Friday, February 29, 2008

top 10 youtube links

Time for another Top 10 list. I've been compiling this for a while, and I think I've finally got a solid list (even though it's hard to ever call it complete because there's new stuff going up every minute). Now, there are kids that I see every day in class that can't imagine a world in which you do not have access to the Internet, but I can't imagine a day when I won't be amazed at this technology. Right? I mean, when's the last time you ran into a problem that couldn't be solved on your computer? Need directions? Not sure where you've seen the dad from Juno before? Want to tell a mother that her son or daughter is going to fail your class without listening to her yell at you? Done and done. And perhaps the crowning achievement of the Internet: YouTube.

So first, a few links that didn't quite make the top 10

HONORABLE MENTION: Muffins, Blake Lewis on American Idol, Matt Damon's Matthew McConaughey Impression, Norm!, Jamie Foxx Roasting Doug Williams Roasting Shaq, 2-Year-Old Tiger, Willie and "The Rainbow Connection", Windows Music, Dorm Room Golf, Honda Commercial

And now for the Top 10 YouTube Clips of All-Time:

10. Cliff on Jeopardy!. I reference this episode of Cheers all the time. Cliff, the know-it-all mailman, builds up a small fortune on his "dream board" (including categories like "Civil Servants" and "Beer"), then blows it in Final Jeopardy. Always sparks an interesting conversation about what would be on your "dream board."

A mailman, Cliff Clavin.

9. "A Better Version of You". A two-man band called Paul & Storm with a dedication to all the first-borns out there. I sometimes sing this one to Charlie at night. Very sweet. (Incidentally, the song doesn't start until the 1:35 mark.)

Maybe this new person won't wet the bed or bug us for candy and toys.

8. The Heaven v. Hell Baseball Game. A clip from the Bob & Tom Show. Honestly, the video part's not that great, but Dan St. Paul's version of the first baseball game ever played is hysterical. (Sara hates how Bob and Tom laugh in the background, but I'm sure it won't bother anyone else. Maybe Stacy.)

Making the roadtrip from hell today are 22 former members of the Islamic terrorist al Qaeda network, and boy do they look surprised!

7. Pachelbel Rant. This is Rob Paravonian, who seems to be a pretty funny guy. Your loser band friends from high school will think it's even funnier than you do.

I don't even go to Taco Bell anymore because it's too close.

6. Caddyshack in a Minute. Another Sara-pleaser. Just kidding. Anyway, a 60-second tribute to the funniest movie of all time. Great stuff.

How about a Fresca?

5. Paris Hilton on Late Night with David Letterman. I'm just now realizing how much Sara is going to hate this list. She hates this particular clip because she thinks that Dave is being mean to Paris, which is precisely why everyone else is going to love it.

What is it you did? Do you know what you did?

4. The Evolution of Dance. Evidently, this is the most viewed clip in YouTube history. So there you go.

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.

3. The Human Camera. Nothing makes a great YouTube clip like an autistic guy. Not funny, but definitely the most impressive clip on the list.

Stephen Wiltshire has been called "The Human Camera"...

2. Blake. Are you still reading this, dear? This is the movie that I love the most that Sara hates the most: Glengarry Glen Ross. It's based on a Mamet play, but this scene was written specifically for the movie. Alec Baldwin should get a lifetime achievement award for supporting acting.

Put that coffee down.

1. The 90210 Twins. These guys are called the 90210 twins because of this clip, but the one I'm putting on the list is their rendition of the Full House theme. They've got some other great ones too (Mr. Belvidere, Perfect Strangers). Enjoy.

What ever happened to predictability?

Wasn't that a terrific list? I'm quite proud. How much time did you waste? Lots, I bet.

Later gators.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

by the way, we'll be 50

So as you probably know, I'm a big fan of games. Sports, boardgames, roadtrip games--any kind of game, really. And I came up with a great one the other night at Noodles & Company with Sara and Charlie. Here's the premise: Imagine Charlie and his friends in 25 years (so basically, when they're our age). What will their favorite movies be? Their favorite songs? Their favorite soups? Now, on this particular night, we used Charlie and his four closest friends in Woodstock: Grace, Hunter, Katelyn, and Siena. For example:

If Charlie, Grace, Hunter, Katelyn, and Siena were going out for dinner, what would they eat?
The answer to this one is pretty obvious. Siena would have something fancy like Safron Risotto with Cerignola Olives. Katelyn would get a house salad with the dressing on the side. Hunter would get Italian Three-Cheese Macaroni. And Charlie and Grace would split a plate of wings. No brainer.

If Charlie, Grace, Hunter, Katelyn, and Siena wanted to rent a movie, what would they want to rent?
Siena would opt for some foreign film with subtitles. Katelyn would go for a romantic comedy--possibly Sleepless in Seattle. Hunter will be a Harry Potter fan, so he'll vote for a Harry Potter marathon. Knowing her background, I'm going with Sideways for Grace. And Charlie will be a Caddyshack guy.

If Charlie, Grace, Hunter, Katelyn, and Siena were going to a concert, what concert would they want to go to?
Siena: Joni Mitchell. Katelyn: I say Justin Timberlake; my wife says Third Day. Hunter: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Grace: Bon Jovi. Charlie: Uncle Sam!

What colleges or universities will Charlie, Grace, Hunter, Katelyn, and Siena attend?
Siena and Katelyn will be roommates at Princeton. Hunter will go to U of I (obviously). Grace will bypass college to join the Joffrey Ballet. Charlie will go to ECC, and there's nothing wrong with that.

What will Charlie, Grace, Hunter, Katelyn, and Siena do for a living?
Siena will be the President. Katelyn will be the new host of Divine Design on HGTV. Hunter will direct the Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem. Grace will be a CEO with a Fortune 500 company. And Charlie will teach high school social studies and coach basketball. And I bet he'll be awesome at it.

Later gators.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

the dangers of church league volleyball

On Monday night, I witnessed the third-worst injury that I've seen in person. You see, I play on the First Presbyterian volleyball team in a local church league on Monday nights. Last year, we won the whole league. You might have read about it in the papers. Anyway, this past Monday we played St. Mary's First Congregational Lutheran Bible Church or some crazy thing like that, and we lost the first game then rebounded to win the second. About halfway through the third game, a friendly guy from SMFCLBC dove for a ball and, as he hit the ground, howled in pain. I was in the back row, so I couldn't see what happened, but as the players in our front row began to shield their eyes and turn away, I was able to get a better look, and it turns out that his right shoulder was dislocated. I don't know if you've ever had this injury (or seen someone with it), but imagine that your shoulder dropped down six inches so your arm started in the middle of your rib cage and dangled from silly putty that was connected to your collarbone. That's what it looks like. The guy was pretty tough about it. A teammate put his coat over the guy's shoulders and walked him out to his car so he could drive the guy to the hospital, and the guy just kept saying that he wished someone could just pop it back in. (As you might imagine, no one felt too comfortable doing that.) So that's the third-worst injury I've ever seen in person.

In April of 2005, I witnessed the second-worst injury that I've seen in person. It was my first year coaching the varsity baseball team here at Big Foot, and Anders Ericson was playing right field for me. Anders was a hard-working kid that ran faster than anyone else we had that year. We were at Clinton, and I was standing in front of the dugout on the first-base side when one of the Cougars hit a fly ball into foul territory directly down the fenceline from me. Anders took off after the ball at about a hundred miles per hour. Now, Clinton's field has a warning track, which is a (roughly) 10-foot strip of dirt between the grass playing area and the fence. The warning track is designed to warn players that they are approaching the fence. Had I given that two-sentence explanation to my players before the game, Anders might have kept his teeth. Unfortunately, the warning track didn't slow Anders down a bit and he plowed face-first into the chain-link fence. (If you go to Clinton today, you'll still see an Anders-shaped dent in the fence. Seriously.) Anyway, he fell back and rolled over so that he was on all fours, and I sprinted down the line toward him. When I got there, I saw a pool of blood under his face, and he kept saying, "My teeth! My teeth!" Turns out that three teeth had been knocked out, his tongue and face had several lacerations, he had chipped his jawbone, and he had broken his nose. We found a couple of the teeth (which were a lot longer than you'd think--evidently, they didn't break but came out whole), but they couldn't get them back in, from what I understand. Once we got Anders calmed down, his first question was, "Did I catch it?" He did not. The ambulance came, and Anders met his mom at the hospital. (She was--fortunately, I think--at his sister's game at the time.) We went on to win the game, and Anders got Honorable Mention All-Conference. And that was the second-worst injury I've ever seen in person.

When I was in fifth grade, I saw the worst injury that I've seen in person. Jamie Ditzenberger played basketball for my dad's freshman team that year, and I was the manager. Now, Jamie wasn't tall--maybe 5'9--but he was a skateboarder, so his legs were really muscular. As a result, he could jump. In fact, he would jump up and grab the rim on his way out of practice each night. So one night I was shooting around while I waited for my dad, and Jamie was walking out of the gym. As per his usual routine, he took a couple of steps and jumped. He did not make it to the rim. In fact, he barely left the ground before he fell to the floor, clutching his knee. Someone ran in and got my dad. He pulled down Jamie's pantleg and I saw an image that I still see in nightmares. Apparently, skateboarding builds your quads up pretty well, but it doesn't do as good a job with your hamstrings. So the muscles pulling up on his kneecap were a lot stronger than the ones pulling back. When he jumped, those well-developed quads yanked his kneecap up into what would have been his pocket if he were wearing jeans or khakis. And you could see the lump right there below his hip. Worse--maybe--was the place where his knee was supposed to be, which was now sort of Jello-y. I didn't see how things played out, but I was later told that when the paramedics showed up, the just had to push the kneecap back down into place. There was, I am told, a lot of screaming. And that's the worst injury I've ever seen in person.

Later gators.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

the moment of truth is awesome

Holy crap. Have you watched this show? I am recalibrating my perception of television based on three episodes. Here's the premise: Some schmuck gets hooked up to a lie detector and answers a bunch of questions, which get increasingly personal as the show goes on. If the person answers truthfully, then he or she wins money. One false answer and you're done. It's like Truth or Dare with no dares, super-creative questions, and people you don't know so you don't feel awkward when they have to tell the world whether they would feed a stray dog before they would feed a homeless person, or if they think their parents are proud of them.

Now, those last two came up in last night's episode, which I watched online this morning, and she said yes to the first and no to the second. (Evidently, a lot of people agree with the dog-before-homeless-person answer. I do not, but that's probably because I don't like animals.) But those were lame $25,000 questions or something. The real drama began when they started asking questions about her husband, who, by the way, was there watching. (They always put your parents/spouse/siblings/etc. there on stage to make it even more uncomfortable--and in an interesting twist, those people can push a button if they hear a question that they don't want the answer to and Mark will give the contestant another question.) And incidentally, the husband is a cop. For example:

Have you ever pretended to be asleep to avoid having sex with your husband?

Do you blame your husband for you lack of close friends?
ANSWER: Yes. (!)

Have you ever taken off your wedding ring to appear as if you were single?
ANSWER: Yes. (!!)

Do you believe you might have been in love with a former boyfriend on your wedding day?
ANSWER: Yes. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

And the lie detector said that these were all true answers. So THEN (I'm using caps because I don't feel like regular old italics are getting the drama across anymore), her EX-BOYFRIEND comes out to ask some questions:

If I wanted to get back together with you, would you leave your husband?
ANSWER: There was no answer because after her husband said that he didn't want to push the button because he wanted to hear the answer, her sister jumped up and pushed it!

So the ex-boyfriend asks a different question:

Do you believe that I am the man you should be married to?
ANSWER: Yes. (I thought this was a dirty trick, by the way--pretty much just rephrasing the question that the sister had nixed.)

So now the boyfriend leaves and she's at $200,000, so she can go home if she wants, BUT SHE DECIDES TO KEEP GOING! Next question:

Since you have been married, have you ever had sexual relations with someone other than your husband?
ANSWER: Yes. (This does bring up one weak point of the show--you don't get any details. I don't know how you could manage it, but you're sometimes curious why they answer the way they do.)

And then, just when you don't think you can handle anymore:

Do you think you're a good person?
ANSWER: "Honestly, I think I am a good person."

And the lie detector says, "That answer is...false." AND SHE LOSES ALL THE MONEY!!! Not because she's a bad person (which it kind of seems like she is), but because she secretly THINKS she's a bad person!

There is a lot of contrived drama on television, and maybe this is an example of it, but I'll admit that I'm hooked. I mean, I'm only human.

Later gators.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

act prep prep

So yesterday, my colleague Nicole and I went to an ACT Convention in Madison, and guess what. I brought a pen! Here's how it went down:

7:45...I arrive at Nicole's house in Janesville. She's driving because her husband works at a car dealership and I drive a 2000 Toyota Corolla. We don't have directions to the hotel, so I'm concerned, but apparently I'm a caveman--we have OnStar. This is my first experience with OnStar, and it's very exciting. Before the day is over, we will have used it 4 times.

8:30...We pull up to the Sheraton and head inside. Incidentally, it's chilly. This morning, I actually heard a guy on the radio say, "It won't be as cold tonight. You can expect a low of 4." 4! That's what we get excited about here in the Midwest now.

8:35...There's a continental breakfast, but we're not hungry. Nicole stands in line for coffee for 5 minutes while I find us a seat in front of a coffee machine with no line. I should probably have let her in on that.

8:45...Joining us at the table today: Mary Ellen McCormick-Mervis. If you think you should recognize that name, you shouldn't. I just thought it was funny. There's some other lady here too.

8:55...When asked what UW-Madison looks for, an admissions counselor in the crowd says, "High-ability students." You don't say.

9:00...We have some time to kill. I'm reading The Inner Game of Tennis, about which you should definitely be expecting a blog when I finish it. Nicole is reading Alive. So far, this conference is money well spent.

9:30...The guy who's introducing the keynote speaker says, "Paul Weeks certainly doesn't need an introduction to this crowd." I think he does. Anyway, it turns out that he used to work at Ripon--Sara remembers him as being nice. However, he now works for the ACT, which she loathes, so I wonder how she reconciles those two emotions. Anyway, here are some of the interesting things about his address:

1. He refers to the "Wisconsin mafia." Does anyone know what this means?
2. He begins by saying, "It wouldn't be a Paul Weeks presentation if I didn't give Carlos Garces a prize." I'll say.
3. He passes out instant lottery tickets to people who answer questions. Nice.
4. He claims that ACT (the corporation) is "so much more than the test." He never convinces me that this is true.

9:40...Here are four questions to ask yourself if you're wondering whether you're disturbing the people around you: 1) Are you moving the table a lot? 2) Are you making more noise than anyone else around you? 3) Are you taking up more than your fair share of the table? 4) Are a lot of the people sitting near you looking at you a lot? Mary Ellen McCormick-Mervis, you should commit that list to memory.

9:50...The line of the morning comes when Paul is explaining that monitoring without intervention isn't helpful: "Weighin' the hog don't make it fatter." Nice.

9:55...Did you know that all students in Colorado, Illinois, and Michigan have to take the ACT? It's true.

9:56...Speaking of Colorado, we're looking at a map right now, and it's always farther south that I remember. Always.

10:20...Heading into our first break-out session, I see a lot of people on cell phones, and it becomes clear that everyone in the world has a nicer cell phone than I do. I feel like I'm carrying around a Zach Morris model circa 1992.

10:30...Andy, who was supposed to present about designing your own ACT prep course, is mysteriously absent. Over the next hour, we will be told that he is sick, that he has a sickness in the family, and that he's gone for personal reasons. We will also be told that he notified them as late as Tuesday night and as early as Friday. If no one sees Andy by the end of the week, we should make a phone call. Anyway, Patricia is stepping up.

10:45...Okay, so clearly Patricia knows what she's doing. We should just hire her. She talks a lot about the course she organizes through UW-Milwaukee. Some interesting sidenotes:

1. Roughly 75% of her students see improvement. I'm not a violent person, but Charlie would get a beating if I paid $175 for an ACT prep course and he didn't improve.
2. This guy says something about getting out of the course as much as you can, and I thought of a cool line to use at the beginning: "Your job is to get out of this course as much as you can get out of this course. Otherwise, get out of this course." That'd scare the little punks.

11:30...The session is over--it was genuinely helpful, I think--and we're headed out for lunch. We decide on a Mexican place called El Pastor (which means "the pastor"). We both go with the chicken burrito. Nicole gets the medium and I get the large. There is no small, which begs the question, why not call the medium "small"? Doesn't medium mean it's in the middle? It can't be in the middle if there are only two sizes. Anyway, neither one of us finishes what we got. But they were excellent. If you are away from home and don't know the local cuisine, a sit-down Mexican restaurant is your best bet.

This blog entry is getting long, and nothing interesting happened in the afternoon. (Whether anything interesting happened in the morning is up to you to decide.) Anyway, I would say that this was a useful day. We learned some things. Hopefully, so will our students, although that seems less likely. So it goes.

Later gators.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

sex, drugs, and qdoba

If this were a serious blog, I would have brought a pen with me last night.

Last night, you see, my long-lost friend Bryn and I met at her place in Madison and, after a quick dinner at Qdoba, went to see Chuck Klosterman speak at UW. And he was awesome. However, I can't remember hardly any of the reasons why he was awesome. What I do remember is a number of times when I thought, Man, I should totally include that on my blog tomorrow. I mean, this is the sort of event that really lends itself to a blog entry. But I'm having a very difficult time recalling any details. That won't surprise anyone who knows me well--that is, anyone who's had to grab my wallet for me as we walked out of a restaurant, anyone who's decided it would be funny to hide my keys when I left them in the computer lab (I'm looking at you, Beckford), anyone who shares a household income with me and has to constantly remind me to deposit my paycheck. In some ways, I have an excellent memory. In many, many more ways, I do not. I'll do my best, though. Here are 11 things I remember about last night's event:

1. CK is pretty tall. Like maybe 6'2 or 6'3.
2. If you've seen a picture of him, you know he has a floppy haircut. I don't understand guys who do that. He was constantly brushing it away from his face. Isn't that a hassle?
3. He was wearing a Doors (I think) t-shirt; a black, zip-up, hooded sweatshirt; and blue jeans. However, whenever he stepped behind the podium, I imagined that he was wearing red pants. It wasn't a conscious thought. I was just surprised whenever he stepped out and his pants weren't red.
4. His voice is very unique. I've listened to him reading Chuck Klosterman IV on CD, so I knew that, but it bears mentioning. I suppose that nasally is the best word to describe it, but that's a negative description, and his voice isn't really annoying. Actually, it's sort of engaging. But in a nasally way.
5. Sometimes, when I have time to kill in class, I have the kids play a public speaking game where they have to talk about some random topic (Sneakers! Chinese food! Pencil sharpeners!) for a full minute without pausing, umming, ahing, saying like, etc. Chuck Klosterman would be horrible at that game. Further, he starts a lot--a lot--of sentences that he never finishes. For example, I'm pretty sure this is a direct quote:

The record companies realized they could sell six-year-old kids records. Like Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake...and, like, I mean, right? You know? So anyway...

Again, I'm not criticizing. I could have listened to him all night. But Barack Obama he is not. (More on that later.)
6. He is a very animated speaker. The image that's in my head right now is of him sort of tilting his left shoulder forward and down a little bit, with his hands extended, palms up. It's kind of like he's saying, Ta da!, but in a matter-of-fact kind of way. He would stand that way whenenver he was making a point about something that seemed really ludicrous to him. Like how strange it seemed to him that people always ask what Britney Spears/Val Kilmer/etc. are "really" like, as though his two hours with them would make him privy to that sort of circumspection. He made that point roughly 10 minutes before someone asked him what Britney Spears was really like.
7. Hillary Clinton was also speaking in Madison last night, and he wished that they could have somehow combined their events so they could have a debate. He conceded that she would probably win when it came to topics like government spending and national defense, but if the topic were Wilco B-sides, he was confident that he would "crush her."
8. He thinks that Hillary is probably the more qualified Democratic candidate right now, but he is going to vote for Obama. He's not sure why.
9. His knowledge of music is scary. In fact, it's so broad that I dreaded music questions because I knew I wouldn't be able to follow along. He mentioned so many bands that I had never heard of that I found myself getting excited when he talked about Guns 'n Roses because even though I have almost never actively listened to GNR, I know who they are.
9b. I had a professor in college named William Woolley, and I remember a number of times in class when he would talk about a book, and he would run his finger back and forth through the air as he tried to remember something from it. It was a mystery to me until a senior history major explained to me that he was recreating the pages in his head and going through them until he found what he was trying to remember. That always amazed me. Chuck Klosterman is like that when it comes to the Kurt Cobain suicide. A kid asked if he thought Cobain was murdered (he does not), and it was like CK wrote his masters thesis about it. Very impressive.
10. He has an in-depth knowledge of sports that some people might not be aware of. He did an awesome blog on last year's Final Four.
11. To use what he once called "the least incendiary of all modifiers," he seems genuinely "nice." He also seems genuinely genuine. Some celebrities give you the impression that if you approached them in a bar, they'd give a nod to some guy in the corner and you'd be out on the street in about three seconds. And maybe that's true of Klosterman (although he doesn't seem like he spends much time with guys who would be capable of throwing you out of a bar), but I don't think so. I think he'd buy you a Sierra Nevada and ask what you thought of the Jason Kidd trade. I think so, anyway.

Later gators.

Friday, February 15, 2008

$250 for the head of a pig?

Once, at a graduation party, I was sitting with my wife, our friend Gail August, and some of the graduating seniors. We were talking about people's favorite subjects in school, and Gail said, "I think with history, you either love it or you hate it. Jenna, how do you like history?" To which Jenna replied, "It's alright," thereby destroying Gail's original thesis. For some reason, this cracked me up.

Anyway, I feel the same way about Valentine's Day. Like, you're either supposed to love it (mostly if you're a girl) or hate it (mostly if you're a guy). But if you asked me, I'd tell you, "It's alright." I don't love it like, say, Christmas or my birthday, but I certainly don't think I hate it. I'm mostly indifferent. And at least I've had some interesting ones. Like my first Valentine's Day with Sara when I borrowed her car and drove it into a telephone pole. (That's hyperbole, but whatever.) Most recently, Valentine's Day resulted in my first visit to Designs by Maida (inexplicably pronounced MAY-dee-uh), a new boutique on the square in Woodstock that sells nice stuff for your house, mostly.

I was in the market for a gift for my lovely wife, and since we just bought property on which to build a new house, I thought I'd get something with which to decorate said house. Seemed timely. So I decide to walk in and do a little browsing. Immediately, this woman (I'm going to call her Maida, even though her name was something like Kate) says, "Welcome to Designs by Maida! Can I help you find something?" Very friendly. And I told her I was just browsing for a Valentine's Day gift, so she backed off for about 15 seconds before reattaching herself to me and asking, once again, if there was something she could help me find. Well, during that 15 seconds, it had become clear that I was out of my league at this place. The first thing I looked at (not because I was going to buy it, but because I was intrigued) was a door knocker in the shape of a pig's head. It cost $250. I was not going to buy anything at Designs by Maida.

But I didn't want to be rude, so I said, "Sure, Maida. Imagine that you and your husband have just bought a new house, and he's looking to spend about $75 on a gift that you can use to help decorate that new house, and he walks into this store. What would you want him to buy?" Now, I feel like I did that well because 1) I think salespeople like it when you ask them stuff like that. Same with servers at restaurants; 2) I'm being friendly, so she might give me a break on something; and 3) I've made my budget clear. So Maida thinks for a minute, then she says, "Candle holders."

Yeah, okay. That could be cool. And it seems like I should be able to get a nice set for $75, so I say, "Okay. Show me your candle holders." She asks if my wife would prefer glass or wood. Definitely wood. We're not fancy people. So she leads me to a shelf with maybe a dozen different kinds of wood candle holders. "And all of our candles are on sale," she tells me. So the first candle holder I look at is the biggest one, which might have been a mistake on my part, but it was nice-looking, so I thought I'd check out the price. $210. Are you kidding me, Maida? For a freakin' candle holder? So I start wondering what the price range is here. I look at the smallest one on the shelf. $108. Did I not make myself clear? First of all, under no circumstances would I buy a damn candle holder for $108. And this is especially true when I told the salesperson that I didn't want to spend more than $75. Did she not hear me? Did she think I was kidding? What the hell?

Anyway, now I'm standing there looking at candle holders that I'm not going to buy, and Maida is staring at me, and I don't know what to do. So I tell her I'm going to keep looking around. I walk around and find lamps that cost $300; blankets that cost $450; a wine rack that cost $1,200. I remember hearing a George Carlin bit where he says that he wanted to open a restaurant where one meal cost $10,000, so they'd only have to have one customer a day to make money. I wonder if Maida didn't hear that same bit and take it seriously. Regardless, I walk around, worrying that I'll knock over a $5,000 teapot or something, until I finally make something up about how I have somewhere to be and I don't want to rush the decision, so I'll be back. I don't know if she bought it, but I don't care. $450 for a freakin' blanket. It didn't even look that warm.

So I got my beautiful bride some wall art from Target, a singing card, flowers, and a big Toblerone bar. And now I'm going to tell her that I love her on my blog.

I love you.

Later gators.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

the case of larry legend v. mike

So, a number of my basketball players (who also happen to be students of Nicole Beckford's) are under the misconception that Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all-time. So they're writing persuasive essays for Nicole's class, and one of them told me he was going to write about why Jordan was better than the great Larry Bird. So I said, Okay, I'll write one too. Here it is.

Many Greek philosophers, among them Leucippus and Democritus, believed that the Earth was flat. Galileo Galilei, the great Tuscan physicist and astronomer, was convinced that the Sun revolved around the Earth. And my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Gregory, once told us that the oceans were blue because they reflected the blue sky. (Evidently, pure water is simply a blue chemical.) There are many misconceptions about the planet Earth. But the biggest misconception on the planet Earth is that Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all-time. I will stipulate that Jordan is the second-greatest basketball player of all-time, but if he wanted the top spot, he should have had better nicknames, he should have been a better college player, and he should not have tainted his legacy late in his career. Then maybe he could compete with the great Larry Bird.

In his career with the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan averaged 30.1 points per game; admittedly, Larry Bird’s 24.3 points per game don’t measure up. However, Bird’s game was not defined by scoring. The Boston Celtics of the 1980’s were defined by selflessness, and no player on that team was more selfless than Larry Legend. Bird could have scored more points than Jordan if that had been his goal; after all, his shooting percentages from the free throw line and the three-point line were both better than Jordan’s respective marks. (Their overall field goal percentages were equal.) But Jordan shot 3.5 more times per game than Bird while Bird dished out a full assist per game more than Jordan. (This is to say nothing of the fact that Bird averaged nearly four more rebounds per game.)

In addition to his impressive scoring record, Jordan won six NBA Championships; Bird won three. Before making a judgment, consider the coaches and teammates of Jordan’s who went on to play in one or more championship series without him later in their careers: Phil Jackson, Horace Grant, Jack Haley, Ron Harper, Steve Kerr, Toni Kukoc, Will Perdue, Dennis Rodman, and John Salley. Bird’s list? Danny Ainge. In short, Jordan’s teammates succeeded without him; Bird’s did not. The sheer length of these lists suggests that Jordan was not nearly as critical to his teams’ achievements as Bird was to his.

Finally, what of Jordan’s myriad awards? He was NBA Rookie of the Year (although the same could be said of Bird). He was the MVP five times (to Bird’s three). He was the MVP of the NBA Finals six times (to Bird’s two). Don’t these accolades prove that Jordan was the better player? In a word, no. In the voting for any award, each player is essentially competing against the other players in the league, and the players against whom Jordan competed in his prime were drastically inferior to those against whom Bird competed in his. (It’s a small wonder that Jordan, despite averaging over 30 points per game in the 80’s, didn’t start winning Championships until Bird retired.) Jordan played in an era when high school players were entering the draft in unprecedented numbers, and while these players would eventually become today’s All-Stars (Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, etc.), the 18-year-old versions that Jordan “competed” with were not nearly as talented as the Magic Johnsons, the Isiah Thomases, and the Julius Ervings that Bird dominated during his Hall of Fame career.

As George Herman Ruth, Joe Jackson, and Rod Smart can all attest, a colorful nickname is crucial to an athlete’s legacy. And the Babe, Shoeless Joe, and He Hate Me would likely also agree that Jordan can’t hold a candle to Bird in this category. Bird’s nicknames include Larry Legend, Basketball Jesus, The Hick from French Lick, The Mustard Kid, and Kodak. (Olympic coach Bill Fitch christened Bird with that last one because Bird seemed to create an instant mental image of every play that occurred on the floor.) By contrast, Jordan’s nicknames (according to include Air, Mike, MJ, and Superman. After eliminating Superman because it’s unoriginal and no one actually called him that, the list stands at his initials, his first name, and “Air,” about which ESPN’s Page 2 admits, “[Jordan] outplayed his own…nickname.” Basketball Jesus versus Mike? Please.

To compare the college careers of Bird and Jordan would not be worthwhile as Bird’s numbers are significantly better. The Hick from French Lick averaged 30.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game during his three-year career. (“Mike” averaged 17.7, 5.0, and 1.8 during his three-year stint at North Carolina.) What’s more noteworthy is the remarkable risk that Red Auerbach and the Boston Celtics took on Bird in the 1978 draft. At the time, league rules dictated that a player could be drafted while he was still in college, but could not play in the NBA until he had been out of high school for three years. With future All-Stars like Magic Johnson and Reggie Theus still available, the Celtics used the sixth pick that year on Bird. The following spring, Bird carried his Indiana State Sycamores to a memorable NCAA Championship game against Johnson and Michigan State. Two years later, the Boston Celtics were NBA Champions. Their leading scorer and rebounder that season? Basketball Jesus.

With all of the rhetoric stripped away, this argument is about legacy. Were this a play, Bird would clearly have had the upper hand during the first act (their respective college careers). Some may have given Jordan the edge in the second act (although most of those arguments seem to have been put to bed). The third act, then, is the deciding factor. Bird spent the five years after his retirement as a special assistant in the Celtics’ front office before taking over as head coach of the Indiana Pacers. He led the Pacers to three Eastern Conference Championship games and one NBA Finals series. In 1998, he was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year. He currently serves as the Pacers’ President of Basketball Operations. Jordan’s third act looks like this: early retirement; a short, disappointing minor league baseball career; gambling controversy; an injury-plagued comeback with the Washington Wizards; and a position as Director of Basketball Operations for the Wizards to which he is, by all accounts, only marginally committed. He has also been divorced from the same woman twice, the second time following a messy accusation of infidelity on Jordan’s part. To repeat, this argument is about legacy. In this play, Bird is our hero.

This line of reasoning is in no way a criticism of Michael Jordan. Thousands of players have played in the NBA since it was created in 1946. Jordan was better than the Chamberlains and the Russells; the Thomases and the Johnsons; the Jameses and the Duncans. But even Leucippus would agree that a close examination of their legacies proves that there was one man who stood above even MJ, and that man was The Mustard Kid: Larry Bird.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

the endorsement: the endorsement

So I used to get a number of magazines, but now I get one: Esquire. It's fun to read it and imagine that I'm as cool as they seem to assume I am by virtue of my readership. For example, they had a short article in the most recent issue about watches with a certain kind of strap, and I was looking at the prices and was surprised to find that they were fairly reasonable--mostly around $50. Then I looked closer and realized that it was the straps that cost $50. The watches were in the $3,000 neighborhood. And that happens pretty often when I read this magazine.

But they do occasionally have interesting stuff in there that I can use, and oftentimes it comes in the form of a recurring section called "The Endorsement." Basically, someone from the magazine endorses some music/book/concept/etc. Recent examples include: Tim McGraw, the jockstrap, Spam and egg on toast, RadarGolf, the hug, Mister Mustard, staying indoors, and Crayola crayons.

So as an homage to "The Endorsement," I'm going to put together a list of my own endorsements. Everything on this list comes with my steadfast recommendation. As often as possible, I'll include pertinent web links. Here we go.

1. The Juno soundtrack.
2. Dunkin' Donuts apple fritters.
3. Rachel Ray's carbonara.
4. Ghost Repeater, by Jeffrey Foucault.
5. "The Pineapple Incident" episode of How I Met Your Mother.
6. Boardgames.
7. The Saxton.
8. Indiana University men's basketball warm-ups.
9. Busted Tees. (Specifically, "You have died of dysentery.")
10. My mother's meatloaf.
11. Chipotle.
12. Going out for lunch.
13. Red Stripe.
14. The Diamond and 1 Press.
15. Tootsie's Orchid Lounge on Broadway in Nashville, TN.
16. The word "pejorative."
17. Jewel's Three-Cheese Semolina bread.
18. A Mountain Dew in the morning.
19. The first chapter of Staggerford, by John Hassler.
20. Using scissors to cut up little kids' food.
21. Field trips.
22. Rocky Rococo's.
23. The Food Network.
24. Dr. Drew Pinksy.
25. Cinammon Toast Crunch.
26. People who shave their heads when a friend is going through chemo.
27. Kickball.
28. Chewing gum.
29. Optical illusions.
30. Gambling for the sake of gambling.
31. The Reese's Peanut Butter Pie at the Ft. Myers Alehouse.
32. Beards.
33. String cheese.
34. Mitch Hedberg.
35. Tyson Dinosaur Fun Nuggets with Tastefully Simple Pomegranate Chipotle Sauce.

Feel free to add more by way of comments. And if you're not familiar with this stuff, by all means, check it out.

Later gators.

Monday, February 11, 2008

responses to your responses

So my list of the Top 10 TV Characters of All-Time has generated some heated debate here on teacher man. I feel it's my responsibility to address all of your concerns:

1. Obviously, I loved Ed as much as the next guy. As indicated in my preface, this was a nearly-impossible list to make. However, I stand firm. And Ed would never be the choice from that show--3rd at best. Phil would easily be #1, and he would be followed closely by Mike. If Frankie hadn't turned out to be such a freakshow, she would have been 3rd. Maybe Shirley. Man, that was a great show.

2. Michael over Dwight? Really? I suppose you're entitled to your opinion, but that's a crazy one. What about Schrute bucks? What about Cousin Mose? What about Jim's pranks? What about the health care plan? What about Dwight Schrute trivia? What about "Okay, see you later Pan"? What about how 911 is his emergency contact? What about how he can raise and lower his cholestorol on command? What about how he volunteers to hold the limbo stick for Captain Jack? And I thought of all of those in like two minutes!

3. The reason Swarley is at 8 is that I'm afraid putting him higher would be reactionary. Like when I made my Top 10 CD and I put "Carry This Picture," by Dashboard Confessional, on there. That was ridiculous--I see that now. But at the time, I loved that song. I almost debated whether B.S. should be on the list at all, but he shouldn't be punished for being awesome now rather than 15 years ago. (Come to think of it, he was awesome 15 years ago--hence Doogie's inclusion on the list.)

4. Again, this was a difficult list, and I really like Sports Night. But I just don't know where any of those characters fit. (If you looked closely, Isaac Jaffe was on the Honorable Mention list--he would be my top choice, I think. Just above Jeremy.) But was he a better character than Barney Stinson? Rose Nylund? Frank Barone? It's debatable, I guess, but as I said before, I stand firm.

5. I totally don't remember the Schrute bucks episode. I even looked it up online, and the whole thing seems foreign to me. Is it possible I missed it? I don't know how. This is unsettling.

Later gators.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

top 10 tv characters

NOTE: Virtually all of the information on this list comes from Wikipedia or IMDB. And I know some people hate Wikipedia, but it's convenient, and it's not like this is my masters thesis.

This might be the toughest Top 10 list so far. I had this idea when I stumbled across Bravo!'s list of the top 100, but I didn't like most of theirs, so I brainstormed some of my own, and before I knew it, I had a list of more than 30 quality candidates. After a full minute of deliberation, I pared the list down to 10. Before that, those who deserve honorable mention: Kevin Arnold, Niles Crane, Isaac Jaffe, Joey Tribbiani, Cliff Huxtable, Norm Peterson, Bull Shannon, Dauber Daubinski, Richard Belding, etc., etc., etc.

Now that that's out of the way, here, with coniderable trepidation, I submit to you the Top 10 TV Characters of All-Time:

10. Rose Nylund (Golden Girls)
SOME ROSE TRIVIA: She was born out of wedlock to a monk and his lover...She was raised in an orphanage and convinced that her father was Bob Hope (until she met her real father late in the series)...She's a native of St. Olaf, MN...She married Charlie Nylund...Charlie and Rose had 5 children...Blanche invited her to live with the rest of the girls after seeing her give a stray cat to a boy at the grocery store...She won St. Olaf's Woman of the Year award in 1988...She had the "highest suicide rate" at the Suicide Prevention Center at which she worked
MEMORABLE ROSE QUOTE: "Like we say in St. Olaf, Christmas without fruitcake is like St. Sigmund's Day without the headless boy."

9. Lowell Mather (Wings)
SOME LOWELL TRIVIA: He's the dim-witted handyman at the airport...Divorced his wife Bunny when he found out she was cheating on him...Brian sank his houseboat...He's quite a cook...Ends up leaving Nantucket to enter the Witness Protection Program after witnessing a mob hit...The name Lowell Mather is an allusion to the Lowell House and the Mather House, dorms on the Harvard campus
MEMORABLE LOWELL QUOTE: "I give blood all the time. Just between you and me, Roy, I'll do anything for a sugar cookie."

8. Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother)
SOME BARNEY TRIVIA: Transformed from a coffee-guzzling hippie into a womanizer after a girlfriend, Shannon, left him for a suited, better-established man shortly before she and Barney were going to work for the Peace Corps in Nigeria...Has a gay, black brother named James (Wayne Brady)...The voice of Barney's mother is Megan Mullally...Works for UltraSew, a manufacturer of military weaponry, petroleum, and the exteriors of tennis balls...Claims to have licked every national landmark in the United States...Nicknamed "Swarley"...Lost the Slap Bet to Marshall (and has currently received 3 of his 5 slaps)
MEMORABLE BARNEY QUOTE: "Think of me like Yoda. But instead of being little and green, I wear suits and I'm awesome."

7. Alex P. Keaton (Family Ties)
SOME ALEX TRIVIA: Born in Africa (while his parents were with the Peace Corps)...Kept a picture of Richard Nixon above his bed...Attended Leland College, where dated Ellen (portrayed by real-life wife Tracy Pollan) and Lauren (Courteney Cox)...Closet Doors fan (no pun intended)...Eventually became a Republican senator for Ohio, according to the series finale of Spin City
MEMORABLE ALEX QUOTE: "Mallory, someone stupid called...sometime today...about something trivial."

6. Frank Costanza (Seinfeld)
SOME FRANK TRIVIA: Did not appear in the series until "The Handicap Spot" (Season 4)...Fluent in Korean...Enjoys Latin music and TV Guide...Hates mice but loves squirrels...Refuses to remove his shoes in public...Retired religious icon importer...Inventor of Festivus and the "stop short" move
MEMORABLE FRANK QUOTE: "I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you're gonna' hear about them!"

5. Jack McFarland (Will and Grace)
SOME JACK TRIVIA: Former Banana Republic salesperson, Barney's salesperson, acting teacher, student nurse, surfer, Jennifer Lopez/Janet Jackson back-up dancer, and OutTV producer...Collects celebirty hair clippings...Claims to have "come out" in pre-school...Formerly-married to Rosario...Father of Elliot (whose mother is played by Rosie O'Donnell)...Inventor of the McFarland Method of Acting ("Acting is attracting!")
MEMORABLE JACK QUOTE: "Well, if you're wanting to make muskrat love with your girlfriend, why are you on the phone with me? (Pause.) Yeah, I thought so. You're my new best friend. Call me every five minutes."

4. Doogie Howser, M.D. (Doogie Howser, M.D.)
SOME DOOGIE TRIVIA: Finished high school in 9 weeks, graduated from Princeton at age 10, became a doctor at 14...Would have, according to Steven Bochco, left medicine to become a writer if the show hadn't been abruptly cancelled by ABC...Personal journal is available for all to read at
MEMORABLE DOOGIE QUOTE (after a patient declares, "You're a kid!"): "True, but I'm also a genius. If you have a problem with that, I can get you someone who's older but not as smart as me."

3. Frank Barone (Everybody Loves Raymond)
SOME FRANK TRIVIA: Served in the Korean War...Married Marie because he "wanted sex"...Keeps score at Allie's t-ball games...Once crashed his car into Ray and Debra's living room
MEMORABLE FRANK QUOTE: "Pretty soon she'll get a mood that lasts maybe five days. Then it's a week. Then, what was once a bad mood takes over and becomes her only mood. And then, you become like me, where not a day goes by that I don't wish that there was a comet screaming towards Earth to bring me sweet relief!"

2. Dwight K. Schrute (The Office)
SOME DWIGHT TRIVIA: Assistant Regional Manager (and top salesman) of the Scranton branch of the Dunder-Miffling Paper Company...Loves Count Chocula cereal, muscle cars, his Casio calculator-watch, Birkenstocks, bobblehead dolls, laser tag, paintball, traditional corn husk dolls, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, 24, Alias, Smallville, The Apprentice, Heroes, and Lost...Claims to have a perfect immune system...Can play the guitar and the recorder...Owns a beet farm with his cousin Mose...Can be reached at the following phone number: 1-800-984-367. Seriously, call it.
MEMORABLE DWIGHT QUOTE: "Why tip someone for a job I'm capable of doing myself? I can deliver food. I can drive a taxi. I can, and do, cut my own hair. I did however, tip my urologist, because I am unable to pulverize my own kidney stones."

1. Homer Simpson (The Simpsons)
SOME HOMER TRIVIA: Has an IQ of 55...Hates Mr. Burns, work, and Ned Flanders...Has an 8-track player in his car...Email address is a tabloid web page at (again, you can check it out)...#35 on TV Guide's list of the 50 Greatest TV Dads of All-Time...#2 on TV Guide's list of the 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All-Time
MEMORABLE HOMER QUOTE: "Look, the thing about my family is there's five of us. Marge, Bart, Girl Bart, the one who doesn't talk, and the fat guy. How I loathe him."

So there you go. And look at all of the crazy connections:

- Lowell witnessed a mob hit; Rose almost married a man who ended up being in the mob.
- Rose thought her father was Bob Hope; Barney thought his father was Bob Barker.
- Barney always suits up; Alex had a propensity for dressing up.
- Barney was going to go to Nigeria with the Peace Corps; Alex was born in Africa while his parents were serving in the Peace Corps.
- Jack has hair clippings from all four Golden Girls, including Rose.
- Neil Patrick Harris plays Barney and Doogie.
- Rose was St. Olaf's Woman of the Year; Frank B. was Man of the Year at the lodge.
- There are two fathers on the list named Frank.

Fascinating stuff. Later gators.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

mt. rushmore

This is a great roadtrip game that I'm going to turn into a mediocre blog entry. Here's the idea: Mt. Rushmore has, theoretically, our 4 greatest Presidents' faces carved into the side of a big mountain. If you were to make a Mt. Rushmore of the 4 greatest (fill-in-the-blank), who would you choose? Here are some examples with my answers:

Hank Aaron
Willie Mays
Babe Ruth
Ted Williams
NEXT IN LINE: Albert Pujols

Larry Bird
Wilt Chamberlain
Michael Jordan
Bill Russell
NEXT IN LINE: Lebron James

Jim Brown
Joe Montana
Jerry Rice
Barry Sanders

Red Auerbach
Vince Lombardi
Bill Walsh
John Wooden
NEXT IN LINE: Mike Krzyzewski

Robert DeNiro
Al Pacino
Kevin Spacey
Jimmy Stewart
NEXT IN LINE: Leonardo DiCaprio

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Joseph Heller
J.D. Salinger
John Steinbeck
NEXT IN LINE: Richard Russo

Johnny Cash
Bob Dylan
Paul Simon
James Taylor

I suppose I'll listen to some discussion on these since I had a hard time with some of them. And I would love to hear other ideas for categories--we take lots of road trips.

Later gators.

Monday, February 4, 2008

this is the street i live on

PREFACE: After looking back over this, it's really long. Holy cats. And I have to thank Nicole Beckford for typing up our Conceptual Unit so that I had time to write it. You're the best.

As you know if you read the last installment of 20 Questions, I stayed home with Charlie on Wednesday because it was ungodly cold outside. Among the activities we pursued was our trillionth viewing of Sesame Street Presents: The Street We Live On. Because I know the show forward and backward, and because I was bored, I decided to keep a running diary. Enjoy.

0:01...We begin not with the theme song, but with Grover in a postal worker's uniform. He evidently has an important job to do: he must deliver a package to Oscar's trashcan. He seems nervous, even though Oscar's trashcan is about twenty feet away. (Is that right, by the way? How big do you think the Sesame Street set is? Am I the only one wondering that?)

0:37...Good to see that Maria and Luis are still around. My wife was recently traumatized when she learned that they are not married in real life and that the wedding that was staged for the show back when we watched it was a sham.

1:01...Bob's still here too, but from the looks of it, maybe not for long.

1:16...Speaking of impending death, remember when Mr. Hooper died? And when Maria told Big Bird that he was dead and Big Bird said he'd just see him "when he came back"? I just looked it up and I was 3 when that happened. Wow.

1:28...Remember the guy who was on Punk'd at that pool party and the girl's dad showed up and flipped out on him? I think that guy's on Sesame Street now.

2:39...GROVER: "You certainly can make that guitar weep, Rosita." Who are jokes like that for? Are a lot of kindergarteners picking up the Beatles allusion?

3:09...It's time for Elmo's World. Elmo reminds me of all the creepy girls I went to high school with (and now teach) that are obsessed with Sesame Street/SpongeBob/etc. characters well after they should have lost interest.

6:11...Well, it's official. My wife and I have a long-standing argument over Mr. Noodle. He's just made his first appearance, and it's a different guy than the other Sesame Street video we have. I thought the other guy was the real one and this was a fake, but Muppet Central News tells us that my guy--Michael Jeter--is known as "The Other Mr. Noodle." Also, he's dead. You might remember him from Evening Shade or The Green Mile. A moment of silence, please.

14:16..."Jackson!" yells Charlie. It must be time for traction with Action Jackson, a young man who rides around singing in his wheelchair. "I have a chair," he sings. "It takes me most anywhere." Because of this scene, Charlie pointed at John Couget at the basketball game the other day and yelled, "Chair! Chair!" I suppose that's okay, right?

16:00...So apparently Elmo has email now. It's a video message from Big Bird and Snuffy teaching him how to do the Snuffleupagus. "You put your right foot out, and then you take it back. You put your right foot out, and then you take it back. You put your right foot out, and then you leave it there. You're doing the Snuffleupagus." Not much of a dance, really. Also, a question: What is Big Bird? Is he electronic? A muppet? Guy in a bird suit? Because I see strings, but he couldn't do all that stuff with just strings, right? Same with Bert and Ernie. Ernie clearly grasps objects--how do you do that with a muppet? Am I the only one wondering that?

18:40...Elmo would like us to count the monsters in the monster parade. There are 10. I think we've got a Number of the Day sighting.

20:26...Yup. The Number of the Day is 10. And now we're counting things that there are 10 of: toes, bells, bowling pins. And a kid that Sara thinks is the black version of a kid we have in Sunday School has us count wind-up toys.

21:40...Hey, Ernie's here! Big Bird is chasing him--we're playing Journey to Ernie.

22:24...Big Bird doesn't think we're on Sesame Street anymore, and Humpty Dumpty confirms that we're not. (Why is Humpty Dumpty always an egg, by the way? It never states that in the actual nursery rhyme. Am I the only one wondering that?)

22:40...The three little kittens who lost their mittens. What's the rest of that nursery rhyme? In my head, it always turns into "leave them alone and they'll come home..." but that's Little Bo Peep. Anyway, we're in some kind of nursery rhyme land.

23:40...This is frustrating. Big Bird has stumbled upon the little old lady who lives in a shoe, but here are the problems:

1. She says she has 8 kids. Why not 10? That's the Number of the Day, after all.
2. Big Bird says to count them and if there are more than 8, one of them could be Ernie. So we count and there are 9, so we figure that maybe Ernie is disguised as one of the kids. Nope. The lady just didn't know how many kids she had.
3. Big Bird suggests they play baseball, and one of the kids annoyingly screeches, "I wanna' play shortstop! I wanna' play shortstop!" I hate that.

25:54...Big Bird runs into the actual Little Bo Peep, and guess what. Ernie's dressed as one of her sheep. Perhaps they knew that their viewers would confuse the three little kittens and Little Bo Peep, and it was an attempt at foreshadowing.

27:30...Question: How old are Bert and Ernie? Ernie plays with a rubber duck and stuff, so he's probably pretty young, but they live on their own. And they sleep in the same room, separate beds. Probably confusing for kids.

28:20...Ernie's dancing himself to sleep. Classic Sesame Street moment.

29:15...A lot of star power in this little montage. Here's a list of the people who are dancing to "I Dance Myself To Sleep": Martina McBride, Venus Williams, Doris Roberts, Gloria Estefan, some violin player, someone who may or may not be Danica Patrick, the guy from Law & Order, Julianne Moore, Julianne Moore's daughter, a woman dressed as a fairy who looks vaguely familiar, Seth Green (!), a guy from The Sopranos, the women from The West Wing (who are inexplicably dancing in a doctor's office), Larry King, and Dr. Phil. Nice.

32:33...We're playing Who Lives On Sesame Street?, which only bears mentioning because my sister-in-law's favorite part of the show is when they say, "Does George Washington live on Sesame Street? No!"

36:00...Elmo wants to watch the Grover, Maria, Big Bird, and All of Elmo's Friends Channel. DISCUSSION QUESTION: What do you do in your private life that you would stop doing if you knew that there was a possibility that it would be broadcast to all of your friends?

36:32...Sesame Street Fun Fact: Big Bird is 8'2".

41:12...Grover takes Elmo on a cab ride through time so they can see some of the events that shaped Sesame Street: Luis and Maria's wedding, Maria giving birth to Gabby, Gordon and Susan adopting Miles, etc. When all is said and done, Elmo is feeling nostalgic, so he gathers all of his friends to deliver a special message: He loves Sesame Street and his friends very much.

45:41...Time to sing "This Is The Street I Live On." Are we worried about the effect that Elmo and Cookie Monster are having on the grammar of our young people? Elmo always talks in 3rd-person. Cookie says things like, "This is where me eat me cookies." This is a critical stage for language development, and we have millions of kids listening to this. Am I the only one that's concerned here?

48:23...Dorothy (Elmo's goldfish) would like to tell us that today's episode was brought to us by the number 10 and the letter C. I can understand 10, but I'm not so sure about C. They sang "C Is For Cookie," but that was about it. I think C could have been better represented.

That's all, boys and girls. It's a fine program, but it almost raises more questions than it answers. Tune in next week for an in-depth look at The Life and Times of Jimmy Neutron.

Until then, later gators.

Friday, February 1, 2008

charlie's top 10

Hi, everyone. It's Charlie. My dad let me be the guest blogger today. I know he's fond of making Top 10 lists, so I thought I'd take a shot at it. Since my experience is pretty limited--what the hell is SNL?--my topic is pretty broad: Charlie's Top 10 Favorite Things. Without further ado:

10. Bonk Jammies. For those of you who are unfamiliar, "bonk jammies" is what I say when I'm wearing my jammies--usually--and I fall down. Now, obviously, I don't like to actually bonk my jammies. However, when I say this, either Mom gives me three kisses or Dad does this funny thing with his lips, and I like those things. So it's a means to an end.

9. Almost! Dad and I play catch a lot, and while I'm quite a thrower, I'm not much of a catcher yet, so whenever the ball goes through my hands--which it does quite a lot--Dad says, "Almost!" And I like that. In fact, sometimes I say it even when I catch it. Dad thinks it's because I don't really know what it means, but the truth is, I just think it's a cool word. Almost! Hilarious.

8. Bubbles. Yes, there was a period there where I wasn't a big fan of baths. I don't know. You get all wet. It's cold when you get out. Not my cup of tea. But as of late, I'm really into them. I could sit in the tub all day. Just give me a cup, the Mr. Bubbles bottle, and a couple of those Crayola things that make the water all different colors, and I'm set.

7. Mana Milk. Who doesn't like milk? Seriously? Not sure why I throw the "mana" on the front end whenever I ask for it, but whatever. I still love me some milk.

6. Cracker Cheese. The origins of this one should be pretty clear. I like crackers and cheese, so I'd ask for it a lot. But last week, Mom and Dad and Aunt Stacy took me to this pizza place with a huge mouse and a bunch of games, and it turns out that the mouse's name is Cracker Cheese! Can you believe that? I thought it was so awesome that I pointed at him and yelled, "Cracker Cheese!" all night. Hold on a second. What's that, Dad? Chuck E. Cheese? You're pulling my leg. What kind of a name is that? Hmmm. I'll get back to you on this one.

5. Burger Fries. Have you ever been to McDonald's? You have to go! It's awesome. They have these cheeseburger things that look pretty nasty, but they taste awesome. And they have the best fries. Whenever we pass by one I start screaming, "Burger fries! Burger fries!" Mom doesn't always let me go, but Dad's pretty good about getting the message. But he should probably call it "McChicken Double-Cheeseburger Fries!" Just kidding, Dad.

4. Uncle Sam. God bless America. Kidding! I have an actual uncle named Sam, and man, he's terrific. He's pretty much the answer to any question Mom and Dad ask me. Who are you going to see at school today? Uncle Sam. Who's on the TV? Uncle Sam. Can you say, "I love you, Daddy"? I love you, Uncle Sam. I don't know why I do it. I just get bored answering the same questions all the time.

3. Bert, Ernie, Cookie, Elmo. Never mentioned individually--always as a group. Actually, I knew the characters before I even realized it was a show. Now I have videos and everything. If you aren't familiar with Sesame Street, I'd suggest that you check it out. You'd like it.

2. Bob, Larry, Nezzer, Junior, Show, Bat, Peas, Jimmy, Jerry. Naturally, the boys from VeggieTales were going to make an appearance on the list. (Incidentally, Show is Archibald Asparagus because he says "show" a lot in one episode, and Bat is the carrot that plays McPotipher because he looks like a carrot-shaped baseball bat that my buddy Carter has.) Nothing gets me dancing like the VeggieTales theme song. I've probably got a dozen of these videos, and again, I could watch them all day. And sometimes I leave the room and Mom and Dad just sit there, still watching them. A little childish, I think, but whatever.

1. Mommy and Daddy. Had to give a shout out to Mom and Pops. And I'm not just blowing smoke. Boy, you should see me cling to Mom for dear life when she says it's time to go "night night." And sometimes, if I feel like seeing Dad, but he's asleep, I'll just start screaming, "Daddy! Daddy!" at 2 or 3 in the morning. And he always comes, eventually. Sometimes, if I didn't know any better, I'd think he was annoyed with me. But I do know better. He's my dad.

So there you go. That's what's taking up Charlie Baker's time so far in 2008. Hope you enjoyed my blog. I'm hoping that Dad will let me take over again sometime soon--I've got some thoughts on the primary elections. Until then, later gators!