Friday, August 31, 2007

She's lucky she's not in jail.

She has no business in a classroom.

TAMPA - A former dance teacher who fled an accident that killed two children and injured two others is giving up her fight to continue teaching in Florida.

Jennifer Porter is relinquishing her state certification voluntarily. Her attorney says she wants to focus on her private dance studio, instead of going through with a hearing next week in Tampa before the state's Education Practices Commission.Porter resigned from her job as a dance teacher at a Tampa elementary school after the March 2004 accident. She sped away from the scene and did not come forward for several days.

The fact that Porter, who is white, avoided jail time for a hit-and-run accident that killed two black boys triggered cries of racial injustice.

The site of this accident is less than a mile from where I live. The community center and its basketball courts are on one side of 22nd street and these kids were crossing the street when they were hit.

This wench hit these kids (background here) then took off and it wasn't until someone noticed damage to her car a few days later that she was busted. She hired Barry Cohen, a defense attorney who owns the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office like Tim Wakefield owns the Rays.

Back to the classroom? She should be thanking Jesus she's not in the Graybar Hotel.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Must read

Poor Spider. He has to live in the same area code as the mighty Trop - land of the skill-free and home of the Rays. Sports Guy has the scoop.

O Queen, blog forever!

Sad to say, your hosts are somewhat backwards when it comes to the tech end of blogging. It's probably why we use a free service such as Blogger, with its very simple tools for layout and editing. (Just added - a new video upload feature to embed clips.)

Contrast with James Lileks, whose site is (appropriately) a smorgasbord of multimedia content: scans, stills, video, sound clips - pretty much all of it the work of his two hands. It's clear we're still in the stalls while others are whipping merrily around the track.

That's why I had no idea that it was relatively simple to blog for pay. SarahK has been doing it for a few months now, and had she never chosen to mention it, who could tell? There's an occasional link at the bottom of certain of her posts, that's all - an opportunity for her to earn a little walking-around money while the folks on the other end of that link get a steady stream of visitors, making it an attractive site for advertising and services.

(Seriously - I'm a dolt. They were calling it the "information superhighway" for so long I forgot how simple it would be to stick billboards everywhere.)

Sarah does, however, make it clear that she does some of her blogging for pay. I think it rules. I'm glad this squabble died down by the time I saw it (since I lurk at CTG from time to time and hate to see any of my invisible friends at odds). I vote that the Queen of the Infidels continues to cook up that yummy Internet goodness. (Gluten free, of course.) If other people subsidize the fun, so much the better.

(BTW - see the comments on the original post. Bless you all, I'd forgotten what it looked like to see people resolve differences maturely. No joke - my heart is smiling.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Michael Vick & Chuck Colson...

...have something in common.

While this process has unfolded, Vick has found religion.

"... through this situation I found Jesus," Vick said, "and asked him for forgiveness and turned my life over to God."

Carpenter, a former safety who played with Vick at Virginia Tech and with the Falcons, confirmed he has accepted religion.

"God speaks to us in a lot of different ways," Carpenter said. "Like I told him, this situation is not about dogs with you. It's about cleaning your house up.

"He's had to clean his house up. God is telling [Vick] to get some folk from around you. Clean your mess up and come to him. As we go to God, we have to be broken.

"Michael Vick is broken right now, and he's able to receive the message that God has given him right now."

This may all be Bravo Sierra for the judge, but it would not be the first time that someone, as the country singer George Strait would say, found Jesus on the jailhouse floor. Thirty five years ago, when the Watergate special prosecutor was closing in on him, Nixon's White House counsel Chuck Colson saw himself losing everything. And like some in the press today may think of Vick, there was the opinion that Chuck's new faith was a stunt to try and get a favor from the judge who sent him up the river. For some of us, to get our attention Jesus has to take away everything you have until all that's left is Him.

Don't get me wrong. Vick has pled guilty to some serious crimes and needs to go to the Graybar Hotel. But if Vick has really embraced Christ, then his life, even one in prison, is not ruined. That's why it's called the Good News.

Another Log Cabin Republican

or Brokeback Bathroom:

U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, an Idaho Republican, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in Minnesota this month after being arrested by a plainclothes police officer investigating complaints of lewd conduct in a men's restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

File this under too much information:

Craig was arrested at the airport on June 11, according to Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper. According to police reports, Craig kept watching the undercover police officer through a crack in the bathroom stall, Roll Call reported. Craig then entered the next-door stall and placed his luggage against the opening under the stall door.

"My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall," said the officer, Sgt. Dave Karsnia.

The report continued: "At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. ... The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area."
The report said that Craig swiped his hand beneath the stall divider several times and that Karsnia showed his police identification under the stall.

Memo to self: while listening to headphones in the stall don't tap my foot to the beat.

Also, can you imagine being the police officer assigned to this beat? What do you tell the wife when she asks, "So honey, how was your day?"

I love the Drudge Report!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Busy bug

Just cleared:
food shopping
oil change
627 loads of laundry

On the docket:
wedding album photo selection
Labor Day festivities at one of the groomsmen's home
pre-Labor Day festivities at the in-laws
some dog-sitting
shocks and brakes on the Discount Chariot
627 thank-you notes

Regular business (not in this order):
My actual job
Getting the apartment in order
"The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edmund Morris (which is slated to become a film starring Leo DiCaprio as TR - I think I threw up in my mouth a little)
"The Everlasting Man" by GK Chesteron
The Ladybug
losing hockey games

Two cheers for regular life - even though it means the occasional dry spell in posting. In order to deal with it, I'm actually writing more elsewhere - resuming a diary (which never goes well for me, but it's the right thing to do right now), and hammering at the wretched MOUS. I'm also still reading most everyone. Like Gandalf, expect me when you see me; only without all the wizardry and "You Shall Not Pass!" and stuff.

(NOTE - The TR book is 920 pages including the end notes. This has shoved "The Jesus I Never Knew" back to the back burner; sorry Tracey. I promise I'll get to Disco Stu's book!)

Friday, August 24, 2007

CPO Randy


A Chief Petty Officer shall not drink, BUT
if a Chief Petty Officer should drink,
he shall not get drunk. BUT
If he should get drunk,
he should not stagger. BUT
If he should stagger,
he should not fall down. BUT
If he should fall down,
he should fall on his left side. WHY?
To hide his rating badge so people will think he is an officer.

I got a call from my baby brother Randy yesterday and he gave me the good news that he had made Chief Petty Officer in the US Navy Reserves. This is a big deal in the Navy; When Big Brother Henry made Chief he went through an initiation not unlike rushing a frat, and the pinning ceremony is quite an event.

(Soon to be) Chief Randy served in Iraq most of 2005 as a SeaBee. His son, my nephew served in Iraq this year in the Regular Army until he drove over an IED (Randy tells me that he had an accident and I'm saying an accident is when you hit a car in the Wal-Mart parking lot). The kid is doing fine - got his bell rung pretty badly but will fully recover.

20 years in the Air Force and New Jersey and Florida Air National Guard and all I did was drink beer on three continents.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Teh "teh"

Tracey needs to know... why "teh"? Why not just "the"? Why is "the" teh suq?

Well now, there are probably a few explanations, all with varying amounts of truth in them. My thought was always that it was a faux-cool thing to do; the kind of thing you type on the Interwebs to show that you were a with-it, happening sort. (i.e. - "Interwebs" instead of "web" or "internet.") And this can get you into deep waters, mentally.

For example, is it showing off? Is it because it's genuinely fun? Is it to gain acceptance with the much cooler kids who started it - who hung out on their own, intentionally becoming unpopular to be noticed (and thus popular again); the kids who only wore black and all piled into the oldest junior's land yacht to eat lunch at Roy Rogers and who said "coin of the realm" whenever they needed to pay for anything; the kids who watched Captain Kangaroo for no other reason than to publicly discuss it in post-ironic tones of dismissal. (Naturally, they would change expressions to re-isolate themselves the moment a certain number of outsiders picked up their trend-setting lingo.)

And on top of that are the personal expressions that others may adopt as their own version of "teh." My own pet expressions include such things as -

frolic through the catnip
we're golden

There are others I use all the time that I don't even notice unless the Ladybug says something. (There are a couple of more that the Ladybug uses that I have fallen into using as well.)

So, to kind of answer Tracey's question... "teh" is, for me, a fun intentional misspelling meant to give me the flimsy veneer of hip I require as a blogger of today. One-third or so of that means intentionally mocking myself by using it. And maybe 2% of it is, in my case, a reminder of a kid I knew.

This kid's name started with T. He was a beginner chessplayer, and we were mean little gits towards him. Whenever he did something outrageously bad in a game, one of us would dock him a letter, as if his name were a Scrabble rack. Soon, he was just T-. And then he was gone.

Now, I can mock the intentionally uncool kids all I like, but they at least have this excuse - they are usually defending themselves from jackasses like me, embracing their isolation rather than having it imposed on them. In this case, I joined in when I was old enough to know better - having started out quite like T-, like the other uncool kids: mocked for nerdish chess bookism, for loud high-pitched sci-fi enthusiasms, for being to the youngest and smallest kid in my grade (put in a freshman gym class my sophomore year because everyone was terrified I'd get hurt). I dodged the one trap, but got older and forgot all about it - and fell headlong into the other trap.

T- is pronounced "tuh." "Teh" is pronounced like "eh" with a "tuh" at the front. In other words, we demoted that poor kid lower than a stupid Internet joke, erased his name, chewed him up and spat him out every damn Thursday.

Deep waters, indeed. I hope he was pulled to shore by someone much kinder than we were.

Bill Clinton won't be moving to Iran soon

Neither will Rudy G or Newt.

His face covered by a balaclava, an official brandishing a cane repeatedly lashes the back of a man found guilty of breaking Iran's morality laws.

Two police officers hold the legs of 25-year-old Saeed Ghanbari and another his arms to ensure there is no escape from the punishment of 80 lashes handed down by a religious court.

Traffic was brought to a halt in Qazvin, 90 miles west of the capital Tehran, as more than 1,000 men gathered behind barricades to watch the public flogging.

Check out the pix. It appears that the writer is speculating on the specific offense, but usually it's adultery (in this country your wife gives you the 80 lashes) or consuming adult beverages (isn't a hangover enough punishment?).

Saves: Officially Useless

Hey, a save is a fine thing in hockey - although even there the save percentage is more important in the aggregate, and the goals-against average trumps all.

In baseball? Officially worthless. I wrote this part yesterday:

Last night the Yankees were smacked around by the Angels. Garrett Anderson (of all people) had 10 runs batted in, outdoing the Bombers single-battedly. But the worst part of the game was in the small text afterward: the pitching line at the very bottom of the boxscore:

Gwyn (S, 1) ... 3 IP, 4 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks, one K

This man entered the game with a fourteen run lead. He only finished the game because it was considered out of reach - the absolute opposite of a "saving" situation. After the game, he was sent back to triple-A. The Save is pathetic.

So what happens last night? I hold the post for who-knows-why; probably a bit of research that was so obscure I forget now what I even wanted to find out. And I wake up this morning to see that the Texas Rangers hung thirty runs on Baltimore in one game... and heaven help all of us, there it is at the bottom of the boxscore AGAIN:

Littleton (S, 1) ... 3 IP, 0 runs, 2 hits and 1 walk, one K

This man entered the game with only an eleven run lead - and the Rangers scored ten times in the top of the eighth as a thank-you for his hard work. They then added six more runs in the ninth. He got a save? The Spider and I could have gotten the last nine outs without giving up that lead.

Enough with the save, already. I'm sure Wes Littleton is a fine fellow, but he should donate that save to science, so they can figure out what the hell use it is.

(The rest of that boxscore, by the way, is astounding. Two guys scored five times each, two guys drove in seven runs each. As a team, Texas hit .509 and raised their season's average five points. The Orioles allowed the first seven hitters in the eighth to reach base. Their relievers came into a 5-3 game with one man on base and allowed him to score, along with 24 friends, in four short innings - an ERA of 54.00. Baltimore required 252 pitches to finish the game - two more than the Cardinals and Marlins combined for their 6-4 game in St. Louis.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

59 degree high in NYC Tuesday!

Are you kidding!

I spent all day on the roof of the Red Cross in Tampa on Tues helping to put in an A/C system. Add about 40 degrees to the NYC high. Normally I'm the office guy but on big jobs I'm out doing the jobs Americans just won't do.

97 degrees. 8 million percent humidity. By 6pm I was seeing visions and speaking in tongues.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Book tagged

(update and bump, 8-21-07 - great add-on questions by CalTechGirl, written in green and answered at the bottom of the post... tip to Mr. Summers) the book lass herself, Sheila O'Malley.

(Before I start, I want to say one thing - somehow, it's reassuring to vanish for ten days, get married and go on a honeymoon, and then, upon my return, see that Sheila is still obsessing about Dean Stockwell. In an ever-changing world, some things are timeless!)

What are you reading right now?
I am finally beginning a book recommended by Tracey many moons ago: "The Jesus I Never Knew" by Philip Yancey.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
I also have "The Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey, and Song," which I browsed at the bookstore while everyone else was waiting for the Harry Potter. I regaled my extremely patient wife (then fiancee) and our friends with select passages. Hilarious and full of information. I'm looking forward to it.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom right now?
Right now, we have no subscriptions, having just moved and not bringing anything with. In the meantime, I have a collection of small featurettes from ESPN the Magazine that I've just finished tearing through, called the Answer Guy.

What’s the worst thing you were ever forced to read?
I kind of snoozed my way through most of a Toni Morrison book in college, so I can't say "forced to read." I didn't miss much considering how well I did on the paper having read nearly nothing. But I usually put "Moo" by Jane Smiley at the front of this list. It wasn't poorly written but it was deadly dull, full of nobody I would ever care about and would dread meeting in real life. It's hard to get into a book with no character at all to identify with. In those cases I at least try to get into the story as a character myself, and sort of fill in between chapters and episodes by interacting with the characters; in this case my avatar wound up in jail for slapping a bunch of people. The last 200 pages were thus torture. (And this wasn't a class assignment at all! Why did I do this to myself?)

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
Oddly, I don't make too many book recommendations, unless someone mentions a book first. Then, if I've read and enjoyed it, I will say so. The most recent book in this category would be Chesterton's "Everlasting Man."

Admit it, the librarians at your library know you on a first name basis, don’t they?
Maybe during the great Computer Gap of a few years ago, when I was pestering them for Internet time, but I've moved since. I also usually buy books.

Is there a book you absolutely love, but for some reason, people never think it sounds interesting, or maybe they read it and don’t like it at all?
This happens more often with movies, since I have a taste for oddball stuff like "UHF" and MST3K. But in books, this happens most often with the Bible. People know I read it (though not as much as I ought), but usually have reasons why they don't:
1. they start from Genesis, bog down in the "begats" and "thou shalts", and never get past the Battle of Jericho.
2. they think they know it already - but won't reread it even if they say they liked it.
3. they think it boils down to Jesus simpering around telling kids to be nice to each other.
4. they think it boils down to God smiting this, condemning that, and generally being a cosmic hard-ass.
Funny thing is that I don't pry about it - I'm not into launching conversations about Christ out of the blue - but if it comes up, people launch into the explanation as if they owed it to me, when I really try to avoid that impression. (Maybe it's my looks. The other day a woman in the supermarket apologized to me when her daughter and her friends nearly ran into me; I smiled and reassured her there was no harm done, and she felt compelled to volunteer that "They're not all my kids, thank God." Huh?!?)

Do you read books while you eat? All the time, at least while alone.
While you bathe? And risk getting them WET? (Though, see above - gravy and beer are somehow an exception! I'm stoopit.)
While you watch movies or TV? If the show is that bad, I'll turn it off entirely in favor of the book.
While you listen to music? Yes.
While you’re on the computer? Depends. If I need to look stuff up, yes.
While you’re having sex? My wife deserves better than that, wouldn't you say?
While you’re driving? No. I try not to risk imminent death for myself and others while driving.

When you were little, did other children tease you about your reading habits?
Yes, a lot. If it was just books I don't think they would have minded, but I would read anything I could lay hands on - food labels, newspapers, the Pennysaver, circulars and fliers, instruction booklets... plus I played chess.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
Hm. The pedant in me says, "Define good." The book lover in me answers, "Good as in 'I stayed up half the night because I had to know what happened next.' So there."
I stayed up half the night reading "The Deathly Hallows," and it was good as well as compelling, as in "I need to find out so I can actually follow half the conversations on the Web this week" and "Next week there will be no time because of the wedding so I have to finish NOW." Before that it was a book about the 1975 baseball season called "The Long Ball." (Recommended for any baseball fan, by the way, especially Red Sox Nation. Lots of Freddie Lynn and Spaceman Lee.)

What book have you stayed up all night NOT reading (because it disturbed you in some way)? Has a book ever entered your dreams?
Plenty of books have entered my dreams, but even the most disturbing ones haven't ever kept me up at night after I put them down. I loves me my sleep too much.

What book/ series would you like to write an ending too? Or rewrite? I'm not strictly talking about fanfic, just this: given the opportunity, which stories would you like to work on?
Another one in my wheelhouse. I tinker with EVERYTHING mentally. If I can't understand something or if it frustrated me, I will actually start typing. I wrote a couple dozen pages of Episodes 1-3 from the point of view of an entirely new character in order to untwist some of the cockamamity. I've written Sherlock Holmes into stories. I'm working on a Cowboy Bebop sequel. Sort of makes you wonder how I actually got married, don't it?

Best book to movie transition?
Haven't finished the book yet but the Green Mile has been doing well for me. Jaws is up there, but would have been higher if Spielberg had just killed off Richard Dreyfuss. (Robert Shaw's monologue about spending four days in the Pacific with sharks picking off the survivors is worth the whole price of admission plus three tubs of popcorn.) Willy Wonka in some ways bettered the book, though Roald Dahl hated it and would never watch it afterward.

Personally, I want to be in charge of two book-to-film projects: "A Canticle for Liebowitz" by Walter Miller Jr, and "Pudd'nhead Wilson" by Mark Twain.

And as a corollary, what books should NEVER be a movie?
In general, books that work through the wonder and imagination of the reader suffer most in the translation. If I can already see it in my head, I don't want to see what you see with my eyes. It probably won't be half as good. I am not loving the Harry Potter films as a result, to say nothing of the metric tons of material they have to cut each time.

Do you prefer one-off novels or character-driven series books? What's your favorite book series?
I don't really have a favorite, though I was raised on series like Tom Swift, Danny Dunn, and Narnia. Lord of the Rings is the best of them, I think. I also loved the Hitchhiker books - see below - but then see below that.

Which book character do you see yourself as most like? How about when you were a kid?
I always identified with the kindly, put-upon sorts, like Arthur Dent; or else rogues with good hearts, like Han Solo. Only later, as an acquired taste, did I begin to identify with the heroes of the story - but again, not usually the main character. I could never be Gandalf or Aragorn; I would have loved to be Faramir, however. (And not the movie one, but the real one in the book.)

Ever NOT want to finish a book because you were desperately afraid that the author was going to take it somewhere you didn't like? Ever fling a book at the wall because that happened?
Not exactly - but the last Hitchhiker book was, indeed, flung at the wall. Douglas Adams was a fine writer, but he should have just left it with his heroes staring at God's Final Message to Creation. There was no use whatsoever in his deciding, hell with it - I'm going to tack on a fifth book and destroy all these characters everyone loved in a nihilistic hissy fit. Pretty much it was a huge middle finger over the shoulder as he went out the door.

This book NEVER HAPPENED. That's the official ruling.

No tags. But I know there are book lovers out there who will want to participate! Comments are yours - or you can just link back, I want to see your answers!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Your source for news

Good column today by Mr. Jason Whitlock... but just remember, the Spider was there first!

Then again, Whitlock has been writing professionally for over fifteen years, has ESPN and other national credits to his name (print, broadcast, online), and gives you bonus scoop about Ronny Thompson's ill-advised lawsuit against Ball State (Whitlock's alma mater). I guess he can afford to wait two days to let us blurb while he writes a strong article.

Lame 1, sportswriting 0

Courtesy of Jay Mohr:

The second half of a preseason football game is like watching an episode of MAD TV; a collection of names that no one will remember.

In other words, Alex Borstein and Phil Lamarr got dissed on the internet by the guy most recently seen doing the Brown n’ Bubbly ads for Pepsi. This is the funniest thing to happen in all of 2007. Maybe if people didn’t always get Mohr mixed up with the “Goat Boy” guy he wouldn’t be writing his lame column.

(Tip to Fremulon's Finest, Mr. Ken Tremendous of FJM.)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Genius is fleeting; stupidity abides

Can't this guy just go away, already?

Loser of pants, $54 million lawsuit files appeal
Dry cleaner withdrew demand for legal fees but customer still not satisfied

Personally, I think this headline is as true as it gets about Roy Pearson. He is a loser. His loserosity exceedeth even that of the Born Loser, the Lonesome Loser, and the entire city of Cleveland combined.

WASHINGTON - A judge who lost a $54 million lawsuit against a dry cleaner over a
missing pair of pants continues to press his suit.

Heh, "press his suit." Even MSNBC is getting into the act.

Jin Nam Chung and Soo Chung, the owners of Custom Cleaners, had hoped Pearson would back off the case after withdrawing their demand Monday that he pay their legal fees, their attorney said.

Said legal fees are running them approximately $83,000. This makes them saints, or extremely fed-up people just hoping to placate the baby at any cost. Not really surprising, but Pearson remains britchy.

I may rename the "nitwittery" category in honor of Judge Pearson. I think "pearsonity" has a ring to it. But the guy is so mean, I may reserve it for real jackasses on patrol. Thoughts?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hard Day for Jose

I guess the frustration for this former All-Star trying to get back to the majors was too much.

Former major league All-Star Jose Offerman was charged with two counts of second-degree assault after hitting an opposing team's pitcher and catcher with his bat during an independent minor league game.

Offerman posted $10,000 bond and was due in Bridgeport Superior Court on Aug. 23, court officials said Wednesday.

Offerman, playing for the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League, homered in the first inning Tuesday night. The next inning, he was hit by a pitch from Bridgeport Bluefish starter Matt Beech and charged the mound with his bat.

Catcher John Nathans was hit in the head and sustained a concussion. He tried to keep playing, but left the game with nausea and collapsed in the dugout, team spokesman Nick Razzette said.
Beech, a left-hander, sustained a broken middle finger on his right hand. Both players were treated at a hospital and released.

Bluefish chief executive officer Mary-Jane Foster said she asked the Atlantic League to suspend Offerman from the league for life.

My theory is that there would be fewer batters hit by pitchers if the DH were done away with and pitchers actually had to face the music themselves.

Sgt. Ron Harrison Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office..

..was killed early this morning.

Harrison, a Brandon resident and father of four, was shot just before 1 a.m. as he was driving north from the intersection of Kings Avenue and Lumsden Road.

Friday would have been his 21st anniversary with the sheriff's office.

Sheriff's officials gave this account of the incident:

Harrison was headed east on Lumsden, turning north onto Kings beside at least one other car, when a series of shots rang out, the driver of the other car told investigators.

Harrison's unmarked patrol car clipped the witness' vehicle and went out of control, Gee said. The deputy activated his emergency lights, crossed the median and crashed into a tree about a half-mile away.

"We believe he was trying to get himself to a hospital," [Hillsborough County Sheriff David] Gee said. "It was the kind of severe wounds that would have [made him] quickly incapacitated."

Harrison was taken to Brandon Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The killer's girlfriend called police later this morning when her boyfriend told her he killed a deputy. The sheriff's guys circled the house. A neighbor says in this story that the killer had a death wish. And to make a long story short, the sheriff made his wish come true.

Your 15 minutes are over

This is a mistake. A big one.

A member of the Rutgers women's basketball team sued Don Imus and CBS on Tuesday, claiming the radio personality's sexist and racist comments about the team damaged her reputation.

Kia Vaughn filed the lawsuit alleging slander and defamation of character in state Supreme Court in the Bronx the same day Imus settled with CBS Radio in a deal that pre-empts his threatened $120 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against CBS. The settlement allows him to make a comeback bid at a new station.

Vaughn's lawsuit, believed to be the first by a player in the case, says Imus and his former co-host Bernard McGuirk, along with CBS Corp. and CBS Radio, are legally responsible for damage done to her character and reputation. There is no dollar amount listed in the suit.

Vaughn was humiliated, embarrassed and publicly mocked for the comments, the lawsuit claims. Her attorney, Richard Ancowitz, said: "The full effect of the damage remains to be seen."

If I were Imus' lawyer, during discovery I'm asking for her Ipod, her CDs, evidence of concerts she's attended because I'll bet there's not a lot of Sonny and Cher in that collection. The argument being that if Imus humiliated her then what of all this rap Pferdkaese she (allegedly) listens to?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Adventures in honeymooning

Ah.... New Jersey. Believe it or not - it's good to be back; even though it's back to actual, factual work tomorrow morning...

That's not to say that it was a poor week away. Quite the contrary, it was a splendid week in magnificent surroundings: Atlantis, on the aptly-named Paradise Island, Bahamas. Of course, we nearly didn't get there.

Our outbound flight was at 8:20 am on Tuesday, which gave us a day to recover from actually getting married, treat our out-of-towners to a Monday morning going-away breakfast, pack like madmen, and take care of dozens of niggling details before winging away. The catch was getting up at oh-dark-thirty (as the Spider would call it) to catch the plane. We got up at more like oh-dark-fifty or so, scrambled to make sure everything was in the trunk (including passports and such), and got to the airport about 75 minutes before the flight was due to depart.

We managed - mostly by sprinting everywhere as if chased. We didn't even bother to put our shoes back on at the security checkpoint. I simply dumped all the stuff from the little bucket into an open carry-on and took off after my Ladybug like a Kenyan miler.

On the way, the captain came on over the PA for an announcement. Half of our fellow passengers were on their way to a different resort for a destination wedding on Friday. (Hopefully they stayed there for the honeymoon rather than flying off to Nebraska or something.)

Once we got there, things went smoothly every step of the way. The first thing you do when arriving at Lyndon Pindling International Airport is march down a long, hot hallway to a T-intersection, and turn right, towards the baggage claim. (The left turn, as we found out, feeds outgoing passengers into the long hot hallway.) Then you wait in a large room with hundreds of other tourists for the customs and immigration folks to check you out. Stand behind the yellow line, wait for the next agent to call, and step up to get your visa stamp and hand in the small, two-sided form. They keep the original and hand you back a carbonless copy, instructing you to take no gainful employment while visiting the Islands and to fill out and hand in the reverse when you depart - and have a fine stay!

Returning residents and citizens have a separate line off to the right, and presumably a different procedure, but everyone gets dumped into the same area afterward: baggage claim. The first thing you see in baggage claim is not, however, the carousels, but a guy at a bar stand handing out small samples of the drink of the day. No charge, except for whatever tip you wish to part with. Thus fortified, you swagger into a madhouse of fellow travelers, surrounding four carousels with no hint whatsoever to which of them will spit out your bags.

Someone tagged Ladybug on the shoulder and pointed out the nearest of the four. It seemed that every arriving flight was sending its luggage here. Bags slid from the chute and landed on the previous layer, threatening to spill over the side. Nobody seemed to be upset at this. We found our stuff, wormed our way past the throng, and made our way outside. As part of the honeymoon package, there was a car waiting. Thus we were safely on our way across New Providence Island, into Nassau proper, and then over the bridge to Paradise Island.

I will post pictures after they're developed. That's right, the one item we left behind in our haste was the digital camera. Remembered the camcorder, however. Hopefully I can figure out a way to get the clips onto the PC and then find a suitable way to host them. (YouTube is out of the question for something like this. Last thing we need are 12-year-old idiots mocking my narrating skills. I'll let you guys do that in comments.)

Many thanks again to our guests, and to the Barking Spider for keeping things going here in my absence - but much more, of course, for being in the wedding party. And thank you to the many people patiently following along as this turns into Wedding Month on the blog. I promise more variety, especially as we get into the travelogue bits.

The Disco Limo

I first saw the disco limo when it drove up to the church carrying the bride and her entourage. It looked like a 20 passenger tour bus.

That is until I joined the rest of the wedding party after the wedding to be transported to the site where pictures were taken. It had no conventional seats - padded seating went along the walls. There were coolers built into the walls (The one next to me had Diet Coke -the Lord provides) and the back was extra comfy for the guests of honor, the just nuptualized Nightfly and Ladybug. They also had access to the CD player which was playing that disco music you kids listen to nowadays.

All this vehicle needed was a mirrored ball hanging from the ceiling. The walls and ceiling had lights and reflective materials. And a sound system that is the envy of any which has blown my ears out while waiting at a red light in an intersection. (It's always the one type of "music" I hear at intersections. No "Hillbilly Deluxe" from Brooks & Dunn. No Nazareth's "Hair of the Dog".)

We took the disco limo to the mansion used in the filming of the movie "Annie". (Yes, I sang a bit of the song - couldn't resist.) The pro photogs took some great pictures. I liked the "Cinderella" series of the Ladybug running down the stairs losing the glass slipper - and our Prince - the Fly finding it and her.

I know this is a little out of sequence storytelling-wise, but I had to describe the disco limo.

Gay Bishops for Obama

Our should I say openly gay bishops.

The Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop (let's not forget all those gay bishops still in the closet-Spider) endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president on Thursday, even though they don't share the same views on issues critical to gays and lesbians.

''Frankly, I don't think there's any major candidate that is where we in the gay community would hope they would be on our issues,'' V. Gene Robinson said in a conference call with reporters.

''That being said, I would say the senator has been enormously supportive of our issues. We appreciate his support for civil unions.''

I know that many of you out there give a lot of weight to political endorsements made by gay bishops, so I thought I’d put that out there.

V. Gene Robinson (the V stands for Vicky Imogene, and should not be confused with Vickie Sue Robinson ) had parents who wanted a girl, hence the name. And in a sense, they got one.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Big Day Part 1 (Something That We Do)

I remember well the day we wed
I can see that picture in my head
I still believe the words we said
Forever will ring true
Love is certain, love is kind
Love is yours and love is mine
But it isn't something that we find
It's something that we do

It's holding tight, lettin' go
It's flying high and laying low
Let your strongest feelings show
And your weakness, too
It's a little and a lot to ask
An endless and a welcome task
Love isn't something that we have
It's something that we do
-Clint Black

It’s days like today for which God provides country music.

Frank, one of my fellow groomsmen, was gracious enough to board me during my stay in NJ, and since his pad was closest to the church, the groom, the best man and the groomsmen converged there around 11 am for coffee, bagels and to put on our super hero costumes.

Studs and cufflinks. I have never accessorized so much in my life. The Air Force dress blues doesn’t have this much bling.

We arrived at the church about an hour before liftoff. My task was to look out for the arrival of the Ladybug and her entourage, and to tell the best man so he can hide the groom in a secure, undisclosed location.

Cuteness alert: The bridesmaid which I was escorting is a wonderful married lady with four children (three boys, one girl) under the age of seven. The little girl was the flower girl and the three boys were the ring bearers and Bible bearer. The little boys were all tuxed up and getting restless (so was I) but they were able to maintain their military bearing.

The disco limo arrived with the bridesmaids, the mother of the bride and mother of the groom and the Ladybug in adorned in a beautiful wedding dress. (I have already described the bridesmaids as Stunning, Beautiful, Radiant, and Gorgeous. Find an adjective higher than that and apply it to the Ladybug in her matrimonial glory.)

I shouted to the best man and the groom, “Gentlemen, the balloon is up!” The Fly was then whisked away.

My next duty was to escort the mother of the groom to her seat. I first met the Fly’s mom seventeen years ago on the first day of school at good old RU. The young Fly was a new freshman (And when I say “young”, I mean it. It was the day before his seventeenth birthday) and I was the preceptor AKA resident advisor AKA dorm daddy. As a 31-year-old junior, I was probably closer to his mom’s age than to his. The Fly’s mom gave me a solemn charge that day to watch over the young man. More details of this story are here.

To be continued…I need to actually do some work.

Day 4 (Sat Aug 4)

No activity on the wedding front today. I went to Asbury Park. Saw the Stone Pony. Did not see Springsteen.

Tomorrow's the big day.

Merv Grffin is dead. Big band singer, owner of the casino where my sister worked for 25 years. Create of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! Buddy of Nancy and Ronaldus Magnus.

I remember his TV show as a kid. I was facinated with his interview with Muhammed Ali. Merv was practically gushing. I guess this raised suspicion that he was a Log Cabin Republican.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Day 3 (Fri Aug 3)

Picked up my tux along with the Fly, the Best Man (Fly's brother), the father of the bride and the other groomsmen. It was black with a silver vest and tie. I do not look hidieous in it.

I saw the church for the first time tonight. It was built in 1972 (That '70's Church) and looks very modern, no banks of candles of statues of the BVM and other saints, no pews but rows of comfy chairs. No hymnals - paper booklets with the music are given to the worshippers as they come in. Also, no confessional booths. The Fly told me that you and the priest just find a quiet corner and have a conversation.

UPDATE (from NF) - I learned later that this was my error, as I've usually had confession in the priest's office (or, yes, in a quiet corner after everyone else had gone). But there IS a traditional confessional booth set up in a room off of the Chapel of Adoration.

The Fly also pulled this Biblethumper's leg a little. He showed me a room, and warning me to brace myself, told me that Catholics study the Bible in this room on Tuesday nights.

We groomsmen practiced escorting the bridesmaids (I think their names were Beautiful, Radiant, Gorgeous, Stunning) down the aisle. There was no music, so it was hard to find a good pace. I starting singing just loud enough for my bridesmaid (was her name Stunning? Or Gorgeous?) to hear the song "Surrey With a Fringe on Top" from Oklahoma. That got the intended laughs.

The rehearsal dinner was at a fine Italian restaurant where the wine and Diet Coke flowed freely. I had a wonderful conversation with the father of the bride (who was celebrating his 40th wedding anniversary to the Ladybug's mom). The bride and groom gave out swag bags to the wedding party. I left full of pasta and Diet Coke.

The wedding is Sunday. For a guy who is not getting married (at least not this weekend) I'm having a blast.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Day 2 (Thurs Aug 2)

There's gotta be a record of you someplace
You gotta be on somebody's books
The lowdown - a picture of your face
Your injured looks
The sacred and profane
The pleasure and the pain
Somewhere your fingerprints remain concrete
And it's your face I'm looking for on every street
-Dire Straits

I took the train to NYC. From Penn Station I took the E line downtown to the WTC. There was nothing special about it; by all appearances from the subway you would assume that the WTC was still there.

I got off the subway at the same place I did back in December 2001. Then there was grey dust all over, wooden barricades guarded by New York's Finest, some who were trying to cheer up the clearly shocked and saddened folks who were there. The crater looked like the terrain of a foreign planet covered in a dirty snow. There were many people, many flowers, and the dust.

Today, if I didn't know where to go, I would have never found the site. There was much contruction work, but it is still just a hole surrounded by a chainlink fence with only a sign at the gate identifying the site. And the guys selling trinkets along the streets. I felt a little like Jesus at the temple with the moneychangers. New Yorkers were walking by as if it were nothing. There was no place for (is that what I am?) a tourist to take pictures. I took some poor pictures.

I was walking the streets of downtown Manhattan wearing a Tampa Bay Devils Rays hat. I got stares. There are millions of you folks. And I only saw five people smoking. In Florida we smoke like freight trains. Then again cigarettes aren't $300 a pack in Tampa.

I left my Rays hat on the train back.

Tomorrow the groomsmen pick up our tuxes and we have rehearsal @ the church followed by rehearsal dinner.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Day 1 (Wed Aug 1)

I flew into Newark and took the train to New Brunswick, where I was picked up by the Fly. With less than five days till zero hour the Fly was working overtime, rushing to get a gift for his lovely Ladybug while on the cell with said Ladybug as well as his mother and brother (the best man) who were still in Florida.

I'm not clear on the details, but the hotel accommodations for the Fly's family were unacceptable. Someone from the Ladybug's side of the family was checking this place out and witnessed out in the parking lot the oldest form of commerce.

The Fly knew that it would not be good for his baby sister and his mother and his grandmother to see whorism this upclose and personal. The manager of this establishment was shocked, SHOCKED! to hear that this kind of activity was going on. (I mean, it wasn't Nebraska Ave in Tampa FL.) Thankfully, the Fly was able to get the deposit back and acquire more family-friendly lodging for his kin.

The Fly was a rock as 10 months of stress was starting to take its toll on his soon-to-be bride. As I guy I don't fully understand, but for the bride the wedding is the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, the World Series and the coronation of a head of state all rolled into one. And that description probably sells it short.

Maybe the wedding plans are God's way of testing the couple. If they can make it to the ceremony without strangling each other, then they can do better at toughing it out as married folks.

But what do I know? Day 2 tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

There and Back Again

Last night I got back from New Jersey, where I saw the marriage of the Fly and the Ladybug. I'll have much more later, but a few notes here.

I was one of the groomsmen, and from my vantage point it was a wonderful experience. I wore a tux for the first time in 25 years (The last one was lime green with a ruffled shirt), I danced with stunningly beautiful bridesmaids, I almost lost my kneecaps (more on that later).

I also had the great pleasure of meeting Mr. Bingley of the
Swilling and the Prussian Tiger . It was the first time I had met folks in their corporeal state that I had interaction with on the web. I even got to practice a little of my poor German with the Tiger. And like Mr. Bingley mentioned - it's difficult to remember real names.

While the happy couple are in honeymoonal bliss I am going to valiantly soldier on with posting the blog. I am not done telling tales of the wedding week. It's a shame I don't know how to post pictures.

The Fly has chosen wisely; the Ladybug is a wonderful young lady.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

It's go time

It's 1:00 am. In 14 hours, I will be a married man.

Beforehand, there are certain preparations a guy has to make. My Ladybug is a wonderful lass but it wouldn't be fair to ask her to take me AND my playoff beard.

I've got your 'Pick Me Up' bouquet!
First things first. A man has to have the proper tools for any task.

The weed whacker is standing in the corner.
As I went along, I had to consider the proper stopping point. After all, maybe a few whiskers would convey a sense of mystery and dignity.

I am proud to accept the Whig Party nomination for 1892.
Then I figured that girls really dig the bad boys.

Tomorrow we bake.  Tonight we RIDE!
However, bad boys don't normally have such lopsided fu manchus. Guess it's better to make a clean break of it.

Not bad.  You can't see the spot where I took six stitches from a high stick.
Now, The Stubbly looks fine from a distance, but is less agreeable when dancing, taking 8x10 wedding portraits, etc. At this stage you could use my chin to sand the bannister. I'm going to have to make a second pass.

Great, my sideburns are as crooked as that fu manchu. Nobody tells me anything.

Well, there you have it. One thing I didn't anticipate was that my nose would stand out so obviously afterward. Maybe it's because I overdid the flash on this last picture, and I've been drained of color.

That's OK. You'll have noticed the date in the corner of the pix; I've had time since them to stop bleeding from that scrape on my jawline. This post sat for a while, and since I won't have time for anything else for the next week or so, I pulled it up and changed some of the text. (What else is there to do at 1:00 am the morning of my wedding? I'm too jazzed to sleep right now.) The Spider (not pictured) will be back sooner, however, after having seen me safely hitched and returning home.

Until then, thanks for sticking with me for nearly three years; for all the good comments and conversation, and most of all for all of you who've stopped by here or in email (or even posts!) with best wishes for the wedding. It means a lot to both of us.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Missed opportunity

There is a good discussion developing in the comments here at Ken and Emily's joint regarding the slow death of adult civility in the face of the cult of self-esteem at any price.

Nobody is saying that esteem is a bad thing, but of course it is traditionally defined as giving someone else their due respect, in admiration for their accomplishments or character. It was in every sense something that was earned, and not simply stumbled into. The concept of self-esteem, therefore, seems to me to be intrinsically flawed: even at its best it sets one up as the ultimate judge of one's own worth, and encourages ego about one's own accomplishments. It would take a saint to be able to make such a judgment justly, without pride, and without inflating those accomplishments. At its worst, it sets one up as the only judge - and not just of oneself, but of anyone who would beg to differ with those judgments.

As a result we have bullies who feel entitled to think themselves superior, and are perfectly willing to act on those feelings, with force. We have boors who think they're artists simply because they offend people; often they don't bother with the actual effort of being clever when they do it. We have drivers who act as if theirs are the only cars that matter, and slack-jawed insolence in customer service, and a chorus of jabbering, jeering nitwits whose feel that their every scrawling or mal mot should be tacked up for adulation, as if they were still in kindergarten and the world was their parents' refrigerator.

Not only does this make the world very unpleasant, it also fails to do what it intends. The price paid for self-esteem at any cost is esteem itself.

The mature, healthy alternative is dignity. My church talks a lot about the dignity of the human person, but not because every human person is a fantastic fellow who anyone should be proud to have even glimpsed in passing... Quite the reverse. The dignity of the human person consists in being a human person, fallen like all others, with flaws and struggles and annoying habits that nonetheless do not diminish that dignity. As a result, we are to treat each other with respect, rather than emphasising that others start treating us that way.

Since we are not innately wonderful (and may well turn out to be dreadful), we are meant to keep guard over ourselves, and to work on managing and improving our behavior, not to simply give it free rein as a good in itself. We are strongly exhorted - do nothing that would diminish our own dignity. (It is not what goes into a man that makes him unclean, but what comes out.) This is all the opposite of the "esteem yourself" theory, and it leads to a lot more genuine esteem.

As Emily points out (I think it's comment #12), the alternative is that slackers are never encouraged to be anything else, and achievers are actually encouraged to be slackers, since it would make the slackers feel bad if the achievers were praised in their hearing. (I've read stories of kids in t-ball told to stop at second after hitting a home run, because it makes the opposing team feel bad. Uhm - HOW? It's not like the kid hit a hanging slider, the ball's just on a tee. How exactly is it preferable to raise an entire generation of kids who can't deal with setbacks or mistakes, or celebrate their accomplishments in a healthy manner?)

This is a huge missed opportunity for society at large to become more self-controlled, better-behaved, and more understanding of other people. Simply demanding the understanding first is like putting a cherry in an empty bowl and calling it a sundae.

This brings me all the way round to a recent experience in a local mega-mart.

Ladybug and I were picking up some small sundries for the upcoming big trip, and we were stuck behind some unpleasant tweeners - I'd say they were 18-21, three girls and a guy. The guy was an obnoxious stooge, no questions asked. He was loud, treated his "friends" like guttersnipes, and seemed to enjoy every instant of the attention. So, sitting there with my arms full of sundries, I had to witness this overgrown gradeschooler, a man in appearance only, perform for the check-out area - biting insults passed off as jokes, crudity for its own sake... he knocked small items off the shelves and kicked them aside, crumpled magazines into balls and stuffed them back into the racks, and vandalized a display rack, while the three giggly ladies enabled him by pretending to be shocked, shocked at his behavior while offering no actual consequence or resistance.

"Somebody call security, this man is disruptive!" he shouted. Security was already there, of course - but it was two women, a retiree, and one 5-foot-5 guy eyeing him with contempt. There was little else to be done unless actual police arrived, unless it was someone on line - perhaps someone with a armful of sundries and a mortified fiancee.

Well, I wimped the hell out, my friends. And no doubt there were excellent reasons to wimp out, not least of which was the ability to stand at the altar this Sunday with all my ribs intact. But that's just the thing - it wasn't a matter of hauling off and slobberknocking this pathetic creature, even if I were willing and capable. It was a matter of doing what those girls were unable to, and disapproving of his conduct. He would have taken it poorly: in fact, he was spoiling for the chance. But it was all the service he would accept at the time, and it should have been offered, out of kindness if nothing else.

It may not have helped him, at least not right away. But as we went to the car with our sundries and watched them peel out in a hideous ghetto-orange Scion (one of the girls was driving), I wasn't really thinking of that jackass.

I was thinking of the four mid-teens who were behind us in line. They had been laughing the whole time. It may have meant nothing to the jackass, but it could have mean everything for them to see an adult stand up to an idiot, to see dignity defend itself.