Thursday, January 29, 2009

Channeling My Inner James Lipton.

1. What is your favorite word?

2. What is your least favorite word?

3. What turns you on?
The startled, absolutely panicked look of James Lipton's face as his hands try to gain purchase on the hood ornament of my car, only to realize that his right foot is being crushed beneath my left front Continental tire as I accelerate.

4. What turns you off?
Pretentious weenies like James Lipton.

5. What is your favorite curse word?

6. What sound or noise do you love?
The gurgled last breaths from James Lipton as I slowly choke him into a irreversible coma.

7. What sound or noise do you hate?
The self-absorbed, self-important sound of James Lipton's voice as he interviews an equally vacuous 'star'.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Outrageously-compensated, and presidentailly-pardoned assassin of James Lipton.

9. What profession would you not like to attempt?
Personal, private, executive secretary to, and sycophantic gay lover of, James Lipton.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
James Lipton? No, James Lipton is down there...

SLO Fish Wrapper Fish Tale.

This just in to the San Luis Obispo Tribune: appears a homeless man was caught in the act of preparing a fish for a meal for himself and other vagrants along the banks of the San Luis Obispo Creek. The meal consisted of a loaf of bread, some lemons and a very large trout. A large trout that this homeless man caught for their meal. A large Steelhead Trout.

Steelhead Trout are a federally protected, endangered species. I'm doubtful that this homeless man took that into account when, feeling both peckish and industrious, he dropped his line into the water. In return for such lawlessness, the man was taken into custody and sentenced to 10 days in jail. The trout, already dead, already grilled, was disposed of, uneaten. What you see to the left is all that remained at the scene of this crime.

Now, I'm all for protecting endangered species. But I suspect that - in this day in time - we're going to see enough similar acts of desperation to fill a new novel or two*. What I find sad is the lack of thinking the who incident through. The guy is homeless, so 10 days in the hoosegow is probably a welcome thing for him. Wouldn't it have been better to inform him of his infraction, release him with a sentence of 10 days community service? Sure would have taught him the necessary lesson, lessened the taxpayer burdens and costs that come with incarceration, and provided some necessary service to the community to boot. Way to think it through, guys!

All this reminds me of what a good thing it is that I gave up hunting and eating California Condor. Sure, the sport was fun, but the meat is too gamey. Just like Bald Eagle.
*And just where is William Faulkner when you need him? Dead. And uneaten. Just like that Steelhead Trout.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Use Facebook? Like Rhône Wines?


I've recently become a convert to Facebook. In the two weeks that I've been an active member, I've reconnected with high school friends, college fraternity brothers and folks I've met through the wine industry. Never being one to idly sit on the sidelines, I've started up an informal group of like-minded wine lovers called, The Rhôneagades.

The Rhôneagades is open to all Facebook users who have a passion for Rhône and Rhône-inspired wines. It's my hope that members will share tasting notes, wine-related travel stories and photos, and anything else that seems appropriate to the subject at hand.

If you're a Facebook user, I invite you to join us!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Question #1: Why Do They Call it "Dope"?

Things sure have changed since I last applied for a job. Just today I was instructed to complete an on-line questionnaire for a potential employer. Of the fifty questions asked, 18% of them concerned drug use. Don't believe me? Well, my friend, here they are...straight off the questionnaire:

3) How often do you use recreational drugs (street drugs) other than marijuana (pot, grass)?

8) When do you use marijuana (pot, grass)?

16) Excluding medicine you got from a doctor, which of the following drugs do you use? You may enter more than 1 answer for this question.

19) Excluding medicine you got from a doctor, which of the following drugs do you use? You may enter more than 1 answer for this question.

22) Excluding medicine you got from a doctor, which of the following drugs do you use? You may enter more than 1 answer for this question.
25) Excluding medicine you got from a doctor, which of the following drugs do you use? You may enter more than 1 answer for this question.

29) How often do you come to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs?

31) How often does your use of recreational drugs (street drugs) interfere with your work?

35) When do you drink alcohol?

As for the other 82% of the questionnaire? Most of the questions asked - in some manner or another - if I were the type of person who settled arguments through fist fights. Uh-huh. I felt like answering that I did enjoy punching someone in the face, but only if they stole my stash.

Is the average American working stiff showning such a propensity for drugs and violence that it's now necessary to utilize nearly 50% of a pre-employment questionnaire to screen them out? And is the average American working stiff so whacked out on goofballs that they get caught answering in the positive to these questionnaires?? Or is it that I am applying for a job with the wrong type of employer?

Interesting questions...and ones that I'd like to find the answers to. Sadly I don't have the time. I've got to go score some airplane glue before I head into work.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Bad Idea From Bake-o.

Amie and I were driving around in the rain and drizzle today. While we were at a stoplight I noticed a license plate frame on the truck in front of me. It read, "Three Way - Bakersfield". I pointed it out to Amie, and mentioned, "That must be what they do for fun out in Bakersfield". Turns out it's the name of a dealership.

Now, anytime I've gone near a car dealership, I knew I was going to get screwed. But do they have to make that fact so blatant? And, does it have to include a third party?

Talk about your unfortunate branding. Who in the company thought this name was a good idea? As I'm always wearing my sales/marketing hat, it immediately got me thinking of a whole sales pitch:

"Three-Way: Where We Don't Leave Out the Middle Man."

- or -

"Three-Way: Where YOU'RE the Middle Man!"

I think this pitch has got legs. At least six of them...

Welcome to Hooterville.

Occasionally I am reminded that I live in a small town. The front page of this morning's paper provided me with one such reminder. What's the big news? That, at 1pm today, an Alaska Air Boeing 737 is going to land at the San Luis Obispo airport.

With less than one cup of coffee in my system, I must say that I was impressed as I read this article. I also must say that, in my state of semi-consciousness, I thought the paper read that a Boeing 747 was scheduled to land here. Now that would have been an impressive sight. Having been around airplanes my whole life, I envisioned the idea of a 747 landing at our local airport in my head, and thought, "Landing? Maybe. Takeoff? No way." This would definitely be a spectacle worth witnessing first-hand.

What a difference a cup of coffee made.

Sure, a 737 is a nice plane...and it's slightly bigger than the craft you usually see here. But not by a whole lot. Not worth making a trip out to the airport...and definitely not front page news.

you live in San Luis Obispo.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cast Away.

It's amazing what washes up on our local beaches. They found this just yesterday at Pismo Beach. Do you throw it back in, or what?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Potential Downside of Change.

While I am all for a new presidential administration, I can't help but wonder: will political satire begin to suffer as a result? Will we soon see Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Louis Black and Keith Olberman applying en masse for their share of the corporate bailout funds?

Can't help but wonder...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jonesing for 'Cue.

Lately, I've been getting some powerful hunger pangs for some good Georgia Barbecue. And when I'm feeling this way, there's only one place that can truly satisfy my belly: Old South Barbecue in Smyrna, Georgia.
Most people, if they even know about Smyrna, know it as the birthplace of Julia Roberts. There are those of us who know better: this is the town the Llewallyns made famous. This gracious family has been serving up great pig meat since 1968, and I've been eating there since 1978.

Old South is my gastronomic touchstone, and - since I moved to California over 15 years ago - I make it a point to stop in for lunch or dinner at least once on each return home. As I don't get to eat there on a regular basis anymore, I tend to - pardon the pun - pig out. A typical meal starts out with a BBQ pork salad, large plate of lettuce that's loaded with shredded pork and dressed with blue cheese dressing. It's a meal in itself. Then there's a cup of Brunswick stew. Now I'll admit I prefer my stew to their's, but their stew is pretty darn good. Then, for my main course, it's a hearty platter of ribs, with cole slaw and hush puppies on the side. And, of course, there's gallons of sweet tea to accompany the meal.

But...what can I do to quell my Old South addiction when - like now - I'm in California and I've no plans to fly back to Georgia? Sadly, the Llewallyns aren't set up to pack up and overnight their food. Like all good Southerners, I must rely on the kindness of friends, and not, as Blanche DuBois did, on strangers. They go pick it up, pack it in dry ice, and ship it overnight to me. you want to be my friend? Hmmm? I'll even give you my FedEx account number!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Shaving Face.

Of all my morning ablutions, there's none I detest more than shaving my face. I've never really understood the logic to dragging a razor blade across your skin moments after awakening. The fear of spending the rest of the day displaying bits of torn skin and dried blood has been enough to keep me firmly in the camp of those who prefer to be evening shavers. Better yet, I prefer going for days without shaving my face.

I have what is known in dermatological parlance as very sensitive skin...what the French refer to as 'peau sensible'. This is a combination of the words, peau, pronounced like "po" and sensible, like..."sensible", meaning, "You'd have really poor sensibilities to shave that every morning, monsieur".

I've tried everything. Electric razors really don't provide a close shave. I've really enjoyed the results from, and experiences of, trained barbers who have shaved me with an old-fashioned, 'cut-throat' straight razor (the finest such experience having taken place in a throwback barber joint across the street from the Hotel Moteleone, New Orleans). But, I would never think of doing that to myself.

Since 1990 my shaving device of choice has been the Gillette Sensor. It's your basic, two bladed, swivel head razor, a system Gillette introduced in 1989 with that catchy phrase and jingle, "A best a man can get". And, for 19 years now, I've been a staunch believer in that.

And shaving technology has passed my face by long ago. These days there are three-, four- and even five-blade shavers, no doubt playing up to modern man's belief that bigger is always better.

I've tried out a few of those three-bladed shavers, just to see if I'm missing out on a better shave. Maybe I am missing something, but to me it felt like I was trying to shave with a blade as big as a business card. They're unwieldy, and difficult to operate in tight areas like around the nose, or when cleaning up your sideburns. So, I'm sticking with my two-bladed Sensor, thank you very much.

But everyone's still trying to build that 'better mousetrap' of a razor. Today I came across an ad for the next greatest shaving sensation, the Rolling Razor. Looking for all the world like souped-up fallopian tubes, the Rolling Razor features two razors facing opposite directions. As if half-awake men and women really need twice the opportunity to cut the crap out of their faces or legs.

From what I've seen in their promotional materials, you hold the Rolling Razor much like we used to hold the tear-away pop top tabs from soda and beer cans. And I'm imagining that this sucker shaves you about as well as an aluminium pull-tab, too.

And just dig the sales copy for the men's "Silver Streak" razor!:

"It is said, that Zeus himself stood upon Mt. Olympus and cast his lightning bolt towards Earth. Upon impact, there was an massive explosion that revealed a fiery arc of light...that arc of light was Silver Streak. From that day forward, shaving became a powerful masculine experience underscored by true performance characteristics, indisputable strength, unparallelled accuracy and lightning quick speed."

Where do I begin with my criticism of this paragraph o' drivel? That they buried the lead? That they lost me at "Zeus"? That they forgot the prime directive of marketing...mention the product in the first five words? That you shouldn't let your teenager write ad copy? And this is just the verbiage for the men's shaver. They make one for women, called the "2 Pink", and the blah-blah for it is just as bad:

"Sent by Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, 2 Pink was able to greet the feminine curves of a woman with sensuality and reverence, while using the sharpness of Cupid's arrow to prevent nick and scratches. Love at first sight, 2 Pink has been described as an experience of pure beauty."

And how do I describe the experience of reading that? I suspect a frustrated Greek ad copy writer needs a refund on their "Learn to write Romance Novels" correspondence course.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wining and Dining...White House-Style.

'Round these parts everyone is getting excited about the pending inauguration. It seems highly fitting that Barack Obama will be sworn in as our nation's president the day after this nation celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It's a good sign.

In the wine business, much has been made of the wines to be served at the inauguration luncheon. Turns out all three courses will be paired with three different wines...produced from wineries of which I have had some dealings with.

The first two wines - the 2007 Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc and the 2005 Goldeneye Pinot Noir - are both produced by the same company (albeit different wineries and fruit sources), Duckhorn. Over the past three years I've gotten to know the Duckhorn folks well. We'd dine together at my winery during the Hospice du Rhône weekend, and we'd occasionally see each other across the U.S. on business. The wife of Jeff Roberts, Duckhorn's VP of Vineyard Operations, became such a fan of my wines that they became members of our wine club. Turned out that Pete Przybylinski, Duckhorn's VP of Sales and Strategy, and I have a Georgia heritage in common. Not only did Pete attend the University of Georgia (where he graduated from the Terry College of Business), but we both attended the same Atlanta-area high school, Crestwood. Pete was six or seven years behind me, though. The Duckhorn team are all great folks. Proof positive that good wine really does make it a small world.

The final wine to be served at the inaugural luncheon is a sparkling wine from Korbel. I had the opportunity to dine with Korbel's owner, Gary Heck, about 13 years ago. That evening still ranks as one of the most uncomfortable meals I've ever had.

I was single at the time, still having not had met Amie, the lady who would become my wife. I received a call from a buddy of mine in Atlanta, Jim Favret. Jim and I have known each other for decades, having both worked in the wine business there. Jim called to ask if I'd be willing to be a blind date for an acquaintance of his. It appears this lady was in need of a date to her company's holiday party. She worked for one of the other wineries owned by Gary Heck. "There's a few cases of great wine in it for you if you say 'yes'" Jim explained. I called this young lady and offered my services as her date...after all, 24 bottles of wine and a night on the town seemed a whole lot more fun that sitting around Paso Robles for the weekend.

Before I made the trip up to Sonoma County, my blind date had called to ask if I owned a tuxedo. "Of course," I replied, "but do the employees really dress up that much for this party?" Every other winery holiday party I'd ever been to were pretty informal affairs. She convinced me that everyone was going to dress up in their finest, and pleaded with me to pick her up wearing my tux. Imagine my surprise when we showed up to the dinner and more than half the attendees were in jeans, caps and cowboy boots! Even ol' Gary Heck himself was dressed up in a modest, two-piece suit. I tell ya...I would have felt less uncomfortable if I was wearing a wine barrel. I gave my date a weak smile, and thought to myself, "at least it can't get any more uncomfortable for me." Of course, I was wrong.

As the call to dinner was made, my date shoehorned us into the table at which Heck and his wife were sitting. He smiled, and introduced himself with a look that had "you don't belong here, son" all over it. I tried to return a smile which said, "Don't I know it, pops". As everyone was seated, Heck stood up and delivered the obligatory rousing company CEO speech that I knew was coming. In this end-of-year pep talk to his troops, Heck said words to the effect that in the coming year that their wine company was going to crush the competition and leave them all in the dust. That speech only served to compound our mutual discomfort when - during dinner table small talk - he asked what I did for a living. And it didn't help that he recalled reading about me in a recent wine industry publication.

Needless to say, I was never invited back to any of their soirées.

Over the course of the last decade I've had the great fortune of spending time at the White House. A friend of mine serves as one of the Ushers assigned to the residence. Going there - especially post-911 - is a rare treat...a real Frank Capra-esque type of moment.

That's me with Amie and our mothers on the front walkway leading up to what those who work there refer to as the Executive Residence. On my last time to the White House, I was able to bring them (and my father, who was busy snapping this photo) with me, and we had and enjoyable few hours inspecting the grounds and most of the Residence. One of the highlights of the trip was watching my mother-in-law, Mary, frolic with the Bush's two dogs on the lawn...right underneath the windows of the private residence. Sadly, a few months later, Mary lost her 18-month struggle with cancer. Being able to share that moment with her remains a very special memory for Amie and me.

Every time I've exited the gates of this amazing home I am struck with the thought that only in America could a humble businessman like myself be welcomed into a place so important as this. It's an amazing thing, and regardless of where you find yourself on the political spectrum, you've got to admit that it's pretty cool knowing that something like that must happen all the time.

Through my friend the Usher I learned an interesting piece of White House trivia which I'll share with you. I'm sure you're familiar with the concept of a State Dinner, right? They're very formal affairs at which the President and a visiting dignitary walk in, offer each other a toast, and enjoy a four-course meal paired with wines. Simple enough, right? Well, how long do you think the average State Dinner takes? From the time the President and his guest walk in, to the time he and his guests adjourn from the dining room? Two hours? Four? Five?

Nope. Fifty-five minutes. That's right...less than an hour. As my friend explained to me, "You're not their to eat." True enough, I reckon.

Wherever dinner table you happen to be sitting at this Tuesday, I ask you to raise a glass of something tasty and say a prayer of thanks. Thanks that no matter how bad things seem to be right now, we Americans really have got it good. I know I will...and I'll damn sure be spending more than 55 minutes enjoying myself.

Hot Off The Presses!

Johnny Vardeman's latest column in The Gainesville Times just came out today. Care to guess what it was about? That's right: The Poultry Bowl!

Thanks, Johnny!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Playing Chicken: An Update.

Last month I posted (here) about my learning of a long-passed, failed college football bowl: The Poultry Bowl. In my post, I had asked that anyone with any information on this bowl series - a series consisting of only two games - please get in touch with me. I am pleased to report that some light has been shed on this subject.

I recently heard from Johnny Vardeman. Johnny is an institution of newspaper journalism in North Georgia. He's been a columnist for The Gainesville Times for quite some time...and when I lived there I would read him regularly. Johnny's first email to me mentioned that even while he had vague recollections of The Poultry Bowl, he was willing to do a little research. Last week he sent me the following email:

"Mat, The Poultry Bowl was played Dec. 8, 1973, at Gainesville's City Park. Stephen F. Austin vs. Gardner-Webb, GW won 31-10. About 1,000 people attended. It was a cold rain before game, so attendance was off, but probably wouldn't have drawn many anyway. Promoters were Bill and Bobby Smallwood."

So, there's that. No word yet on the 1974 Poultry Bowl...the final Poultry Bowl ever. When I know more, you'll no more. And if any of you have more info - or photos - I'd love to hear from you, too.

Thanks, Johnny!

Gettin' my MN on.

As I mentioned in my last entry, Amie's father, Doug, recently spent some time with us. And, when I say, "some time", I mean three months. Yes, you read correctly. Three months. Despite what you might be thinking, all-in-all, his visit was very nice. I had a buddy pretty much through the last half of college football season. Even though Doug pulls for the Big 10 (which, if you're a regular on this blog, you know is really the Big 11. Idiots), he's pretty fair company when a game is on.

Anyway, having Doug here for so long (so long...) meant that we felt obliged to accommodate his gustatory peculiarities. So it was that throughout his visit our pantry was stocked with Velveeta, smoked sausage links, Hickory Farms' summer sausage and Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup.

And, if you're wondering, no, we had no lutefisk (but you can read about lutefisk here).

Now that he's returned to the Great White North, we've been trying to use up these leftover staples. This evening, a culinary truth was made evident to me. Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup is the Midwestern equivalent of the South's penchant for okra. Both products are defining staples - binding polymers, if you will - of the fabric of their region's heritage.

If you see, smell or taste okra in a dish, you know you're eating Southern. It recalls an African heritage, and is the backbone of all good stews, gumbos and the like. Similarly, Cream of Mushroom Soup recalls Nordic ice fisherman, chugging down Grain Belt beer, and heating up something in time for the Gophers/Vikings/Twins/Timberwolves regular weekly loss to whomever they are playing.

Tonight we prepared a tuna noodle hot dish. Real comfort food. Too bad the temperature here in San Luis Obispo was in the low high 70s. How I miss winter!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mayonnaise Helper.

Miracle Whip.

Is there a fouler condiment stocked on the average American grocery store shelf? I don't think so. I remember the first time I tasted it: I spit it out. It made me think, "So, this is how mayonnaise tastes when it goes bad." I gave it a few tries since that day, and the result is still the same. The only miracle I can see in this crap is that people actually buy it. And like it.

Miracle Whip was born out of necessity...during the Great Depression. Seems that mayo was a tad bit expensive, and a Salem, Illinois-based restaurateur got the bright idea to cut mayonnaise with salad dressing. Think of it as Hamburger Helper for mayo, and you get the idea. In 1931, sensing a good thing (and a great profit), the folks at Kraft paid the developer $300 for his recipe. Two years later, at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, Kraft debuted their newly-won condiment to the world. And, hard as it is for me to believe, the world raved about it.


Now don't get me wrong. I'm a big-time mayonnaise fan. I like it with my french fries, occasionally with my burger, and it forms one third of the holy trinity that is pimento cheese. Think you don't like pimento cheese? You've never tasted real, Southern pimento cheese. But adding salad dressing to your mayonnaise?! There's something slightly sacrilegious about that if you ask me. America is doing all it can to keep out of another Great Depression. We don't need this reminder of just how bad it may actually get.

So, why am I ranting about Miracle Whip? Last Friday, Amie's dad flew back to Minneapolis after a visit with us. He loves Miracle Whip. I was grabbing some water out of the refrigerator last night when I noticed the barely-utilized jar of this stuff. "Do you want me to keep this?" I asked Amie. She got a sour face and shook her head 'no'.

I tossed the jar into the recycling bin. I'm so pleased Amie shares my disdain for this pseudo condiment. It made me realize just how much I love my wife.

Heart-Stopping Junk Food Moment.

I proudly will admit that I am not overly-fond of junk foods. If you catch me wolfing down nachos, there's a 90% certainty that there's a ball game on*. On the other hand, if there's popcorn nearby, I'm either in a cinema or watching a movie from the comfort of my family room. Do I drink Coke? Sure, if there's Bourbon in it...other than that I really have to be in the mood. And you'll rarely - if ever - find me jonesing for a candy bar. I just don't have a sweet tooth**.

And when it comes to that quintessential junk food - the potato chip - there's only one brand that gets my motor purring: Jays. If there's a bag of Jays within arms reach of me, rest assured it's soon gonna be an empty bag. My addiction to Jays potato chips makes Amy Winehouse's addiction to meth look positively Pat Boone-ish.
If you're not familiar with Jays, one thing is for certain: you're not from the Midwest. Founded in Chicago in 1927 by a one Leonard Japp, Sr., Jays - or Japp's as they were known then - quickly rose to regional prominence. In 1941 the brand changed names to "Jays" for obvious reasons***. I have fond memories of devouring bags of their original potato chip when I would visit my grandmother who lived in downtown Chicago, right on Michigan Avenue overlooking Grant Park and Lake Michigan. Great memories, those.

Sadly, Jays never made it national. So when I'd make regular trips back to the Midwest to sell my wine, I always made at least one meal out of a big bag...and brought more home to savor.

Now that I've shared with you my addiction for Jays Original Potato Chips, then perhaps you'll have a better idea as to why my heart skipped a beat last Sunday while grocery shopping. There, stacked on an aisle-end display were scores of brown boxes with the familiar blue Jays logo! I thought to myself two things: "It COULDN'T be...could it?" and "I wonder how much money I've got in my checking account...and is it enough to by every bag this store has?"

Sadly, my passions were short-lived****. As you can see, the boxes were filled with other products, not Jays. And when asked if they could get Jays, the store manager looked at me like I was a man possessed. I was...but in a good way.

So, do a disposessed potato chip junkie a favor? If you see a bag of Jays Original Potato Chips, ship it my way, would ya?

I'm starting to get the shakes real bad.
*As for the other 10% of the time? I'm more than likely drunk.

**Much to my son Jack's dismay. When I once asked him to show me his sweet tooth, he opened his mouth, pointed to one tooth, then quickly moved his finger away and said, "Actually, dad, they're all sweet tooths."

***Although I could see the possibilities of turning this wartime liability into a sales asset. They could have started a campaign that would have donated 1% of sales into the purchase of War Bonds. Think of the ad campaign: "Eat a Japp and Win the War!" Hmmm. Maybe that's why I'm still looking for a job?

****Like my checking account.

Et Tu, Asher?

UGA Cornereback Asher Allen just announced that he won't return to finish up his Senior year with the Dawgs. He's entering the 2009 NFL draft.

Damn. I need a bourbon...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Joe the Jackass.

Here we are, slovenly slouching towards the 2012, the year also known as Nostradamus' 'game over' year. There's been plenty of hype all over the internet, on television and in print about what we can expect in three years, all of it dire. Some pundits point to certain signs as proof positive that civilization is playing out its curtain call.

I for one saw the writing on the wall as soon as The Cookie Monster was forced to change his name to The Veggie Monster.

As if to lend more credence to the doom-sayers, an on-line news service has seen fit to give Samuel J. Wurzelbacher - aka 'Joe the Plumber' - an extension on his already-overdrawn 15 minutes by tapping him as a cub reporter. His assignment? Covering the Gaza Strip. As if the area hasn't suffered enough.

Every time I see this bafoon I laugh. His story epitomizes the quote, "a tale told by a fool, full of sound and fury, signifying...nothing". Upon accepting his charge, Sammy was asked why he felt he needed to go to Gaza. He responded to the effect that television reporters weren't covering the real issues, and that he had a better plan. Seconds later, when he was asked how he was preparing for his trip, he proudly stated that he was watching all the TV reports he could.

Uh-huh. I'm thinking Sam/Joe is the result of swimming in the shallow end of the gene pool. And I don't think that I'll bother with the tale this fool will tell...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Busted Outta the Joint!

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A giant lobster named George escaped a dinner-table fate and was released Saturday into the Atlantic Ocean after a New York seafood restaurant granted him his freedom, according to a statement from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

George the lobster was a "sort of mascot" for City Crab and Seafood in New York.

The lobster, which PETA said was 140 years old and weighed 20 pounds, had been confined to a tank at City Crab and Seafood restaurant in Manhattan when two customers alerted the animal group.

The PETA statement did not say how the extraordinary age estimate was determined, but restaurant manager Keith Valenti told CNN that lobsters can grow a pound every seven to 10 years, and he put George's weight at 18 to 20 pounds.

"I've been here for 12 years, and that's the biggest lobster I've ever seen," Valenti said.

He said the lobster had been "sitting in the restaurant's tank and acting as a sort of mascot," but when PETA got involved and requested the release, it "seemed like the right thing to do."


And I'm betting that, shortly after his humane release back into the Atlantic Ocean, George the (nearly) Sesquicentennial Lobster met Sammy the Harbor Seal and became Sammy's much-appreciated dinner!

C'mon, PETA...have you got nothing better to do?

It takes a lobster seven years to grow to one pound, and the lobster tanks at most fine-dining establishments boast lobsters in excess of two to five pounds. Are these lobsters not as worthy of saving? Besides, at nearly 150 years old, I think George has led a long and fruitful life. His wife, kids and friends are probably all long gone. Can you think of a better candidate for lobster euthanasia?

His death at the hands of City Crab and Seafood would have been quick and (relatively) humane, and he would have provided sustenance for a family of four. Or one fat AIG exec on another expense account binge. Instead, George was unceremoniously dropped into the cold sea, in strange surroundings, and was bitten in half by a seal, or some other such predator.

The horror. The horror.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

SEC, Baby!

As if to give answer to the question, "Is there a finer conference in all of college football than the SEC?", the Florida Gators just won the Orange Bowl, clinching the national championship. That's the third year in a row - and fourth year in this decade (so far) - that an SEC team has earned top honors.

And I'm betting an SEC team will be crowned national champions next year. I bet you can guess who!


My Two Newest, Bestest Friends.

Have I told you how much I love Joe Cox and Caleb King?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Gone, Baby, Gone.

Here's a photo Thomas took of Knowshon and Matt just prior
to the start of the Georgia/Tennessee game last October.

Well, it's official. Less than an hour ago, Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno held a press conference in Athens, Georgia, where they announced that they were both leaving UGA so as to be elligible for the NFL draft. They will be missed.

I'll always treasure the memories of watching these two light up the scoreboards...and how these two lit up a national passion for UGA Football. I love the fact that my kids got to see them play from the sidelines, and meet them a few times in the locker room.

Guys, I wish you both the best of luck in the big league...but wished that us fans would have gotten to watch you 'tween the hedges for one more season.

C'est la college football.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Houses of Unholies.

Did you watch last night's Fiesta Bowl? Great game, huh? I was glad to see yet another Big 10 team go down in flames. When is the Big 10 gonna realize that passing the ball is a BIG part of playing the game?

Perhaps the strangest part of last night's game was the halftime entertainment. Now, for me, halftime is a good time to stretch your legs, grab a beverage and (should you have partaken in many other beverages prior to this one) make an on-site inspection of the stadium's plumbing. But, for those who enjoy watching the halftime entertainment provided at college football games (read: the parents of the poor mokes down on the field), last night's offering from the Texas Longhorn Marching Band was...weird.

The Longhorn Marching Band chose as their offering a musical tribute to Led Zepplin.

Uh-huh. Led Zepplin.

Now, I will admit, I've never been a big fan of Led Zepplin. And I can now attest that Led Zepplin's music doesn't sound better to me when it's performed on trombones, xylophones and tubas. And the accompanying visuals of forced smiling baton twirlers and chubby flag wavers doesn't help much, either.

Just what was their musical director thinking?! "Hey, kids, let's show your parents just how much money they're pissing away on your education!!"

Oh, well, at least the University of Texas upheld the motto of their hometown of Austin: Keep Austin Weird.

Weird. That it is.

Erin Go Flying.

Seems a bunch of vacationing Irishmen recently boarded a Thomas Cook airliner in London Gatwick bound for Cuba. It would appear that all of them had an innate fear of flying...what else could explain the fact that, prior to the flight, all of the Irish lads decided to get butt-plowed?

Oh yeah, I forgot...they're Irish.

The merriment continued unabated on the flight down to Cuba, with the Irish passengers entertaining their seatmates with trying to open one of the emergency exits*, as well as the occasional punch to their face. Now that's in-flight entertainment...coming at you in 3-D! It would appear that they partied non-stop throughout their stay in Cuba. 17 of the Irish revelers were so drunk that they were denied boarding the return flight to Gatwick.

Talk about playing to your stereotype.

*And, before you fret about something like that ever happening on your flight, let me tell you: it's impossible to open an emergency exit - or any other door - on an airliner in flight. Well, a pressurized airliner, anyway.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Capital Thought.

My, but it was nice to see the Georgia Bulldogs win their bowl game. After a first half which could best be described as lackluster (and, for me, stress-inducing), the Dawgs got their train back on the rails for a 24 to 12 win over the Michigan State Spartans. And, for the first time in a long time, our defense looked fantastic.

Thank ya, lordy!

All in all it was a fairly good season for UGA. With some juggling of the top teams, they may just end up in the Top 10. We were the victims of a lot of injuries...and even more self-inflicted penalties. The off season will allow recuperation on the former, while the later I think was an indication (more than anything) of a young team. Next year we'll be better!

And I am hoping that - given the dashed hopes and missed opportunities this season bore witness to - Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno will stay put for one more year.

Pretty please, guys?