Saturday, August 30, 2003

Wow. Northern Illinois University, my alma mater, rocked and shocked 15th ranked Maryland on Thursday night, beating the Terps 20-13 in overtime. Absolutely amazing.

This concludes all talk of college football here at the HoC for the rest of the year.

In pro football news, my two fantasy teams have been drafted and are ready to take the field.

I'm running the Lost World Warriors in the league for which I'm commissioner, the Bot Bash Football League. It's me and five buddies in that one, so I expect the trash talk to be as much fun as the match-ups.

Meanwhile, in Yahoo Public League 467607 (those public leagues with the numbers always put me in mind of New York City public school designations) the Skyway Bandits are poised for a winning season. Or perhaps they're set for abject failure. Either way, I'm happy. The NFL is back!

I will do everything in my power to refrain from going on about this stuff too much, but I'm not making any promises.

While football threatens to inexorably encroach upon this site as autumn falls, don't think that I'll neglect my other hobbyhorses, like politics and the ongoing war.

For example, I ran across two great pieces today that explode the fallacy about US soldiers being less likely to die in Iraq (third item) than to be murdered in California.

The first points out that our troops are 66 times more likely to lose their lives over there than if they were in the Golden State, while the second exposes the absurdity of tying death rates to acreage.

If you direct your gaze to the right, you'll observe that section to be a bit sparser today than it has been in many months. The reason is a joyous one.

My buddy Sarge is back home in Georgia now, his mission in Iraq over. I am prouder of him than I can express in words, and relieved to the very depths of my soul that I've finally been able to take down the service flag I had been displaying in his honor.
Posted @ 11:10 AM

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Oh please oh please oh please let this trend continue.
Posted @ 2:04 PM

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Lewis Black is rapidly taking over the space in my heart previously occupied by Dennis Miller.

I had a lovely day on the actual beach today, as opposed to just dallying around the fringes as I usually do. I'm not, by definition, a beach person, but the occasional few hours of sand and surf are most enjoyable.

Unfortunately, it's been a while since I've spent all that much time out in the sun, and I really don't have much of a tolerance for the stuff, even with SPF 45 slathered all over me. I came within about ten minutes of a bad case of sun poisoning. Splotchy is not my color, by the way.

I'm fine, though, and just relaxing in my on-the-boardwalk accommodations. In thirty minutes I'll be enjoying a little preseason football (and it's a regional match-up to boot) while listening to the waves crash on the shore. A little slice of heaven, I tell ya.
Posted @ 7:37 PM

Friday, August 22, 2003

"Welcome to the O.C., bitch! This is how we do things in Ocean City!"

I couldn't let the latest catchphrase bandwagon pass me by without jumping on. And as I'm currently enjoying a little time at the Maryland beach getaway which shares the initials of Fox's new teen drama The O.C. (think 90210 with a slightly edgier origin story), I've decided to put my own spin on these trendy buzzwords.

If you find yourself down in Ocean City this weekend, look for me on the boardwalk. I'll be the one wearing the sandals.
Posted @ 10:56 AM

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

This just in to the House of Cheer Action News desk:

Ricky Martin to Perform at Latin Grammys

Other uttterly shocking stories we're following at this hour:

The Onion Publishes Satirical Story

Madonna Reinvents Her Image

Sun Scheduled to Rise Tomorrow

Guys, the old maxim is "Man Bites Dog," not "Dog Scratches Self." Try to keep it straight.
Posted @ 12:03 PM

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Hmm... I'm getting the itch to do another site redesign. I don't know if anything will come of it, but I'm definitely ready to tart the place up a bit. It's all so 1998, which is a problem when you consider I didn't launch the HoC until 2001.

Kind thoughts and gentle suggestions would be most welcome.
Posted @ 9:52 AM

Following Jody's lead, I've added myself to the GeoURL database. See who's around me:

In other friend-related news, my good buddy Gina begins her Jeopardy! odyssey today.

Send good vibes her way, would you? If she wins big, I'm hoping she'll buy me a pony.
Posted @ 7:48 AM

Monday, August 18, 2003

"It was "Escape From New York" with a cast of millions." - The best line about the Great Blackout of '03, provided by the good people at TV Tattle.
Posted @ 7:59 AM

Ugh. So very tired. Didn't get to sleep until almost three this morning.

Remind me to never have a cup of coffee after seven on a work night, no matter how much Kahlua I dump into it.
Posted @ 7:54 AM

Saturday, August 16, 2003

As I've discussed occasionally in the past, I'm a big fan of Top5 and their weekday humor lists. It's a great, consistent source of the funny, and as such things are designed to do, will often act as a welcome break on a long work day.

From time to time, I won't have the opportunity to read them when they arrive, and I'll just let them sit. If they sit for too long, I get less interested in reading them. It's illogical, but they don't feel as fresh to me if I don't open them right away. It's the same way I feel about watching a recorded sporting event. If it's not happening right that moment, it loses much of its appeal.

Well, except for preseason football. That's another story.

But I digress. I had a couple days worth of Top5 lists and Little Fivers (subject-specific lists) piled up in my inbox when I got up this morning. I slogged through a few, not really enjoying them at all. It's not that they weren't funny. I just wasn't in the mood at that moment. But I worried that I'd be even less interested later in the day or tomorrow. So I read them.

When I opened the last one, it suddenly hit me how ridiculous I was acting. Why was I forcing myself to do something I should be enjoying? Were they going to go to waste? Are there humor-starved children in China who would love to have any Top5 list, regardless of how fresh it was?

It was just one of those little epiphanies we all regularly have. A brief moment of self-awareness, potentially leading to self-improvement, is an ideal way to start off a lazy late-summer Saturday.

I had dinner with my folks last night, and we got to discussing the grape-sampling woman I wrote about earlier this week. They had read that post, and the Grape Thief's rationale ("That's what my mom did!") put my father in mind of one of his favorite stories.

A woman was preparing a roast for dinner. As she'd learned by watching her mother, she started by cutting both ends off the roast.

She stopped and wondered, for the first time in her life, why she was cutting away and wasting perfectly good meat. It didn't make any sense, but she'd done it unquestioningly for as long as she'd been cooking. Puzzled, she called her mother.

When presented with this question, the woman's mother had no idea why she'd engaged in the practice, either. It was something she'd picked up from her mother, the woman's grandmother. The mother said she'd call the grandmother and get to the bottom of things.

A few minutes later the woman's mother called back, and she was laughing. It turned out that the grandmother used a very small roasting pan, and cutting the ends off the roast was the only way to get it to fit.
Posted @ 10:42 AM

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Morning Edition read listener letters today, as they do each week. I usually tune to something else during this segment, or just ignore it, but today I listened. I'm sorry that I did because, as usual, an uninformed opinion got me hot under the collar.

Last week, as part of a month-long series on contemporary ethics, ME ran a story entitled "Supermarket Ethics." In the piece, an ethicist stated that "sampling" a grape in the grocery store without paying for it is, indeed, stealing.

Responding to this logical, valid point, a woman named Lee had written in to say that she was annoyed at the suggestion. As Steve Inskeep read her assertion about testing the quality of fruits, I snidely remarked to my coffee cup that the listener probably thought the practice acceptable because that's what her mother did.

Mere seconds later, Lee had the courtesy to prove me correct. She wrote that while trying a watermelon or packaged prunes (you know, stuff that's harder to get to and where it'd be obvious something had been taken) was unacceptable, "...with grapes, it's okay. Ask my 83 year old mother."

Lee, getting your values from your parents is the norm, and a wonderful thing. But if you wish to sway other people to your point of view, you have to take it a step further and ask yourself why they held those values in the first place. "Because my parents did it" holds no more weight in reasonable debate than it does in a court of law.

At least that's what my parents taught me.

Kevin Smith's Fletch film may finally be made, with production slated to start early next year.

I'm a huge fan of the first Fletch, and consider it to be Chevy Chase's crowning film achievement. The second one I'm not as enamored of, but there are still plenty of quotable lines. The films led me to the Gregory McDonald books from which they're adapted, and the three or four of those I've read are wonderful in deeper, darker ways.

Smith promises his film will be much closer to the tone of the books. I'll miss the easy, breezy quips somewhat, but I'm very much looking forward to his take on Irwin M. Fletcher.
Posted @ 7:49 AM

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Whenever I have a strong feeling about the outcome of a particular contest, one of two things occurs. If I remain silent and keep my prediction to myself, it comes true. If I voice my conviction, I'm invariably wrong.

I didn't say a word when I knew the Patriots would win the Super Bowl two years ago. I held my tongue when I was absolutely sure Sarah Hughes would take the figure skating gold in Salt Lake. Both happened.

I was absolutely convinced that Al Gore would win the 2000 election, and later that he would come out on top in the Florida recount. I said so loudly to any and all who would listen. We know how that turned out.

With this in mind I make the following prediction, which I know with every fiber of my being to be a mortal lock: in the California recall election, Gray Davis will lose his seat, and Arnold Schwarzenegger will take over as governor.

Let's hope my streak continues.
Posted @ 8:01 AM

Monday, August 11, 2003

I saw a commercial last night that has shaken my faith in justice, the human race, a higher power, and the fundamental right of the universe to exist. The ad's real name is "Dream," but I'm calling it "Shatners in White Satin, or Fear of a Shatner Planet."

A woman applies a teeth whitener just before bed. As she falls asleep, she dreams she's Riverdancing with a multitude of white satin-clad William Shatners.

I've tried to find a screen capture of this somewhere on the Web, but I've come up empty. Consider yourselves lucky; your sanity has been spared, at least until this sinister commercial sneaks up on you unexpectedly during a Will & Grace rerun some night soon.

If an infinite number of William Shatners doing a Celtic line dance is truly the stuff of dreams, I'm never sleeping again.
Posted @ 1:49 PM

I'm in a holding pattern today, waiting for Sarge to call. If all went according to schedule, he touched down at Fort Stewart sometime during the 5am hour. I got an e-mail from him last week saying he'd try to call as soon as he got home, but I certainly won't begrudge him if it's a couple of days before I hear his voice. He has a family to catch up with, after all.

In the meantime, there's work to distract me. When I'm not at work, there are always a silly good time to be had at Quizilla. Take today's diversion:

The Princess Bride

I'm sure it's no big surprise to you that your romance is The Princess Bride. A heartwarming tale of "Twue Wuve" that has giants, Spainards and swashbuckling. You really do think that love can overcome anything. You may be a touch naive but your heart is certainly in the right place. You've probably got one of those relationships where proper nouns have been replaced with "Snookums" and "Pookie Pie". Eww. Beware a cuteness overload.

What Romance Movie Best Represents Your Love Life?
brought to you by Quizilla
Posted @ 7:45 AM

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

The main NPR news shows, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, cover a very wide range of subjects. One minute they're talking about a flood in central China, the next they're delving into the intricacies of glass blowing. This can lead to odd juxtapositions if you try to relate these stories to others later.

This is a phenomenon I rather enjoy. I call it "sentences that have never been uttered before in the history of the world." One such sentence was spoken by yours truly last night...

"If you know about the calamari, you must have heard about the new Steely Dan album."
I love the absurdity of this statement. If you're aware that both subjects were covered on Morning Edition yesterday, it makes perfect sense. But as a stand-alone item, it becomes a delicious non sequitur.
Posted @ 9:06 AM

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Glorious, glorious news today, in the form of an e-mail from Sarge letting me know that he expects to be stateside within a week!

Just a few more days of breath-holding for me and the rest of his loved ones, then this tense chapter will be history.

But the war goes on, and while my personal concern level will drop as soon as I hear Sarge's voice again, it's vital that we keep all the men and women who are still over there in our thoughts.

Man, I can't wait to take down that service flag on the right.
Posted @ 3:12 PM

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Since I wasn't about to get out of bed at five this morning, I made a point of TiVoing today's American Bowl NFL preseason game. Then I made the mistake of going online before watching it. As you might expect, I've accidentally spied the result already.

Thankfully, preseason football isn't about winning or losing, despite what Steve Spurrier may have thought last year. For the fans, it's about whetting the appetite and refamiliarizing ourselves with the rhythms of the game. So yeah, it's "only" a preseason game, but we have to get back in shape for the season much like the players do.

Therefore, final score known and all, I'm about to go watch the game. I just wish it weren't too early for a beer. I wonder if I've got the necessary components for a Bloody Mary lying about...
Posted @ 9:27 AM


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