(And don't get me started on those Visa commercials that depict shopping as "West Side Story" and the customer who pays in cash as the jerk who streaks naked across the stage during "Maria". It's shameless.)
But back to plastic. My favorite plastic come christmas time has nothing to do with 3-digit security codes or worn out signatures. It comes in the form of a fake Christmas tree. Yes, that's right, I despise real Christmas trees.
Whose idea was it to cut down an evergreen tree and stand it up inside of one’s home and hang things on it? I suppose a little research might lead me to an answer, but frankly I'm too lazy to figure it out. Most guys I know dread the ritual of driving out to the farm, picking out a tree, getting it into or on the car, driving home, getting it in the house without destroying the walls/ceiling/tree, putting it onto the clumsy stand, and then decorating it. And yet most guys do it because their wives/kids want them to. They are better husbands than I.
I'm all for family time and creating memories, don't get me wrong. I'll be the first guy to run around the neighborhood in boxer-briefs and a santa hat if my kids think it's funny. But i'd rather not deal with the hassle of getting a real (dead) tree into my house for a month. And once Christmas has come and gone, you're left with a dead, dry tree in the middle of your living room that's shedding like an aging Collie and is about as safe as using a bucket of gasoline for an ashtray.
Does the real tree smell good? Sure, i guess it does. But so do yankee candles, bowls of potpourri, and burps after you've had a strawberry-banana smoothie.
Every year my wife hints at getting a real tree, and every year i push back. It's not that I'm a jerk, I just know that the cons outweigh the pros and I'm able to separate myself from the deceiving mystique of the evergreen that most people fall prey too.
And when we've finally caught up on our New Year's sleep and decide it's time to take down the tree, deep down I know she's thankful that we're pulling apart plastic pieces and not covering the carpet with dead needles. She'll never admit to it, but that's okay, I just know. And that's all the fuel I need to stand firm 11 months later when she starts to consider getting a real tree again.
Besides, we got a really nice fake tree a few years ago that cost a lot of money. We've got to get as much use out of that thing as possible considering the interest we're still paying on it.
So, don't say you haven't been warned.
Yeah. How about that? At least she's got state-funded health care.
Before you feel too bad for her, though, she's training to become a chef in Canada...which is sort of like training to become Saudi Arabia's best ice hockey player.
Upon a second viewing, check out the blond guy, who screams "There's been an accident!" rather than wailing obscenities or "Oh, the humanity!"
Thanks to the greatest sports blog in the world, Deadspin.com, for bringing this to us. They've got some humorous (or humourous) comments on what you've just seen.
At the same time, Mindy is in her fourth year of med school. From day one, I've been shocked at how easy med school seems. Not for me, of course...I would crash and burn...but in her first two years, Mindy was usually out of class by noon, with a moderate amount of studying in the evenings. Part of this is Mindy's formerly Type-A ways have been tempered by more focus on growing relationships with her friends (and me, of course), and part of this is Mins is very, very good at school. Her brain stores information like a microfiche file cabinet.
After med school, Mindy will enter residency, and after that she'll almost automatically have a job.
But the best part? While all those law students are clawing their way to the top, all the med school graduates will be wearing scrubs.
Scrubs are pajamas. They're like sweat pants respectable people wear. From time to time, I'll wear Mindy's scrubs if I've got a day off, and maybe I'll go into a store, and instead of people thinking, "Good night, that man is filthy and unshaven, and he's wearing pajamas at three in the afternoon!", they think, "God bless that man for helping our nation's sick and destitute! And my of my! What a handsome beard!"
Sometimes, I wear Mindy's white coat and stethoscope for the full effect. Occasionally, some invasive single mother will ask me for advice on her wheezing son, and I'll say, "Yes, I'll help your son, but next time I'm at your McDonald's, I want you to give me twelve free Big Macs." That usually sets them straight.
So, next time you see me wearing blue pajamas out at a nice restaurant, don't thank me. I just chose to be engaged to someone who chose the best professional career of all.
(Note: A derivative of that McDonald's joke appeared in the second season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm". It was the "Shaq" episode, which still stands as my favorite of the show's long run.)
Here's a few old fav's:
So I was kind of bummed for an hour or so.
Anyway, I decided to forget about it and prayed to be forgiving to the snooty trophy wife who couldn't lift 5 pounds, but didn't tell me that beforehand and decided to just treat me like a slave instead. I'm still working on it.
Later, I was helping a man, a regular customer who's very nice and probably in his early to mid-80s. Right after him, I helped an older woman, who was probably in her early 70's or so. The man spoke to her briefly, commenting on how she was buying olives, and was that for martinis? She said, yes, this is great martini weather...but then it's always good weather for martinis. To me, the exchange seemed like they knew each other, were maybe neighbors.
The old man left.
"Do you know him? It seems like you guys are neighbors," I told the woman.
"I've met him a couple times here and there," she said.
"He's a nice guy," I told her.
"I'm very attracted to him," she said.
And this was just great, the best thing I could hear that day at that point, and I told her it was obvious he was flirting with her. I asked her why she hadn't pursued the conversation, and she told me it was because she was old-fashioned, and I understood.
"Does he come in here often? What days does he come in?" she asked.
"Yeah, all the time. I'm not sure of his pattern, but I'll pay attention now. Check in with me next time you're here."
"Oh, you just think we're cute because we're old."
And, to some extent, this is true, but I hate that condescension toward older people. I told her so, and I told her I understand they were once just like us, and how it's patronizing to be referred to as 'cute' all the time, when once she was probably an unruly teenager.
"Part of it, though, is that I think older people are wiser and have lost that cutthroat insecurity they had when they were younger. I think if young people are patronizing, it's due to a respect for older folks who have it figured out much more than we do." She understood, I think.
"I think he's a widower!" she said hopefully, and that struck me as a wonderful thing to say, because it dismissed that he might be divorced.
They're both good-looking for their age, and you can imagine she was a knockout and he was a tall and handsome man...and they still are...and I hope I can do what I can to get them together.
Thankfully, Gameboys are notoriously durable, and we were still able to play when church got out a few hours later.
Anyway, that lack of video games when I was younger caused me to really like them when I was old enough to buy consoles on my own. I'm particularly a fan of sports games, but I've been known to dabble in the odd first-person shooter. If you watched my friend Steve and I play "Red Faction 2" on the original Xbox, you'd swear we were immortal.
Since I tired of last years' Madden and NCAA Football games, however, I've been absent from the gaming scene. It's been nice. I have more time to do things like work and plan weddings...you know, all the stuff men love. Plus, I don't have the money to buy a new console.
So while I don't have a new video game system, Mindy's brother, Kyle, has an Xbox 360. We've been spending the last few weeks figuring out how to get online with an outdated wireless router. We figured it out yesterday, though, by simply buying a new router.
And now we're playing 'Halo 3' online.
And it's cliche, but sweet Moses...'Halo 3' online play is awesome. I mean, it's really amazing. Most of the time, I'm getting "powned" by pre-pubescent kids, likely with Dorito dust crusted on their obese lips, but it's still freaking great.
If any Burnside readers out there are playing 'Halo 3' online, comment on this board and mention your gamer tag. Then we can become online friends and you can shoot me with a rocket launcher. I'd post my online handle, but I'm still the first person with that username anywhere I go, and I want to keep it that way.
Who am I kidding? You're probably all spending your time reading or doing charity work or raising your kids.
(I won't delete this post...but so much for that. We [and by 'we' I mean 'the Ducks football team'] proved their offense has no heart if Dennis Dixon isn't playing. The defense was great. On the plus side, all the fairweather fans go back to working on their houses on Saturdays and cheering for winners...that's good, right? And I'm not bitter. Oh, no...I'm not bitter at all.)
Here's the thing, Ducks fans: in less than 12 hours, the Oregon football team is going to be fighting for a shot at the Rose Bowl. The ROSE BOWL. That's a big deal. We'll have won the Pac-10 over USC, and the other four teams predicted to finish above us.
I've watched Ducks fans mope around for the last week and half, and I'm sick of it. I don't know how the team is feeling, but in the million-to-one chance one of them reads this blog entry, you're a great team. Injuries don't mean anything. Great teams win no matter what. Go out and kick some Bruin ass.
Special message intended for Brady Leaf: You're not your brother. You're not Dennis Dixon. You're a fine quarterback, though. My friend John wanted you to be the starter before the season began, and John is smart (he always calls the penalty before anyone else, and sees great blocks before the replay shows them clearly). You are our guy, and you can take us to the promised land.
Who knows? That promised land might still be the National Championship if things keep going all crazy like they have.
If you're like me, then perhaps you've noticed a disturbing trend that is gaining popularity with each successive Thanksgiving. I'm not sure where, why, or who started it, but I've decided to put an end to it, and I'm asking for your help.
The trend in question is the overuse of the word 'tryptophan' in regards to the turkey we consume during thanksgiving dinner. Come the fourth Thursday in November, "tryptophan" becomes everyone's favorite word.
It seems like it was only ten years ago that attributing your post-feast drowsiness to this little-known amino acid made you come off as a well-educated scholar and all around good person. Oh how the times have changed. Here in 2006, everyone knows why that gravy-covered piece of poultry is going to make you want to take a nap. It has ascended (or perhaps descended) into the realm of common knowledge, filed somewhere between "LOST is the best TV show ever" and "rain is wet".
Part of the issue here, as you probably already know, is that the whole "tryptophan thing" borders on myth to begin with. Smarter folks than us have gone on record as saying that our post-turkey nap has very little to do with the trace amount of tryptophan found in turkey meat. As it turns out, the reason we want to sleep after our Thanksgiving meal is because we have just consumed enough food to feed the entire cast of The Hills for a week (and yes, that does include the writers who script their conversations).
In order to separate the tryptophan discussion from the very fabric of thanksgiving, I've devised a plan. It's equal parts genius and idiocy, and I'm quite certain that if executed properly, it will rid our families of this needless tryptophan talk forever. My goal is a lofty one, I know, but I believe that we can all do this together, ridding the country of the tryptophan myth one family gathering at a time.
What You'll need
The following materials are needed to pull this off:
Computer / Printer / Internet Access
Empty Pill Bottle
Scrabble Board Game (the Deluxe Edition preferably, but only because I like the lazy susan board holder)
Roll out of bed fully rested. You really want to try and get as much sleep as possible because if you go into this day lacking sleep, you're going to spend the entire day walking around looking like David Schwimmer in "The Pallbearer".
(If you've never seen this movie, you need to rent it just to watch Schwimmer's facial expression throughout the movie. Notice I said "expression", not "expressions". I swear his face muscles do not move at all throughout the length of the film. They might as well have hired a street bum for $25/day to wear a "forlorn David Schwimmer" mask. Rent it and see for yourself.)
Make sure you eat a good breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. Don't be the sucker who starves himself for 18 hours before Thanksgiving Dinner only to find out that his stomach has shrunk to half its size and he can barely get down his first helping of food.
There's always one of these jokers at every Thanksgiving table. They'll walk in and proudly announce "Hey, I haven't eaten anything since last night! Let's Dig In!" Then they peter out after a few bites of cranberry sauce. Don't be that guy.
Time to prepare your props. Using your Sharpie, write the word "Tryptophan" on your empty pill bottle and on the front of your white T-Shirt. Write it as big as you can for maximum visibility. Next, go online to the Wikipedia page for Tryptophan and print out a dozen copies of the article to bring with you. Also, sift through your Scrabble tiles and set aside the tiles you need to spell "tryptophan" in a sandwich bag.
Clothes selection is huge. In order to pull this off you're going to want to be comfortable, so dress accordingly. You know that turtleneck/sweater combo you have been planning on wearing? Don't. The oven and every burner on the stove are going to be going full throttle all morning, so it's going to be hotter than habaneras in there. Besides, you want to be wearing your Tryptophan T-Shirt with only one layer of clothing over it, preferably a casual long-sleeve button-down from the Gap or something of that ilk.
Regarding pants, wear your loosest pair and remember to pre-adjust your belt loop to one notch bigger than usual. This will help you avoid the dreaded post-dinner belt adjustment.
(Note to those who were planning on going for the post-dinner belt adjustment as a funny gag to get some laughs, please spare us all. It's about as funny as a car accident. Trust me.)
Unless you're hosting the meal, you should be on your way to the gathering at this point. First impressions are everything, so when you walk in the door the plan immediately goes into action. Instead of barking out "Happy Thanksgiving!" I want you to yell out "Happy Tryptophan Day!" a few times as you shake hands and give hugs. Feel free to mumble it under your breath a few times if you like or even make a little song out of it. Repeat it enough times that it makes everyone slightly uncomfortable, but not enough to make them think that you are up to something. We're still only setting the stage at this point.
Enjoy your thanksgiving meal, but eat quickly. You want to be the first one to finish your meal. As you're getting up from the table, pull out the copies of the article you brought and pass them around. As they're circulating say something to the effect of "I thought this was an interesting read". Leave the room immediately, before folks can start grilling you about it, and find a nice spot in front of the TV to watch some football.
As folks trickle in to join you in front of the TV, give each one of them some sort of tryptophan comment. Be as original and as obnoxious as possible. Quips like "How's that tryptophan treating you?", "Had enough tryptophan?", or "Sleepy time yet, Mr. Tryptophan?" will all work quite nicely.
As everyone around you begins to nod off, take a little pretend nap of your own. After 5 or 10 minutes, pretend to wake up and exclaim "Wow, Old Man Tryptophan just put a hurting on me!" loud enough to wake everyone up who's sleeping. This will really tick them off. Let them fall back asleep as they think of 101 different ways to punch you in the face.
The nappers will be waking up and will be groggy and irritable. This is the perfect time to get in trivial arguments with them just for the sake of arguing. Be sure to take the opposite side on everything, just to make it interesting.
Personally, I recommend goading them into the "Why do the Lions and Cowboys get the Thanksgiving NFL games every year" argument. Chances are they will be against the tradition, and you can argue that you like it because it makes you feel "safe and American". Close your argument by saying "It's kinda like tryptophan". When they ask "What does that mean?" excuse yourself to leave the room. While you're up, go out to the car and grab your Scrabble game. Remember to pull out the "tryptophan" tile baggie and put it in your pocket.
Find the largest gathering of people inside the house and make some small talk. After a few minutes, let everyone know that you're getting a little warm and that you're going to take off your shirt. As you remove your overshirt, you'll start to get some puzzled glances and dirty looks. Folks really won't understand why the word "Tryptophan" is written with a Sharpie on your shirt, and frankly, they probably won't appreciate it. Deflect any questions you get by saying "I don't know" or "I can't remember." Watch their level of annoyance grow right before your eyes.
Organize a game of Scrabble and be sure to trash talk during the entire game, even if you're losing. You want everyone else to really be pulling for you to finish last. Any time you make a play, follow it up with a quick jab. For example, If you play the word "pound" for 19 points you might comment to your Uncle Patrick " 'Pound' for 19 points! That's about 1 point for every 'pound' of flubber you'll put on by New Year's Uncle P!"
As the game winds down and there are no tiles left in the bag, replace the 7 tiles in your rack one by one with the tiles in your pocket. When it's your turn, quietly play all of your tiles, spelling the word Tryptophan. If there's no place on the board to play a 10-letter word, just let the letters trail off of the board. Your opponents will be outraged that you have cheated and ruined the game with your crooked shenanigans. You have basically just wasted an hour of their lives, but it's all right. Some day they'll thank you for it.
It's been a long day, and the dirty looks you are getting from your family are making you miss the peace and quiet of your own home. Just hang in there, though, because your work is almost done.
While no one is looking, take a few small pieces of turkey from the fridge and put them into the empty pill bottle that you brought with you. Find someone who is drinking coffee and remark "You're drinking coffee this late?" After they inform you that it's decaf, follow up with "Well, it you're worried about falling asleep tonight you could have a couple of these pills that I take whenever I can't sleep". At this point take out the Tryptophan pill bottle and pull out a few pieces of turkey to offer to them. Make sure the inscribed "Tryptophan" is plainly visible to them. When they refuse to eat some, pop a couple pieces in your own mouth, put the bottle back I your pocket and then pretend to fall asleep immediately. By now your family members will be so sick of you that they will probably just ignore you.
While fake sleeping, congratulate yourself. Mission Accomplished.
As you make your exit, be sure to leave the same way you entered, spouting "Happy Tryptophan Day!" to everyone in earshot. At this point your entire family will probably be so sick of the word "tryptophan" that they will cringe every time they hear someone say it over the next few years. You can bet that the next time your family gathers over the holiday bird, they won't be throwing around the 'T' word so liberally anymore. Sure, someone will probably mention how crazy you went back in 2006 with "the tryptophan thing", but mostly they'll all try to forget it and move on with their lives.
As for you, well, you can feel good that you helped shake the word "tryptophan" right out of your family tree. In fact, I'm thinking that next year we can try to remove another annoying buzzword from the holiday lexicon. The early favorite right now is "Black Friday" but I'm open to suggestions. If you have any, send them along to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Tryptophan Day Everyone!
Tomorrow, November 22, people all across the land will sit down with family and friends and give thanks for me, Chad Gibbs. Because it is on this day that I was born, 30 years ago, in Fayetteville, NC. I don't know how to feel about leaving my twenties behind, but I do have a birthday wish. And since my friend Bryan Allain at Prayers for Blowouts says it is OK to pray about sports, I hope you all pray for my wish to come true.
I wish that Auburn starts the Iron Bowl on Saturday the same way they did in 2003. And that they don't let up until the University of Alabama's football program is set back 100 years. Oh, and I guess I wish for world peace too.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I'm pretty sure I won't have time to post the next few days (other contributors may), so I'll be signing off. I've gotta work my butt off tomorrow, then play two soccer games tomorrow night, then drive to Redmond, Oregon (home of Maarty Leunen!) on Thanksgiving. At that point, I'll feast with my future family, and then drive back home in the morning so I can work again.
So enjoy this Thanksgiving. Even with all the folks buying turkey and stuffing, I couldn't help but think Thanksgiving is the last untainted holiday. We're celebrating survival and gratefulness. We may eat, but that's all. No gifts, no patriotism, no weird celebratory styles...just spending time with family and friends and giving thanks.
I do want to wish a happy birthday to Burnside stalwart, Chad Gibbs, and my future sister-in-law, Tammy Bachelor, who happens to be beautiful and single if anyone's interested. And I want to thank President Bush for pardoning those two American turkeys, because...what a useful endeavor!
Enjoy the next few days, everyone!
· A looming despair hung over my adolescence as I would attend family gatherings amidst a sea of bald men. Scrambling through old photographs, going back many generations, researching my heritage… -My family tree was as bald as the eye could see. My grandfather even appeared to possess a powerful, mutated baldness where he was not only balding from the top of his head down, but from the neck up, surrounding the thin strip of hair on all sides by approaching forces until it seemed to disappear altogether. A rarity in the wild. --Complete scalpal desolation.
· Several years later, standing at the bathroom mirror, staring at the increasing recedence as a young man of 17, my brother walked by and gently put his hand on my shoulder.
· Alas, I knew in my formative years my future adult life was already marked with an asterisk.
The undercurrent of unspoken disappointment from loved ones:
· “See, you look good bald. I wouldn’t look good bald,” my thick-haired in-laws would occasionally say at family dinners... -In the past I’ve argued that people are just saying this because of politeness, or even as a defense mechanism against their subconscious fears of baldness. Now, I just say, “Yes, that’s correct you wouldn’t look good bald. You would look terrible. Hideous.”
· Like many of my bald brothers, I was forced to rush into marriage to beat the impending baldness. Like the Devil in Revelation, I knew my time was short. As a consequence my wife, now 7 years later, has no other option but to have sex with a bald me, if even occasionally.
· The fact is, I currently stand in my bald state a 7 out of 10 on the attractiblity scale. – Whereas with hair I’d unquestionably be in the low 8’s.
· At the check out line my wife gets her things and the clerk asks if I found everything alright.
· And why shouldn’t she be sorry? She’s a solid 9.5 burdened with 2+ point differential when she should be thriving with a manageable 1-1.5 spread. -It must be hell.
· (You should’ve seen her eyes light up when I tried on an acid-rocker wig at the mall last Halloween.)
· How much have we lost already? Cures for diseases, great political figures, leaders of commerce and invention…How many have been stifled by this terrible disease and robbed of the confidence necessary to achieve their dreams? Consider the great strides made just by those bald who pushed on… Imagine if Gorbachev had had hair! I dare say that wall would still be standing today… -It’s all about confidence!
· Society isn’t ready for a cure. Bald prejudice is the last bastion of social separation. -Just one small example:
· The only glimmer of hope we have is in female pattern baldness. Yet, it’s going to take a little more than the occasional blip on a hair transplant infomercial to get the job done. What we need is nothing short of a major pandemic of baldness among highly attractive women. Will this be a detriment to the bald community short term? Yes, as we prize gazing at the female form from a distance, across cubicles, and on the streets. However, it’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make to bring on the massive attention it’s going to take to fuel the cause. -Experts estimate that if even 15% of the attractive female population went bald we would see a cure within six months.
· And what of these reported hair restoration processes? Well, in this situation it appears we come across the all too often Catch-22 for bald men. Bald, ostracized from a hair obsessed society, many men have been unable to secure the financial viability necessary to obtain such expensive procedures. We’re talking about thousands of dollars here. The infomercials may stun and amaze with graphics showing a massive wave migration of hair from the back of the head forward. But alas, the simple facts are you can’t get hair to move like that cheaply.
· Most bald race for the cure events in the past have centered on breast cancer support. Why am I ridiculed for proposing a simple race for baldness itself? Are people are simply afraid of the day of reckoning?
· Perhaps we should be eligible for some form of disability...
· We’re here, without hair, deal with it! (It needs work, I know.)
A parting thought:
Slowly turning off the radio, I proceeded to roll up my window, slump down in my chair, and stare in fixated bitter silence at the long road ahead.
And finally, yes, I am sad to say that I have become fairly cynical and apathetic after a passion-filled dogmatic early 20's (I'm almost thirty now...and I have a husband and a baby and a house....uh-oh). However, I recently got an email from the ONE campaign that blew all of my cynicism back in my face.
Point: those mass email listservs actually do make a difference.
I'm not going to go into the details here, but the G8 agreed in 2005 to drop the debt of almost twenty third-world counties. This is immensely important and just for SO many reasons. Here's two:
1) The loans were made under dubious circumstances in many countries, and
2) Paying them off has cut into vital budget items such as health care, education, and paying civil servants in countries where they can least afford it.
So......long story short: the IMF was dragging its feet on dropping Liberia's debt, until potentially 2,421,837 (that's all the members except for me; I was too cynical and busy to send it) emails flooded their in-boxes. Here's their response (some key excerpts), in an open letter on their website from Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF's External Relations:
I am pleased to inform you that on November 12, 2007, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has secured adequate pledges from member countries for the cost of the IMF's debt relief to LiberiaThe lesson? No more whining, Penny (yes, I do talk to myself), about how I can't actually make a difference. The ONE campaign is doing something I actually believe in. And when they send me emails, I'm going to try my damndest pay attention. I hope you find a cause that means something to you, too, and sign up. Go ahead! Give your email address away! It's not going to be sold to spammers who will send a free bottle of Viagra or lash-growing mascara. I promise, unless you give it to somebody stupid. Go on, do it. It's easy.
We have received a large volume of emails on this topic, so this letter is being posted because it is impossible to respond to each message individually.
I take this opportunity to also thank all those who have expressed their concerns about Liberia's debt situation. Their strong support to the cause of debt relief contributed to the broad donor support that made this financing possible.
There are a lot of candidates on both sides, and since I switched my affiliation from "Republican" to "Independent/Cynical", I can't really vote in those primaries. So why do I care? My choices will be narrowed down for me eventually, right?
Glassbooth.com makes you care. And I hate them for that.
Glassbooth makes it easy to be informed, a task which isn't easy at all. First, you give various issues a numerical value. For instance, if you care a lot about the Iraq War, and you don't care about gun control, you could give the Iraq War a value of three, and gun control a value of zero. Don't worry, there are many more options than that.
After valuing each topic, you'll be given a 20 question poll where you rate how strongly you believe in various issues. Finally, when all that information has been tallied, the site will tell you which presidential candidate most closely fits your ideals.
It's a pretty great system.
I won't go into particulars of how I ranked things, but the candidate who most closely fits my political views is...Mike Gravel.
I don't know who Mike Gravel is, but here's a picture. Upon further research, he's a Democrat from Alaska, which, along with the picture, doesn't bode well. Bill Richardson is second. Barak Obama is the closest big name, which is good because he's handsome and black. Right after Barak is Ron Paul, who is a Libertarian candidate.
So here's what I learned from Glassbooth.com: according to Americans as a whole, I am an absolute lunatic. I'm a former Republican who turned independent and I support a Democrat from Alaska.
(Dad...I need some guidance.)
Have fun! And post your top candidate in the comments!
Today, it was revealed Dennis Dixon played the Thursday's game on a torn ACL.
And he knew it.
I'll repeat that: Dennis Dixon played Arizona, ran for 34 yards and a touchdown, threw for 62 yards, was 5/8 passing (granted, one pick), was leading Oregon to victory, and he was playing with an injury that usually takes players out for a full season.
Dixon struggled his first few seasons at Oregon, but watching him grow into his role this year was a profound joy. His runs, his passes, the way he avoided sacks by spinning off two or three tacklers, the utter precision with which he ran the Oregon offense...it was amazing. What's more, he played with class. When he scored, or threw for a touchdown, he walked off the field without so much as a fist pump. His college career was a great story because Dennis obviously grew and became better at everything, on the field and off.
Thank you, Dennis, for a magical season. I can't wait to watch you in the NFL.
Arcade Fire was on PBS's "Austin City Limits" the other night. It was the best live performance I've ever seen on television. It was face-meltingly bombastic.
I can't find anything on YouTube that does the show justice, so I'll just suggest you wait for reruns. I've never seen Arcade Fire live, but they seem right up there with Radiohead and U2 in providing a thrilling live experience (albeit with a much smaller budget).
Last time they were in Portland, they played the Crystal Ballroom, a venue I avoid as much as I possibly can. Apparently, they left the stage, wandered down the stairs, and played in the street, the intersection of 14th and West Burnside until the police came. That would've been pretty great.
The highlight of the ACL show was the "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)/Rebellion (Lies)/Wake Up" medley to close out. It was just amazing.
"Don't watch," he wrote. "It was the saddest thing I've seen in a while."
And it was sad. I'd feel better saying Arizona won this outright, if it hadn't come down to losing our best player, the Heisman front-runner. Dixon may be out for the rest of the season, the fifth major Oregon player to end his season this way.
This team was so special, and it's disappointing to see it end this way. It's not life or death, you know, but it felt like this was one of those great teams that could go all the way. I didn't feel that way when Joey Harrington led the Ducks to a number 2 ranking...Miami would've absolutely slaughtered them that year...but I felt it for this team. And if Dennis Dixon's knee wouldn't have been jacked up, I don't think I'd be writing this post this way.
There's still a good chance for the Rose Bowl, of course, but I can't help standing by my prediction at the beginning of the year: the Ducks go as Dennis Dixon goes.
The upcoming film, What Would Jesus Buy, might shed some light on how we've changed our most sacred holiday, even if the subject (Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir) is a little sensational. Morgan Spurlock, the mastermind behind "Supersize Me" is producing, so I can see good things happening.
It may be cliche, but ultimately change starts with each of us, individually. So here's how we change the direction of Christmas, and bring it back to its first focus.
The Advent Conspiracy started at my home church, Imago Dei here in Portland. Over a thousand churches nationwide have joined the cause.
I have two big extended families, and our Christmases are always a generous time of giving to each other. Part of me is sad to break that up, because giving gifts is a lovely gesture. I'm taking it one Christmas at a time, so I still buy gifts for my family members, but this year I'll be asking that the money they'd be spending on my gifts instead go to charity. If I do receive gifts, I hope they'll be small and thoughtful, a piece of art or a book, for instance.
Last year, our Christmas looked just a little different. This year, it'll change a little more. Maybe down the road, when I've got my own family to take care of, it will be completely different.
On the flip side, Christmas is huge for our American economy. If Americans didn't spend during the holidays, our fragile and weakening economy would get worse.
But last time I checked, we're called to more than bumping the stock market up. We're called to be ambassadors of Christ, and this is the time of year we celebrate our Savior coming to the world to save us. Render to Caesar what is Caesar's...we've got something bigger to live for.
Join the Conspiracy. Lobby your church to take part. Talk to your pastor, or your youth pastor. Tell your friends. Instead of shopping, volunteer your time. People may ask you what you're doing, why you're not out at the malls every weekend. That's not a bad way to start the dialogue.
Imago's associate pastor, Kevin Rogers, has more at his blog.
While I would've loved to have seen the Sky Father's rookie season, I wasn't that disappointed. I love the Blazers, and they promised to have a solid core of young and likable players who would be fun to watch. No one in Portland was predicting a championship season, but we could get behind the Blazers' new motto: "Rise With Us".
Well, we're now seven games into the season, and something special is happening. If you're outside the city, it might've been easy to miss.
The Blazers dropped their first three games, but it was a difficult stretch. All were on the road, and all were against excellent teams (San Antonio, Houston and New Orleans), granted, but Portland was still 0-3 to start the season.
But then our boys came home. They beat New Orleans in the home opener, then Memphis. Memphis wasn't a big deal...they're one of the few teams predicted to be worse than the Blazers...but then we beat Dallas. I was there for that game, and the Rose Garden was hopping since I don't know when. Then we beat Detroit, a day after former Blazer and current Piston Rasheed Wallace guaranteed we wouldn't make the playoffs this season.
The Blazers are 4-3.
I'm not saying they're going to keep this up, but something is going on. Everyone's playing well. The fans are enjoying the show. And these players are the most likable since the early 90's. They do work in the community. They have fun on the court. They seem to enjoy being here. They don't get arrested.
I read a game recap at ESPN, and this bit hit me:
Clyde Drexler and Jerome Kersey were among those who offered the young Blazers a bit of inspiration before they went out and beat the Pistons 102-94 Tuesday night.I got chills.
"I want that. I want to be Rip City again," said guard Brandon Roy, recalling a phrase from the Blazers' storied past.
Anyway, I'm excited. Rip City refers to those days in the early 90's when the Blazers were great. I remember it because I was a kid, and there were times where you'd go out on the front porch after a big game was won, and you could hear the cheers and cries across the neighborhood. Phrases like "Bingo Bango Bongo" and other Bill Schonely-isms (the Blazers' radio announcer) were common Portland lexicon.
Whatever professional sports does, it builds a community in a place like Portland.
Now, we're content with the rise.
Fortunately, I don't like water-skiing.
Tonight, staying up very late, I've been laughing at the latest installments. The first part, you can read here. The second here. I don't know if it'll translate, or if you'd need to understand The Sneeze's brilliance over a long span of time.
If you've never been to The Sneeze, start here, at 'Steve, Don't Eat It!'. That'll get you going.
Every few years a book or a writer will come along and, with a swift jab or a steady barrage, rock me back on my heels and wipe the smug smile off my face. I'm going through one of those times now. Wendell Berry, more than anybody else, has caused me to question just about everything. Berry is a poet, novelist, and a Kentucky farmer. He sometimes refers to himself as "The Mad Farmer." I think he's a prophet. This is his manifesto.
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
"Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front." From The Country of Marriage, copyright 1973 by Wendell Berry, reprinted by permission of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.
Beyond that, the concept of the book is going to change a lot of lives. Since attending the Robert McKee seminar last Spring, and especially through watching Don write this book, the topic of living our lives with great story elements has been on my mind.
The other day, a kid, probably no more than 14, came up to my checkstand. He had a shirt on that said, "Someday They're Going To Make a Movie About Me".
"Nice shirt, man," I said. "So what's that movie gonna be about?"
"Oh...you know...my life. Just growing up in the city," he responded. I should point out he lives in a very nice part of town, so the story would probably have to be about the whiny angst of growing up rich. Fortunately, there are plenty of books like that.
"Yeah, that could be a good one," I said. "But here's what you need to do. You need to make your story great if you want a movie to be made. You've gotta go out there and do crazy stuff, and you've gotta help people and make good friends, and you've gotta treat people well, and you can't avoid conflict: you have to meet it head on and overcome. You've gotta grow and change, and..."
"Can I get a bag with that?" the kid said.
I wouldn't have listened to me, either.
The Illinois Fighting Illini beat the top ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.
That means, for the first time in recent memory, the University of Oregon Ducks are slated to play in the national championship.
The. National. Championship.
The Ducks aren't there yet. They still need to beat some very good teams: Arizona, UCLA and Oregon State.
But as of tomorrow, Oregon will be ranked second in the nation. Their destiny is in their hands.
My friends and I have been talking about what we'll do if we even make the game, let alone win it. Most of the ideas revolve around burning something down.
Until then, we will pump our fists each time the Ducks score, our stomachs will roll each time the game is close. None of my favorite teams, the Blazers, Cubs or Ducks, have ever won a championship. Right now we nervously feel the possibilities. At least until next week. 2nd ranked teams haven't fared too well this year.
At the table a man says, “It’s great so much money is going to help abused kids in Lane County.”
A second American literary giant has passed away. Norman Mailer is dead. He was 84 years old.
Mailer was what many writers aspire to be: larger than life, a controversial figure who was one of the innovators of New Journalism.
I won't pretend to be completely familiar with Mailer's body of work, but his epic "Executioner's Song", which follows the life and death of double-murderer Gary Gilmore, is one of my top ten books.
Norman Mailer is the writer, above any other, I aspire to be. I often describe "Executioner's Song" as a thousand page novel packed with a 100,000 pages of content. It's meticulously researched and gorgeously sparse.
It's sad to see him go.
The back of our Seventh Generation kleenex box says:
If every household in the US replaced just one box of 175 sheet virgin fiber facial tissues with 100% recycled ones, we could save:
- 582,000 trees
- 1,500,000 cubic feet of landfill space, equal to 2,2000 garbage trucks
- 210 million gallons of water, a years supply for 1,600 families of four
- and avoid 35,000 pounds of chlorinated pollution
umm.....does that sound impossible/crazy/totally wacky/like a joke! to anyone else?
But, truly, they couldn't put it on there unless it was true....
This information, coupled with what I heard about the Canadian Boreal Forest the other day on NPR gives me a little hope (even though you're about to read some depressing stats).
The Boreal Forest is "part of a great northern circumpolar band of mostly coniferous trees extending across the subarctic latitudes of Russia, Scandinavia and North America" (according to the Atlas of Canada). It is mostly virgin forest, and habitat for birds, elk, caribou, and all kinds of animals that thrive only in that region. In addition, because of the tundra, Canada’s Boreal carbon storage alone is equal to near 27 years of the world’s carbon emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels.7
BUT......at least 100 million acres of Canada’s Boreal Forest (an area similar in size to California) is slated for commercial logging in the coming decade. All the logging in Canada currently releases about 200 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere per year, and 120 million of these tons are from logging specifically in the Boreal.5 (information comes from the Boreal Songbird Initiative). Not only is this bad for global warming, but it has very real and present effects on bird populations. Hundreds of species are literally disappearing before our very eyes (see this website).
OK, kind of scary, but not as depressing as when you realize that quite a large proportion of that untouched forest gets logged to provide paper towels, tissues, junk mail, and mail-order catalogs for American consumers. The first two are necessary, yes, but the second two? How many do you throw away each day?
But, (and here's the good news!) conservation groups are looking to designate half of this area for non-commercials use, and also pushing for adoption of sustainable foresting practices.
So.....what can you do?
1) Use less tissue and toilet paper and paper towels. Use cloth napkins and kitchen towels instead. Buy recycled if you can.
2) Sign up to opt-out of junk mail (sign up here)
3) Sign up to receive updates and bills on your email
4) Spread the word! (and offer other ideas below...)
Watch for more "good things" you can (easily) do in upcoming posts.
Thanks for reading.
Polls are so crazy. CNN conducted a poll regarding President Bush. Here's an excerpt:
"Twenty-three percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll released Thursday say that compared to other presidents in American history, President Bush is the worst ever.
Thirty-five percent of those surveyed say that Bush is doing a poor job compared to other presidents and 40 percent said he was doing a good job compared to his predecessors. Only one percent said that Bush was the best president ever in American history."Over Andrew Jackson? Over Ulysses S. Grant!?!?!? I mean, Grant was drunk most of the time, right? He certainly looks like it here.
I especially like that "one percent said that Bush was the best president ever in American history." Of that one percent, .5% were snotty and sarcastic college students. The other .5% were complete idiots.
Even more surprising was that 12% of Democrats approve of the President's performance. 12%! Sweet Mary, the Democrats are stupid. First, most of them want Hillary Clinton to be president, and now over a tenth think George Bush is doing a pretty good job!
In a poll I took after reading this article, 100% of Jordans were thoroughly bewildered.
Susan Isaacs and Billy Ivey have turned me on to Shelfari, an online book-sharing site that looks prettaaaay prettay prettaaaaaaaaaaay awesome.
So I've set up an account, thrown a few of the books I'm enjoying up, and then started a group called the Burnside Readers Collective. You are you all invited to join.
This issue takes on a special kind of urgency for a brand-new dad. This is not the inheritance I had in mind for my infant child. If the U.S. pays down its debt at $1 billion per day, the national debt would disappear right about the time I become a grandfather. This scenario seems unlikely, given what we are hearing from the candidates on the stump.
What could we do with $9 trillion? The Heritage Foundation has some ideas.
The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think-tank. Not surprisingly, it lays much of the blame for the national debt on out-of-control entitlement programs that could "grow at an unsustainable rate" leaving future generations with "a crushing debt burden."
If liberal entitlements are part of the problem (and they are, along with conservative priorities like the Bush tax cuts, corporate welfare, and military spending - especially the estimated $2 trillion cost of the Iraq war), some critical social programs, like Social Security, are also in danger of becoming the national debt's first victims.
In fact, the $9 trillion national debt does not include our under-funded obligations for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. According to David Walker, the non-partisan Comptroller General of the United States, adding these "implicit exposures" would increase the debt total by $38.8 trillion. Walker is quoted by Peter Sims as saying "If we [the United States] were a company, we would be out of business." He warns that the U.S. might be facing a financial catastrophe. (In his column at The Huffington Post, Sims calls the swelling national debt "the next inconvenient truth.")
The shameful milestone reached this morning is a symptom of a more fundamental societal sickness. This sickness is the root not only of the debt crisis but also the environmental crisis; it fuels conflicts around the world and in our own backyard. My own credit card bill can be read as a medical chart - I suffer from the same disease: I consume tomorrow's resources today. This is a violation of God's economics. Among the principles of the Sabbath Day and Jubilee Year are responsible living, the circulation of wealth (its redistribution, actually), and faith in Yahweh's daily provision. They also teach us to be satisfied with enough. If we are to believe God's promises, there is great freedom and abundance in enough - at both the personal and national levels.
Enough is enough.
Stopped on over to CNN.com today. If anyone has a better news site, let me know...The Economist's website isn't very well designed.
Anyway, they had this article about millions of toys being recalled in the US and Australia. The toys are just beads that merge together, like in arts and crafts projects. Kind of like the ones you used to heat up, only these just need water.
Well, apparently they have a powerful date rape drug in them.
China, what are you doing over there? These stories are popping up all over the place. Killing children with toys coated in date rape drugs is a good way to overshadow the Olympics.
Of course, one has to wonder: why are all these things coming out now? Did the Chinese government just decide a few months ago, "Hey, let's put a bunch of crazy stuff that can kill you in all of our manufacturing plants!"?
Or has this stuff always happened, and now the media is reporting it? And if so, why? I'm not someone who buys into the media being a complete tool for propaganda...I'm sure propaganda happens from time to time, but not as often as you'd think. Fox News, for instance. Fox News isn't the mouthpiece for the Republican Party. They're just reaching a huge market of Americans who felt the media was too liberal. They saw a massive audience out there of folks who wanted conservative-tilted news, and they built a network for those people. It's more about money than power, I think.
So is the Chinese manufacturing scare based on a growing American fear of China? Is it harnessing a broader xenophobia? Is my above image of a Chinese military parade just adding to the hysteria? What is going on here?
"I'm guessing the snap front gives you quick access to the chest hair. I think the little tie must be the pull tab. If you look really closely, it says, "In case of chest hair emergency, pull tab quickly and back away."
And now for the real pee-leaking commentary, just go there.
I can't cure your insatiable lust for Bono's prancing, but I can give you this.
You're welcome, Chad.
Thanks to The Sneeze.
Michael Pollan, author of the bestselling book The Omnivore's Dilemma, had a terrific op-ed in last Sunday's New York Times about the high level of public interest in the Farm Bill now making its way through Congress. "The eaters have spoken," he writes, "much to the consternation of farm-state legislators who have fought hard — and at least so far with success — to preserve the status quo."
Americans have begun to ask why the farm bill is subsidizing high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils at a time when rates of diabetes and obesity among children are soaring, or why the farm bill is underwriting factory farming (with subsidized grain) when feedlot wastes are polluting the countryside and, all too often, the meat supply. For the first time, the public health community has raised its voice in support of overturning farm policies that subsidize precisely the wrong kind of calories (added fat and added sugar), helping to make Twinkies cheaper than carrots and Coca-Cola competitive with water. Also for the first time, the international development community has weighed in on the debate, arguing that subsidized American exports are hobbling cotton farmers in Nigeria and corn farmers in Mexico.
A link to the Pollan piece was included at the end of this week's bulletin from Books & Culture magazine. The B&C bulletin had zero to do with Michael Pollan and even less to do with the Farm Bill, and it originated from deep inside Christianity Today's media empire. This seems to support Pollan's theory that "people in the city and all across the country know exactly what's going on" with farm subsidies - and they don't like it.
Pollan writes that the bill that "finally emerges from Congress depends on exactly who is paying closest attention next week on the Senate floor and then later in the conference committee." You've been meaning to call your senators about the Farm Bill. Now would be a great time to do it.
Not to interrupt all the Duck talk, but Auburn and Georgia will play for the 111th time this Saturday. Auburn leads the all-time series 53-49-8. I love everything about this rivalry. It has a brother vs. brother feel that the Alabama/Auburn game just doesn't have. I guess because even though you want to beat your brother, you don't really want to jab a screwdriver in their eye when they're down. This year's game is in Athens. I've only been there once, but what a great college town....for me to poop on! WAR DAMN EAGLE!
Soon, my arm would wax faint. (I entered a low-income neighborhood known for meth production.)
Later, on the couch while watching “The Soup,” I would fall asleep with my contacts in.
Cliches are everywhere. There's no escaping them. Some are worse than others, but this one is one of my LEAST favorite:
"That's like comparing apples and oranges."
First of all, what is so wrong with comparing apples and oranges? They're both pieces of fruit. They both serve the same general purpose. Why can’t we compare them? I say we can compare them...in fact, let me do it right now.
Apples are less messy to eat and offer a wider variety of choices. Oranges taste better (my opinion) and make a better juice (again, my opinion). Which one do i like better? Oranges.
There, I just compared them. That wasn't so hard, was it?
Now try comparing apples to something else like a pair of scissors. You see, that's tough.
So next time someone says to you, "that's like comparing apples and oranges." say to them, "actually its more like comparing apples and scissors." (just be warned: you might blow their mind)
We might not be able to rid this world of all cliches, but we can at least strive to make some of them better, can't we?
The Ducks beat the undefeated Sun Devils convincingly today. Convincingly. I hate to do that to the poor city of Phoenix, where real estate is cheap as paper towels and the sun as hot as...the asphalt in Phoenix.
(Seriously, I drove through there once at midnight, and it was 100 degrees. 100 degrees at midnight. I'll let that sink in with an image of the sun.)
But the University of Oregon, my friends, is on track for the national championship. I'm serious. Give us a half a yard against UC-Berkeley and we're ranked number 1 tomorrow. I can't tell you how happy this makes me.
Time for a week off to gain some composure...and get some sleep...I was tossing and turning like a kid waiting for Christmas last night!)