Friday, September 30, 2005

Court-ing Sandra Day O’Connor’s Successor

Time to nominate someone to the Supreme Court. A defining moment for the country, a rare event that we have not witnessed in … well, at least it has been a few weeks.

You may recall that I had some damn good suggestions for nominees back then. Alas, our Chief Executive seems to have focused on advice from so-called “experts” rather than a rant from a wise-ass blogger. Now I know why folks say the guy’s front porch is missing a few light bulbs.

You know what I mean. If you don’t, nod your head and move on.

Not that the boss (Bush, not Springsteen) did a bad job with his pick. As I wrote upon his nomination, John Roberts was about as good a choice as we could have hoped for. (Other than Britney Spears, Tom Cruise, or Will Ferrell, of course. But I won’t cry over lost opportunities, over my presidential spurning, or over the future of the country’s jurisprudence—which is now tragically in the hands of a Chief Justice with credentials and class, instead of a punchline celebrity.)

The bad news is that William Rehnquist, generally considered to be a fun and decent man, passed away, leading us into another potentially ugly couple of months. The good news?

Thanks for asking. The good news, you might suspect, is that I have some NEW suggestions for the Prez.

1. Donald Rumsfeld. Having nominated the 50 year-old John Roberts to the bench, Bush has dangerously lowered the average age of the Supreme Court below that of the Chinese Politburo. At least the President’s critics cannot criticize a septuagenarian pick as someone who will be interpreting the nation’s laws for decades to come.

I can already see senators lining up at the confirmation hearings—like bat-wielding passengers in the movie Airplane!—to ask Rumsfeld if he would show the same respect for the Constitution that he has with the whole “enemy combatant” trick, which allows US citizens to be held behind bars indefinitely, without any visitors or regular access to a lawyer. This would be about as subdued and dignified as the O.J. trial, and isn’t America desperate for some good reality TV?

2. David Akers. The kicker for the Eagles hurt his leg in last Sunday’s game during the opening kickoff and nearly fell over. And then he got right back behind the ball—and kicked off again with reckless disregard for his own body, causing him to roll on the ground in agonizing pain.

That’s the kind of go-get-‘em attitude the High Court needs. My sources tell me that Clarence Thomas starts looking at his watch at 3:30—and that every time David Souter cuts his finger on a legal brief, he cries like a Superdome baby.

3. Demi Moore. Now that our favorite former Charlie’s Angel is a respectable woman again (having married Ashton Kutcher, the love child she conceived with Rob Lowe on the set of About Last Night), she is a safe “family-values” candidate for the right. Yet the left will still like her because of her stunning portrayals of both a starving stripper and a perpetrator of sexual harassment against men—the latter making her Hilary Rodham Clinton’s wet panty dream.

And with Sandra Day O’Connor stepping down, the President is under some real pressure to name a woman.

You could say the ball is in his court to get someone without balls in the Court. Someone other than David Souter, that is.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Update: "Intelligent Design" Trial

An unusual post for me--just a link without commentary ... except to say "right on."

Witness: 'Intelligent Design' Not Science

(See my previous post on the topic.)

Fowl Play

Every year, all the birds in the world get together for a potluck. You may not have known this. You may not even believe it now.

Indulge me—it’s kind of essential for the joke. Some folks call it willing suspension of disbelief. I suggest you try it.

And at each year’s banquet, which always begins at 11:00 a.m. sharp, each bird brings a dish for one of the other birds. That way every feathery attendee is guaranteed something to eat—a real necessity, given how ravenous some birds can be. Especially the raven.

Now, you may be wondering how each bird knows what to bring, and who gets which dish. Well, these birds are freakin smart—they hand out assignments at the end of each potluck for the following year’s event. And every bird tingles with anticipation during the announcements, because all of them really, really want to get the bratwurst next year. Birds just love bratwurst, after all.

But there’s a catch. If any bird fails to arrive by 11:00, on the nose, then the food brought for him or her can be shared by all the birds that ARE present. A communal dish, if you will.

So here we are at 10:45, and this year’s banquet is about to begin. Here comes the cardinal with the quesadilla for the condor. And the blackbird, carrying the baked beans for the blue-footed boobie.

10:50. Hundreds of birds have gathered. The hummingbird delivers the hummus for the heron. The sparrow cries out with glee, for the starling has arrived with his sushi.

The mockingbird brings the meatloaf for the magpie.

10:55. The assemblage gasps: look, it’s the blue jay with the bratwurst for the Arctic tern! Ahhhh, the bratwurst. The birds drool … and scan the horizon for the as-of-yet absent tern.

10:56. No tern. 10:57. The birds start to fidget, anticipating the chance to bite into the delicious bratwurst. 10:58. The tern is nowhere to be seen; the warbling, chirping, and tweeting becomes overwhelming.

10:59. The birds shuffle closer to the bratwurst … but, just as the clock is about to turn, the tern swoops in.

And all the birds cry out in unison:

“Oh no—it’s a tern for the wurst!”

Monday, September 26, 2005

Nice Helmet

I spent much of yesterday doing my duty as a decadent, lazy American. I sat on my ass for most of 10 hours watching football.

(For our foreign readers, that’s the game with the oblong, brown ball. Fútbol americano. Not that silly kicking game you all obsess over.)

Thinking about yesterday’s games, I could post a diatribe about the shameful roughing-the-passer call against the Chargers for hitting Eli Manning solidly, but cleanly, in the second quarter last night in San Diego. Or about the ridiculous THREE tries it took the Eagles on Sunday afternoon to even get the opening kickoff right because of their embarrassing offsides penalties during the first two attempts.

But comment on these things, I will not. Instead, let me cover a more heady issue.


It all started as when I was a kid, growing up in the 1970s with NFL sheets. NFL drapes. NFL pajamas. All of them with team helmets.

My misspent youth was wasted neither on video games nor pre-criminal mischief (except for that one egging incident—sorry Tau Kappa Epsilon), but on contemplating NFL headgear.

Sure, there are some bad helmets in today’s game. But most teams have changed their logos over the years and settled on one that at least is not embarrassing. The Jaguar, the Panther, and the Raven are each a bit silly, but not humiliating to wear.

Overall, today’s helmets are all in about the same category. They have made the Bronco’s pose more menacing, the Eagle’s wing better defined, and the Cardinal’s profile meaner. Now everyone feels that they are at least in the same league.

Not the case back in the day. From the late 1970s into the early 1980s, three distinct categories emerged in my little boy brain: the classy helmet, the cool helmet, and the stupid helmet.

There were the elegantly simple. Examples: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers. Nothing fancy here—a letter said it all. Classy.

There were the eternally awesome. Example: San Diego Chargers. A single lightning bolt—a symbol said it all. Cool.

Then there were the horrid. The inconceiveable. The downright stupid.

Take the Patriots. Unlike today, they were an embarrassment. Their play bested only one thing: their headgear. To make things worse, they represented a whole REGION—not just a city or a state—so at least five states were “represented” by a comically bad helmet.

Maybe it was my childish point of view, but their logo in the 1970s—a hunched patriot—looked like nothing more than a waiter at Long John Silver taking a dump, smirking, and grabbing his turd.

Exhibit B: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ahh, the team that could not buy a win well into the 1980s. If you ever wondered why they were not-so affectionately called the “Suck-aneers,” examine this helmet—an enormously gay pirate, biting a saber and coyly winking.

Maybe they were going for “Grrrrrrr,” but what they got was “Toodle-oo!! Has anyone seen the trolley??”

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Unless you actually want to win football games. In which case, gentlemen, just say no to the homoerotic headgear.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Heat Is On

Stop me if you have heard this one before. A hurricane walks into a bar, a nice little place overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. And then she rips the living crap out of it.

Déjà vu, anyone?

Yes, here we go again. Another major hurricane, another devastated coastline. They say we are suffering through more of these monsters than years past because certain waters are slightly, but definitively, getting warmer—and strengthening these cyclones to near biblical proportions.

If you are like me—and, if so, please tell me how to silence the voices in my head ordering me to do bad, bad things to squirrels—you are wondering WHY the oceans are heating up. Who is behind this warming and the resulting devastation?

I have my ideas.

1. Jim Cantore. Who is getting more airtime these days than our fearless hurricane hunter?

Weather Channel ratings are hot—is that merely a coincidence?

2. Aliens. (As in extraterrestrials, not border-crossers.) We saw War of the Worlds, so we are prepared for them to come at us from the ground. We saw ET, so we are prepared for them to come at us from our stuffed animal-filled closets.

But who among us anticipated that the little green men from outer space would slowly warm our oceans with undetectable laser rays, creating these killer storms that are devastating our coastal cities and paving the way for a direct invasion?

3. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). For months he has been itching for a Judiciary Committee fight over a Supreme Court nominee; the man was reportedly seen giggling like a schoolgirl earlier this year when high bench justices were overheard sneezing. But John Roberts turned out to be a smart, capable, and likeable nominee—depriving New York’s senior senator a primo grandstanding opportunity and leaving him a steaming heap of infuriated anger.

My theory: A hot-under-the-collar Schumer dipped his feet in the Atlantic Ocean and, well … the rest is history. Our lesson? Beware hotheads in the US Senate!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Back To Life, Back To Reality

They say all good things must come to an end.

I do not believe them.

Actually, if I ever find "them," after hearing their crap all of these years, they will be slapped more than Paris Hilton's ass at a Hollywood nightclub. But in this case, they are right, because my week+ vacation is over.

My mind is now filled with various images and words--an unpredictable mix emerging from an experiential blender that has been fed little for 10 days but fresh seafood, swinging hammocks, lazy swims, tropical drinks, and various books ranging from Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted to B-grade fantasy novels.

So as I settle back into the patterns of life as I know it, I will be posting some thoughts again on this and that. Mostly that. I hope that you have been well and look forward to hearing your comments in the coming days.

Friday, September 09, 2005


I will be away from this virtual (and my actual) home for about 10 days to take a much needed vacation. While I bask in the tropical sun, leaving things like computers behind, my mind will no doubt be filling with more musings to share with you when I return the week of September 19.

Have a good week, one and all. Be safe.

80s Hair Metal: Errors and Omissions

A misleading title here. There are no omissions, really.

Unless you think that Faster Pussycat really does belong (a valid point). Or if you lament the absence of L.A. Guns' Cocked and Loaded (understandable).

Or if you are the jackass who burned "Bon Jovi RULES!" on my SUV with a lighter and a can of hair spray (you sick bastard).

But the list contains one major error. For that, I am both embarrassed and apologetic. You see, Skid Row's Slave to the Grind--released in 1991--was not actually in the 1980s.

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The 25 Greatest Hair Metal Albums of the 1980s

Self-control is hard.

For months, I have resisted the urge to post “best of” lists for everyone to agree or disagree with. The top movies of the 1980s. The best rock singers of all time. The most important books of the new millennium.

I shall resist no longer.

Tonight, I present the first of my lists for your respect and ridicule, your yays and nays, your cheers and jeers.

Note #1: I will not include bands that sported big coifs in the 80s but were not really “hair bands” for most of their career. No Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Rush, Judas Priest, Aerosmith, or even Guns N’ Roses; wait for the top metal/hard rock list.

Note #2: I will not include any albums from any bands that come to mind simply BECAUSE they had big hair—you will not see Faster Pussycat here even though the band’s BHQ (Big Hair Quotient) far exceeded Tesla’s.

Note #3: “Greatest” means the CDs within the genre that I most often blast in the car, pull up on my iPod, or just have happy thoughts about—sorry, Bon Jovi and Poison fans. And if the album spurred other bands to make good stuff, it gets bonus points.

Now, without further ado, the greatest 25 albums from 80s hair metal:

25. Winger, Winger
24. Warrant, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich
23. White Lion, Pride
22. Cinderella, Long Cold Winter
21. Ratt, Dancing Undercover
20. Kiss, Animalize
19. Dokken, Breaking the Chains
18. Def Leppard, Hysteria
17. Skid Row, Slave to the Grind
16. Bulletboys, Bulletboys
15. Def Leppard, High ‘n’ Dry
14. Mötley Crüe, Shout at the Devil
13. Ratt, Invasion of Your Privacy
12. Kiss, Asylum
11. Tesla, The Great Radio Controversy
10. Whitesnake, Whitesnake
9. Slaughter, Stick It To Ya
8. Skid Row, Skid Row
7. Cinderella, Night Songs
6. Mötley Crüe, Too Fast for Love
5. Ace Frehley, Frehley’s Comet
4. Dokken, Tooth and Nail
3. Tesla, Mechanical Resonance
2. Ratt, Out of the Cellar
1. Def Leppard, Pyromania

That's my list, at least as of today, submitted for your consideration.

Rock on.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Lame Hurricane Blame Game

Many, many blogs are covering Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath from many, many angles.

I will not try to compete, both because much of the commentary is well-done and because I do not have the time or interest to devote myself solely to blogging about disaster relief. One plug only: Avoid the middlemen; donate directly to the American Red Cross.

But there is one aspect of post-hurricane politics/pop culture that I have not seen covered to death. It needs to be addressed. And I am just the man to do it.

Just as I previously decried the growing tendency for pundits and politicians alike to call each other “liars,” so will I put to shame those who always seek to blame the federal government for everything.

In this case, according to many, it is Washington’s fault that people are dead. Washington’s fault that people are suffering. Blame a cabinet department, blame FEMA, blame Congress, blame President Bush—the higher up, the better.

I have two main objections to this.

First, blaming anyone—much less the distant federal government—for not being fully psychic is intellectual laziness. We knew a major hurricane was coming, yes, but we know much more about the storm’s fury NOW than we did before Monday, August 29.

We have been warned countless times about “dangerous” or “life-threatening” hurricanes—not to mention blizzards, thunderstorms, and killer bee swarms—that turned out to be relatively light in damage. Is it any surprise that the citizens of New Orleans, regional authorities, and federal officials all failed to anticipate the scope of the damage?

When “wolf” has been cried hundreds or thousands of times before, the rational person does not panic at an oncoming storm—even a really big one. Why should we expect bureaucrats or elected officials in Washington to be MORE attuned to local dangers than the hundreds of thousands of citizens in the Gulf region who decided not to evacuate?

Second, the government should only do for the people what they cannot do for themselves. And the higher the level of government, the more it should stay out of people’s lives.

Why is it the federal government’s responsibility to have a plan in place for evacuating the residents of a horribly located city?

Who made the President, the Congress, or anyone in Washington the ultimate authority on local safety measures and emergency plans? Hypocritically, many of the people blaming the federal government are the same ones who lambaste the feds for meddling too much in state and local affairs.

I find it disturbing that so many voices are raised against President Bush for not having troops, food, water, and shelters on the streets of New Orleans on Monday night. Where are the critics of the state and local police, fire, and other authorities in New Orleans for their pathetic lack of a presence in their own city after the storm?

The damage is horrible and I hope that the death toll is lower than some analysts are now fearing. And if communities and governments can learn lessons from this storm and react more effectively to future similar disasters, great.

There is much to blame the feds for. The tragedy in New Orleans is not at the top of the list.