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.