Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Complete Military History of France

Does anything get you in the Christmas spirit more than making fun of France? I didn't think so.

For the record, I'm not some right wing nut job. I do like country music, but I'm a rational and sane person. This is a joke. If you can't take a joke, don't read this blog. Also, a great deal of credit to my cousin Jay (of Wire watching and chachin' fame, amongst others) for this.

Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. All you do is leave behind a lot of noisy baggage. With that being said, let's take a stroll down memory lane.

Gallic Wars
Lost. In a war whose ending foreshadows the next 2000 years of French history, France is conquered by of all things, an Italian. [Or, at this time in history, a Roman -editor's note.]

Hundred Years War
Mostly lost, saved at last by female schizophrenic who inadvertently creates The First Rule of French Warfare; "France's armies are victorious only when not led by a Frenchman." Sainted.

Italian Wars
Lost. France becomes the first and only country to ever lose two wars when fighting Italians.

Wars of Religion
France goes 0-5-4 against the [self-described?] Huguenots.

Thirty Years War
France is technically not a participant, but manages to get invaded anyway. Claims a tie on the basis that eventually the other participants started ignoring her.

War of Revolution
Tied. Frenchmen take to wearing red flowerpots as chapeaux.

The Dutch War

War of the Augsburg League/King William's War/French and Indian War
Lost, but claimed as a tie. Three ties in a row induces deluded Francophiles the world over to label the period as the height of French military power.

War of the Spanish Succession
Lost. The War also gave the French their first taste of a Marlborough, which they have loved ever since.

American Revolution
In a move that will become quite familiar to future Americans, France claims a win even though the English colonists saw far more action. This is later known as "de Gaulle Syndrome", and leads to the Second Rule of French Warfare; "France only wins when America does most of the fighting."

French Revolution
Won, primarily due the fact that the opponent was also ... French.

The Napoleonic Wars
Lost. Temporary victories (remember the First Rule!) due to leadership of a Corsican, who ended up being no match for a British footwear designer.

The Franco-Prussian War
Lost. Germany first plays the role of drunk frat boy to France's ugly girl home alone on a Saturday night.

World War I
Tied and on the way to losing, France is saved by the United States [Entering the war late -editor's note]. Thousands of French women find out what it's like to not only sleep with a winner, but one who doesn't call her "Fraulein." Sadly, widespread use of condoms by American forces forestalls any improvement in the French bloodline.

World War II
Lost. Conquered French liberated by the United States and Britain just as they finish learning the Horst Wessel Song.

War in Indochina
Lost. French forces plead sickness; take to bed with the Dien Bien Flu

Algerian Rebellion
Lost. Loss marks the first defeat of a western army by a Non-Turkish Muslim force since the Crusades, and produces the First Rule of Muslim Warfare; "We can always beat the French." This rule is identical to the First Rules of the Italians, Russians, Germans, English, Dutch, Spanish, Vietnamese and Esquimaux.

War on Terrorism
France, keeping in mind its recent history, surrenders to Germans and Muslims just to be safe. Attempts to surrender to Vietnamese ambassador fail after he takes refuge in a McDonald's.

Mexico, 1863-1864.
France attempts to take advantage of Mexico's weakness following its thorough thrashing by the U.S. 20 years earlier ("Halls of Montezuma"). Not surprisingly, the only unit to distinguish itself is the French Foreign Legion (consisting of, by definition, non-Frenchmen). Booted out of the country a little over a year after arrival.

Panama jungles 1881-1890.
No one but nature to fight, France still loses; canal is eventually built by the U.S. 1904-1914.

Napoleonic Wars.
Should be noted that the Grand Armee was largely (~%50) composed of non-Frenchmen after 1804 or so. Mainly disgruntled minorities and anti-monarchists. Not surprisingly, these performed better than the French on many occasions.

Haiti, 1791-1804.
French defeated by rebellion after sacrificing 4,000 Poles to yellow fever. Shows another rule of French warfare; when in doubt, send an ally.

India, 1673-1813.
British were far more charming than French, ended up victors. Therefore the British are well known for their tea, and the French for their whine (er, wine...). Ensures 200 years of bad teeth in England.

Barbary Wars, middle ages-1830.
Pirates in North Africa continually harass European shipping in Mediterranean. France's solution: pay them to leave us alone. America's solution: kick their asses ("the Shores of Tripoli"). [America's] first overseas victories, won 1801-1815.

1798-1801, Quasi-War with U.S.
French privateers (semi-legal pirates) attack U.S. shipping. U.S. fights France at sea for 3 years; French eventually cave; sets precedent for next 200 years of Franco-American relations.

Moors in Spain, late 700s-early 800s.
Even with Charlemagne leading them against an enemy living in a hostile land, French are unable to make much progress. Hide behind Pyrenees until the modern day.

Other French-on-French losses (probably should be counted as victories too, just to be fair):

1208: Albigenses Crusade, French massacred by French.
When asked how to differentiate a heretic from the faithful, response was "Kill them all. God will know His own." Lesson: French are bad dudes when fighting unarmed men, women and children.

St. Bartholomew Day Massacre, August 24, 1572.
Once again, French-on-French slaughter.

Third Crusade.
Philip Augustus of France throws hissy-fit, leaves Crusade for Richard the Lion Heart to finish.

Seventh Crusade.
St. Louis of France leads Crusade to Egypt. Resoundingly crushed.

Eighth Crusade.
St. Louis back in action, this time in Tunis. See Seventh Crusade.

Also should be noted that France attempted to hide behind the Maginot Line, sticking their head in the sand and pretending that the Germans would enter France that way. By doing so, the Germans would have been breaking with their traditional route of invading France, entering through Belgium (Napoleonic Wars, Franco-Prussian War, World War I, etc.). French ignored this though, and put all their effort into these defenses.

The question for any country silly enough to count on the French should not be "Can we count on the French?", but rather "How long until France collapses?"

Or, better still, the quote from The Wall Street Journal: "They're there when they need you."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Grumpy Old Men or Babies?

Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, who led the 1972 Miami Dolphins to the only perfect season in NFL history, recently said that he fears that the team's feat finally will be exceeded in 2009.

"They're a legitimate concern," Shula said regarding the Colts and Saints. "I'm rooting secretly inside that somebody beats them."

As to the Saints, Shula has gotten his wish. As to the Colts, only five chances remain.

Now, with a 19-0 mark from the Colts looking possible, Shula is trying to change the image of the team that set the standard 37 years ago.

"We get accused of being a bunch of grumpy old guys that get together and hope and pray that the last undefeated team gets beaten and that's not true at all," Shula told NFL Network's Steve Mariucci on The Coaches Show.

(Shula's right. It's not true. Based on Shula's comments from last week, they root secretly that the last undefeated team loses.)

"If somebody does what we've done, I'm going to be the first guy to call that coach and congratulate him," Shula said. "But until they do, we're very proud of that record. . . . People that have records want to continue to have those records. But, you've got to be a sportsman and if somebody breaks or ties that record, you've got to acknowledge that and congratulate them -- and we'll do that."

Still, the annual bottle of champagne that gets popped when the last undefeated team loses creates a much different image.

And don't even get me started on Mercury Morris, who has remained amazingly quiet only two years after sharing with anyone and everyone who'd listen to his anti-Patriot rantings.

The '72 Dolphins had the second easiest schedule in the history of the NFL and they played in an era before free agency. Their accomplishment means less, if you ask me.

Hello? Records are meant to be broken. Acting so petulant any time another team even sniffs going undefeated doesn't make you sound like a baby, does it? Actually, yes it does. You sound like an anus. (You know what I mean and I do try to keep this family friendly)

Act like a man. Not a child. The 1972 Dolphins really grind my gears. Nice Christmas spirit, jackasses.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Top 10 Movies of 2009

Well, if your family is anything like mine, the holidays are a great time to catch up on movies and watch old classics. Movies like Gladiator, Snatch and Major League are always good movies, and there are some new movies we all want to see. This year saw some really good movies come out, and I even managed to see some of them.

Here's how the list works. These are movies I've seen in 2009. Not necessarily those that came out in 2009, but movies that were new to me in 2009. So, Avatar is not on the list because I've not seen it, although I've heard from everyone who's seen it that it was awesome. Let's get to the list.

1. The Hangover. This one is obvious. So funny. There are some people who haven't seen it, and they need to do it ASAP. Best movie of the year in a land slide. So quotable. Just great. I can't say enough about it. The deleted scenes are funny. The extra photos are funny. Just an incredible movie.

2. The Dark Knight. I saw this on DVD in 2009. If you read the category description above, you wouldn't be complaining about me including this on the list. Also, if you knew I didn't go to the movie theater that often you'd understand more of the movies on this list. But, anyway, this latest Batman was really good. Not as good as Batman begins, but good.

3. The Wrestler. This was sad. Especially as somebody who used to enjoy watching the WWF/WWE (I know it's fake, but it was pretty danged entertaining). In this movie, just when you're set up to think things are going to go well, they don't. It's somewhat predictable, but the pattern of behavior is just sad.

4. Frost/Nixon. I'm not trying to sound like a know-it-all, but I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen in this movie from some of the reading I have done over the years. Still, the acting in this movie was top notch. (That was meant to sound British. I'm not sure why I went with that accent, but I did. I blame the anesthesia from my wisdom teeth removal [how you like them apples, Katy?]).

5. Run Fat Boy Run. This could perhaps explain why I went British on that last movie. Simon Pegg is flat our hilarious. Not Ricky Gervais funny, but not as far away as you might think. Hanks Azaria does a great job in a supporting role. We all know how funny he is.

6. Inglorious Basterds. I thought this would be funnier, but I still liked it. I guess any movie that glorifies killing Nazis will be pretty good, but this was a good movie. The parallel stories was interesting.

7. Rock N Rolla. Guy Ritchie makes awesome movies, and this was no exception. My only complaint was that with so many big name actors, some of the roles seemed forced. As in, because this is Jeremy Piven, we should give him more lines. Even though they add nothing to the story, let's give a "big time" actor some more lines. Still though, good movie. Just hard to compare it to Snatch.

8. Role Models. To say this was a surprisingly good movie. Jane Lynch is funny, even if she is the same character in every show or movie. I watched this on HBO or Showtime one night during Thanksgiving and it was just so funny. Of course, it could be blamed on the pumpkin pie.

9. Gran Torino. Other than Clint Eastwood singing at the end of the movie and the ending being patently obvious, this was entertaining. Not a shoot 'em up, but Eastwood directly well.

10. Star Trek. This was a HUGE surprise to me. I saw it one night on DVD with Jordy and Trey (who not only share a passion for movies but have the same birthday) on their recommendation and it was good. I didn't get most of the Star Trek stuff that hasn't been made fun of on The Simpsons, but it was still good. I'm glad Jordy was able to explain the dorky stuff to me, but this was a good movie. If you haven't seen it because of any Trekkie hangup, you should. It's solid.

What were some other good movies y'all saw in 2009? I know Avatar should be on the list. Anything else?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chris Henry

All I can say is that this was a tragedy.

If you haven't heard, Bengals WR Chris Henry died this week after falling out of or off of a moving pickup truck driven by his fiance. We don't know the facts or circumstances surrounding this accident. There's no reason to speculate. We just don't know at this point.

What we do know is that Chris Henry had seemingly turned his life around. Sure, he made some stupid mistakes in his early twenties. I'm not advocating drinking and driving and using drugs or any of the things he did. They were wrong and he paid his debt to society and to the NFL. Do you want to be remembered for what you did when you were 23? I didn't think so.

After he was cut by the Bengals after one too many transgressions, Henry got his act together. He quit staying out late. He quit drinking and driving. He was planning on getting married. He had matured.

Look, we shouldn't judge a kid (and he really was a kid when he made these mistakes) who came from nothing but poverty in New Orleans to star in college and get drafted into the NFL. He finally came into money and didn't know how to handle it. We should be able to forgive his stupid mistakes. It seemed like he was turning the corner.

Of course, he made mistakes. But he learned from them. And isn't that what's important. It's not that people make mistakes, but it's what they learn from them. Without trying to sound too cheesy, America is the land of second chances. It's really tragic Chris Henry couldn't live out his entire second chance.

I didn't particularly like Chris Henry as a player. I don't really care about the Bengals. I know a few people who read this blog do care and I won't take any shots at them or the team. I do care about second chances. And I feel like Chris Henry was going to make the most out of his. Too bad.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tiger Woods

In short, who cares?

I suppose if I left it at that, this would be a waste of everyone's time. So, let's jump in a little deeper mmm'kay?

First of all, I don't really care who Tiger Woods has affairs with or if he has affairs. I'm not condoning his behavior, but I'm beyond the point of caring which athlete/celebrity/politician is having an affair. It happens. Everyday people have affairs, too, but it's not plastered on the front page and all over TV. Get over it people. Pull the wool off of your eyes.

Second, who still looks to celebrities for moral guidance? Are there athletes and entertainers and politicians worth emulating? Of course, there are some. And, at the same time, there are countless others who are simply not. But, and I've maintained this stance for some time now, these should not be the people we emulate or seek out for moral guidance.

Charles Barkley had a point even if it was delivered poorly. Teachers, parents, spiritual leaders, professionals...these should be our guides. Not a dude who can run a 4.4 or throw a baseball 95 mph. Come on meow. Don't you need to know a person before you can try to look up to them for anything more than what you can see? Sure, Lebron is an incredible basketball player, but do you or I know him at all? Do we know how his morality measures up to our own, let alone anyone else? I say no.

Do I wish I could putt like Tiger? Sure, who doesn't? But I look for moral guidance from other sources. People I actually know. People I actually know well. And people who I've seen acting ethically and morally and know right from wrong. These are people we should strive to be like. Maybe they can't putt or dunk or sing or act, but they stay out of trouble, lead ethical lives, and can sleep well at night.

Third, if everyone else is gossipping and speculating about what happened, I should be allowed to do a little of that too, right? Elin Woods, Tiger (maybe they should call him Cheetah Woods? [that is Britney's joke, so I'll give her full credit for it]) was not trying to save Tiger when she bashed in the rear windows of his Escalade. He hit a tree and a hydrant. Were the other windows not within range or more convenient to get him out of? I didn't think so. She was trying to hit the car and or him with the club.

Note she also had two clubs with her. Why would she need two different clubs? The words "felony" and "assault" come to mind, but that's just my take(shallow and pedantic, I'll add) on it.

Fourth, I know that Gatorade claims they dropped Tiger's line of Gatorade before this all came down, but does anyone buy that? Sprite did the same thing with Kobe (who I still don't like. It might be the holidays but I still don't like Kobe, T-Mac, the Dallas Cowboys or Tim Tebow, even if I haven't publicly stated that in a while.) after his incident in Colorado. Was he cleared of all wrong doing? Yes, but Kobe's image slipped there. He lost a major endorsement and lost some luster in the public's eye. I'd say he's gained some if not most of that back, but he's not spotless anymore.

The same can be said about Tiger, even though he hasn't been accused of any criminal wrongdoing. (Note I said accused before you fly off the handle, people who defend Kobe blindly no matter how much logic is used against you). Tiger's no longer has a perfect image. He's still the best golfer in the world and probably of all time. But he's not the golden boy anymore. Sure, he can parade around with his wife and kids and show that he's still a family man. And he might even get more endorsements out of it, but the cat is out of the bag.

(Editor's note: For part 4, keep in mind I don't care what Tiger does. I respect him as a golfer but have no reason to respect him as a man, even before this all happened. I don't know him. I don't know his character. I'm in no position to say he's worth emulating, and neither are any of us, because we simply don't know the man.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Another snowday in Houston?!?!

"Al Gore may have invented the Internet, but he doesn't know jack about the environment."
-My name is Shae Keefe, and I approve of that message.

Thank you, Shae, for a great spring board into today's topic.

Let's set up the situation before we quickly delve into politics.

So, for the second year in a row, there is snow in Houston. Last year was just a little bit of snow and it barely stuck to the ground. Still, a snowball fight ensued. Studying for finals could wait.

This week, there have been reports in the paper and on TV about the possibility of snow. People in Houston, of course, have typically and foreseeably overreacted. It was sunny and in the 50s yesterday (which, of course, is ordinarily cold for Houston, even in December) yet people were still decked out in their scarves, gloves and overcoats. They were acting like Houston turned into the North Pole.

So, this morning, it started snowing. And not just a few flurries. It's really coming down. The reports indicate that Houston could see two to six inches of snow by this evening.

Now, those of you up North might not think that's a lot of snow. Let me take this time to point out that Houston is woefully under-equipped to deal with snow. People here can't drive in the rain. Hell, Houstonians couldn't even drive on Thursday when there were reports of snow Friday. Any of you who were anywhere near downtown yesterday know what I'm talking about.

Snow is going to lead to countless accidents. And for those of you in Houston, drive safe. It's really bad out there. Point is, it's snowing and it's a lot. Be careful (This ends the PSA portion of today's post).

Which kind of brings me to my point.

I know I've said (recently) that I won't attack controversial topics on this blog because, well, we're all friends here and nothing leads to more anger and hurt feelings than discussing religion or politics in public. Plus, when it's done in a shallow and pedantic manner, it can only lead to more of those feelings.

Let me at this time apologize for those of you who are sensitive and who may lose sight of the overall theme of this blog (light-hearted and family friendly) humor.

It's snowing in Houston. It's the earliest it's ever snowed in Houston. (William McMillan, you were correct [even if I agreed with you when you said it but you still demanded credit {back handed enough for ya?}]). Last year, it snowed on December 10. This year it's snowing on December 4th. Do the math, people.

How does this all come together with global warming? If it's getting colder earlier in warm (hot?) cities, is it really getting warmer?

(Now, I'm not picking on Liberals, despite what this post says. If I find your behavior to be hypocritical, fraudulent or laughable, I will point it out. I have and will say things in the future about Conservatives. Take any Aggie or Catholic or Dick Cheney jokes you've heard me tell and counter this post if you're worried about the final score)

I don't want any of you amateur meteorologists to tell me when it's warmer, there is more condensation which leads to high pressure which leads to cold weather and more humidity and barometer pressures and typhoons which leads to El Nino and then snow. If you don't have a degree in meteorology, keep it to yourself. Because it will sound just as made up as that last sentence. Watching and even quoting Steve Carrell from Anchorman does not entitle you to give forecasts.

(Let me again point out that this is meant almost entirely as tongue in cheek. So, don't take offense. If you're particularly sensitive, just quit reading. Honestly, you won't hurt my feelings.)

Does this all add up? What about the leaked emails about the fraudulent temperature data? How does all of this work? Am I missing something? Is Al Gore to blame? Did he start this vast conspiracy? Are we all pawns in his game?

Let's also point out here that Al Gore drives a Suburban (not a Prius or bike) and his monthly electricity bills for his mansion are more than most people's yearly mortgage (slight exaggeration). Your hypocrite alarm should be going off at a pretty high level. Buying carbon offsets is not enough to allow such a high level of hypocricy, sir.

This doesn't add up, people. Snow in Houston? Let me rephrase. The earliest snow on record in Houston. Plus the leaked emails about the alleged fraud. This does not equal global warming. I'm sorry for those who don't believe in conspiracies (or have the wool pulled over their eyes [although that might keep you warm in this blizzard!]) but this does not add up.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hey Look! Another List: Top Ten Cereals

Since about 2002, I've been eating Smart Start as my breakfast (and sometimes snack) cereal. It's got plenty of vitamins and minerals, and it tastes good. It's a grown up cereal.

But the last time I went to the grocery store, I picked up a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. When I was younger, I loved Cinnamon Toast Crunch. My brother did too. Hell, the whole family loved CTC. It was the best. So, I bought that box. And, after one week of breakfasts, it was gone. I immediately bought another box (last night) and ate a bowl (and a half) for breakfast the next day (an hour ago).

This got me thinking about the best cereals, so I decided to make a list. How convenient for all of us? You're welcome. So, let's jump right in, shall we? (Oh, one more note: this post's spacing looks weird to me, and I've tried to fix it but it still looks odd to me. So, accept my apologies.)

1. Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Come on, do I need to explain more? This is the best cereal. It's relatively good for you and people of all ages love it. And, what's even better, is the milk left over after the cereal is finished. That cinnamon milk is fantastic. This is by far the best cereal of all time.

2. Smart Start. I had to leave this high on the list. It's been a solid cereal for 7 years. It's good for you and it tastes good. It's a grown up cereal but still tastes good. It's the best of both worlds, really.

3. Honey Nut Cheerios. This one is also good for you and tastes good. The other Cheerios are good, but these are the best, in my opinion. A solid B+ cereal. It'll do in a pinch, but you'll always be looking for just a little more.

4. Cap'n Crunch. Going back to kid's cereals, Cap'n Crunch was awesome when we were younger. The crunch berries were the sweet part and the yellow parts had (some) nutritional value. I was never a fan of the boxes with only berries or only yellow, but that mixture was great. The peanut butter nonsense I never tried and can only assume was terrible.

5. Wheaties. Well, this cereal was kind of dry and kind of lifeless, but the time Vince Young was on the cover, it was delicious. I guess what made it taste so good was the fact that the Longhorns defeated USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl, but that counts in my book (blog, I suppose). This should really be higher on the list.

6. Honey Smacks. Another kid's cereal that had surpisingly high amount of nutritional value. That frog was funny and the prizes were usually pretty solid. Also, high points for having something good on the back of the box to read.

7. Flutie Flakes. I'll admit, this is another novelty cereal. Jordy was kind enough to bring me back a box from Buffalo. Considering some of the money went to charity, the fact that this cereal tasted like a more cardboardy version of Wheaties is ok by me. I still have a box sitting on my bookshelf.

8. Waffle Crisp. This was a new comer to the cereal battles of the late 1990s, but was good. It was probably too sweet to be anything more than a dessert cereal (you know, when dinner was less than stellar, you come home and have a bowl of cereal. That's what my family did. Usually after going to a new restaurant that "certain family members" (read -- my Dad) thought would be great but turned out to be, well, let's just say less than stellar). But a bowl of waffle crisp would usually make up for weak Thai food.

9. Apple Jacks. I know Laura really used to like these and I assume still does. (After all, people are incapable of change, right? Just kidding, Laura) These were always a good, solid cereal but were never my favorite. I'd eat them but I wouldn't do too much to get the box. I mean, if it was on the shelf, I'd pick it up. But I wouldn't ask if they had any more in the back, ya know?

10. Corn Pops. Another solid cereal. I've heard of some people taking day old pop corn and covering it in milk after it becomes stale. That's kind of like Corn Pops. That counts.

Honorable mention: Rice Krispies (because they, unlike OU, know what to do in a bowl -- yes, I used that before but I find it relevant again), Honey Bunches of Oats, Coco Puffs.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Word on Professionalism

Now, I don't want to sound like some sort of an elitist or jerk or anything with this post, so I'm going to be careful with the tone. But, I feel like something needs to be said about professionalism and behavior in general.

At this point in life, many of the readers of this blog are lawyers (remember when we passed the bar?), medical students and physicians, MBAs, teachers, engineers, PhD candidates, professionals, etc. What I'm getting at is that we are all adults (or, in some cases, do a great job of pretending to be an adult) and need to act like adults in certain situations.

I'm talking about hanging out at somebody's house or even when you're out with your friends (although I do have some thoughts on this too). I'm talking about social settings with other professionals.

Recently, I was at a post bar passing/swearing in ceremony celebration at a law firm here in Houston. They were serving beer and wine, along with other soft drinks. I think there is nothing wrong with having some wine or even a beer or two in such a setting. But to have so many drinks (or to show up drunk) and then end up slurring your words, shouting about strippers or shouting out 12 lettered profanities is going too far.

That is not a slight mis-step on the fine line of acceptable social drinking. This is both embarrassing and shameful. I'm not naming any names, but those of you who were at the Abraham, Watkins event know exactly what and who I'm talking about. And it's not like this was an isolated incident. It's actually worrisome for this pattern of behavior to continue unchecked. Perhaps a call to the Texas Lawyer's Assistance Program is in order. I'm not joking.

Second, when you're meeting your friends in a professional social setting, an elaborate high five interaction seems unnecessary. A simple hand shake is fine with me. Sometimes, more than a simple hand shake is appropriate. I would say seeing an old friends for the first time in a while or seeing a really close friend warrants more than a hand shake.

But every time you see a casual acquaintance does not warrant a four to seven part hand shake coupled with bringing it in for that whole one-armed hug thing. Call me old fashioned if you want, but it's just inappropriate. I'm not saying nobody can do it, but if you're an adult (or have a grown up job or degree) act like one. You're making the rest of us look bad.

And while we're on the topic of public greetings of friends and colleagues, let me just voice my displeasure with the quick-peck-on-the-cheek-hello-and-goodbye-greeting. I don't like it. I'm not European, and neither are most of you. A hug is certainly appropriate and acceptable. Again, maybe I'm old fashioned, but I don't think it's right.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hypocrits: You Really Grind My Gears, Jerks

Hypocrisy. This is my number one pet peeve. It really grinds my gears. Man, it's probably bad for my blood pressure to even write this (warning sign of getting old--alert, alert)

Now, this is a sports spring board, but not a sports topic. So, for those of you who complain about sports, just wade through the sports to get to the point or just tune in later this week. Either way is fine with me. Thanks.

So, you know who is a huge (pronounced: YUUUGE) hypocrite? Pete Carroll, USC's head coach.

Yeah, he's won a lot of games (not against Texas and VY, but I digress) and scored a lot of points. He's pretty famous for running up the score on inferior and defeated teams. Not as bad as the Oklahoma Sooners and Big Game Bob Stoops (sarcasm) but bad. (As a quick aside, what do Oklahoma and Rice Krispies have in common? Well, Rice Krispies know what to do in a bowl.)

Anyway, USC routinely runs up the score on other teams. Earlier this season, Stanford finally defeated USC and ran up the score. Badly. They scored 55 points and even attempted to go for two to score more points late in the game. They afterward provided some thinly veiled excuses about going up by 4 scores, but we all knew they wanted to kick sand in USC's face.

And boy was Pete Carroll upset. He whined and cried about the score being run up on him and his team. Not so nice on the other side of a beat down, is it Pete?

So, last night, against UCLA, up two touchdowns in the final seconds with the game decided, what does ole Pete do? Calls for a play action pass deep down field for a touchdown? Yes, you're right. He was running up the score. Again. After whining about it being done to him.

I don't even that much of a problem with running up the score. Coach up your team, have 'em ready to play and you shouldn't get blown out of the water too man y times. But, it does happen from time to time. Get over it. Coach up the team for the next game. But, if you routinely run up the score on Arizona State and Washington State and Stanford, one of these days those weaker teams are going to come back and thrash you. And they're going to love doing it. So, if you act like a child and hoot and holler and jump around when you're up 40 points, you damn well better expect the same thing to happen to you.

But, after running up the score on people for years and then having your team get smoked by Stanford, don't go whining about it. Especially don't go whining about it when you know full well you will run up the score the next time you can, ie, UCLA.

You're a hypocritical whiner, Pete Carroll. You can't talk out of both sides of your mouth, man. It's baloney. And, believe me, I want to use harsher language but I'll continue to keep the blog family friendly. But that really grinds my gears.

Friday, November 20, 2009

12 Hours of Stupidity

Allow me to set the scene.

Yesterday was Will McMillan's birthday. No, that's not the stupid part. Don't try to make this a shot at William. Relax. So, we were at Cedar Creek on 19th street in the Heights. It was a nice night, so we were sitting outside next to the creek at the back of the establishment.
Sitting a few tables away from us, maybe 15 feet away, was a group of three guys and two woman. I hesitate to call them men (and certainly not gentlemen) based on their behavior, but I'll let you be the judge of that. For the record, they were about 30 years old, give or take.

So, this group of five was maybe 10 to 12 feet from the creek. For those of you who don't live in Houston or haven't been to Cedar Creek, there is a small creek running along the back of the outdoor area. It's maybe (maybe) 10 inches deep at most times, but there is a steep bank on either side. You have to cross a bridge if you park in the parking lot behind the bar. Nonetheless, there is water in the creek. It's not a dry creek (that's a joke for the Houstonians).

Anyway, two of the three guys (I think at this point I can [I certainly want to] call them morons, but, again, I'll let you decide for yourself) decide to throw something into the creek. They start laughing and carrying on, but nobody is really paying attention at this point. One of the guys goes into the creek to retrieve what had landed on the far bank of the creek. He throws it back to the others and they go for round two.

When round two of the throwing starts, we notice that the hurled object is lighting up. That peaks my interest, and, as I'm not shy, I approached these guys to see what the deuce they were throwing. I thought maybe it was a small flash light or something like that.
Turns out, they were throwing their cell phones. Their own cell phones. That were fully functioning. At the creek. That had water in it. Now, it should be noted that these guys were not drunk. They had a few bottles on their table, but they were not drunk. They didn't appear to be under any other influence, besides sheer stupidity. But I digress.

Turns out, the object of the game (certainly not the reason for it -- that still escapes me) was to throw your phone, underhanded, as close to the water as possible, without the phone going in the water. Of course, some throws went over the creek bed and skidded into the parking lot. And some didn't land on the bank of the creek but actually went into the creek.
One of the phones, when thrown back to the crowd of idiots (I think at this point we can all agree that these people were and probably will continue to be idiots) landed in the fire pit next to these people. All in all, it was a righteous display of stupidity.

But, that was not the only stupidity in the last 12 hours. Let me set the scene, once again. When it rains, I park in the county garage. It has tunnel access to the DA's office. I can go through security there also. So, around 750 this morning, there was a line of maybe 7 or 8 people and one metal detector and one security employee.

So, the guy in the front of the line who was dressed like a defense attorney and not a criminal was having some trouble understanding that the metal detector detects... metal. He didn't take off his watch. He didn't take the keys out of his pocket. He didn't take the change out of his pocket.
That's not that bad, really. Some metal detectors are more sensitive than others and some shoes or belts set off the detectors and some others don't. I've learned which belts set off the alarm and which don't. But anyway. This guy eventually had to get wanded and was then allowed to enter the building.

Let's get to the truly stupid part, now, shall we. The guy behind this first lawyer was also similarly dressed and looked like a semi-incompetent defense attorney(this was later proved when he asked which floor County Court 15 was on and seemed confused when somebody told him floor 11 and not 15). (Also, please note, I'm not bashing criminal defense attorneys. I will most likely be one at some point in my life, perhaps very soon).
After seeing all of the metal objects the first guy in line needed to take out of his pockets, this guy went through the metal detector and it started wailing. He forgot to take out his keys. His Black Berry. His change. His belt buckle was enormous and needed to be taken off. His boots needed to be taken off.
All of these objects remained on his person. Each time through the metal detector, one more would be removed. After seeing what had just happened, he still didn't quite seem to understand what was happening. After all of this, he remembered that he had an artificial knee and should just get wanded before walking into the building.
Now, I realize I can be a bit impatient at times. You can keep your snide remarks to yourself, thank you very much. But, it really isn't rocket science or long division here folks. Metal detectors detect metal. I thought that was self explanatory. But hey, some people could be unfamiliar with how certain metal detectors work. And maybe he was only in the tunnels because it was raining. That's not stupid, per se. It's maybe foolish, but not stupid. BUT, to see the guy in front of you having the same problem as you and not be able to figure it out, that, my friends (channeling my best Brent Musberger) is utterly and entirely stupid.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You know what really grinds my gears? Mini Edition 2

Let's jump right in folks.

1. Two and a Half Men. The kid's not cute and funny. Now he's a jerk. And the whole show is about smutty jokes. Now, I realize I've made (more than) my share of off color jokes, but I've refrained on this blog. Believe me, it's been difficult. (See, I just did it again.) I think its possible to be funny without being crude. And this show is just crude. And no longer funny. It really grinds my gears.

2. Farmville. Now, I know Bagel and Laura play farmville. I'm not going to judge. But I just don't get it. And now that I've blocked Farmville on my facebook feed, it doesn't even annoy me anymore. So, I guess I'm just confused and not so much gear ground (I think that's the proper past tense but what do I know?)

3. So, there are these jokers on bike taxis that fly around downtown. I understand it's a good idea for concerts and sporting events. If you park far away and don't want to walk 10-12 blocks in the sweltering Houston heat, you don't have to. Some slap jockey will be happy to pedal you there for a few dollars.

However, when it's not oppressively hot (you could even call it cold when it drops below 70 in Houston), it's not that hard to walk 3 blocks to your office. You don't need to be pedaled there. When these jokers ask if you want a ride and you say no, they really shouldn't curse at people. Especially those of us who will complain about it and post it on the internet. I suppose by now you realize this happened to me, and I don't like being called a cheap anything, let alone what 45 year old tattoo bike jockey has to add to the conversation. It's just not a good business model, people.

4. Peter King looks like George Wendt. This isn't a complaint, but I felt it was appropriate to mention now. Also, in the hopes of this catching on, the Rocket's new player Chase Budinger should be called Vinny Chase Budinger, because nobody scores like Vinny Chase.

5. 24 hours of college basketball in mid November is just nuts. I understand ESPN wants to flex its muscles and show case the sport that gave the sports leader its start, but come on. I don't even care about college basketball till after football. And I'm sure I'm not the only one. Let's all take a deep breath and relax.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You know who really grinds my gears: Mini version

You know what really grinds my gears? Well, lucky for you I've collected by various complains and conveniently listed them here. This is a mini version for reasons I will explain in entry number 1.

1. I'll keep this short, because many of you are in the same boat as me, have previously taken this cruise, or have already purchased your tickets. If you were able to keep up with that shallow and pedantic nonsense, you'll know (or at least have an inkling) that I'm talking about waiting for bar results. I think I studied enough. I hope I studied enough. I'm constantly knocking on wood and crossing my fingers. I'm not really all that superstitious, but I am with this. I'm even reluctant to type this, but I don't think there is anything else I can do. In addition, I'm a pretty calm person. I'm not really prone to panic. I'm not an anxious person. But I'm feeling anxious about this. I just want to know if I passed or not. I know some of you are more nervous or anxious than I am and are not sleeping well. Just think, it's not the end of the world. One way or another, it's not the end of the world. I think I'm convincing myself as much as anyone else with this. Let's move on to more trivial things.

2. The Black Jack Taco at Taco Bell. Come on, who thinks a black taco is a good idea. I wonder what ideas didn't make it out to market? How about the garbage-colored nachos? Maybe the cat litter burrito? Is this just me? Hello?

3. People who only respond to a text message or Google chat message with "lol." I now I covered something like this earlier in a rant about cell phone and communication etiquette (don't respond with just "k" and eliminate all unnecessary responses). But, "lol" is unnecessary. If I said something funny to you, chances are I did so on purpose. Now, I'm sure I'm not as funny as I think I am. I readily admit other people are funnier than I am. Jeremy, I'm talking about you, among numerous others. And I appreciate all sorts of humor, even if it's at my expense. But responding with just "lol" means to me "I don't have anything else to say but think I need to respond otherwise this could be awkward." Feel free to cut that out, at least with me. Now, if something is funny AND you have something else to add to the conversation, go ahead and say "lol" and whatever else you want to say. I'm all for it. In fact, I encourage it.

4. I'm confident many other people share this complaint, but I feel it needs to be said. When people truly know nothing, they often speak with the utmost confidence. It's like they're even trying to convince themselves that they're not talking through their hats. And you guys know me. It's hard for me to let people say dopey or worse things and not correct them. I'm confident that I know some stuff here and there and plenty of random knowledge, but to hear people say utterly stupid things and try to sell that bill of goods to other people is highly annoying. You could even say it grinds my gears. That's it for now.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Top Reality Shows: Yes, Another List

I'll admit, I've never been a huge reality TV show fan. Back in 1998, I watched about 30 minutes of Survivor before I gave up on it. I know some people really enjoy that show, as well as numerous others such as American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, The Bachelor, Big Brother, and so on.

I've never liked these shows, but I will give them credit for being wildly popular. I think a big push for reality TV has been from the networks. These shows don't pay actors, don't pay (many) writers (because it's all so real, get it?) and the production costs are low. If the show flops, no big deal. And if it is a success, its a huge profit.

Anyway, there are some "reality" (and I think I'm using the term pretty loosely) TV shows that I do enjoy. Most of them are on the Travel Channel or the Food Network. None of them are on VH1 (T.O. show, this means you).

One more thing. I don't really seek these shows out, but I will watch when they are on. It's kind of like College Basketball before March Madness. I have a general awareness of what's going on, but I'm not committed to making much of an effort to seek it out. (Notice I said before March. I don't want to hear complains about how great the tournament is. I get it. Opening weekend is one of my top 4 sports moments of the year.) So, here's the list of reality TV shows that I like.

1. No Reservations. Host Anthony Bourdain is at times very funny and at all times very full of himself. He talks way too damned much. And he really only knows what he's talking about in a few situations. But still, I love this show. He goes to exotic places (mostly) and does things that are off the beaten path. I enjoy watching this show. Also, he doesn't do that many gross things, like somebody later down on this list. I love traveling and I enjoy seeing places I haven't seen on TV. It's a good concept. Take some guy who is obnoxious but somewhat knowledgeable and send him all over the world to do different and random and local things. And then put it on TV with some (too much) of the host talking about what he did.

2. ManVentures. It could also be called Madventures, I'm not sure. Its sometimes difficult to understand these two dudes as they speak with their Swedish or Finnish accents. I'll admit, I've only seen about 2.5 episodes, but they've all been outstanding. Basically, these two dopes go around touring the world and doing stupid/adventurous things. They snuck into Cambodia once. One guy is the host and the other guy is the camera man. I don't think anyone else is involved. They're both highly unstable and unpredictable, and it makes for GREAT TV. Also, I think that these guys have consumed massive quantities of drugs and their brains don't quite work correctly. Again, fascinating.

3. Iron Chef. This includes both the Japanese version (which I don't think still airs) and the newer American version. I enjoy cooking and I think I'm pretty good at cooking some stuff. But to watch most of the people on this show is simply amazing. Now, don't get carried away, I'm not comparing myself to Iron Chefs or even the contestants. They are all some of the best chefs in the world. But, I do enjoy the creativity on the show. Even if they try to make a lot of weird things into ice cream, it's still a good show. It's been a while since I've watched Iron Chef, but I've always liked it. Watching people take something like oysters and easily make it into 5 or more (nearly) flawlessly executed dishes in less than an hour is incredible. And, let's not lose sight of how funny the voice overs were into English from the Japanese version.

4. Bizarre Foods. Some of you will recall I pointed out that I don't like this Andrew Zimmern joker in the past. Well, I've slightly changed my mind. Slightly. I like the show. Zimmern goes to cool places, much like Bourdain does. And he does some pretty wacky stuff, again, much like Bourdain. But he eats way too many gross things. Bourdain always eats pork, but Zimmern always eat animal genitalia. Sorry, I know it's gross, but he does it. In every episode I've seen he's eaten something awful. My father, a man who worked in Emergency Rooms and Operating Rooms for a long time and has seen just about any injury, no matter how gross, even finds this part of the show offensive.

5. Man vs. Food. The premise of the show is really cool. Some guy going around the country, checking out the local flavor, and eating some good food. If you followed my BBQ Road Trip blog, you'll know I love this kind of stuff. There's something inherently American about hitting the open road and seeing the differences from region to region, state to state and even city to city. And I think it's great. Here's my problem with this show. The host, Adam Richman, is so annoying. He's not funny. He's an idiot. And he should be replaced. Really, any joker can do his job. He never wins the eating contests, unless it's something that is hot and he can just eat it in two bites and drink milk as soon as possible. This show has potential, but the host is dragging it down.

6. Chopped. This is another cool show on the Food Channel, if you don't know. Chefs come in, are given mystery ingredients and have to create an appetizer, a main course and dessert. After each portion of the meal, one of the four chefs is "chopped." The winner gets money. It's a good premise, even if its kind of a mini version of Iron Chef. The funniest parts are seeing people struggle with how to make something good out of Gummy Bears, Ground Pork, Fennel fronds and Matzoh Ball Mix. There is always one or two ingredients that are just so off the wall compared to the others the chefs must use. I like this show. The judges are also very harsh towards the competitors. It's great.

7. Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. This is the exact same show as #5, only no eating contests. The idea behind the show is really cool, but the host is a jackass. So, the only real difference is the channel. Bonus trivia: Guy (that's his name, I'm not using a description) ate at Lankford Grocery here in Houston and thought it was great. He does get some points back in my book for this.

8. Hell's Kitchen. This show is about some young chefs trying to get their break into the big time from Gordon Ramsey. They compete in contests and in cooking. Each week, one character is sent home. It's pretty good, even if it's formulaic. There is also a lot of the forced breaks that are seemingly inherent in all reality shows. This show does get bonus points because Gordon Ramsey talks a lot of sh&t. And he's funny to me and intimidating to the contestants, which makes for great TV. In addition, Gordon throws things at people all the time. And people who lose flip out constantly.

9. Earlier, I dedicated an entire blog post to this show, so I won't rehash. I'll just say that Whale Wars is a monument to the stupidity of people and how easily a snake oil salesman can take advantage of people. Look, I'm not saying I'm anti-whale or anti-Earth anything, but come on. Fanaticism of any kind is over the top. But it does make for good TV.
What did I leave out? Anything I should know about? And "Battlestar Gallictica" is not an acceptable answer on this post.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Best TV Dramas

Just to be clear, since some people have not been able to keep up, this is a list of dramas. Dramas, meaning not comedies. Just kidding Colin. But seriously, this is a list of dramas.

1. 24. I'm not sure how good the last season of 24 was, but every season before 2009 was awesome. I used to watch on DVD or DVR because the suspense from episode to episode was too much. I just couldn't wait for the next episode. My favorite was the season where Jack went to Mexico. Although the first four seasons were all incredible. The novelty factor of the show is also noteworthy.

2. Law and Order. This show contributed to my desire to be a lawyer in a major way. Jack McCoy is one of my favorite characters of all time. This, in my opinion, is the best cop show and the best lawyer show at the same time. Even some the spin offs are pretty good. SVU and CI were good. The trial bureau show was a flop, but how much did Lenny's death have to do with that?

3. The Wire. I had seen a few episodes from time to time over the years. Not having HBO in my apartment contributed to this fact. But, after the bar exam, my cousin (who also took the bar in California [Hi Jay!]) and I managed to watch the entire series in less than 2 weeks. Ok, there are about 60 hours of the show, total, but I still think that was a lot of TV. And, after the bar, it was great to be able to sit and watch as compared to sit and study. Each season is different with some carryover of characters. This is a GREAT show. If you haven't seen it, drop everything and watch. I'll wait. You can read the rest of this post later. Trust me.

4. Lost. Ok, I'll admit I was obsessed with this show. I didn't watch it until before this past season, but I caught up on DVD quickly. I got season 1 for my mom for Christmas and "borrowed" the DVDs once. I watched all of season 1 when I was sick once in almost one day. I couldn't move from the couch. Season 1 was that good. In my opinion, and I know this won't be popular, but I think each season has gotten worse and worse over time. I will say that only last season was disappointing. The first 4 were great, but they got worse and worse.

5. The Sopranos. This was such a good show. Most of you know I love all gangster movies, especially mafia movies. This was like a 60 minute gangster movie every Sunday. I even enjoy re-watching some of the episodes. So many of the characters had been on other shows or movies as gangsters before, and this just added to the success of the show.

6. Rome. I don't know how many of you watches this two season show, but it was one of HBO's best shows. As far as I could tell, the show was pretty accurate historically. The plot was riveting. My only complaint is that I wish there were more episodes.

7. House. I know this isn't the most "realistic" medical show on TV, but I just like it. Maybe it's because I'm not a doctor (I do pretend to have medical knowledge all the time though), but the lack of reality or authenticity just doesn't bother me. Plus, House is so sarcastic. Clearly, I find that funny. There's also something to be said for his lack of political correctness, which, frankly, I love.

8. Homicide: Life on the Street. This was another great cop show. It was like Law and Order, but only the first thirty minutes. It followed the police half of Law and Order. The second best show about cops and the second best show about Baltimore.

9. The X-Files. Before this became all about aliens, this was a good show. The episode about the Chinese Lottery and the episode about the African who ate people's pituitary glands are two of the best episodes. I remember being freaked out when I saw them. Also the show about the crazy incestuous family in Pennsylvania was freaky. Great show when it wasn't only about aliens. Sure, some of the alien stuff was good, but in the end, it consumed the show.

10. I'm reserving #10 for the shows I've heard are good but haven't watched. And, who says it has to be a top 10 list? I'm not David Letterman. (Are you enjoying the shrimp?) CSI, Friday Night Lights, and the West Wing.

Ok, what did I leave out? What should I have watched or included? Please don't make any Walker: Texas Ranger jokes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hey look, another list!!

OK folks, let's get back to blogging and listing. You know you enjoy these lists.

(Photo caption: I'm number 1, I'm number 1.)

For background, over the weekend, Trey and I watched a few episodes of The Simpsons. We watched the episode in which the plot follows The Departed and also the episode where Homer is elected union chief. What do these two episodes have in common? Well, they're both hilarious. How do they differ? Well, the "Departed" episode is from season 19, which in and of itself is impressive. And, the union chief episode is from season 4.

Now, I don't go around memorizing which episode came from which season. Not that there's anything wrong with that. And you know who you are. But, it's remarkable that these two episodes, aired 15 years apart are both so funny.

I'll make my point and then get to the list. The old Simpsons episodes were consistently hilarious. I mean, side busting and always great. Now, not so much. There are a few good shows per season, but not many. It's more newsworthy when an episode is funny these days. Nonetheless, The Simpsons is the BEST sitcom of all time. Animated or not, this is classic TV. OK, here's the list.

1. The Simpsons. I've been through some of this already, but this is just the best show of all time. For about 15 years, this show was classically funny. It's still funny to watch old episodes. Even when I know the jokes before they happen, I still laugh. This is #1, and it's not really close after that.

2. Seinfeld. Hey, don't get me wrong, this is also an incredible show. But, maybe because it was ALWAYS broadcast in syndication, it seems overplayed. It's strange. I know when these jokes are coming too, and I can usually figure out which episode is airing within a few seconds, but it's just not the same. The social interactions are still good, but it seemed like the show became formulaic towards the end. I will grant you The Simpsons has been in this mode for a few years now, but it's my list. Feel free to disagree.

3. The Cosby Show. Come on, this show was incredible. It's a bit dated, but Cosby acting like Cosby is gold. Pure comedy gold. Maybe adding the two kids after Rudy was a bit much, but Olivia and Pam weren't terrible and really were small characters. Also, if you see some of the bit actors who appeared in the show over time, it's nuts. Adam Sandler, BB King, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Tito Puente, John Amos, and on and on.

4. Frasier. I know some people aren't on my side here, but this is classic TV. I think this would have made a great play. All of the episodes could take place in one room. It's really all about the characters. This has to go down as the best spin-off of all time. Although I hear that The Cleveland Show is great. Also, that was the sarcasm font.

5. Cheers. It's hard to believe, but the spin-off is better than the original, but it is. Cheers was great, even if Diane was a terrible character.

6. All in the Family. I'll grant you, this isn't the most politically correct show ever, but it is truly hilarious. Also, The Jefferson's was a spin off from this show. It's worth watching just to see Sally Struthers not eating children in third world countries.

7. Family Guy. In recent years, this show has gone the way of South Park, in that it is profane and offensive simply for the sake of profanity and offensiveness. Also, every episode has two to three random flashbacks that have nothing to do with the plot and are just there for the sake of filling time. Or at least, that's how it seems to me. These things are not funny. But, don't get me wrong, the first few seasons were great. Before the plot revolved around Stewie being gay, or potentially gay, or whatever and was about Stewie being evil, or potentially evil, this show was better. It could have been higher on this list.

8. Arrested Development. This is another show that could have been higher on the list, but not because it quit being funny. It should have been higher but it ended. And season three, the final season, just ended. I'm not sure why it ended, but it could have continued.

9. King of the Hill. Is it just me, or is this show a lot funnier if you're from Texas? Come on, Hank's niece is named Luanne Platter. What do you order at Luby's? Come on, it's gold. Considering this was supposed to be filler between The Simpsons and X-Files, King of the Hill was pretty damn funny.

10. Scrubs. I'll admit, I thought this show was great. But then I realized I didn't like the main character. At all. Then I stopped liking Elliot and Carla. Then Dr. Cox got really old. The Janitor and Ted remained funny, as did Dr. Kelso. But I just quit watching.

Honorable mention. Friends. I never really liked this show, but I know a lot of people did. I'll put it on the list so that people won't complain. Not that this will stop the best complainers amongst you.

I'll also include Sanford and Son, and I'm sure some of you really like The Office. There's it, there's the list. Have at it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This is meant entirely as humor so relax and have a nice day

This was forwarded to me from reader Jennifer Knox. Please address all comments to her and don't shoot the messenger. Again, let me state clearly this is a joke. So don't get upset. Laugh a little. It won't kill you.

In the future, everyone will win the Nobel Peace Prize for 15 minutes.

In other news, the 2012 Olympic Committee announced today that PresidentBarack Obama has been awarded the Gold Medal in the Decathlon, more than two years before the event was scheduled to begin. Commitee members were convinced of his fitness for the award based on shirtless pictures of the President published in People magazine.

President Barack Obama will receive an Emmy for his numerous appearanceson television in 2008 and 2009.

The President of the United States has been named as a 2009 Tony Awardwinner for his stellar attendance at a Broadway show in May 2009.

The producers of the Academy Awards program have announced President Barack Obama as the winner of the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award forlifetime achievement. In addition, the award will be renamed the "Barack H. Obama Award" and presented annually to President Barack Obama.

In recognition of the pitch he threw at the 2009 All-Star Game,President Barack Obama has been named today as MVP of the 2009 WorldSeries.

The Heisman Trophy Trust announced today that the iconic bronze statuewill be recast, with a shirtless Barack Obama replacing the anachronistic college football figure from the 1930s. In a mild departure from tradition, the President will be portrayed clutching a basketball, though a similar arm-forward pose will be used. Also, the 2009 award and all future Heisman Trophy awards will be presented to Barack Obama.

The Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) has named President Barack Obama as their "Customer of the Year" for 2009. TheWhite House had no comment. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) was disappointedin his second-place showing, but congratulated the President in a press release.

The National Organization for Women followed the lead of the Nobel PeacePrize committee and named President Barack Obama as NOW's "Woman of theYear" for 2009. When questioned about the President's lack of female gender, the spokesperson said, "He said he WANTS to be female someday,and we think that's good enough for us."

Seen elsewhere on the Internet: Barack Obama has been named Motor Trend's Car of the Year.

The First Lady announced that for the first time in her adult life sheis proud of Norway."...

"Happiest guy in the world right now? The guy that had Barack Obama onhis Fantasy Nobel Prize team."...

In a little-noted announcement, William Ayers received an 'Assist' awarding the Nobel Prize for Literature category."

Monday, October 12, 2009


Sorry for the drop off in blogging, if anyone cares, but I've been sick. I'll detail some more of what's going on 10,000 miles from home soon, but in the mean time, I think we can all agree, or not (and I know who's likely to disagree) that Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize was at best premature and at worst, well, ludicrous.

Now, I don't want to delve too deeply into politics. Lord knows, the worst thing we can discuss is religion or politics. Oh, did I say "Lord knows"? I don't want to start a holy war.

But, considering nominations were due a mere 11 days after Obama took office, isn't it a little ridiculous that he won the NPP? Granted, many of you think the award is meaningless after Al Gore won his for his documentary (certainly not for his $22,ooo monthly electricity bill or driving a suburban) but 11 days? What could have been done in 11 days other than talk?

I understand he's improved America's image abroad, but he did that simply by not being George W. Bush. By the same token, I'm not W. Where's my prize? Free trip to Sweden? $1.6 million? Nothing for me? Rubbish.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

India: Days 3-5, Part 2

Just briefly, I'd like to take a moment to present a truly ironic development. As a quick side note, people often misuse "irony"and it really grinds my gears. But, anyway, back to the story.

I went from my mom's mom's house to my dad's mom's house today. I'm staying for a few days. In days past this trip, I had come for the day. Hence, I did not bring my laptop. Today, however, I did.

It took some time to get hooked up to the Internet. The wireless network was spotty, so my cousin and I were attempting to hook up a wired connection. I went into the other room and when I came back, my cousin, who lives in India (this becomes important in, right now) was on the phone with tech support. Which is locally based.

Ironic. But I didn't need to tell you that. You've been paying attention and you understand irony.

India: Days 3-5, Part 1

One of the most peculiar (I don't think I've ever typed that word before, but I kinda like it) aspects of Indian culture is the family dynamic. I'm not talking about the nuclear family, but the extended family. It's very important to make social visits and inquire as to the well-being of other people in the family.

(Photo caption: a 3 lane road in Delhi)

I suppose that in and of itself is not all the peculiar. What I find so funny, however, is the unannounced drop in. I think there was a Seinfeld episode along these lines.

Anyway, today, before lunch, we were hanging out and talking. The phone rang and my mom went to answer it. As the TV was on, she stepped out into the hallway to talk. And, before you knew it, some lady appeared in the door way. The unannounced visitor.

She came in, greeted my grandmother and said "Hello, Vikram. How are you?" Now, I had stood up so as to not be rude and greeted this woman in the common fashion. I said "Hello Aunty(every other woman, basically, is called aunty if she's not related to you directly or at all). I had no effing clue who this lady was. We went on, chit chatting about this and that for about 10 minutes. All the while, I still had no idea who the devil this woman was.

Finally, my mom came in and greeted this woman by name. Finally, I figured out who the hell this was. It was my mom's brother's wife's brother's wife. (I suppose it would be easier to say it was my uncle's sister in law, but I don't care to do so at this time).

Now, if we can all shift gears for a second, let's discuss traffic. I earlier said traffic was horrible here, and if a Houstonian says traffic is bad, you know it's out of control.

As I see it, trucks, buses, cars, motorcycles, scooters, bikes, people and carts of all shapes and sizes share the roads. At all times. Since traffic flows the British way, you drive on the left side of the road and the right lane is the "fast lane." Also, as more background, the bigger your vehicle is, the more "right" you have for space on the road.

If a road is 3 lanes, there will be at least 5 actual lanes of traffic. The painted lines on the road are only suggestions, and largely ignored suggestions at that. Turning is also quite an ordeal. Rather than form a line, all types of vehicles cluster in as narrow a space as possible near the intersection as cars in the opposite direction run lights and swerve to avoid objects in the road.

As soon as there is enough time for one car to inch forward enough to possibly go across the intersection, 10 to 15 vehicles flood the intersection. Collisions be damned. It's a giant game of chicken. It's not alarming to drivers for a crowded bus to be inches away from the side of your car on one side and 3 scooters trying to pass you on the other, even if you're up against the median. Well, let me tell you it is damned alarming for the passenger, IE, me.

In addition, bikes and scooters and motorcycles ignore the lanes and squeeze between 4 wheeled vehicles to inch towards the front of the line. Red lights apparently mean nothing to people on 2 wheelers, as they skid and fly through intersections as they please. Even if the bike is made entirely of rust and held together by bits of string and tape, it's not stopping for anything. It's got other cars to squeeze between at the next light.

Now, if you can imagine all of that, let me add pedestrians to the mix. Essentially, what you or I would call jay-walking is readily accepted, and even encouraged here. People put their hand out when they cross a street or highway, essentially daring motorists to hit them. It's unbelievable. Just because you put your hand up does not mean a car will stop in America. Unless you're in Rhode Island, where by law motorists must stop to allow pedestrians to cross the street. Here, however, it's actually effective. People will not exactly stop, but they will slow down enough for jay-walkers to get to the next lane of traffic. It truly is Frogger (sorry for the second Seinfeld joke, but you'll live) on a hugely dangerous level.

Part 2 to come later. Enjoy.

Monday, September 28, 2009

India: Day 2

I realize my last update was only a few hours ago, but with jet lag, the 11.5 hour time difference, etc, you'll just have to deal with it.

Today, I went to my other grandmother's house. I hung out with her and some other family, including two of my cousins whom I had not seen since 2000. The three of us went to see a movie, The Orphan, which was pretty good, actually. But the real experience was at the movie theater.

The theater was in a mall which looked like it could be in any American city. There were numerous shops, coffee houses, and cafes. There was also a TGI Friday's and Hard Rock Cafe.

Anyway, on to the theater. We bought tickets and went inside. The movie was scheduled to start at 6:50. We were standing outside the individual theater in the lobby at 6:48 and the doors were still roped off. I asked my cousin what was up, and he said it will open around 6:50 and the movie will start soon thereafter. Welcome to India Standard Time (IST from here on out), which meant around 6:50, give or take, whenever it actually happens -- just be glad you're standing inside with A/C and not outside.

The snack bar was also wild. People here love American things, especially the food American teenagers eat. Pizza, nachos, sandwiches, etc. were all over. There was also pasta, which seemed odd for a theater. But that was nothing compared to what I can only imagine a complete monstrosity described as "strawberry popcorn." I saw it and laughed out loud (LOL) and asked my other cousin what the devil that was about. He had no clue. Let's just move on.

My cousin, Tushar, the one who drove to the theater, is a good guy. Let me say that now. I was giving him a hard time (as I sometimes do, from time to time) about his driving. He honks his horn every chance he gets. Now, he paid for his own car, which is a big deal. He's in his mid twenties, and works hard at a good engineering job. But, when I asked him about honking, he said he didn't want anybody to touch his car. He seemed less concerned for human safety than a scratch on his car.

He also laid down newspaper on the floor in case anybody had mud on their shoes. My aunt asked him later if it had rained, to which he replied that it had, and only a week ago.

More on the driving to come soon, as well as an expose of sorts of mustaches.

India: Day 1

Greetings from India. I'm visiting my grandmothers here, as well as relaxing. I'll do this first post as bullets, as sort of a warm up. Some will be relevant and some may seem off topic, but I just flew almost 10,000 miles so cut me some damn slack.
  • Flying first class is the way to do. I don't think I can go back to coach. I need shrimp and crab appetizers. I need ice cream sundaes. And I definitely need a seat that is both wide enough, provides ample leg room and stretches nearly flat.
  • Elite access is also clutch. Walking up and getting right on the plane is far superior than waiting in lines. Lines are for bums at a soup kitchen. I'm over that nonsense.
  • The Texans sure blew another game, didn't they?
  • Traffic is insane here. Lanes are merely suggestions, I think. Often, on a 4 lane road, there will be a truck, 4 cars, a scooter or 2, bikes, and pedestrians. Everybody honks. It's like Mexico City, only worse, since they drive on the left side of the road.
  • My grandmother's house remains the same size, but I remember it being bigger when I was younger. Funny how time does that to your memory.
  • Having a driver and servants may make me seem like a snob, but it's both common place and great. I don't even have to open coke cans for myself. I didn't have to unpack my suitcase, everything I needed was laid out for me. I gotta tell you, it's really a highlight of the trip.
I'll have more soon, after some of this jet lag wears off. In the meantime, wish my Dad a happy birthday, as he turned 60 Sunday. What can you say to a person who has always been there for you? Happy birthday, I suppose.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Random Musings #2

I realize times are tough. People are out of work and are willing to take something that is not quite their dream job because they have bills to pay. But does Evander Holyfield, "The Real Deal", a former champion in multiple weight classes, have to dress like a woman in Taco Bell commercials? Isn't it bad enough he's appearing in a Taco Bell ad without having to play the role of his mustachioed mother to boot? Have a little pride, champ. I'm sure all those blows to the head did some damage, but you don't need to dress like a woman to pay the bills. I'm sure you can get licenced to fight in Russia, or China, or somewhere. On a related note, how bad is the Patrick "Chewing" Snickers commercial? I will note that some people like it (mostly in France....ahem, Leighton) but I think it's pathetic. Ewing is still a coach in the NBA. He made countless millions playing (and never winning a championship, but I'll not mention that). Does he need the extra scratch that badly? Maybe he could auction of one of his championship rings....oh right. I'd like to make a Gold Club joke, but I'll refrain, since this is a family blog.

A commercial that is really funny is the new Game Day commercial for ESPN with the crew and Mack Brown. (video credit to Dr. Alok Vij) So, Mack is strumming a guitar and the fellas are singing along to "Texas Fight" until it gets to Herby. He starts making up his own lyrics, something about being north of Mexico and Remember the Alamo. Mack shoots him a look and asks what he thinks he's doing. Herby says he's free styling. Mack says "We do NOT free style 'Texas Fight', big boy." Now that is comedic gold.

Will Yester (posts as Gizmo) told me about a guy on Twitter who is hilarious. Now, I'm not on Twitter. I don't really care what people eat for lunch. If I want to know what you're doing every minute of the day, I'll ask you (line credit: Will McMillan) but this guy is funny. Google Sh#t my dad says on Twitter. This chronicles the wacky things a 73 year old man says to his 29 year old son. I won't re-print any here, as they are profane (but not inappropriate). Trust me, this is one Twitter worth checking out.
To kill (editor's note: poor word choice) two birds with one stone, did you hear about Kayne West going to Patrick Swayze's funeral? He told everyone in attendance "I'll let you get back to your funeral in a minute, but Michael Jackson had the best death of the year. I'm just sayin."
In other news, we have a guest version of you know what really grinds my gears sent all the way from Cuba. Take it away Jacki.

Here's something to ponder: Who thought/thinks it was a better, safer, more efficient idea for cyclist to "share the road" vs share the sidewalk? ESP during rush hour in a city. Really? In DC (and I'm sure other cities [editor's note: Havana]) they open the outer (parking) lanes to move traffic... If there's a biker pedaling away there, you may as well park a car there because it causes the same [editor's note: expletive deleted] backup. And for what reason? So you can be "active" in the morning? And to not even be totally selfish about's just not safe. One careless driver (and there a a gazillion) and you're going to have a highly unfortunate situation, whereas if there's carelessness on the sidewalk, what's the worse that would really happen? Someone gets his foot run over?

On a related note, how is it permissible for delivery trucks to use the outer lane as a standing lane during rush hour when there's a side street every standard block (.1 mi). Believe me hoss, you can wheel your dolley around the corner. You don't have to park right outside the building! If I was a cop, I'd bike my law enforcing [editor's note: expletive deleted] (on the sidewalk) around during rush hour ticketing those people... That's a far greater service to the community than pulling over people at midnight on a wed for going 40 in a 25 on a 3 lane, deserted rd (yes, that happened to me).[editor's note: at least you were going the right direction on a one way street, which, on a related note, can not be corrected by turning onto another one way street]

Update on Sandwiches

So, after hearing good things from many people, including Jennifer Fung, Mary McDaniel, Weston O'Black, Seamus Finnegan, and Sully O'Leary (ok, I made those last two up, but those were some Irish sounding names [not Fung]) I went to Brown Bag Deli for lunch today. Even with all the hype, it was good. Very good. But not great. Let me get that out of the way first. Also, in a related ironic twist, I ran into Weston there along with his gray suit mob.

I got turkey on the jalapeno cheese bread. It was very good. But you know kept it from going higher on my list (currently, it's behind Which Wich and Jersey Mike's and perhaps even a fresh Antone's) was the lack of variety. Yeah, I hear you. Antone's and Jersey Mike's don't have that many options either. But, they make a great sandwich and you don't need a lot of toppings. Which Wich, like Brown Bag Deli, offers a few options for the main components -- meat and cheese. But, Which Wich goes above and beyond and offers close to 40 options (maybe even more) while Brown Bag offers less than 10. Come on. Anyone can make a turkey sandwich. But if I get get 4 different mustards on it, it becomes special. If I can get three kinds of onions, it becomes special.

I like to combine flavors (Wes Holmstrom or Leighton can tell you that) so topping variety is a huge bonus for me. Which Wich is like the America of sandwiches. Anything is possible. Brown Bag offers some of the advantages of America, but comes a little short. It's like Canada, if you think about it. And there's nothing wrong with being America Lite. Minus that whole moose thing, nobody can tell the difference unless they know what they're looking for. Luckily, I do know what to look for. And I like the variety available at Which Wich. And I'm proud to be an America. I will continute to prefer Which Wich to Brown Bag. I'm not going to sit here and listen to you bad mouth America. Not on my watch chief.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

You know who really grinds my gears?

I said it at halftime of the first college game last Thursday night, but that song by Kenny Chesney is awful. Stewart Mandell of said so on Monday. ESPN, enough. Kenny, enough. That song "This is our moment" is already over-played and continues to be terrible. Now, I am a country music fan. Have been for a few years. But I'm not a Kenny Chesney fan. Never have been, and this song is not helping at all. Also, why does this guy never wear shirts with sleeves? I don't get it. I can see this song being played a few times each game that ESPN or ABC shows. Which is a lot of games. This could be a long season. I don't care if he is friends with Peyton Manning, Kenny Chesney sucks and brings nothing to the table.

Why do they even need musical introductions? Aren't real football fans going to watch games anyway? Would a casual fan really watch the Boise State vs. Oregon game at 11pm on a Thursday just because ESPN will show a 15 second clip of a sleeveless Kenny Chesney? I just don't get it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This might come as a surprise

Yes, this is another sports topic. Either deal with it or skip reading today. Thanks, and have a nice day.

Now, ever since I was about 10, the NFL has been my favorite sport. I always look forward to Sundays in fall and winter (relative term for those of us in Houston). I have and will watch any NFL game both in person and on TV. I read about the NFL. I watch highlights, analysis, and news on various channels. I anticipate Peter King's Monday column. Fantasy football is always fun, as are pick 'em leagues and survival football. The NFL has always been my favorite. A close second has been college football. But, the times, they are a-changin'.

I think, as of this year, college football has surpassed the NFL as my favorite sport. Perhaps since I went to Tulane and didn't really experience big time college football (understatement alert) unless I went to Texas games. (Photo caption: 2005 Rose Bowl. Note fellow Tulane alum and, apparently, a bigger Green Wave fan than me, Mike Naaman.) But, it took some time for me to come around.

Each game means more in college. State pride is on the line. When Texas plays (and beats two out of three times) Ohio State, more than a game or bowl game is on the line. It's a referendum on two different ways of life. The right way and the wrong way. Yeah, the Texans have beaten the Bengals. But it doesn't mean the same. Not even close. The passion, the hatred, the intensity are all dialed up in college football. Sure, we all joke around with the Aggies, but when the Aggies win (36 out of 115 times, for the record) it stings more than the Texans losing to the Colts. And don't even get me started on the Red River Shoot Out. Last year, I was so consumed with the game I may or may not have started a small to medium grease fire in somebody else's kitchen. May or may not have.

I remember one Christmas I gave my cousin Jay (an Ohio State grad) a Michigan shirt. He told me he was forced to wear it inside out by his roommates and could only wear it if he had no other shirts. And only in the house. Tell me that isn't passion. And they went to school in the Big 10!! Not even in the Big 12, let alone Texas.

Kieth Jackson vs. Al Michaels. Come on, it's not even close. Seeing a kid only a few years or months out of Algebra scoring touchdowns or making open field tackles is much cooler than enormous professionals doing the same. Not to take anything away from the pros, but it's not as exciting.

If you see somebody in a Texans shirt at the airport in Chicago, you may or may not say hi. But if you see somebody in UT gear, you say hook 'em as you walk by. I remember 2 years ago, in New Orleans, Trey and I were both wearing UT shirts. We were in the elevator at our hotel. It was only the two of us in the elevator, and a man in OU gear hit the button one floor down. He looked at us, sized us up, and declared he'd take the next elevator. Come on, that doesn't happen if he's wearing a Chicago Bears shirt and we're in Dolphins hats.

Am I late to the party? Yes. But is it the right party? I think so. Weigh in, please; let me know what your favorite sport is and why. And please, no jokes about Tulane. Tulane won the Sugar Bowl in 1934. And don't forget Tulane narrowly lost to the Havana Athletic Club 11-0 in the 1909 Bacardi Bowl. (Note: Tulane was coached by Buster Brown. I kid you not.)