Friday, January 30, 2009

You know the old saying...

When in doubt, link Iowahawk.

"The tawny kitten writhes before the white snake." - Mulleti

The journey of five hundred miles begins when you wake up, and you know who you wanna be, and you wanna be the man who wakes up next to her.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Worldwide Sleeper

So, what does ESPN do to celebrate last night's NHL All-Star Game? I'll tell you what they didn't do - they didn't put a link to the story on their home page. Not a thing. Also, as of 6:00 this evening, they didn't have a link to the game recap on their NHL page, either.

I can kind of understand if they ignored the game on the general page; they do that sort of thing a lot. But I fail to see how they could ignore the NHL All-Star Game on their NHL home page. Would the Pro-Bowl not even be on the NFL page? (Their "top story" is from the ever-vigilant Scott Burnside, on the top tradeable players before the deadline, and it's good work, but the deadline is about seven weeks away.) Today's home page is nothing but the All-Star Game.

Adding to the list of goofs, there's this photo gallery, billed as "the big moments from the past ten [Super Bowl] games." There are exactly TWO pictures of actual game play in those ten pictures - as many as there are of fans. Really, a halftime fireworks display is the big moment from SB 39? Brian Billick's Gatorade Shower was more important than the Giants INT runback that was negated by a bogus penalty? (Huge moment - totally changed the game.) A pre-game picture of a bunch of helmets on the sideline "foreshadows the importance of David Tyree's catch against his lid." Well - HOW ABOUT YOU SHOW THE PICTURE OF THE CATCH INSTEAD OF FORESHADOWING IT?

I mean, it can't be that hard, can it? It's not like they don't have any available pictures from the most widely-covered single-day sports events on Earth.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Samuel's Story

In the Catholic News Agency:
A three-year-old boy with thanatophoric dwarfism who was not expected to live long after birth has come a long way. Ignoring the typical medical advice to either abort her child or not provide life-sustaining treatment after his birth, his mother gave birth to the boy she describes as a charmer with an engaging smile.

Lively young Samuel Mann lives in Tampa Bay, Florida with his parents Ralph, who is a 51-year-old lighting installer, and Evelyn, 43. In a Wednesday phone interview with CNA, Evelyn spoke about the joys and struggles of raising Samuel and about the family’s recent trip to Disneyworld.
I see Samuel and his Mom and Dad nearly every Sunday at church. He is a fun kid; I play with him all the time. He loves balloons, and whenever we sing I look for Samuel because he gets a big thrill out of it.

I claim to follow the Lord Jesus, but I am mostly talk. Samuel's parents are really living their faith out.

You can read about Samuel's Make A Wish trip to Disney World here. Fly, he took the Disco Limo to Disney World!

Sorry for the lack of posting..

.. and unlike the Fly, it's not because I'm married to someone as wonderful as the Ladybug.

My boss actually insisted that I earn my paycheck last week. I spent three days working at various residential air conditioning installs as a common laborer. Being a guy used to flying a desk I took pain killers and crashed all day Saturday. Except to go out and buy the chicken which I am now baking.

Here are a few quick highlights from last week:

The poop-throwing monkey probably froze to death. Last week it got into the low 30’s here in Tampa. It was the coldest I experienced here in the 12 years I’ve lived in Florida. I was wearing a coat I had never worn outside of New Jersey.

I spent a few hours in the Hillsborough County Building Department. My employer has a statewide license as opposed to the county one. We don’t work outside the county, but we avoid having the county oversee our license. Every time I call the county I seem to be waking someone up. But going there you can see the long table. On one side are the contractors struggling to make a buck. On the other side are county employees who have job security as long as they are not caught with pictures of naked eight year olds.

About Revvum Lowery’s inaugural prayer. I’ve been trying to find a way to put this delicately, but it’s been a long week and my back hurts. I know the revvum is a million years old, but he must have a special Bible where only white people are sinners and must “embrace what’s right”. There is a word for people who make judgments about others based on the color of their skin, a word that Revvum Lowry has used to call others.

Any discussion of my sins would be a long one, for my sins are legion. But I refuse to be on the hook for the sins of my ancestors. If you are upset with my daddy, then I suggest that you get the Witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28) head down to Arlington National Cemetery section 35 marker 4456 and take it up with him, because I don’t want to hear it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Idiodessy

You wanted a muse of fire to ascend the very heaven of invention? You got him. Iowahawk has spoken.
Fair Obamacles, favored of the gods, ascends to Olympus
Amidst lusty tributes and the strumming lyres of Media;
Who is this man, so bronzed in countenance,
So skilled of TelePrompter, clean and articulate
Whose ears like a stately urn’s protrude?

We all may as well retire from blogging right now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

For a writer, he seems to have an odd concept of what "authorship" is

Via the Ace of Spades, an interesting theory forwarded by Garrison Keillor... Barack Obama is our "first genuine author-president."

The rest of the article is pretty funny, but that incredible howler - "first GENUINE author-president" - ends the first paragraph. Apparently the following were not genuine authors at all:

    John Adams - the Massachusetts Constitution, "Defense of the Constitutions of Governments of the United States of America" (3 volumes!)
    Thomas Jefferson - Declaration of Independence
    James Madison - some of the Federalist Papers, large hunks of the US Constitution
And really, that would be quite enough, wouldn't it? But heck, we'll throw in Theodore Roosevelt, who wrote an astounding variety of historical and naturalist books and essay collections... twelve of them before he was even president. Other presidents have writtetn scholarly articles and books and other works.

So, yeah, first genuine author-president? Hardly

Incidentally, while I was doing a little quick research for the above, I googled Woodrow Wilson. Hm, I thought, I can look up his page. I had looked up James Polk last week - he had been a favorite of Truman's and when Joe Posnanski had a "Hall of Fame Presidents" poll, I wanted to know more about him. (Wound up voting for him too.)

Well, this is what I found at the old URL:

Of course, the page isn't gone, just moved. (Polk's too.) In its place is an invitation to "read about [the Obama Administration] plan to bring about the change America needs." (Maybe some other time?) The redesign isn't bad; I like the addition of links to all the presidents on the same page, but really don't like the links not being underlined so they stand out from the regular text. I hesitate to click Reagan's or W's.

Sylar the goalie

His power is stopping your shots...

Uh, has anyone seen Domenick Hasek lately?
And eating your braaaaaaiiins!

Well, actually, it's Joey MacDonald of the Islanders. This picture is from a couple seasons ago - he'd just left the Red Wings to join the Bruins. Hopefully he didn't kill a goalie at each stop to gain their abilities.

What, you think Brodeur, Luongo, and DiPietro are just injured?

(picture from Chris Botta's Islanders Point Blank blog)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

But I'm not dead!

No, really. I'm quite well, in fact. I've just discovered the truth of one thing that everyone told me about marriage - one is often far busier on days off than on regular workdays. Wouldn't have it any other way, either.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Chicago Zoo

Chicago Cubs fans are familiar, of course, with the legend of the Billy Goat... in 1945 Bill Sianis bought a World's Series ticket for both he AND his pet goat, and the two came to Wrigley together for Game Four. They were ejected together as well, and Sianis "cursed" the team, which has never reached the World's Series since then.

Jump to 1969, when a black cat rushed onto the field at Shea Stadium and circled Cubs star Ron Santo before exiting. (Originally I thought it was Fergie Jenkins, not being alive enough yet to see it firsthand. Apologies.) The Windy City has seen its share of critters on the field of play.

Nothing, however, quite beats what happened a couple of nights ago to the aptly-named Blackhawks. That is, indeed, a pigeon standing at center ice while the 'Hawks and Nashville are playing.

Maybe Chicago can get Randy Johnson to drop the ceremonial first puck at their next home, to take care of the problem for good.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Rocco Goes Home

Ex-Ray Rocco Baldelli, a Rhode Island native signs with the Bosox.
The timing was perfect. With Rocco Baldelli already set to receive the Tony Conigliaro Award at last night's Boston Baseball Writers dinner, it seemed convenient that he pick up a contract as well.

So it was that Baldelli found himself holding up jersey No. 5 - Nomar Garciaparra's old number - during a press conference at the Westin Waterfront Hotel yesterday afternoon, being introduced as the newest member of the Red Sox. Then he found himself being introduced at the head table, and getting a standing ovation from a packed house.

Not bad for a New England native (Cumberland, R.I.), though not exactly the biggest Sox fan growing up.

"It seems like almost every offseason we are looking for a young, really talented righthanded-hitting outfielder to complement the core of outfielders that we have," general manager Theo Epstein said. "Rocco obviously is talented enough to start for any club, but due to circumstances the last couple of years and the evolution of his career, it seemed like the right time and the right fit where he could help us out as an extra outfielder, but be a pretty dynamic one."
Rocco is recovering from a strange muscle disease that I can't spell and can barely pronounce. Many thought he would never play again. He came back at the end of last season and did some good things. But the Rays signed right-handed hitter Pat Burrell as their DH, so that left Rocco as the odd man out.

The Bosox got a good guy who will put a few over the Green Monster. Rays fans love Rocco, and he will be the only Red Sox player to get applause at the Trop.

I have mixed feelings about his departure. I want him to do well, but playing for Boston I don't want him to do that well, if you know what I mean.

A Country Music Singer

Now you are probably thinking, “This guy does not look like a country music singer. Wasn’t he Hootie from Hootie & the Whatever?”

Well maybe he was Hootie back then, but Darius Rucker meets all the requirements of a country music singer. He was born in the South (Charleston, South Carolina), Unlike other pop artists like Jon Bon Jovi, Kid Rock and the absolutely horrible Jessica Simpson, Darius has a voice for country music.

He had a number one chart-topper this summer, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It”,which explores the common theme of regretting lost love. This song contains fiddle and pedal steel, instruments common to country music. But what confirms his country music bona fides is being invited to the Grand Ole Opry. When you’ve played there, you’ve made it as a country singer.

Here is Darius' latest single about fatherhood (another popular theme in today’s country music). Okay, he loses points for being on NPR. But I hope the Blowfish can find work, because if he wants to Hootie can be a country music star for years to come.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Say... nice handbasket!

The gentle slope underfoot, with no turnings, and no signposts.

What I have to say is hardly a laughing matter... that LOLcat is rather like whistling past the graveyard, frankly. The Curt Jester breaks some particularly horrible news - so horrible that even the Prince of Papist Punsters can't crack wise about it:

WASHINGTON - Many people like to stop and play with newborn babies, but now some adult women are playing house with fake babies. Some women are even going
as far as taking day trips with the fake babies to the park, out to eat, and even hosting birthday parties for them.

Forty-nine-year-old Linda is married with no children of her own. Now, she says she feels like a mother because she has Reborns -- dolls made to look and feel like the real thing. "It's not a crazy habit, like, you know, drinking, or some sort of, something that's going to hurt you. It's like a hobby, and it doesn't really hurt anybody," Linda said.

These women are paying big bucks for this hobby, from $100 to a few thousand dollars.

For Reborn owner Lachelle Moore, the fake babies fill a void. "What's so wonderful about Reborns is that, um, they're forever babies," said Moore, who has grown children and grandchildren. "There's no college tuition, no dirty diapers... just the good part of motherhood," she added.

And I found an older article about the Reborns that is even more jaw-dropping.**

“It fills a spot in your heart,” Lynn Katsaris told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Wednesday in New York as she cuddled “Benjamin” and “Michael” in her arms. A realtor from suburban Phoenix, Katsaris is also an artist who has created 1,052 reborn dolls and sold them to women around the world. She was one of three grown women visiting the show with five of the the bogus — but eerily realistic — babies cradled tenderly in their arms.

Let me say this as gently as I can... PEOPLE ARE NOT TOOLS. Wanting to treat any person, much less a helpless newborn, as a hobby or a plaything is a sign of moral illness, not a need to be met. The solution is to learn to treat each other as real human beings, NOT to invent fake human beings whose only value is in what they give to you.

Monica Walsh, a 41-year-old wife and mother of a 2-year-old daughter from Orange County, N.Y., has one doll – “Hayden.” And, yes, she told Lauer, she plays with her doll “the same way a man might make a big train station and play with his train station or play with his sports car, his boat or his motorcycle.”

NO! Great jumping Judas on a trampoline, woman! This is the DIRECT OPPOSITE of what you're talking about. Toy trains, cars, etc are NOT HUMAN. They are certainly not damnable simulacra of the real thing. Playing with these dolls as if they were alive is much more like a man who really believes that his HO-scale basement models will actually get him from Philly to New York, and waits patiently at the six-inch-high train station with a postage-stamp sized ticket he meticulously drew. Such a man would be a complete moron in need of therapy, not an innocent hobbyist.

... “I have a 2-year-old daughter. I don’t feel that way at all that it replaces her. It’s completely different having a real baby,” Walsh explained. “But I think she’s going to love the fact that I play with dolls. How much fun is it going to be for her?”

Yay, my mom's a raging basket case!

Little kids play with dolls precisely because they are incapable of caring for the real thing, but they need to learn how safely. They practice compassion and caring and giving of themselves in a way that does no harm to a real infant. Eventually, the compassion, caring, and giving remain, while the dragging up- and down-stairs by the plastic hair and the constantly-lost clothes and neglected feedings and changings stop. If all goes away, "we put away childish things" and can succeed in actual parenthood.

If you want to have fun with your daughter, how about playing WITH HER and HER DOLLS instead of just going off with your own hobby and leaving her to fend for herself? Like it or not, what you are doing, Ms. Walsh, is EXACTLY the definition of replacing your daughter.

Fran Sullivan, 62, lives in Florida and has never had children. She brought two reborns to New York, “Robin” and “Nicholas,” and said she has a collection of more than 600 dolls of all kinds, including a number of reborn dolls.

Sullivan told Lauer she rotates her dolls, choosing a new one to care for each day depending on how she feels. She talks to them as she would to an infant, but said it’s really not all that strange. “Children talk to their dolls, and they express their feelings toward their dolls,” she told Lauer. “And as a 40- or 50- or 60-year-old woman, you do the same thing. You’re still the same person you were when you were an 8-year-old.”

Gracious heavens, I hope not. This goes far beyond keeping a little whimsy into one's adulthood. Really - "Reborns"?? As creepy as this already is, I think it's creepier that they've appropriated a term with overt Christian overtones for their accursed homunculi.

Yes, I know... hyperbolic much, 'fly? In this case, actually, not as much as you might think. This really does reduce kids to objects that are only wanted around as long as they're useful. And worst of all, this could easily fool people into thinking that they really HAVE met their own needs, rather like a vaccine fools the body into fighting an illness that really isn't there - thus keeping one from ever having the real thing.

A faux kid doesn't give one "only the good parts of motherhood." It doesn't give one motherhood at all, only a fraud. I have a hockey simulator, and I rather enjoy tinkering with my fake team, but I would be a colossal nitwit to think that I could run a real team based on my game experience... how much more of a nitwit would I be if I thought that my fake team WAS in fact real, that I really had won the Stanley Cup and had drafted all sorts of excellent players who enjoyed playing for us?

(Mind you , this comes from a guy who, as a writer, will sometimes feel like his own characters have a purpose and a life that I merely describe, not invent. My favorite stories to write are precisely those that give me the sense of cooperating with the fictional folks and events, not forcing them - that they have a mind of their own, so to speak - and those are usually better stories to read, as well. Even then, I would never dream that those people and events are real and really happening. You'll have to excuse me, therefore, for the hyperbole in this case, because it seems like other people are making precisely this mistake with far less of a leg to stand on. They aren't involved creatively at all with these toys, some of which have "a heartbeat and a device that makes the chest rise and fall to simulate breathing.")

One of the big lies of modern culture in the West is that if your life isn't easy, you're doing it wrong. It's hard to really raise a kid, so forget it! Never mind that our parents worked really hard to raise us. But people now demand the rewards for having accomplished hard things without daring to attempt them. They often don't stop to realize that the accomplishment IS the reward, and is thus inseparable from the long struggle to master the required skills, and then the effort to put those skills to use. And much of the satisfaction from enjoying those skills comes from knowing that they didn't come in a pill, but were honed through hard work. The little red hen went through a lot to learn how to bake, and then to gather her ingredients and prepare her bread. We are much more like the cat, fox, and pig than the hen, however, and would rather accuse her of being unfair than bothering even to help - and perhaps run the risk of learning how to bake in the bargain.

Well, there's no profit in the path of least resistance, and changing reality to suit our broken nature rather than seeking healing is a dead-end snare. Even what we think we have will be taken away - in this case, those who seek "only the good parts" in fact get none of the good parts at all: no first words, first steps, first days of school, learning to read and ride a bike, never the joy of knowing that you are the most important people on earth to one fragile life who needs you, and no joy in the finished product, when they leave for their own adult life and (all being well) continue to rely on you - no longer from need, but from love.

When I saw this I actually thought of a CMR post, the one about suffering... about eventually being a burden to everyone, or else accepting that burden for your own loved ones. To be blunt, hells yeah! We get married for better AND worse, not for better and then you're on your own, pallie. It is an honor for my wife and I to trust each other with our very dignity in our final days, just as it is an honor to guard and nurture the formation of any children we may have.

And the more our culture wears away to the nub, the more I think of how essential that covenant is - because how else can we all learn this great lesson, in a world which makes a fetish of keeping us from learning any hard lessons at all, from earliest childhood on? No winning - it makes losers feel bad. No correcting - it hurts our self-esteem. No right and wrong - the only wrong is imposing a standard of any sort. No risks - you may get hurt, poor baby!

Hence, no self-knowledge, no respect, no humility, no prudence, no ability to balance risk and reward, no courage, no great works, and a constant feeling of being too good for handling life's necessities. It's someone else's fault!

Sadly, reaping whirlwinds is equally hard work, with much less reward.

** (I can't neglect to mention that the article was written by none other than an FJM favorite, the Hat Guy himself, Mike Celizic. Really.)

Another life and death in service

Father Richard Neuhaus, one of our great ones, has been called home. Courtesy of First Things, I would like to ask you to read this example of his towering gift.

Thank you, Father, and please, please pray for those of us who are still in this vale of tears.

(h/t to Dawn Eden)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I'm not a very good person to ask

SarahK says that Cadet Happy (photoshopper to the stars) sent her an email asking for advice. I've got nothing - except to be careful what you say if you choose to say anything.

For example, I am the sort of annoying chap who greets folks, and companions, and occasionally dogs and horses, and lots of other stuff I drive past on the road, even if it isn't technically alive. Also, I am apparently still five years old, because I can't stop mooing at cows when I see them from my car. I even do this stuff in front of my wife, poor lady.

This can get you some odd looks, and if that were all, it would be enough for some; I blunder on even when the stakes get higher. A couple of months ago I pulled into a drive-through on the way home from working late, and gave my order, and pulled around to hand in my money. Through the window, I spied a young man and his pre-toddler child at the front counter, waiting for their own order. Reflexively I chirped, "Hello baby!" though they hadn't a prayer of hearing or responding.

And that's when the comely teenaged lass working the drive-through window rose up into view, looking at me with a cool bemusement.

I cannot emphasize enough, that window was completely empty when I spoke. I figured whomever it was had stepped away for a moment, and not once did I consider that the voice I heard might have come out of someone who would overhear the stupid things that tumble out of my mouth.

Helplessly I pointed at the counter behind her. Really I thought I was doomed. Would she toss a shake at me? Would the manager get involved? Would twelve cop cars roar into the lot? I guess I look far more like a doofus who talks to random infants than a middle-aged weirdo who propositions high schoolers at the drive-through. She looked back, looked down at me, and went about filling my beverage while I burned with shame.

"Thanks," I said as she handed over my order, trying hard to look chastened.

"Have a nice night, baby," she replied.

So watch what you say to the parrot!

UPDATE - regarding Joel's comment - don't worry, bro, we know your heart's in the right place.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Dungy vs. Gruden

Tony Dungy with the Bucs 1996-2001

6 seasons 56 wins 46 losses Made the playoffs 4 times. Loss in 1999 NFC Championship game.

Jon Gruden with the Bucs 2002-2008

7 seasons 55 wins 52 losses Made the playoffs 3 times. Won Super Bowl his first season. 2 playoff games since (2005, 2007) lost both of them.

So why does Gruden still have his job?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

This guy is a country song

You've hear a multitude of prayers on my behalf
I pray that one more is not too much to ask
I've tried to fight this battle by myself
But it's a war that I can't win without Your help

To-night I'm as low as any man can go
I'm down and I can't fall much farther
And once upon a time You turned the water into wine
Now on my knees I'm turning to You Father
Could You help me turn the wine back into water

-country singer T. Graham Brown

John Daly out of the PGA for six months.
John Daly smashed one tee shot off the top of a beer can during a pro-am. At another tournament, he returned from a rain delay with Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden as his caddie. And his most memorable photo this year came in an orange jail suit, eyes half-closed.

Daly said Wednesday that such unwelcome publicity is why the PGA Tour suspended him for six months.

The two-time major champion confirmed his suspension to The Associated Press, calling this the low point of an 18-year career during which he has made as much news off the course as he has with his prodigious game.
Now it is clear in God's Word the He made wine to gladden men's hearts. And alcohol itself is not evil. Jesus made the stuff out of water. Paul told Timothy to drink some to ease his stomach.

The problem is the stain of sin upon humanity. One of sin's manifestations is that guys like John Daly and me need to stay away from that which most of humankind can enjoy.

Though I did learn one fact about Daly.
He drew the most attention from the night in jail. Daly told the AP that his friends called police when they feared he had passed out, claiming they were unaware he sleeps with his eyes open when he's had too much to drink.

News You Can Use

I get my local news from the Tampa FOX affilliate and the websites of the two local papers.

Sometimes the local media treats it's viewers like idiots. Today the minimum wage in Florida went up $0.42. In the clip reporting this, I saw an unidentified man (in front of an Associated Press sign) the reasons this was needed: Florida is high in job losses and home forclosures.

Home forclosures? Yeah, now that I'm earning $7.21 per hour I can make that mortgage payment. And maybe someone more economically smarter than I can explain how raising the minimum wage will increase jobs?

Kwanzaa was ignored. Completely ignored.

The homeless were covered with less inaccuracy. This was a source of frustration for me because I live in the hood, and the coverage of the homeless would be in stark contradiction to the witness of my own eyes.

Instead of covering the activists who were humping the homeless for fame and fortune, the focus was on the needs of organizations like Catholic Charities and Metropolitan Ministries who actually feed and shelter these people.

And instead of crawling over 100 winos and crack whores to find a nice white homeless family, they occasionally reported that a few of these folks may have drug and alcohol problems.

Do you think that the loss of reader/viewers has motivated the local Tampa media to quit lying about this issue?

My writing's a little disjointed. I have football to watch and a chicken to bake.