Saturday, December 29, 2007

One For The Stupid Questions Archive

For those of you who don't watch sports on TV, haven't turned to a sports page or clicked on a sports site in several months, or have recently been living under a substantially sized rock...the New England Patriots are a good football team.

Tonight they completed a perfect 16-0 regular season, and are the odds-on favorite to win three more games and hoist the Lombardi Trophy in early February.

Coach Bill Belichick came out for his post-game press conference and opened with his comments on the season...all the hard work it took, the dedication by his players, the focus. He said he and the team will enjoy this win and the accomplishment of 16-0 for a day or two, but then get back to work and focus on their playoff game coming up in two weeks. He made mention of a few of the individual and team records that were set during the season, and summed up the season as a whole as one he and the team are proud of.

After speaking for a few minutes, he paused...which one can assume is the signal for the reporters in the room to begin asking their questions. And the first one the viewing audience heard from off-camera was...

"What's your reaction to 16-0?"

Belichick, already known to be rather terse and unfriendly in his press conferences, gave the guy a couple-second stare before he answered.

"I just gave it."


"I'm happy."

Now, I work for a newspaper, but I don't hold the title of reporter. I don't think I would want that job. And I realize it takes some creativity and imagination to come up with good questions in order to be a hard-hitting journalist.

But...what the hell was that guy listening to (or not listening to) in Belichick's opening remarks that made him think he still had to ask that laaaame question? And he was the first one out of the gate, too! Like he couldn't wait to put his question on display.

That's like asking members of a team that just won the Super Bowl, "How do you feel?"

"How do you feel?" is a question you ask someone who's just had hernia surgery.

Somebody should really strip that guy of his media credentials and then ask him, "What's your reaction to losing your job?"

"Trifles make perfection,
but perfection is no trifle."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Jolly, Merry, Happy.

I think I've finally found the holiday spirit.

I know I'm joining the Christmas party a bit late, but...I do every year.

When I hear bad Christmas music wafting down from the loudspeakers at Wal-Mart in late November, I deny that it's approaching. When I see a countdown that reads, "46 shopping days until Christmas," I think to myself that that's 45 days too many to have a countdown.

But last week, I went to my niece's grade school holiday concert, and I got to see first through fifth graders walk up on the stage and stand on risers in front of an auditorium filled with proud parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and friends...and belt out choruses and mumble through verses they didn't quite have memorized, singing songs like, "Simple Gifts for Christmas," and "A Time For Joy."

Watching those kids up there...some dressed in suit coats and bow ties, others wearing hiking boots and flannel print shirts...helped move me toward the spirit of Christmas.

At work last week, we published our annual children's Christmas Album, with drawings and stories from elementary and middle school kids. Some years I do some of the typesetting on the rough drafts of those stories, and as I page through them, transferring their pencil-written thoughts on paper to electronic words on the screen, I crawl inside their heads, and think about Christmas from their perspective. And that pushes me in the direction of the Christmas spirit as well.

One child this year, in the "how-to" section of the stories, was devising a plan to get to the North Pole to see if Santa Claus was real, and he came up with several ideas, but shot them down immediately after suggesting them.

He wrote:

  • Fly in an airplane but you might run out of gas.
  • Take a hot air balloon. But the wind might blow you the wrong way.
  • Go skydiving but the helicopter or airplane might run out of gas or you might get dropped in the wrong location.
  • Dreaming might get you there.

As soon as I read that fourth option, that's all it took for me. A very wise soul named Josh at our elementary school flipped my Christmas spirit switch.

Tomorrow, and probably Tuesday as well, I'll spend time with the people who mean the most to me. Hopefully tonight, as soon as I hit Publish on this entry, I'll get to hang for a few hours with another group of people very high on my list.

And still others will get a note, a phone call, an (impersonal) e-mail (shut up; I'm a single guy, don't bother me about Christmas cards, OK?) or even a blog comment saying, "you rock. happy holidays."

That's what this season
is all about to me:
The people. The laughs.
The memories.

And it never hurts to dream.
Who knows where it might lead?

Happy, Merry, Jolly, everyone.
May you laugh often.

"I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day.
We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and
humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my
Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus
I drift along into the holidays—let them overtake me
unexpectedly—waking up some fine morning and suddenly
saying to myself, 'Why this is Christmas Day!' "
—David Grayson

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Big Tuna Swims With The Dolphins

ESPN's football IQ plummeted earlier this week when it was reported that Bill Parcells would be leaving his position as an NFL analyst and taking a job as the Miami Dolphins' vice president of football operations.

Parcells has run this route before, retiring from football and sitting behind a desk at ESPN for a season before being wooed back into the game by a team desperate for a dose of his football acumen.

If it's not the Detroit Lions...and it never is...I whine a bit selfishly that I won't get to listen to his genius-speak on my favorite sports network. Although during his most recent coaching stint in Dallas, he was on TV often enough, both in games and interviews, that the symptoms of withdrawal never surfaced.

Now he's moving into the front office in Miami, and says without pause that he will not name himself the head coach.

Although, take from that what you will. The day before he signed his deal with the Dolphins, he was a dotted i and a crossed t away from being introduced as the Atlanta Falcons' veep. And in the time it takes to run a contract through the shredder, that deal was dead and he was packing for Miami instead of Atlanta.

For now, I take Parcells at his word that his days of stalking the sideline wearing a headset are over. He's 66, and many of his critics are quick to point out that his best coaching is behind him, and that he can't reach today's player with his dictatorial demeanor.

"Bull!" I say. But then I might be a tad biased.

Speaking of biased, one of the most entertaining sidebars to this whole drama involves Dan Le Batard, a nationally recognized sports columnist for the Miami Herald.

Le Batard wrote a column immediately after the hire, casting Parcells in the most negative light, calling him names and arguing that he gets so much more credit for being a football guru than he deserves.

His hatred of Parcells boiled over during an appearance on Colin Cowherd's show on ESPN Radio, when Le Batard said he despises Parcells so much that he's one of the sports figures on Le Batard's short list that he'd like to meet in the ring for a mixed martial arts bout.

I take quite the opposite stance when it comes to the Big Tuna. I'd much rather buy him a beer than put him in a submission choke hold.

In listening to callers' commentary and reading their reactions on forums and blogs, it's clear that a lot of people don’t like Parcells. It's also clear that a lot of people do.

I've fallen into the latter category ever since I knew who Bill Parcells was. The only name higher on my list of favorite professional football figures is Barry Sanders.

And now Parcells is back, to try his hand at rebuilding his fifth NFL franchise. Let's face Miami, there's nowhere to go but up. Just how far up, however, will become evident over the next few seasons.

I don't expect to see Lombardi Trophies and Super Bowl banners anytime soon in southern Florida. But one thing will be clear:

Bill Parcells will be calling all the shots.

"My entire life has been spent thinking
about this game. That's pretty narrow...I don't
view myself as a person who's well-versed in
very many subjects. I'm not proud of that."
—Bill Parcells

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hotter Than José Cuervo

[Warning: Reading the following entry will cause your IQ to drop by at least 20 points...perhaps more. If you're concerned with preventing damage your current IQ, or if you possibly don't have an extra 20 points to spare, please click immediately over to here. Or to here. But by no means should you click here, which might cause irreparable harm.]

I watched the finale of "A Shot At Love" last night, (I warned you!) that stupid show on MTV with Tila Tequila, who was supposedly looking for love from a pool of guys and girls (she's bisexual). And what better way to find love, of course, than to get your own show on a music television channel that no longer plays music, and watch approximately 30 people desperate for their 15 minutes of fame and willing to play character roles vie for your attention through games and challenges. All in the name of, Yeah, that's it. Love.

I must unequivocally state that I did not race home from darts last night for the sole purpose of watching the final episode. I just happened to be home early, and I was channel surfing past MTV and there it was. I knew they were getting close to the final two contestants, because I may or may not have watched some of the earlier episodes in the series (fine...I did), and I was at least curious to see if she'd pick the guy or the girl. (shocking, isn't it, that it coincidentally came down to one guy and one girl. I was...stunned.)

Now. In my defense, I am a guy. And Tila is rather easy on the eyes. But that is one laaame defense. It's not like I made the time every week to sit down and watch new episodes. And I didn't TiVo it, or DVR it...because I can't. Don't have the technology. But MTV has this habit of repeating its shows about 674 times per week, so it was pretty easy to follow the storyline throughout and see who got eliminated and who got a key (to Tila's heart, presumably) and advanced to the next round.

So yeah. Last night I got to see how it all wrapped up. I feel, ya know?

A post like this is probably a good place to admit that I've also seen more than my share of the seasons of "The Real World" and "Road Rules," too. (oooh, that's gonna leave a mark.)

The idea behind those shows really is a bit fascinating, just to see how diverse groups of people react and co-exist when thrown into extreme situations. But part of it, too, is all about seeing who's going to hook up with whom, and where, and how soon after they meet. And how much of it MTV's gonna show.

I know at least one regular reader of this blog who's probably logged as many "Real World" hours as I have, but I won't go so far as to "out" him/her. I'll leave that up to each individual reader to decide how much they wish to reveal about their MTV viewing habits.

But it's sooo lonely out here on this one-man Isle of Shame. So, please...share.

Even if it's not MTV-related...what are your guilty viewing pleasures? C'mon. Be brave. They can't possibly be worse than "A Shot At Love" or many many seasons of "The Real World" and "Road Rules" and "The Real World/Road Rules Challenges."

I seriously need to go read a book.

"A computer lets you make more mistakes faster
than any invention in human history—with the
possible exceptions of handguns and tequila."
—Mitch Ratcliffe

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Bones.

I took a creative writing class in college, which turned out to be rather short on creativity, as I look back on it. The prof who taught it wasn't too enthused about the subject material...but the one thing she did that I'll always be grateful for, is introduce me to Natalie Goldberg. Not the actual person, unfortunately, but her first book, "Writing Down The Bones."

It was a requirement for the class, and almost as soon as I bought it, I was hooked. The book is made up of about sixty-five short paragraphs of two or three pages each, with titles like, "Man Eats Car," "One Plus One Equals A Mercedes-Benz," and "Don't Marry The Fly."

Turns out that was the only good thing to come out of that class, but it was more than enough. And that's where my "relationship" with Goldberg began. She preaches simplicity, specificity, and allowing yourself to let loose and write anything that's flowing through your brain at any time. (Hence, the Benz above.)

And her mantra, which I've quoted in other posts throughout this blog, is six carefully chosen words: Just write, just write, just write.

She's a Zen Buddhist, so much of her Zen practice shows up in her writing, and in her teachings about to be present and concentrate at a very deep level, yet not concentrate at all to stifle the writing that wants to come out.

I was fortunate enough to meet her several years ago at a book signing in Milwaukee, when she was promoting her book, "Thunder and Lightning," which was a sequel to her "Bones" book and the one that followed it, "Wild Mind." Her first two books highlighted her rules for writing practice, and "Thunder and Lightning" focused more on turning all that practice and the lessons you've learned into something more polished.

Gregg thinks I rock!
It was amazing to just...hang with her, and sit and listen to her talk about her craft, read from her book, and answer questions from the smallish crowd. I didn't know a lot about Buddhism back then (and I still don't now), but it was as if there was this...aura...around her, or something. (I realize that I'm writing right now like the characters in "My So-Called Life" talked, but...I don't know how to describe it.)

A couple years after that first meeting, I found out that she was coming around again to promote her memoir that interwove her life with her dad and her Zen teacher. This time, her tour was bringing her to Chicago...on a Monday night. Chicago's about a three-hour drive for me.

I tried to talk myself out of it (not very vigorously, mind you), arguing with myself that it just wasn't worth three hours of driving down and three hours of driving back to spend an hour or so in between in Natalie Goldberg's presence.

"Feh!" I shot back at myself. And late one Monday afternoon in October 2004, down the interstate I went. (quit looking at me so strangely.) It was worth every mile. And if I knew she was coming back anywhere in the tri-state area next week, I'd do it again.

She lives in Taos, New Mexico, and the way she describes it, the sky in Taos is bluer than any other blue in the world. I've been planning a trip to see that blue for more years than I can count, and I know I'll get there. But trips to Vegas and New York City kept bumping that destination further down on my travel plans.

I don't know if I'll ever get to see Goldberg at another book signing, or if I'll ever be lucky enough to take one of her week-long writing workshops. I do know that one day I'll see the part of the country that she's called home for many years...and I also know that I'll continue to read, and reread, and reread, her books, absorbing every syllable she has to share.

And I hope I always heed her mantra:
Just write, just write, just write.

"So it is very deep to be a writer.
It is the deepest thing I know. And I think,
if not this, nothing—it will be my way in
the world for the rest of my life. I have to
remember this again and again.
—Natalie Goldberg

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Say It With Me...


If I'm not hip enough for an iPod, I'm surely not hip enough to use the word "w00t" in general conversation, or even blog entries. Am I?

I better get with the program, though. Because Merriam-Webster...yes, the dictionary people of dictionary people...has named "w00t" its Word of the Year 2007. A funny little word with two zeroes for o's...and why? Wh0 kn0ws? (actually, it's a common practice in computer hacker language. I just learned that tonight, and if you clicked on the link, so did you.)

w00t (interjection)

expressing joy (it could be after a triumph, or for no reason at all);
similar in use to the word "yay."

Love that definition. "...for no reason at all." So you're well within your rights to go around saying, "w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t!" all day. But that'd be quite a bit of joy to express.

The word hasn't found its way into the print edition of Merriam-Webster yet, but if words like "McJob" are in there, "w00t" probably isn't far behind. (I have a feeling that "McJob" has the McDonald's people pretty McPissed.)

If this guy is hip enough to say things like, "w00t!", I think I might stick with "yay."

"If your strength is small,
don't carry heavy burdens.
If your words are worthless,
don't give advice."
—Chinese Proverb

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mix Well For Sheer Eclecticism

So what did Gregg listen to at work today, with his DellPod stuffed full of so many new selections from which to choose?

After yesterday's post, I know that's what you must have been asking yourself at least a handful of times throughout the day. I could almost hear it through my headphones.

Wishing to provide you with as complete an answer as possible, I made a list...and here, in order, are the groups on which I stopped to listen to two or three or several selections as I waded through my Monday.

Rhythm Corps
Barenaked Ladies
The Kinks
Depeche Mode
England Dan & John Ford Coley
Jake Coco
Janis Joplin
Kenny Rogers
Little River Band
"My So-Called Life" soundtrack
The Presidents of the United States of America
Counting Crows (some bootleg versions of shows in Chicago and at Woodstock '99 that I hadn't yet ripped and loaded)

I might very well be the only person on earth who had England Dan & John Ford Coley playing in their ears today. And does anyone remember the song, "Common Ground," from Rhythm Corps? Love. That. Song.

"Music, the greatest good that mortals know,
And all of heaven we have below."
—Joseph Addison

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Too Hip For A DJ?

I spent part of both days this weekend ripping music and adding it to my DellPod, a task that I was consumed with for a couple hundred discs when I first got my mini music player, but then neglected for months at a time.

Along the way, if I'd get a new disc that I just had to have on my player, I'd rip one, or maybe two, at a time. And then I'd go back to avoiding the chore. Once in a great while I'd get another burst of ambition and rip a couple dozen discs.

This weekend, for some reason, I plowed through about fifty more. Which means that tomorrow at work, I'll have plenty of (quote)new(unquote) music to choose from. Kinda like rediscovering your own CD collection, isn't it?

My music always used to be impeccably arranged (I must ashamedly admit it was alphabetical...not autobiographical, like John Cusack's character in "High Fidelity" did with all of his vinyl), but for the past couple years, it was arranged in a different way: shelves of stuff that's been ripped, and shelves of stuff waiting to be ripped. I can't believe the neurotic side of me has let it sit that way for so long. But it has.

My DellPod has logged many hours of service, and been a faithful companion, but I fear the time is drawing near when I'll have to consider replacing it. The power button is a little touchy at times, and it's got a couple glitches.

I chose the Dell version I don't even know how many years ago, because at the time, the DellPod was a hundred bucks less than the same size iPod, and I was all about saving the hundred bucks. Of course, almost as soon as I bought mine, the prices became more comparable, the hard drives started getting bigger, and my player soon began to look like a big ol' 8-Track tape.

But I was happy with my decision at the time. I consulted a tech-geeky buddy for his opinion, and he said he saw no reason to not buy the Dell model, except, " won't be a hip kid with an iPod, then." I considered that statement: kid? hip?...hahahahaha. And called Dell and ordered their 20GB DJ.

My nephew got the same DJ just a couple months later as a Christmas gift, and I always chided him about catching up to me with his song library. Before long, the hip kid-ness in him took over, and he got a fancy-pants 30GB video iPod, and his mom inherited the DJ. So now he talks about how many movies he's got loaded...not songs. I'm really falling behind on the hip-o-meter now!

I imagine when my DellPod finally is ready for the mp3 graveyard, I'll replace it with a shiny new iPod. Cuz I'm just hip like that.

Oh, and because they're not a hundred bucks more anymore, either.

"Country music is three chords and the truth."
—Harlan Howard

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Be Sure To Write.

Every so often, when I need a little inspiration and motivation to help me remember what it is I want to be when I grow up, I pop in my "Finding Forrester" DVD, and get lost in the story.

If you haven't seen it, it's about a kid from the Bronx who wants to be a writer. Doesn't sound like an entirely action-packed movie, huh? Well...there aren't any car chase scenes, and no helicopters crashing into skyscrapers, either.

But I'm usually more impressed with movies that explore the human condition and delve into personal relationships than I am with movies like, "Die Hard 17: Die, Already...Die!" (funny, there's no IMDB link for this title. yet.)

Jamal Wallace, the teenager from the Bronx, is played by newcomer Rob Brown, who forms an odd but compelling relationship with a reclusive literary legend in William Forrester, played by Sean Connery.

I get totally immersed watching these two interact, but that may be in part because of the nuggets of writing wisdom sprinkled throughout their conversations.

One day in Forrester's apartment, he ponders aloud: "Why is it the words we write for ourselves are always so much better than the words we write for others?"

He sits down with Jamal, the two facing each other, a manual typewriter in front of each of them, and says as he starts to type...

"Go ahead."

Jamal: "Go ahead and what?"

Forrester: "Write."

Jamal: "What are you doing?"

Forrester: "I'm writing, like you'll be, when you start punching those keys."


Forrester: "Is there a problem?"

Jamal: "No, I'm...just thinking."

Forrester: "No. No thinking, that comes later."

Then Forrester continues with his advice: "You write your first draft with your heart, and you rewrite with your head. The first key to writing write! Not to think."

For those of us who just finished a month of writing, we learned all about that first key, didn't we? No matter what, put ass in chair...and write.

If somehow, "Finding Forrester" has slipped past you unnoticed and you haven't seen it, this writer gives it high marks. I can usually take or leave Sean Connery, but he and Rob Brown are great. And the verbal head-butting scene between Jamal and one of his professors is worth the rental fee.

Early in their relationship, Jamal asks Forrester, "What's it feel like?"

"What?" asks Forrester.

"Writin' something the way you did."

"Perhaps you'll find out," he tells the boy.


"To be a writer, you have to first
stick your neck out and take a chance
and then be willing to make a fool of yourself
and give yourself away."
—Jessamyn West

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wanna Draw?

I wish I was more creative. It might be a gross understatement to say that I'm not exactly overflowing with artistic talent.

People who can draw and paint and mold big globs of clay into ornate pottery worthy of the Ming or any other dynasty...well, I just don't know how they do it. But I've always wanted to.

I got the opportunity to reminisce a while back when I was looking through a selection of books to order from one of those book clubs that promises you everything short of a jet airplane for a buck if you'll only give their club a chance.

They upped their ante by a book this time—six for six bucks—and that pushed me over the edge. I'm a sucker for nearly free books. But I digress.

One of the choices that got an immediate "Book To Order" check mark was a titled called, "Drawing for Dummies."

That sent me rolling back to my childhood summers when a neighbor and I would utter two simple words when all other recreational possibilities had been exhausted. "Wanna draw?"

After swimming at the local pool, or playing pickle or tag or guns, out would come stacks of paper and handfuls of pencils, and we'd draw other worlds from outer space or helmets from our favorite football teams or designs for elaborate traps to capture the vicious neighborhood wiener dog.

Our creative energy knew no bounds, even if we weren't Picasso or Van Gogh.

And don't we all remember Bob Ross from public television? The painter with the afro so big he could hide his palette in there.

He was famous for his paintings of happy clouds and happy trees and happy nature scenes of all kinds, and for his soothing voice that made you think he could bring about world peace if only all the leaders of nations would come together for one of his seminars.

The guy was happy. And boy, could he paint.

He'd always start with a blank canvas and a brush that looked better suited to touching up your house trim than creating artistic masterpieces.

Several stiff stabs with a three-inch brush and he'd immediately have a horizon laid out. A few more and mountains magically appeared.

Then he'd take something that can best be described as an angled stick (probably not the technical artist's term) and with a vertical scrape or two he'd have majestic trunks of pine trees looming in the foreground.

He'd build his paintings like this, element by element, with what seemed like standard household utensils.

I was in awe. Was art really that easy?

Not so much.

While he was creating such saleable pieces as "Morning Dew on Forest Floor" or "Sunlight on Yonder Hills," my efforts with a staining brush and crooked stick would have been more appropriately named, "Mess on Canvas I" and "Mess on Canvas II." (It's a series! Collect all forty-eight!)

I could never change the channel when he was on. I had to see how he'd effortlessly bring a mountain brook babbling through his paintings or create a hollowed out tree trunk where a happy little chipmunk could live.

I've got tremendous respect for the talents of the editorial cartoonists who can caricaturize popular figures that we can actually recognize when they put their pens down, or those who fill the panels of comic strips with enough interest that make readers turn to them on a daily basis.

Perhaps I'm able to occasionally string together a word or two that makes a good story (occasionally), but put a pencil in my hand, and I don't seek out a sketch pad, I reach for the nearest crossword puzzle.

I've got big plans, though. With my newest art manual and the memory of Bob Ross alive and well in my head, I'm going to learn to draw. Dummy that I am.

Maybe my stick figures will take some shape now.

"They couldn’t find the artist,
so they hung the picture."
—Gerald F. Lieberman

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pretty Woman, Stop A While

I love TNT's policy of showing the same movie back to back. It's as if they're saying, "We know you just finished watching this movie, but we've really got nothing better to air, unless you might find that test pattern screen an intriguing option, Watch it again.

(the sad part is...sometimes I do.)

Tonight's double feature of a single movie was, "Pretty Woman." It's been ages since I saw that movie, and I channel surfed past TNT during the end of it. (well...the end of the first showing, as I soon found out.)

At the risk of losing some of my Guy Points, I used to think that was a pretty cool movie, because I used to think that Julia Roberts was pretty cool. In my defense, when she burst onto the Hollywood scene in that role, she reminded me sooo much of a girl I used to know. Same style, same mannerisms, similar speech patterns and habits. And no...the girl I knew wasn't a hooker.

Now when I see Julia Roberts, though, I don't think of the girl I used to know. I wish it was still that simple. Now all I see is someone who's been injected with fame and fortune and let it completely go to her head. Sure, she still makes some decent movies, and is one of the highest box office draws in Hollywood. Swell.

But I've seen her on too many talk shows over the years where she's completely fake and insincere and attention-starved and...such a long way from the naive little prostitute who got into Richard Gere's lawyer's Lotus on Hollywood Boulevard and became famous.

Hey, maybe I shouldn't judge too harshly. Maybe an Oscar and twenty million a movie would turn me into an arrogant asshole, too.

But I kinda miss the Pretty Woman,
and the awkward girl from Mystic Pizza.
And the girl I used to know.

What other celebs do you think have gotten too full of themselves after reaching the top rung of the ladder in Hollywood?

"It's funny when people say, 'I don't think
Julia likes me.' Honey, if I don't like you,
you're going to know about it."
—Julia Roberts

Monday, December 03, 2007

One Hot Dog, Hold The...

I realize I'm not going to win any blogging awards for soul-searching or deep thinking by asking this question, but I can't help myself.

What do you put on your hot dog?

I ask because I had hot dogs yesterday, and I just happened to have a very well-stocked condiment shelf in my fridge. And boy did I...go...crazy.

Ketchup. Mustard. Relish (not the sweet stuff...the other stuff). Cheese. And some of my dad's homemade horseradish (whew! burn off the nose hairs a little bit).

Am I the only person who can slather a hot dog bun full of condiments, forget to add the hot dog, and probably not even notice??

While I love to add four or five (hundred) different condiments to my hot dogs when I have the chance, the one drawback to that is when you've got everything stuffed in there, and you wrap the bun carefully around it all, trying not to lose any of the ingredients, as soon as you take your first bite, the back seam of the bun rips open, leaving you with two separate halves flapping against the dog, red and yellow and green spilling everywhere onto your fingers and the plate below, and quite frankly (get it?) an unsatisfactory hot dog-eating experience overall.

If anyone out there can manufacture some kind of edible hot dog zipper pouch or something, I'll put as much funding behind it as I'm able, because these puny little hot dog buns just aren't cutting the mustard. *ba dum bump*

I realize that many people don't share my love of condiments, but there are enough others who do. Please, help. We're going through napkins at an alarming rate.

So. Back to my question. Do you put a one-squeeze line of ketchup down the middle of your hot dog and call it good, or do you add dozens of different flavorings by the steamshovelful. (now not a pretty-looking word.)

Or...(third option) you avoid those cylindrical tubes of mystery turkey, chicken and pork "products" and buy tofu instead?

I'd create one of those fancy polls, but it's kinda late, and I really don't know that I want my first poll to be about hot dogs. That'd be embarrassing.

For the record...I can eat hot dogs with just ketchup on them as well. As I did for most of this challenge, if I remember correctly. (For those of you curious about the reference to 58 brats in the opening paragraphs of that post, please click here for that tale.)

And after posting those two links, I should probably take this space to say farewell to the new readers I may have attracted in the past month, as they get to see what the early days of this blog were filled with. I'm not proud. (well...I am, kinda. or I wouldn't have created the links. right?)

It's not just punctuation, prepositions and proverbs, people. There's good old-fashioned gluttony, too. (yay.)

"Some people wanted champagne and caviar
when they should have had beer and hot dogs."
—Dwight D. Eisenhower

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Ready, Set Down...Channel Surf!

Today I discovered the depth of my loyalty to my favorite football team. When they're winning, it's like 20,000 leagues under the sea. (although I believe a league is actually a unit of distance and not depth, but if it's good enough for Jules Verne, it's good enough for me.) When they're losing...we're talking bathwater deep. In a household that's stingy about water conservation.

Now, lest you label me a fair-weather fan, let me tell you that I've been cheering for the Detroit Lions for 18 years, since Barry Sanders came into the NFL. There's been very little "fair weather" in those 18 years, and I still wear the stupid jacket and the stupid sweatshirt, and the stupid hat once in a while.

As the Lions were getting spanked by the Minnesota Vikings today, who as far as I can tell have only one good player, the remote control started to shake and shimmy on the table in front of me, and it leapt into my hands, shouting, "Press me! Press me!"

To rid myself of the misery, I gave the channel changer a few clicks, and landed on Comedy Central. And this (not my complete and utter failure to find a suitable professional football team for which to cheer) is what my post will be about tonight. Because what I found there was infinitely more entertaining than the Lions game.

Do you know who Demetri Martin is? If you don't, you should find out. Quickly. I think I may have seen him for a few short minutes once before. But today I got to watch nearly an hour of him, and forget all about what was going on in the NFL.

His style is something akin to Mitch Hedberg or Steven stuff that makes you wonder how anybody can have such a warped, creative, hilarious view of the world.

Definitely the highlight of my day...and this is a football Sunday in December!

So go find some Demetri Martin, and tell me what you think. Or if you've already seen him...let me know if I'm playing him up too big, or if he's really that good. I think he's really that good.

"Saying 'I'm sorry' is the same as saying
'I apologize.' Except at a funeral."
—Demetri Martin

"I keep a lighter in my back pocket all the time.
I'm not a smoker, I just really like certain songs."
—Demetri Martin

"If I ever saw an amputee getting hanged,
I'd probably just start calling out letters."
—Demetri Martin

Saturday, December 01, 2007

And On The Thirty-First Day...

There seems to be a contented calmness across the blogosphere tonight, as everyone sits back in one big collective, "ahhhh."

Perhaps I'm leading into December with a bit too much drama...because the numbers that participated in NaBloPoMo were somewhere around 6,200...and how many blogs are out there? Sixty million, I think? —ish? So I'm quite sure the blogiverse is still movin' and shakin' and hoppin' pretty good.

But my Google Reader doesn't have smoke pouring out of it like it did almost every day last month. There are posts trickling in here and there, but it's quieter. And it should be. I think many people are taking the day, or the weekend, or the next month off.

I'm sure there are some people who flew through the month without giving it a second thought. And there are some who struggled and toiled and maybe missed a day or two, because sometimes the day just gets away on you. Still others probably thought, "Blogs are stupid. Who'd wanna pay that much attention to a dumb blog, anyway??" (they probably weren't NaBloPoMo'ers.)

When I signed up in late October, I thought, "I can do this. I hope I do this. Can I really do this?" That was after ignoring this particular plot of cyber real estate for a good month and a half, and I honestly wasn't sure. Then...a few days in, I knew I could do it.

Several times during the month, my brain hurt, and my eyes got itchy, and thoughts raced through my head that said, "...what the hell am I going to write about tonight?" And then I found some words. Maybe not Pulitzer Prize-winning, perhaps not even blogosphere-worthy words. But...words. Some of them I'm actually pretty happy with. So it was a good exercise. Peel away the garbage, and at least something I wrote this month made me say, "Yeah. I can hit "Publish" now."

Now I have to see how well I keep up without the structure. Some nights in November, I was scrambling to put a little polish on an entry, and posted it at 11:42, or 11:47, or...11:54. Eeesh! Close calls. I don't have that once-a-day deadline anymore. If I happen to publish at 12:17am, tough shit, right? What I don't want to do is ignore this again...for weeks at a time.

Speaking of structure...the vague foreshadowing that I mentioned in last night's post is ultimately going to foreshadow, um, nothing. (bad use of foreshadowing, isn't it? remind me to take a foreshadowing workshop in the new year.)

As I was poking around on the BloPo forums last night, reading about everyone's victories, someone mentioned something called Holidailies, which is essentially another post-a-day challenge, from December 1 to January 1, on a much smaller scale than NaBloPoMo. As soon as I saw it, I was going to sign up right away, and keep the consecutive streak going.

But then I gave it a bit more thought as I ran some errands last night, came home and wrote that entry and gave it even more thought...and decided not to make it official. I'd love to stop by this blog on a daily basis, but I know I'm going to miss some days in the very near future. Simply because...because. I'm tired. And I'm pretty happy being a NaBloPoMo survivor. (although I'm tired of writing BlahBlahBlahBlah.)

Some people from November are even setting up a Blog365 project, which is...yep, you guessed it...every day for a year. While I applaud their effort, I won't even kid myself into thinking I can do that. I'm firmly behind the whole "writers should write every day" mantra, but writers should also be lazy on the couch once in a while, too. At least, this writer should.

This challenge has been a blast, and I've discovered some writers that make me say, "I wish I knew verbs like that." That's been a huge part of the fun, and I've got a list of about 6,000 other bloggers I can explore whenever I feel the urge, or get snowed in for seventeen straight days.

To the new people who've stopped by to say "hi," or "great post," or "you suck,"...I appreciate the comments. I'll try to suck less. And to those bloggers whose words I've become addicted to...hurry back. Or I'll start lobbying for you to join Blog365 so I get to read what's rattling around in your brains every day.

I'd close this long, rambling wrap-up with an inspirational push like, "Blog on!", but... lame would that be?

"You will never change your life until
you change something you do daily."
—Mike Murdock