something way more important. It’s about a generational divide. Baby Boomers versus the rest of us. A baton has been passed. Take this passage from Gail Collins of the New York Times.
Finally, on behalf of the baby-boom generation, I would like to hear a little round of applause before we cede the stage to the people who were too young to go to Woodstock and would appreciate not having to listen to the stories about it anymore. It looks as though we will be represented in history by only two presidents, one of whom is George W. Bush. Bummer.
Despite their very different styles, both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were born in 1946 right at the start of the post-war baby boom. Clearly a milestone has been reached. We have gone beyond the most self-absorbed and self-important generation in our history. Those of us younger than these older boomers have had to live in the shadow of their accomplishments and experiences. Heather Havrilesky of Salon (who is so Gen-X she has turned being a couch potato into career) sees Obama’s election as vindication of Generation X.
Dear boomers: We're sorry for rolling our eyes at you all these years. We apologize for scoffing at your earnestness, your lack of self-deprecation, your tendency to take yourselves a little too seriously. We can go ahead and admit now that we grew tired of hearing about the '60s and the peace movement, as if you had to live through those times to understand anything at all.
But when we watched Barack Obama's victory speech on Tuesday night, we looked into the eyes of a real leader, and decades of cynicism about politics and grass-roots movements and community melted away in a single moment. We heard the voice of a man who can inspire with his words, who's unashamed of his own intelligence, who's willing to treat the citizens of this country like smart, capable people, worthy of respect. For the first time in some of our lifetimes, we believed.
But isn’t Barack technically a baby boomer? He was born in 1961, well before the technical end of the baby boom which is usually pegged at 1964, the year I was born. I self-identify as many things including as Irish and red-headed and geeky, even though each of those is debatable. What I do not consider myself is a baby boomer. I have nothing in common with the typical stereotype of the drug-taking, free-loving, psychedelic hippie. I came of political age in the Reagan Era which cannot possibly be more different than the Summer of Love.

So what is Barack? If the defining moment of the Baby Boom was Woodstock, Obama, who was only eight at the time, has no claim to it. He was only two when Kennedy was assassinated (and I was in vitro). He never got to march for his civil rights, but instead had to fulfill the promise that those pioneers blazed. He didn’t have to fight to sit at a lunch counter, but he broke the final barrier. He never marched against a war, but now has to lead us out of one.

No, he is not a boomer. But he has the chance to finish everything they started.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: Is Barack a Boomer? If not, what is he (besides Muslim)?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Carolina Blues

The Georgia Tech – North Carolina game that I went to this weekend quickly turned sour for the Jackets and I began to turn to other ways to amuse myself while the Tarheels had the ball, which was frequently. I turned to a philosophical question that had bugged me since I pulled into a parking lot full of people dressed in every variation of light blue regalia: Did God so love North Carolina that he made the sky Carolina Blue.

While a casual scoping out of the stands on this cloudless afternoon sure made it seem so, I decided I needed some photographic evidence to examine. For example, this photo of the east stands has a beautiful gradiant colored sky that would let you pick about any shade of blue you wanted.

IMG_2390 copy

Part of this effect is due to the polarizing filter I had on my normal lens that really makes the sky “pop” out under the right conditions. For example, the sky in the background of this picture of GT Pep Band (my son is completely obscured, so no use trying to spot him) is so dark it looks like a storm is brewing. And this one is even darker.


One of the Photoshop Elements features that I have become enamored with is the photostitch function that makes panoramas from groups of pictures. Here is my wide angle double picture of the stadium.

Stadium Panorama

I did my best to keep the exposures exactly the same but there is still a fringe of tone change in the sky right where the two pictures overlap. The picture on the left was at 1/200 second and the one on the right was 1/250 second and you wouldn't think it makes that much difference but it does. I’m sure someone with madder skilz than me could blur and sponge and gradient that right out, but it still shows that the shade of the sky is rather subjective.

IMG_2430To better isolate the colors, I switched to my telephoto lens and took the filter off. Here is a close-up of the flag flying at the north end of the stadium. As you can see, the foliage on this fine Fall day was just blazing with color of its own.

Thanks to the miracle of Photoshop, I can take that flag out of the trees and put it right against the sky.

And while I hate to give credit to a rival ACC team, I have to admit to the fidelity of that particular shade of light blue. If the sky isn’t Carolina Blue, then it ought to be.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: What color is the sky in your world?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Carolina Cookie Mission

I may have mentioned it once or twice, but for those that don’t recall, my son is in the marching band at Georgia Tech. The full band plays at all the home games and selected away games (To Hell With Georgia!) but sends smaller pep bands to the more distant road games. Each year one road game is an all-freshman road trip. This year that game was against North Carolina.

Since Chapel Hill is roughly half-way between Baltimore and Atlanta, we decided to road trip down and see him play. We lollygagged around making arrangements and had to buy tickets in the visitor’s section from TicketScalpingWebsite for a significant by not exorbitant mark-up over face value. We also had to book rooms in nearby Durham rather than Chapel Hill proper which was completely sold-out since this was the Tarheels homecoming game.

Part of our mission was to deliver to him two boxes of Girl Scout cookies that my wife had brought along. Gametime was noon and he called us about 10 saying that he had about 45 minutes to kill, but we were still at the hotel. By the time we drove into town, parked at the local mall, boarded the Tarheel Express shuttle bus as the only passengers not wearing Carolina Blue, and got to campus, it was 11 am and we had missed the window of opportunity.

Our strategy was then to go find our seats in the stadium and wait for the band to arrive. But first we had to make it through security. The gate checker was strictly enforcing the “no outside food” rule as applying to our plastic grocery bag of cookies. We appealed to the chief of security who must have had kids of her own and she let us through.

When the band came in, I went down and crowded through the saxophone section to let my son know that we had cookies for him and not to get on the bus without them. We even intercepted him for a quick picture as he made a brief foray out of the band section.

After the game our goal was to follow the band out of the stadium and catch up with them. And here we made a strategic error. As the crowd started clearing, we headed up and out instead of waiting around and following the band out at field level.

As we rounded the back of the stadium, I saw the band disappear into a parking garage tunnel, but the trail went cold when we got to the other side. We eventually spotted a sea of white shirts heading up towards the Dean Dome. A long uphill climb and two cell calls later, we made it to the bus and handed off the cookies. No word yet on whether they even survived the bus trip back to Atlanta.

So when you figure in the game tickets, two night hotel stay in Durham, and gas for the 600 mile round trip, it may be the most expensive care package ever. But as they say in the credit card commercials:

Chance to see your son play on the road: Priceless.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Uggh at Uga

For about two weeks now I have been grimacing (pun intended) every day at the comics. Mother Goose and Grimm has been running into the ground a gag about Grimmy being the understudy mascot for the University (sic) of Georgia’s inbred nuts-licking abomination of a mascot, Uga. Uga is the name of all of UGA’s (Uga – U-G-A, get it? Good, excuse me while I vomit) bulldogs. I think they are up to Uga VII, each one uglier thant the last. Somewhere deep in the bowels of the UGA veterinary science building is a breeding lab where only the drooliest, wrinkliest, and least intelligent puppies are allowed to breed. The ones that don’t make the cut are sold off to Yale, Georgetown, Mississippi State, and Gardner Webb as second-rate imitations.

Finally, Mother Goose and Grimm's nauseating sequence of lame fire hydrant jokes has paid off with a gag about the true role of a bulldog, a victim of yellow jacket venom. I end with a few bulldog jokes from various locations on the internet (including here):

How do you get a Georgia graduate off your porch?
Pay him for the pizza.

Q: How many University of Georgia freshman does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None, it's a sophomore course.

Q: Why do they throw out a sack of manure at University of Georgia weddings?
A: To keep the flies off the bride.

Two University of Georgia fans were at the UGA-Tech game when Uga walked out to the middle of the field and started licking himself as dogs are wont to do.
The first Georgia fan says to the second, "Boy, I wish I could do that."
The second Georgia fan replies, "You better not, that dog would bite you."

What do you get when you breed a pig with a bulldog?
Nothing. There are some things a pig just won’t do.

The comic strip is woefully off schedule; Tech doesn't play UGA until November 29, but it's never to soon to start hating early.

BlatantCommentWhoring™:Go ahead. Tell a Georgia joke. Or one for the rival of your choice.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sarah Palin's Next Job

With the GOP in tatters, and a lot of campaign people now running around blaming everything on Sarah Palin, she is going to need a second career to fall back on. While she is still the governor of Alaska, judging by her per diem expense account, that is hardly a full-time job.

In the interest of public service, we need to come up with some jobs she can do that are within her skill set. Which seems not to include Vice-President of the United States. Here are some of my ideas:

Hostess at the Wasilla Ole Country Buffet. She does seem to have a winkin’ way with the old codgers that come in for the early-bird special, which this week is dead duck unvetted veeps.

Niemen Marcus Personal Shopper. She sure seems mighty handy with the credit cards when someone else is footing the bill. Of the many accusations flung at her, nobody has attacked her sense of style.

Geography Tutor. The Republican National Committee spent a lot of money teaching her which countries are in NAFTA (hint: face Russia and then turn around for one of them) and that Africa is a continent not a country. It would be a shame to let all that book-learnin’ go to waste.

Constitutional Scholar. She has some very unique theories on the role of the vice-president and the meaning of the First Amendment that she can develop further in a more formal academic setting. Perhaps as the Dick Cheney Endowed Chair of Political Studies at alma mater Matanuska-Susitna College.

Northern Exposure Remake Dialect Coach. We sure became enamored with that folksy accent she’s got. You betcha!

Plumber. Maybe Joe needs an assistant. Especially after he gets his license and buys that fictitious business he’s all enamored of.

Moose Hunt Guide. I’m contractually obligated to make at least one moose joke. It’s in the Sarah Palin Satire Handbook.

Bill Kristol’s Fact Checker. Good old Kristol Meth sure was smitten with how smart she was and he sure could use the help in that department.

With the economy in the tank and the Republican Party in disarray, it is the imperative that civic-minded citizens keep poor Sarah out of the unemployment lines lest she think presidential candidate is a career she’ like to pursue further.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: Do your part and make some suggestions.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Zack and Miri Make A Meme

Get yours here.

I'm a big Kevin Smith fan. I've seen all his movies except Jersey Girl. I think he'd understand. Over the weekend his latest ViewAskew production, Zack and Mimi Make A Porno debuted. According to Defamer, it cased out with a Disappointing™ ten million dollars. Let's see what might have gone wrong:
  • It was a Kevin Smith movie.
  • It had "porno" in the title.
  • It starred relative unknowns.
  • It was a Kevin Smith movie.
Let's explore that last factor. According to BoxOfficeMojo, here's how the last five of Silent Bob's movies did:

Year Title Opening Weekend Total Gross
2008 Zack and Miri Make a Porno $10,065,630 $11,249,866*
2006 Clerks II $10,061,132 $24,148,068
2004 Jersey Girl $8,319,171 $25,268,157
2001 Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back $11,018,543 $30,085,147
1999 Dogma $8,669,945 $30,652,890
*still in release

There is no more consistent money maker in Hollywood that Kevin Smith. As long as you are willing to make it in thirty million dollar increments every two years.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that the final gross of the theatrical release of Zack and Miri will make between 25 and 30 million dollars. That now makes me a savvier guru than the entire development team at the Weinstein Company.

And I did contribute about 0.00056% of that films gross. And I do mean gross. If you like your movies with jokes about sex, shit, masturbation, Star Wars, gay sex, drinking, and sex, but also want a tender love story about a schlubby guy in a dead-end job that realizes he is really in love with incredibly hot girl right in front of his face, go rent Clerks II. Because it's the same damn movie. It's a Kevin Smith movie. What did you expect?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

YEPP: Yellojkt's Election Prediction Pool

I follow elections for all the wrong reasons. I like obsessing over the tactics, strategy and gamesmanship. Give me the wonky stuff. For many years I used to run office pools during presidential elections. This usually included having to explain all the intricacies of Electoral College to coworkers who barely knew who the candidates were. Nowadays with the web and umpteen news channels with time to fill, that seems less of a problem.

There are dozens of websites that meticulously track the polling numbers and give day by day updates on the likely results. The most famous is that has made a wonk celebrity out of Nate Silver, who I hope has a day job to fall back onto for Wednesday. It seems everybody in the blogosphere has a guess of who will win and how big.

So rather than an office pool, I’m taking it to the internet. It’s real easy. Just post in the comments who the winner will be and how many electoral votes they will win. For a tiebreaker, predict the total number of votes that will be cast (there were about 125 million in 2004).

Just in case you don’t know the electoral college rules, each state has electors equal to the number of Representatives and Senators the state has and DC gets three for the purpose of the electoral college. Every state except Nebraska and Maine is winner-take-all. There are a total of 538 and it takes 270 to win. I made my electoral prediction map at the CNN Electoral Map Calculator.

And to give you some feeling for how the pros are predicting them, here is a compilation of predictions gathered from the Washington Post Crystal Ball Contest and This Week With George Snuffleupagus. I’ve mixed and sorted them is ascending order of victory margin by Obama (and two did predict McCain). I’ve also colored a few of them by party-hackness so you can see that it’s not just Obamamaniacs that are predicting a landslide.

Fred Barnes McCain 286
Ed Morissey McCain 273
Erick Erickson Obama 311
Charles Mahtesian Obama 311
Arianna Huffington Obama 318
Chris Cillizza Obama 312
Juan Williams Obama 326
Chris Matthews Obama 338
Matthew Dowd Obama 338
Donna Brazille Obama 343
Nate Silver Obama 347
Eleanor Clift Obama 349
Mark Halperin Obama 349
George Stephanopoulis Obama 353
Ed Rollins Obama 353
Bill Maher Obama 375
George Will Obama 378
Morton Kondracke Obama 379
Markos Moulitsas Obama 390
A few interesting notes:
  • Using Nate Silver as the seeding bracket, the polls are pretty close to the median pick of Donna Brazille.
  • Barnes and Kos win the Biggest Cheerleader prizes for betting their hearts.
  • The Biggest Pessimist award goes to Kondracke who just edges out George Will.
The contest closes at 6 PM EST on November 4 (just before the polls close) and is open to anybody regardless of affiliation or nationality. If I get twenty or more entries I will pony up for some sort of prize, probably a politically related DVD or something.

My pick: Obama with 333. The dead trees edition of the Washington Post today has a giant two-page map with the heading PoliticalGeography (which, oddly, is slightly different from their online 2008 Political Landscape Map) with all the states colored. I gave Obama all the states WaPo claims are solid or leaning Democratic. Those include Virginia and Pennsylvania that both went for Dubya in 2004. Of the toss-up states, I gave Obama North Carolina and Florida and assumed the Republicans would hold Ohio.

Tiebreaker: 137 million votes.

BlatantCommentWhoring™:Your pick and any accompanying explanation. Be sure to include the tiebreaker.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

BooksFirst - October 2008

Books Bought

God Bless You, Mr Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

Books Read
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
Dogs by Nancy Kress
Who The Hell is Pansy O’Hara? by Jenny Boyd & Chris Sheedy
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Books Heard
Naked by David Sedaris


Ostensibly the sequel to The Colour of Magic (reviewed here), it has the same characters as the earlier book and picks up at the cliff hanger ending. But that is quickly resolved and the rest of the book becomes a generic Discworld adventure. The sequel lacks a lot of the charm and structure of the earlier work. Most of the clever concepts such as the sentient suitcase and Rincewind as the world’s least competent wizard have already been explored.

The plot of the book has to do with a ladder-climbing wizard trying to master the eight spells that control the world, one of which is stuck in Rincewind’s head. Twoflower, the naïve tourist that provided much of the satirical filtering of the earlier book is merely along for the ride this time. Even The Luggage, which is oddly one of Pratchett’s most endearing characters, has grown in power and ability at the same rate as R2D2 between episode Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith. As a stand-alone adventure, the book has some merit, as a sequel to the Color of Magic, it pales in comparison.

Nancy Kress wrote one of the most brilliant and under-rated science fiction books of the past quarter century in Beggars In Spain. Her newest book, Dogs, is much less ambitious and a little more slickly written. It’s a short, quickly paced book with only the slimmest of science fiction premises. In a small town in western Virginia there has been a rash of vicious fatal attacks by domestic dogs that seems to be part of a possible terrorist biological attack. The plucky heroine is a former FBI agent whose dead Middle Eastern husband seems somehow connected to the outbreak.

The book is written in that fast breezy thriller style that reminds me of Michael Crichton and Dan Brown with short chapters and frequent cliff-hangers. The real appeal of the book is the Cujo-goes-viral horror factor which explores people’s relationships with their pets even when there is a risk involved. Short fast paced novels always make me think the writer is publishing a draft movie script rather than a novel. And this book would make a great direct to cable movie. It's got a lot of suspense and has a touch of commentary on our paranoid times. And dog movies always do well.

The concept behind Who The Hell is Pansy O’Hara? (which is subtitled The Fascinating Story Behind 50 of the World’s Best Loved Books) is like SparksNotes for people too busy to read those. As advertised, it takes 50 books and gives short plot synopses as well as background on the writer. The list of books is a rather standard chronological list of The Western Canon (Dickens, Austen, Fitzgerald) mixed in with more popular fiction (Peter Pan, Jaws, Harry Potter). There is also a section that covers non-fiction books as well.

Each book gets about a six to eight page section that has to cover the major plot highlights, the author’s biography which often includes tales of early struggles, and some anecdotes about the publishing history of the book. Some stories are often familiar but there are a few surprises. At the quick pace, some of the more controversial aspects of any particular book or author are glossed over, but the writers take pains to tell as much of the story behind the story as they can. The book is clearly no substitute for the originals, but I enjoyed getting a little trivia on books I had read, as well as whetting my appetite for some that I may someday.

The first volume in the graphic (meaning illustrated, not explicit) memoir of Iranian born Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood covers her childhood in Iran. The daughter of middle-class parents in a family with leftist leanings, the book covers the period of time that includes the overthrow of the Shah, the Islamic Revolution, and the Iraq-Iran War. It does so through the eyes of a strong-willed little girl that is perplexed by all the changes going on around her. The cultural differences and the historical events are well-explained easy to follow. It was very interesting to see historical events that I am only slightly aware of told from a different perspective.

The illustrations make good use of the stark black and white format. It has a bold crisp style that really pops out from the page. The book ends with her departure as a teen-ager from Iran. This book and the second volume which covers her teenage years were adapted into an animate film which I am now dying to see.

David Sedaris is an acquired taste. The audio book adaptation of Naked is abridged but read by him and I can’t imagine it any other way. So much of his droll humor is reliant upon either hearing or imagining his nasal sad-sack tone. The stories covered in this book obliquely cover his obsessive-compulsive disorder, his sexual awakening as a homosexual in the Deep South, and the death of his sardonic mother. In fact, his mother has most of the best lines in the book.

David’s sister Amy of “Strangers With Candy” fame does the voices of some of the non-maternal female characters. Her deadpan interpretation of their grandmother’s treatment of their mother haunts me. The stories are compelling and touching and perfect for medium length drives. I wouldn’t want to wallow through it all at once since the stories are rather episodic and don't relate to each other, but the audio book makes a great listening experience.