27.6.08

NT Wright on Colbert

Just picture it: Bishop N.T. Wright, one of the most scholarly Christians arguing for our faith, gets an interview on Comedy Central, by someone who's actually in the fold? Well, a girl can dream.
And then dreams come true.

Pritchslapped!

The NBA Draft was yesterday. Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard went ahead and made some deals. Here's how ESPN's Bill Simmons summed it up:
Damn the Blazers. Damn them to hell. They are working the rest of the league like a speedbag.
It's great and all...Jerryd Bayless is just one more piece in a championship puzzle...but I'm worried the NBA will soon view Kevin Pritchard the way we viewed Sergeant Feightner during Risk games in Bosnia: never ever make a deal with him, because you may not know it now, but you're getting screwed over.

25.6.08

Wiki-ness

I was doing some research the other day, reading through the Wikipedia entry on swallows, and stumbled across this little gem:
Swallows are excellent fliers, and use these skills to attract a mate and to defend territory. In general, the males select a nest site, and then attract a female using song and flight, and guard their territory. The size of the territory varies depending on the species of swallow; in colonial-nesting species it tends to be small, but it may be much larger for solitary nesters. The air speed of an unladen European swallow is estimated to be roughly 24 miles per hour (39 km/h).[2]
I'm not sure whether his lowers my trust of Wikipedia or heightens it, though I am bothered by the lack of information on whether a swallow could grip a coconut by the husk.

24.6.08

The Evil Empire of Libby Lu Revisited

Last October, we ran an article by the peerless Rachel Pater on the evils of Club Libby Lu.

Once in a while, our articles might pop up on a search engine somewhere, and they'll get a whole load of comments no one ever sees. In the case of "The Evil Empire of Libby Lu", this has yielded some hilarious results. Seems Libby Lu has a rabid, be-dazzled fan base thirsty for the blood of Rachel Pater.

To wit:
you probably wear detroit lions sweatpanst all yeer round and still ride a trycicle. I bet when you put on makeup its clown makeup cuz you live at the circus. you should try to get more business at your article. - Anonymous
Don't let 'em drag you down, Rachel. Think of how the Old Testament prophets were treated, and keep speaking truth.

"Just so you know..."

I feel bad dropping Bryan's awesome dispatches from Intercourse Days down one notch, but I loved this clip from The Daily Show the other day.

Apparently, President Bush has declared he will find Osama Bin Laden, get an agreement on global climate change AND broker peace in the Middle East, all by the end of his term. I like the ambition!



In particular, I want to point out that moment right after he says an agreement on global climate change could be reached...that little grin and head bob and condescension. It's just mind-blowing the leader of the free world speaks like that. Mind-blowing. Maybe it's a stupid reason to vote for Barack Obama, but wouldn't you just like to have a great orator in office again? I'm almost at the point where I'd accept a decimated economy, and endless war and 130 degree temperatures in Phoenix just to hear someone speak like a freaking President of the United States.

Okay, maybe not, but sheesh.

21.6.08

Intercourse Celebration - Day 2

Back by popular demand - not really - it's Day 2 of the Intercourse Heritage Days! Can you feel the excitement? Can you sense the anticipation? Can you smell the horse droppings? If you can't, then you ain't got no nose.
This is a yellow balloon. You might be wondering where Gordonville is and what it has to do with Intercourse. Intercourse, PA is actually a small town in the middle of Gordonville, which is a larger town. Erica and I live in Intercourse, but the Intercourse Post Office does not deliver mail, they only have P.O. Boxes. As a result, no one has a mailing address to their house that reads "Intercourse, PA". This was a huge bummer to me when we first moved into town. I wanted to officially live in Intercourse, but instead I got Gordonville. You've got to dare to dream, right?


Here's my buddy Nate trying to exchange his bottle of gatorade with his wife for a sippy cup full of breast milk. (at least that's how I interpreted the discussion. I could be wrong.) You can also see the other side of the yellow balloon. It has a picture of two firefighters and it says "Firefighters are our friends". I think local fire companies should have Facebook pages and Myspace accounts so that we could be online friends with them as well as real friends. I also think that handing out balloons to amish people that said "Firefighters are our Facebook friends" would make for a satisfying afternoon.


Speaking of fire companies, here's the Intercourse Fire Truck in case things get too hot.

(that was a sex joke in case you missed it.)




The guy in the blue shirt is a clown with no makeup. He was cavorting around the food tent while I was trying to eat my sausage sandwich, juggling bowling pins and walking on the backs of chairs. His jokes were pretty awful, but I don't think he really cared. My buddy Nate almost punched him when his bowling pins got too close to Brady, Nate's 1-yr old son. After dinner Mr. Clowny exchanged the juggling for riding strange cycles. First a unicycle and then this miniature trike. In this picture he is trying desperately to get Amish Boy #2 to ride the trike. Surely a makeup-less clown can't convince a good ole Amish boy to make a fool of himself in front of Amish Girl #1, can he?


Never underestimate the power of a makeup-less clown.


Ever wonder what's on the inside of an Amishman's hat? So did this guy. Turns out there's nothing in there except hair, sweat, and a hatred for electronics.


Around 7pm a man jumped out of a plane over the park. Fortunately for him he had a rainbow colored parachute to aid in his descent. He was also smoking 40 Marlboros at once, which created a pretty cool "Wicked Witch of the West" smoke effect.


The crowd was hungry for a memorable landing, but the Wicked Witch of the Marlboros disappointed us all by landing safely in the clearing he was aiming for.


Here's a shot of Erica and I on a blanket getting ready for fireworks. No, not those kind of fireworks. Get your mind out of the gutter. Lots of friends and family came over to enjoy the fireworks display that started after dusk. My daughter Kylie hates fireworks, so her and I walked back to the house before they started. She watched SpongeBob in the basement with the TV really loud while I drank a Killian's and watched the fireworks from our second floor window. As always, Intercourse Fireworks did not disappoint. (and while we're here, would it kill me to smile in a photo just once? I always have this look on my face like I'm trying to hold in a fart.)



So here's the deal with this picture. There was a guy carving things out of twigs for little kids. Baseball bats, bookmarks, birds...you name it. His tagline was "Every twig is an egg waiting to hatch into something". To go along with his saying, he had this board set up to show you how, with a little imagination, he could turn these twigs into animals. Rooster, Hen, Pheasant...all pretty run of the mill until your eye wanders over to the bottom right. Yeah, that says what you think it says: "Anorexic Donkey". Honestly, I didn't photoshop that in there. I mean, who knew an Anorexic Donkey so closely resembled a Heron? I had no idea.

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Well, that wraps up our coverage of Intercourse Heritage Days 2008. Maybe we'll be back next year for another look at Amish Volleyball and thick mustaches. Or maybe you should just come out for yourself and enjoy a relaxing weekend in Lancaster County, PA. among the amish. If you do come out, be sure to look us up.

And if you want to check out a different type of coverage of the Amish, check out "The Outsiders" on ABC on Tuesday Night. They're taking an in depth look at "rumspringaa", when amish teens are allowed to try out worldy vices and fast living before they are given the option to join the church for life. Should be a hoot!

The Great Office War



The Great Office War - video powered by Metacafe


This started out a little weak...the whole "offices are really interesting" thing has been going for at least a decade now...but it ends up as an epic battle that beats out any shoot-em-up I've seen lately.

20.6.08

Intercourse Celebration - Day 1

This is one of our favorite weekends of the year in the Allain household. Once again the 3rd weekend in June is playing host to Intercourse Heritage Days. It started off a few years ago as a celebration of the 200th Anniversary of Intercourse (the town, not the act) and since then they have made the celebration a yearly tradition.

Our house is a 5-minute walk from the park in Intercourse, so we spend as much time there during the celebration as we can. I brought my camera along on Day 1 to capture the Intercourse experience for those of you who are still virgins to Lancaster County, PA. And I promise at some point I'll get tired of making "intercourse" jokes. At least, I think I will.



My daughter Kylie (stripes), son Parker (red), with their cousins Avery, Sierra, and Landon on a wagon being pulled by a John Deere. Notice in the background the Turkey Hill Ice Cream truck. Turkey Hill's products have been spreading out over the country recently, but it all started in Lancaster County for them. If I have more than a half cup of their iced tea after dinner I won't sleep from the caffeine and the sugar. Also notice the old man with the cane in the background. You might think he is finding joy in watching children have fun. Unfortunately, he is trying to figure out if he could make it back to his car with one kid under each arm. In the end, he came to the conclusion that he would get tackled before he even reached the Turkey Hill truck, so he went home and smoked cherry-flavored tobacco in his pipe. He'll be back tomorrow to try again.


There's two sports the Amish love above all others: softball and volleyball. But if they had to pick one, they would pick volleyball. We have two sand courts in the park by our house, and during Heritage Days they are host to a huge tournament. Most of the teams are amish teenagers. There's usually a few kids wearing "normal" clothes, but these teams usually get destroyed by the Amish teams. They might be peacemakers in life, but in sports the Amish will rip your heart out and staple-gun it to their horse-drawn buggy. Notice how high little Jakey is jumping without shoes. He may or may not be on amish steroids.


Here's my lovely wife Erica in line with my daughter to get some homemade Lapp's Valley Farm Ice Cream. The ladies serving the ice cream are not dressed up in costumes, they are authentic wearers of coffee-filter style bonnets. The man behind Erica is an authentic amishman. Amish people love their ice cream. I know that is a gross generalization, but hey it's true. And it's ice cream, so it's not that gross. We got 3 cones and 1 dish of ice cream for $6.00. Clearly the folks at Lapp Valley Farm don't realize what money-hungry carnival vendors are charging for ice cream these days. Sometimes, you just got to love the Amish.


I take terrible pictures. But if this was a good picture you would see that the boys in the background have lost their volleyball into the pond. A girl in a maroon dress has spent the past few minutes throwing rocks into the water to push the ball over to the opposing shore. If she successfully rescues the ball, she will be rewarded by being betrothed in marriage to the boy who knocked it into the pond.


Amish dress is still a bit of a curiosity to me. The boys wear collared shirts, suspenders, and black pants with no belts. Even when playing volleyball. They usually wear white high-top sneakers like you and I would have worn in the early 90s. These two blokes in the foreground are sporting the traditional amish bowl-cut. Notice how the neck is shaved, and all the long hair just stops at the same point like a hair traffic-jam. I'm pretty sure this is a look that will never be popular in regular american culture. If it ever does become mainstream, I hear that the amish will adopt the faux-hawk as their hair style of choice.


Another shot of some amish boys getting ready before their game. The spike that this dude is about to hit came about 5 feet from smashing me in the chest. Had that happened, I would have ran onto the court and fought him, setting amish/non-amish relations back about five years. Thankfully, we avoided this disaster.


Here's some boys checking out the winners and losers brackets as the tournament gets underway. The guys in the gray and yellow looked and talked like Amish kids (they still speak in Pennsylvania Dutch, which is almost impossible for me to understand) but they had semi-normal haircuts, so I don't if they were amish or not. Amish girls are not allowed to look at tournament brackets according to their religion, so the girl in the mint waits patiently in the foreground thinking about quilts and ice cream.


Here I am eating a funnel cake. Funnel cakes are pieces of fried dough covered in powdered sugar. They are about as good for you as a trans-fat IV.


Here my son Parker gets ready to participate in the tractor pull. The man in charge lets him know that if he doesn't perform well, he will hide him in his mustache when no one is looking and he will be trapped there forever. He says that right now there are approximately thirty little boys and girls trapped in his mustache, and that it is a really awful place to live because it is hot in there and it smells like french onion soup.


Parker, fearing a life imprisoned in the mustache, pedals with a focus and determination that i have never seen from him before. His mediocre performance is just good enough to keep him out of the scary man's upper lip prison.


You never know who will show up at Intercourse Heritage Days. The woman in the black walking with her mom is none other than Anne Beiler. You know her better as Auntie Anne, the pretzel lady who sells delicious soft pretzels at your local mall. She lives a few minutes away and was a judge for the Shoofly Pie contest. If you don't know what Shoofly pie is, Google it. As you can see in the background, teal is still enjoying great popularity in Lancaster County. This might actually be the last great bastion of teal-colored shirts in the country. It really is something to be proud of.

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Well, that's it from Day 1 of Intercourse Heritage Days. Day 2 promises to be just as exciting as the volleyball tournament continues, more bad food is consumed, and folks come in droves for the fireworks show. I'll have an update as soon as I wake up from my funnel cake induced coma.

All Aboard!

The things I hate most in sports are as follows:

1. Flopping - It's one of the biggest reasons soccer hasn't been successful in the US and the only reason to dislike the team-oriented, small-market-based San Antonio Spurs. I like my athletes to be graceful, strong and tough. Two out of three isn't enough.

2. Horrible commissioners - This has to be the worst time for league heads ever in history. Roger Goodell is turning the NFL into a courts system. Gary Bettman took the NHL from a top four sport into a game you can only see on Versus. David Stern has wielded power like a mafia don, and Bud Selig is just a complete, out-of-touch moron.

3. Bandwagon Jumping

Through my sports-watching career, I've avoided the bandwagon. Only one of my favorite teams, the Green Bay Packers, won a championship in my lifetime. The Portland Trail Blazers have come close; the Oregon Ducks ended one season 2nd in the football rankings and were ushered from the 2007 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament by the Florida Gators and some overzealous refs; and the Chicago Cubs have always been the Chicago Cubs.

Until this year, that is. The Cubs are currently standing at the top of the National League. They have pitching, bats and the role-players necessary to end the curse. Many sportswriters have picked them to win it all.

And, as DJ Gallo points out, the fairweather fans are jumping on the bandwagon like it's headed for gold out Californee way.

The worst thing is, I'm one of them.

I've loved the Cubs since I started loving baseball, back in the mid-80's when the Cubs had a roster stacked with lovable stars: Ryne Sandberg, the jheri-curled Andre Dawson, a young Greg Maddux, Mark Grace and my favorite, Shawon Dunston. I'll post a picture of Shawon any chance I get.

I loved the Cubs primarily because WGN, the Chicago-based, nationally-syndicated station which also brought a litany of mediocre sitcom reruns. Since Portland doesn't have a team, and Portlanders are slow to cheer for anything out of Seattle, and the TNT-based Braves were boring, I followed the Cubbies.

The Cubs appeal to the common fan because of tradition. They have that great ballpark: the ivy-strewn brick wall at Wrigley sparks memories of a bygone era. Their nickname is ridiculously throwback, like the Knickerbockers and Maple Leafs. They wear classic uniforms and the iconic blue and red "C".

But, nostalgia aside, I know I'm the worst of the Cubs fans. I might glance at the standings every once in a while, and catch a playoff game if they happen to make it that far. Since I stopped amassing baseball cards, I followed the religiously only once, and that didn't turn out too well.

So, if the Cubs push deep into the playoffs, I'll become the thing I hate most in sports.

To keep it real, I won't be wearing my old dusty Cubs proback. And I'm hoping I won't write a gushing blog entry when Lou Piniella finally lifts that weird-looking championship trophy over his rage-addled head. Now, if Shawon Dunston was still around, maybe brought on as an arm-strength coach or something, then maybe I'd be warranted.

In turn, I hope you won't be jumping on my Blazers bandwagon next spring, when Sky Father and The Natural start slicing through the vaunted Celtics defense. I mean, you can buy the merchandise and cheer them on...just don't start wearing Blazer throwback jerseys and bragging about how you "boycotted the Jail Blazer years". It's going to happen, you hear?

18.6.08

Excerpts...

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou


It started off with innocent flirting. A glance here, a tweet there. It was a cat and mouse game really. Still, the sexual tension was almost unbearable at times. The silky smooth chocolate skin of an upper thigh exposed underneath a towel as I walked from the shower to the bedroom. A feather left casually in the cup of a bra strewn on the floor. Unintentional? Perhaps...



As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner


Dying! Dying I tell you! I mean just answer me this one question. Just this one… how good of a novel do you have to write to get a brandy alexander around here? Come here. Yes you, the reader. Come hear just a little closer… c’mon over here. Now… ever heard of a little yarn called The Sound and the Fury?! Still I wait, lying here on the sofa, desperately calling out to anyone who will hear. -For I am like a voice of one calling in the something or other…yes that’s good. Get me a pen somebody. And speaking of which, where’s my drink! You thought I forgot didn’t you? Oh, no. This is a Pulitzer brain right here. A pooo-litzzer brain... huh. Pooooo-litzzzerr. (burp)



Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore


Stalin was a strange boy. Even tormented you might say. Take for example an incident where he was at an ice cream parlor and the man said, “Do you want chocolate or vanilla?” Stalin stood there for what must have been at least five seconds frozen; tormented by the decision he must make. If he chooses chocolate, there can be no vanilla. -And vice versa. “So, what’ll it be then son?” The ice cream clerk said again. Chocolate, Stalin finally musters.

Countless other circumstances arose throughout his childhood. Perhaps most profound is the instance where he is asked to lead his class in the national pledge. Walking up to the front, he tripped on his shoe laces which were untied. It was only a small trip, but still, it caused him to briefly pause and tie his shoes before moving ahead.

His family life was particularly interesting. His mother for instance was quite the disciplinarian. Dishes had to be washed after dinner before playtime. Baths and homework had to be done on many days as well.

Examine if you will this excerpt taken from his diary detailing young Stalin’s sheer hatred for anything that got in his way:

‘As I was taking his accustomed nature walk I came upon a patch of poison oak. Quickly identifying it as such, I maneuvered myself and the small children I was teaching botanical appreciation to around the area. “I really dislike those leaves,” I told them...’




Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard


I first spotted him down there the other day. That pilgrim. With his pilgrim hat and pilgrim shoes and pilgrim smile. He was rummaging around for something. Maybe berries or something stupid like a pilgrim would eat. When he was washing his feet I took one of his shoes. You should have seen that stupid pilgrim smile fade when he saw one of them was missing. You could tell it’d been stolen too because there was a big imprint in the mud next to the other shoe where it’d been. Later he was sitting downcast with his one shoe on by the river as a rock whizzed by his head, knocking his hat clear into the drink…



Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh


Mark mentioned casually, “You know, I think you’ve zoomed in a little too close.” So now just because he’s the bride’s brother, Jack had to do whatever he said? Zooming the camera out temporarily, Jack returned to his original position when Mark wasn’t looking, until the back of Susie’s head was once again covering the entire screen. And by slyly turning to cover the viewing monitor with his body, he allowed himself to remain in this shot for the duration of the ceremony...



A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway


November 13th, 1927

Bill and his father worked the fishing vessels for many years together. One day Bill’s arm was ripped off in a net. As it was sinking to the depths his father came to him and said, “I’m sorry son. I know how you liked that arm.” “One of my fav’s,” Bill replied.

June 22, 1919

John had worked around heavy machinery at the mill all his life. On this day it was his job to un-snag chunks of wood from the giant 8 ft diameter blade so they wouldn’t have to shut down the line. His arm got ripped off in the glass door turnstile at the bank later when he went to cash his check.

May 15th, 1907

The giant dragon with fifteen arms terrorized the city, eating its inhabitants and burning their buildings with his fire breathing mouth. In that town a man, Joseph Timmins, owned an oak furniture store. And in that furniture store he sold chairs with incredibly high arms. He had to close down because the chairs didn’t sell. They were very impractical.

January 5th, 1914

Harold’s right arm had always been a little shorter than the left anyway...






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(All excerpts by aaron donley don't sue him he isn't worth it.)

17.6.08

Barak Obama: Super American

I received this email from a friend of mine and felt the duty to pass it on.

(Okay, I found it here.)

From: [Redacted]
To: [Redacted]
Subject: WHO IS BARACK OBAMA?

There are many things people do not know about BARACK OBAMA. It is every American's duty to read this message and pass it along to all of their friends and loved ones.

Barack Obama wears a FLAG PIN at all times. Even in the shower.

Barack Obama says the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE every time he sees an American flag. He also ends every sentence by saying, "WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL." Click here for video of Obama quietly mouthing the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE in his sleep.

A tape exists of Michelle Obama saying the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE at a conference on PATRIOTISM.

Every weekend, Barack and Michelle take their daughters HUNTING.

Barack Obama is a PATRIOTIC AMERICAN. He has one HAND over his HEART at all times. He occasionally switches when one arm gets tired, which is almost never because he is STRONG.

Barack Obama has the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE tattooed on his stomach. It's upside-down, so he can read it while doing sit-ups.

There's only one artist on Barack Obama's iPod: FRANCIS SCOTT KEY.

Barack Obama is a DEVOUT CHRISTIAN. His favorite book is the BIBLE, which he has memorized. His name means HE WHO LOVES JESUS in the ancient language of Aramaic. He is PROUD that Jesus was an American.

Barack Obama goes to church every morning. He goes to church every afternoon. He goes to church every evening. He is IN CHURCH RIGHT NOW.

Barack Obama's new airplane includes a conference room, a kitchen, and a MEGACHURCH.

Barack Obama's skin is the color of AMERICAN SOIL.

Barack Obama buys AMERICAN STUFF. He owns a FORD, a BASEBALL TEAM, and a COMPUTER HE BUILT HIMSELF FROM AMERICAN PARTS. He travels mostly by FORKLIFT.

Barack Obama says that Americans cling to GUNS and RELIGION because they are AWESOME.

Burnside Endorses: Its Own Writers

Susan Isaacs has been very busy.

First, she's acting in a series of ads for Cisco. You can view all of them here, but she'll be posting the latest installments when they come available. Here's the newest one:



Also, you can check out a series of similar videos here.

But that's not all! Susan also has a book due out next March. And even though it's due next March, and we'll no doubt be celebrating the occasion with a particularly joyous blog post, you can order it now! On Amazon!

This way, when March rolls around, you'll get a nice little surprise in the mail. "What's this?" you'll ask yourself, "It's not my birthday!"

And you'll open your brown box and there will be Susan's new book, "Angry Conversations with God". I know we'd never judge a book by it's cover, but check out this cover...it's awesome.

14.6.08

So far, they're riding especially well!

As you can see to the upper right, we've added a link to the Ride:Well network. Some folks are riding their bikes from the Santa Monica Pier to Washington DC raising awareness for Blood:Water Mission. Blood:Water builds wells in Africa, which is a worthy endeavor if you ask me.

Anyway, the team swung through Phoenix today and is taking a break, so the first guest to our new house is my old roommate, Don. I'm happy to see my friend again, even if it's only been a week or so. You can follow Don's blog of the trip here.

We're attending the Diamondbacks-Royals game with the team tomorrow, which promises to be a blast. Some years ago, Don spoke at (and I tagged along) a conference of pro baseball players here in Arizona. Apparently, we've got the hookup tomorrow. Sweet.

Diamondbacks v. Royals. Promises to be a barnburner of interleague proportions.

13.6.08

Documenting Insiders/Documenting Outsiders

First off, I just saw Tim Russert passed away at 58 years old. What an absolute shame. Mr. Russert was a good journalist in an era when good journalism doesn't sell ad time. He'll be missed sincerely.

---

I wanted to point to an excellent article I read on The Onion's AV Club last night. Besides being an outstanding and consistent source for excellent articles and reviews, the AV Club also compile obscure lists with entertaining commentary. This week's examines "25 Worthwhile Documentaries About Ambitious Outsiders". Most of these lists touch one pop culture facets I don't understand in the least. This one read like a rundown of my favorite docs, so I felt pretty with it for once. There are also quite a few, particularly Danielson: A Family Movie and Jandek on Corwood, that I'm moving up the Netflix queue.

I recommend King of Kong and American Movie if you're looking for smart entertainment and New York Doll if you're in for heartbreaking and The Devil and Daniel Johnston if you want to see a brilliant mind lost.

I do not recommend Grizzly Man. Maybe it's Werner Herzog's German accent ("Look at how Timothy Treadwell filmed these bushes blowing in the wind. Beautiful...") or Treadwell's ridiculous ex-girlfriend, an unworking actress who's stumbled onto her only role. Either way, I felt Grizzly Man was way overrated.

12.6.08

Go Blazers!

No, not those Blazers, silly! At least not right now.

These Blazers.

Like many Americans, I'm generically white...mostly of German and English heritage with a little Scottish/Irish/French/Polish thrown in. And since England didn't make the cut, and I don't like rooting for Germany, I find myself cheering on the red-checker Croats. I hate to play favorites, but when I was deployed to Bosnia with the Army, I tended to get along with Croatians best.

While I love playing soccer, my viewing habits pretty much extend to the World Cup and the European Cup. Gotta love when national pride is settled by athletics rather than war.

Are you paying attention to Euro '08? Are Portugal and The Netherlands headed for a battle royale? Will Spain disappoint again? Are you as white as I am?

(Update: Croatia is the winner, 2-1! What a goal by Srna!)

8.6.08

Burnside Endorses: Gelato

Let's say you're talking with a friend, and that friend just returned from a trip to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. (That sounds strange.)

You're chatting about the trip, wondering how it went, and he begins to tell you of a meal he ate in Amsterdam. He tells you it's the best thing he's ever eaten. He says it's like a hamburger, but it's not. It's better. It's better than the best hamburger you've ever had, but it's almost exactly like a hamburger.

First off, you might think he was high. But he's not. He's an upstanding guy, and would never take advantage of the legality of marijuana in Amsterdam. Second, you might be angry. "I live in America," you think to yourself, "How could there be a better version of the hamburger somewhere else!? I've got a tax relief check, for pete's sakes! My country spent 439 billion dollars on defense last year, and I'm getting inferior food product!?!?!?!"

I understand your anger. That's how I feel about gelato.

Gelato is so vastly superior to ice cream, it's not even chuckle-worthy. Gelato is creamier and thicker and richer. You only need to eat about half as much to feel doubly satisfied. It's got a wondrous array of flavors from kiwi to the deceptively delicious Ferrero Rocher. Plus, it looks like this:

This one has COOKIE TOWERS!!!

AND, it has less fat. Like, 1/3 less fat!!!

!!!

I know Big Pharm is powerful, and I know Big Oil is pulling in record profits, but the covert Ice Cream Lobby is now causing me to shudder with fear at the future of our nation, a place where inferior food insidiously makes us fatter.

7.6.08

The Soup

Some time ago, I posted an entry on this blog about Britney Spears and promised to stop participating in tabloid culture.

And it's gone well, a few lapses here and there...typically just forgetfulness.

But part of it was we didn't have cable television, I worked at a grocery store that didn't have those magazines, and I don't get The Oregonian. That left the internet, where celebrity stories on CNN.com are juxtaposed with earthquakes in China, and that juxtaposition helps keep me on track.

Now we're in Phoenix, though, we have cable again. And that means The Soup on E!

If you've never seen The Soup, it's a close cousin of Talk Soup which aired throughout the 90's. Both shows are known for their low-budget green screen, but while Talk Soup skewered the day's offering in talk shows like Jerry Springer, The Soup widens the net, mocking anything on television.

The Soup is hosted by Joel McHale, an incredibly likable comedian from Seattle with pinpoint timing for the subject matter. McHale and The Soup writers are brilliant satirists, attacking the horrifying absurdity of what passes for entertainment these days, and accomplishing the goal far better than the second-rate comedians on Best Week Ever. McHale is the key, too...even more than Jon Stewart, McHale is a whip-smart everyman. His likability and the success of the show lies in knowledge he's shaking his head in disgust along with you.

But, honestly, The Soup may be part of the problem. It wouldn't exist without the oodles of filth to feed it, and the sole purpose of the show is pretty much the same as the premise for Denise Richards: It's Complicated and Rock of Love...it serves to remind the viewer they are better than these exalted people. In a sense, watching The Soup simply boils down the filth into one dose...does taking that pill ironically make things any better?

Here's an interview with McHale at The Onion A.V. Club. If you're familiar with the show, weigh in...should The Soup be included in a boycott of tabloid media?

Jesus In A French Fry

Want to watch this video: Woman Sees Jesus In A French Fry.
Seriously.
I'm not really sure what to think. I mean, God is everywhere, he is speaking all the time. It's up to listen. And in a way, this is how he can reach a woman who's got a fast food fix. You know? But it brings up larger issues like, "if you can appear in a french fry, why can't you stop world hunger? But maybe that was the message in the fry.

6.6.08

The gerbil that inspired "Kill Bill"

The following video will elicit one of two responses:

1) "That's hilarious!"

2) "That is so old. Get with it, Burnside."


Courtesy of fellow Phoenician, The Amazing Jonathan.

Why there was no BWC interview this week

*Dear readers, as you know this column is normally dedicated to a weekly interview with a celebrity. Well, to our dismay the writer of this column, Mr. Chad Gibbs, has fallen off of the wagon again, and by fall off the wagon we mean he actually fell off a wagon. This is the third time he has fallen off a wagon. You see, his hobby is to partake in westward expansion reenactments where they travel in wagon trains and, once again he has taken a fall from one of them. This, after doctors had strictly forbade him from participating in such activities as they are for “losers.” We at the Collective have even went as far as having an intervention to try and stop this downward spiral of destruction. The only problem was we held it at a Best Western Conference Center and the writer in question became injured while falling off a small wagon display in the lobby. Sadly, doctors have finally concluded this latest fall has caused Chad to sustain irreversible brain damage. They know this because they put him through a cat-scan and he managed to reverse himself while inside. Further adding to the tragedy, this week’s interview was scheduled to be with world renowned mime performer Marcel Marceau. Regretfully, Burnside editor-in-chief Jordan Green could not even find one shred of usable material for the column. First, Marceau is dead. Secondly, he doesn’t even talk. He’s a mime. In hindsight, perhaps we should have been more attentive to our employee’s needs, but the worst part is now we can't even fire him because it looks bad. So please accept my apology for this week’s column and look for a new piece next week, as we are still supporting the writer financially, (we have been forced to cover his life support bills), and if I may, Gibbsie needs to start ‘earning his keep’ as they used to say in the ol’ wagon train days. Next time; an expose with comedian Harpo Marx.

(by aaron donley/nate sadler)

3.6.08

Dr. Mindy, Medicine Woman

After 24 years of school and four years studying at Oregon Health & Science University, my wife is now Dr. Mindy Ellen Green, Pediatrician.

We're very proud of Mindy. I know how hard she worked the last four years, and it was an honor to see her cross the stage for the hooding ceremony and repeat the Declaration of Geneva. It's a pretty good read.
  • I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;
  • I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude which is their due;
  • I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity; the health of my patient will be my first consideration;
  • I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honor and the noble traditions of the medical profession; my colleagues will be my brothers;
  • I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient;
  • I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception, even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity;
  • I will not go on and on about how difficult it is being a woman doctor, unlike some people;
  • I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honor.
One of those may have been added.

Well done, Mindy. The world of non-education now beckons. You're going to be a great doctor.

The Gender Hiders


My brother-in-law and sister-in-law are expecting their 4th child in August. Are they crazy? Yes. But for a different reason than you think.

With their 3 previous children, we were not privy to the chosen names until the babies were born. In each case we had the pleasure of meeting Landon, Sierra, and Avery before we knew they had been dubbed "Landon", "Sierra", and "Avery". For this behavior, we playfully referred to them as "name hiders" because they were so secretive with their baby names.

This time around they are upping the ante.

This time they have become gender hiders.

You see, a month or two ago they went in for the ultrasound, and when they returned they announced that the baby had all of its parts. Which parts? Well, they wouldn't say. Since they already have baby clothes for each sex, and since the newborn will be going into an already painted room, they figured they could pull off the feat.

We pushed them for more info, but it became clear right away that they weren't going to divulge.

Regarding the gender hiding, my mother-in-law said "It's ridiculous. I hope they slip up and tell us." My father-in-law called it "ignorant." Me, I just laughed. They must love keeping secrets. I honestly think they would hide the pregnancy from us if it were physically possible.

What about you? If you have kids, did you hide the name (or the gender) from folks? What about you not-yet-parents, will you share your baby name beforehand? If you get an ultrasound to determine the sex, will you hide it?

*oh and for the record, my wife thinks she heard my sister-in-law slip up and say "she" a few weeks ago, so we think it's a girl. I'll let you know what pops out in a few months...

1.6.08

Journey Through the Tenth Grade (continued from page 13)

“Sure, let me have a hit,” you say.

As soon as you inhale, armed men burst through the restroom door. Others storm out of the stalls, and one crashes through the window.

“You are under arrest for possession of Marijuana with intent to distribute,” one of the men says.

“Distribute?” you ask.

“Don’t play dumb,” says the girl with the nose ring. “We know you are this town’s most dangerous drug lord.”

“You do?”

---

The officers read you your rights and take you to jail. Turns out you really were not the town’s most dangerous drug lord, but a computer glitch left that moniker on your public record. And now every time you apply for a job, you never pass the background check. You die at the age of twenty-five in a mosh pit at a John Mayer concert

The End