Saturday, April 14, 2007

Time To Hang The Sign

This past week went zooming by so quickly, I don't think I even heard the, "Whooshhh!" Did anybody else?

In the interest of avoiding the embarrassment of posting back-to-back Sunday Squibs with nothing in between but background, I figured I would use this space to post the following lame—but completely acceptable from my perspective—explanation for the dead calm around Ton-Fifty-ONE as of late.

The last several days at work were some of my busiest and most brain-frazzling of my year, as they are every year. We put together a 60-page commemorative program for a local sports hall of fame banquet each spring, and with all the award winners and bios and enshrinees and advertisers and etc., it's like one big puzzle, with pieces sporadically walking in the door over a period of a couple months.

And I shouldn't really toot my own horn, but what the's my blog, right? Here it comes: Guess who's in charge of puzzle piece organization and page layout and book design and overall "gotta make it look somewhat professionally done"ness? (Toooot!!)

This week, all those puzzle pieces finally came together into one pretty good-looking book. Everything that needs a spot has one, and there are once again 60 pages in the book (for printing and binding purposes on 11x17 paper, your page total has to be a mutiple of four. And if it's not, then you need to imaginatively "create" extra pages, or scrunch two down into one, or whatever.)

So while the banquet isn't until next week, the book is officially out of my hands, and metric tons of stress have been unloaded off of my shoulders. And it feels soooo good. And I'm tired.

I've got to rejuvenate quickly, however, because in a few short days I leave for a four-day weekend in Vegas. (and ask me how many times I'm going to be thinking about my blog...or my job, for that matter...while I'm out there. go ahead, ask me. that's which is coincidentally the exact same number of poker tournaments I'm going to win, slot machines that are going to spit more than a handful of coins at me, and "dates" I'm going to acquire on a rent-me-by-the-hour basis.) (that...was one long long parenthetical aside.)

It's been quiet for a week, and it'll be quiet for one more. And for that, I apologize. I'll be back, though...perhaps with a dozen blog posts filled with tales from Sin City, because ya know...the whole, "What Happens In Vegas, Stays In Vegas," slogan might make for good commercial marketing. But what happens in Vegas almost has to make for good grist for the blogger mill, as well, don't you think?

For now, I've got shit to do, and not a lot of time in which to do it. And I've got a couple columns to churn out, too. And my brain is still a little more than slightly frazzled. I need to recharge. So I'm...

"In Vegas, I got into a long argument
with the man at the roulette wheel
over what I considered to be
an odd number."
—Steven Wright

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Hey, Buddy...Got A Light?

It's Sunday...time for a squib. So now smoking not only causes might also cause the next movie you see to be rated R.

Anti-smoking groups are pushing the Motion Picture Association of America for all movies that feature smoking to be slapped with an R rating.

I'm all for trying to keep today's young people away from taking up the nasty habit, and steps like raising the cigarette tax are fine and swell with me. But to treat smoking in the movies the same way you treat blood and gore and f-bombs and bare breasteses?

That just made me stare at my screen with a rather puzzled expression.

Next up...R ratings to all movies that feature inattentive driving, or skipping school.

"We know [smoking tobacco] is not
good for kids, but a lot of other things
aren't good. Drinking's not good.
Some would say milk's not good."
—Bob Dole

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A Creatively Worded Compliment

I...hate...creative people.

By "creative people," I mean those people who have cooler blogs than mine (note: everybody's blog is cooler than mine), or who are better writers than I am, or who are more tech geeky than I'll ever be, or who can take a blank piece of paper and a No. 2 pencil and create more than stick figures, or who can make a musical instrument spring to life, or who see things through a camera's lens in a way I never could.

And by "hate"...I, of course, mean "admire more than all the words in the dictionary can say and want so desperately to be like."

I'm in the process of updating my sidebar, if you haven't glanced in that direction...adding some more blogs that I visit regularly or on occasion, or some that have made a good enough first impression on me to warrant a link in the hope that I'll return to visit again. That list will be ever-growing and changing, as will the other categories of hobbies or topics of interest or related miscellany.

It never fails to amaze me the things I find when I go off on a random link-clicking romp through the internets, jumping from one blog to the next, looking for something to catch my eye and hold me there for more than a quick scan of the first few posts.

I find laugh-out-loud funny, utterly flawless writing. And I find people who obviously know what the acronym HTML stands for (Howard Taft Made Lasagna. right?), because their sites are crisp and clean and all neat and tidy 'n stuff.

And I come back to this little corner I call my own, and tell myself I better learn a few more five-syllable words. And then I try to bribe my tech geek buddies into giving me free pointers on how to be a killer code jockey. (see? I can't even make up cool nicknames like that on my own. I stole that from an e-mail I got a year or so ago.)

This little rant was born a couple weeks ago, but was reaffirmed last night as I was trying to place the golf photos in my previous post, along with captions, and make everything look all copacetic in its end result. Blogger wasn't being very cooperative, and was mocking me by proving that it'll do anything it damn well pleases with the hard return, no matter how carefully you insert them. It's not a difficult concept, is it? Hit the "Enter" key on your keyboard, and a space should appear. Or not. Or...sometimes two spaces appear.

After more attempts than I'd care to admit, and many f-bombs dropped, I finally got something resembling a visually acceptable post. And then I went and had a nervous breakdown, clutching an HTML 4 manual in my carpal-tunneled hands.

But I digress.

There are wheelbarrows of creative talent all over this big wide InterWeb. And as I discover more and more, I expect my sidebar to continue to stretch vertically.

Some are writers of the highest caliber, who don't even write for a living. Some take breathtakingly gorgeous photographs. Some discuss ideas that make you stop and think, and then think some more. Some are outrageously funny.

And some...are all of the above, rolled together into one big creative über-stud.

Those are the people I really hate.

And I couldn't be more grateful that they're there to help carry me through my day.

"Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity."
—Edwin H. Land

"A hunch is creativity
trying to tell you something."
—Frank Capra

Friday, April 06, 2007

It Looks Like A Mirac...It's In The Hole!

It's Masters week.

I came home from work yesterday and today and flipped over to the USA Network's coverage before I did anything else...before I took off my shoes, even before I checked my e-mail! This is serious stuff.

Yes, I'm talking about golf. The Masters is as important to me as the Super Bowl. More important than March Madness, way more important than the World Series, far surpassing the NBA Finals. Golf ranks a close second on my list of favorite spectator sports, behind only football.

When I come home from work during the first two days of a major golf tournament, I get a little twitchy while I wait to see where Phil Mickelson is on the leaderboard...or if he's even on it! This year...he's a few shots further back than I'd like him to be, but at least he's around for the weekend. He's seven shots behind the leaders, so there's hope, but somethin' really cool's gotta happen for him to get into contention.

Of golf's four majors, I love The Masters most. The history, the reverence with which the announcers use every word they speak, the immaculately manicured landscapes, the crystal white sand in the bunkers, the way almost everything on the grounds has a name: Hogan Bridge, Butler Cabin, Amen Corner, Rae's Creek, Sarazen Bridge, Magnolia Lane, Nelson Bridge, the Several Landmarks Eventually To Be Named After Tiger. (Woods' Woods, perhaps?)

As cliché as it sounds, every inch of Augusta National Golf Club is as close to hallowed ground as it gets. Someday, I'd like to say I've been lucky enough to visit and walk the galleries, and see the great tradition that is The Masters.

If given the opportunity to play the course someday (don't'll never happen), I don't know if I could accept. I'd be too afraid of bruising it, or leaving it permanently scarred with my golf *ahem* style. *ahem* While the pros have a fade and a draw and a punch and a bump-and-run, I've got.........a duff. And a hack. And a "kindly deposit your putter in the drink after rolling that three-footer two feet past" putting stroke.

— • — • —

Time to go off on a tangent. I know this started out as a post about The Masters, but now we're moving on to the PGA Championship, because I've got photos!

In August 2004, the biggest names in golf descended upon tiny Haven, Wisconsin, (or Kohler if you want to give ultra-cool guy and big-wig owner Herb Kohler some free pub) to play one of the four biggies at Whistling Straits. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, I bought a week pass to go see the superheroes of golf teeing it up just a hop, skip and a half-hour drive away from my own backyard.

Monday through Wednesday were practice rounds, where autograph hounds could hound all they wanted, and amateur photogs could click their shutters. I snapped more than 330 shots in those three days with the hopes that I'd get one or two worth saving.

And then Thursday through Sunday, things got a lot more serious. No cameras, no yelling, "you da maaan!" until after the golfers had hit the ball...they were playing for real, and keeping score and everything! Electric stuff. (Yes, I just used the word "electric" to describe a golf tournament. Shut up.)

I logged more miles and walked more hills during that week than I thought I would, and it was so worth it. Can't wait to do it all again. (see next paragraph.)

Wanna know how well our fair state did in hosting such a monumental event? Well, the U.S. Senior Open is playing here in July, and the PGA Championship is coming back in 2010 and 2015. And pending the availability of enough hotel rooms, the Ryder Cup matches are coming here in 2020.

Northeastern Wisconsin. Golf mecca of the world. (and I'm only half joking when I write that. there are some very impressive, very serious golf courses in this area. courses that would require me to surrender an entire week's paycheck just to step onto the first tee. that serious.)

The shot of the Augusta National Golf Club flag up above is obviously not one of my photos, because I haven't been there. Yet. But the pics below are from the 2004 PGA.

No wonder I suck at golf. My follow-through doesn't look like Trevor Immelman's!

The! 618 yards? That's a par-14 for me, and I'd still shoot double-bogey.

The odd cross-shaped 18th green.

My favorite photo of the week. Phil Mickelson practicing his chipping.

Yes, I took some time to follow Tiger. No, he wasn't the focus of my week.

This is the freakin' clubhouse! Do you think Herbie did it up right??

Players raved about the course layout and the challenge it posed.

Phil's got some fans.

Are you getting tired of golf photos yet?

Long John Daly. He gripped it...and ripped it.

OK, fine...I'll stop now.

There's just something magical about a gorgeous golf course. I'd rather shoot a 53 on a course that looks like a work of art created with earth movers and bulldozers than have a chance to shoot a 43 on a wide open course that's got the occasional tree and shrubbery.

I watch golf. On TV. And in person.
And I love it.

(comments are enabled, as always, and I put on my extra-thick skin before I published this post. give me your best shot.)

"It took me seventeen years to get
three thousand hits in baseball.
I did it in one afternoon on the golf course."
—Hank Aaron

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Fooled You.

I just won the lottery!

The Detroit Lions are 2:1 favorites to win the next Super Bowl!

Random House just signed me to a four-book, $20 million book deal!

Eva Longoria recently announced, "Screw Tony Parker, I want Gregg!"
— • — • —

Happy April Fool's Day, everyone. I really had you all going there, didn't I? One after the next after the next. Boyyy did I pull one over on you guys! (believed 'em all but the Lions one, you say? yeah. thought so.)

I figured a good squib for today would be a little history of April Fool's Day. Apparently, if you enjoy playing pranks each year on this day, you can thank the stubborn and gullible French, who just said, "non," in 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII ordered the adoption of the new Gregorian calendar, which moved the New Year's Day to January 1, instead of April 1 in the old Julian calendar.

Well...that's one theory, anyway. Another theory claims that the French were actually first to initiate the change in the calendar, but many failed to keep up with that change. (scroll down to the "calendar-change theory.") Regardless of which theory you believe, or how many others you find, it looks like the French deserve most of the blame. Or the praise.

There have also been many, many hilarious pranks pulled over the years...much more elaborate and original than the ones I've listed above, surprisingly enough...collected here in the Top 100, ranked according to notoriety, absurdity and number of people duped. I haven't gone throught the entire list of 100, but the first one is funny enough to make you want to keep reading.

Happy April First...fools.

"The first of April is the day
we remember what we are
the other 364 days of the year."
—Mark Twain