Tuesday, May 27, 2008

my wife, my brother, and i are 7 years old

Memorial Day Weekend annually compels an obscene number of Americans to celebrate those who have fought and died as members of the US armed services by running their pasty bodies across the beach and jumping into a recently-thawed ocean. So it was that Andi, Little Brother to the Stars Zack Moser, and I joined their numbers.

Sunday afternoon, the three of us traveled to Emerald Isle. After many bouts with being too wussy to jump into the freezing water, Zack and I manned up in time to realize there was no current, there were no waves, and we were basically sitting in a salty, frigid swimming pool. No fun.

So we joined Andi for a stroll on the beach. As we took our stroll, we came across a jellyfish that had been washed ashore. There was some debate as to whether or not this was actually a jellyfish, and then whether or not it was dead. In order to satisfy our curiosities on both counts, we immediately sought out things to poke and prod the subject of our inquisitiveness.

On the way up, we also found what appeared to be a dried up puffer fish. Once proper sticks were found, this dead fish would be test case for our poking sticks. All of them snapped upon prodding, except for Zack's, which seemed to be and old wooden tent stake(if the jellyfish had been a vampire, no problems).

A return to our jellyfish friend allowed us to poke, peak around underneath its mesoglea, and eventually flip it back into the ocean on the off chance that it's lack of response to our intrusive stick-maneuvering didn't mean it was dead. At least we were able to agree that it was, in fact a jellyfish.

This conclusion was also come to by a small girl who walked by it and immediately proclaimed "JELLYFISH!!!" We should have shown her the puffer fish-looking guy. I'll bet she could have identified that one quicker than we did, too.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

my sundays in 2011 just opened up

The NFL owners, who unanimously voted to accept the current labor deal with the players' union, have now unanimously voted to back out of it in 2011. Apparently, they're tired of making veteran players cranky by making them settle for less money while they throw tons and tons of money at guys who've never played so much as one NFL down.

There are still three more seasons of NFL football before we'll get to the inevitable lock out (apparently, the players' union will reject any salary cap - and I have a funny feeling that the Cowboys and Redskins are the only teams that would consider going forward without one on a longterm basis). So I suppose Andi can probably make plans for the late summer/early fall Sundays of 2011 that don't include the Chicago Bears but do include me.

I don't have the heart to tell her that there might be an extra week of regular season play, so maybe an upcoming NFL-less fall will come as a consolation of sorts.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

i won't be driving anywhere after american gladiators

Last night, the NBA had a thrilling game 7 going on, the NHL had an elimination game the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Jon Lester tossed a no-hitter. So you can argue it was a great night for sports. So naturally, you know what I was watching?

I think I need help.

By the way, Andi and I have been working on a drinking game to go with American Gladiators. Here's what we have so far. Additions will be made as we think of them. Hoist your beverage of choice and take a drink when...

1. One of the contenders is referred to by their profession rather than their name
2. Wolf mentions smelling or eating someone
3. A contender mentions his/her children
4. Hulk Hogan poses or says "brother"
5. Leila Ali says "okay"
6. The gladiators/contenders signal readiness, but the show cuts to commercial instead of the start of the game
7. The ref signals "false start" / "traveling" when checking contender readiness
8. Titan says something inane
9. Toa sticks his tongue out
10. Hellga is referred to as "The [adjective] Hellga"
11. A female gladiator signals being ready by screaming "Woooo!"
12. A male gladiator signals being ready by grunting
13. The lame play-by-play guy makes a pun

Monday, May 19, 2008

so, what kind of last name is "struction"?

Yesterday, for the first time since the Icecaps played in Raleigh, I stepped into Dorton Arena yesterday to check out The Carolina Rollergirls in action. I've met people and had friends who have rollergirled it up, but this was my first time actually going to the event.

Andi, Mayo, and I left Durham while it was still a lovely afternoon to meet a crew from my early college years for a pre-bout dinner (and to watch the Penguins rout the Flyers in high def) at the Village Draft House. About an hour-and-a-half of laughing, eating, and commenting on a hockey game no one else was watching, it was time to go. As far as we all knew, it was still quite lovely outside. That is until, on our way out the door, our waitress mentioned that we should drive safely because the weather looked menacing.

Things started to get windy as we made our way over, either that or the road signs were also really into the The Soviettes song we were listening to in order to be properly psyched for the event. Still, no rain.

That is, until we parked the car. Then? A Tsunami. Things let up and we made the run to the back door of Dorton, only to be told we would have to go around to the other side. So around we went, just in time for the sideways downpour of rain. Andi had armed herself with an umbrella, which she held almost perpendicular to the ground for most of our run around the arena. That was good enough to keep the top half of her dry, but her jeans and sandals were soaked through. Mayo and I were soaked through from all accountable fronts. Nothing says potential fun like sitting around in wet underpants for the second time in a weekend.*

Still, undaunted, we took our seats and began reading though the program and enjoying the alter egos of the various Rollergirls(Elka Meano got my vote for best name, with an honorable mention to Trudy Struction). What I should have been doing was reading up on the rules of roller derby, which were printed over several pages in our programs.

Without a formal appreciation for the rules, to say nothing of the strategies, of roller derby, I had to go by instinct. Having chosen to root for the Debutante Brawlers based solely upon the fact that I liked their players' names more than those of the Trauma Queens, I started screaming uninformed smack talk.

"Skate! Skate like the wind! You can't stop her! It's like you're all on square wheels!" I'd scream before taking a look at the program to see little tidbits like the names of the player positions. Armed with a little bit of information, the screaming could be either more or less ignorant. I'll let you decide which shouting "Jammer! Jammer in the face!" falls under.

If nothing else, my poor attempt at engaging the sport at least served to amuse the group sitting in front of us. They just happened to be the halftime entertainment, The Durham Senior Divas, who requested that I get as excited for them as I was for the roller derby action that I was alternately screaming at and reading up on. Unfortunately, all of their routine was directed towards the opposite side of Dorton arena. This is a seating error I won't be repeating next time.

By the second half, the crankiness one usually associates with soggy undergarments set in and I started pleading for more pronounced violence on the track. Either in response to my cries or as a result of the Rollergirls' legs tiring out, we were treated to some seriously awesome and painful-looking wipe outs.

In the end, my Debutante Brawlers survived a late-game comeback attempt from the Trauma Queens to get the win. The sun had started to peek through the clouds, and it was clearly time to head home and slip into a nice, comfy, dry pair of pajamas. I'll be back to see the Carolina Rollergirls again, though. Next time, armed with actual information and a weather forecast, I expect to have even more fun.

*On Friday evening, in one of the more fun ComedyWorx shows I've ever been a part of, I received a crotch full of Dan Bain spittle as a result of his hilarious - but anatomically unsound - portrayal of a whale. I really had no idea he could put that much of the contents of a water bottle in his mouth. I saw Catie Braly for the first time in a bajillion years following that show. When we went out to catch up, the moistened undies were placed in the gym bag with my ComedyWorx pajamas while I was reminded why blue jeans and going commando have never mixed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

the cobb salad?!?!? really?!?!? well, i am surprised.

Fans of Ben, I would like to present to you my new favorite blog: Things Younger Than Republican Presidential Candidate (Oh, And Did I Forget to Mention "War Hero"?) John McCain. Sure, it's a "McCain is old" site, but I figure two things.

1) It's hilarious.
2) If Fox News and their ilk can continue to harp on the Jeremiah Wright nonsense, then I can keep harping on the fact that John McCain is more likely to fall down and find himself unable to get up than to actually do something presidential.

So there.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

at least i managed not to get sunburnt...that's something, right?

My alarm clock went off at 5:30 AM. I will probably never know what it is like to truly suffer for my political beliefs, but this has got to be close. I staggered my way to the shower and thought about how stupid those commercials where people sniff their soap and instantly become more alert are. Up next, I had to locate some clothes that, while comfortable, wouldn't make me look like a total disaster area to incoming voters. Having settled on a clothes and punched the address of my designated spot into the GPS, I was off to solicit votes for Jim Neal.

I arrived right at 6:30, the scheduled time for the polls to open. I slapped a sticker on, made sure Jim's signs were in high visibility areas, and looked for the best spot to hand out the propaganda I picked up at the Jim Neal for Senate offices yesterday(a flyer explaining why Jim is the best candidate for the job and the Independent's slate of endorsements*).

I was greeted by a Hampton Dellinger volunteer who I became fast friends with as we began handing materials to passing voters. It helped that, up front, we each assured the other our votes belonged to their candidates. Dellinger volunteers are all really good eggs. When working the early voting a while ago, I found my way to enjoying their company while we watched the fabled Durhamite Jackie Wagstaff in action, supporting a few candidates of her choice**

The Dellinger volunteer and I were eventually joined by volunteers for Senator Clinton, Ellen Reckhow, Becky Heron, Freda Black, and a few others. The convergence of all of these volunteers formed a gauntlet of last-second appeals for votes that the groggy masses who had decided to get their voting taken care of in the wee hours of the morning would have to survive.

The reactions from the voters to having flyers, cards, and bookmarks pointed at them as they were on their way in to cast a vote was about as mixed a bag as you could imagine. People politely nodding and taking the information actually seemed to be the most prominent response, followed by the polite refusal. In many of the polite refusals, was a refreshing honesty about whether or not our candidates already had the votes from these folks. Some would even go so far as to address the little crowd of volunteers, pointing and announcing "Yes, yes, no, no, sorry but no(usually addressed towards the Clinton volunteer), yes, and yes."

During the eight hours I was there, there was a little tent with Girl Scouts selling biscuits in the morning and hot dogs in the afternoon. They were also there when I arrived. Some of them were still there when I left. I don't know why they weren't in school, but they worked longer and harder than any of us handing out information at the polls did. At least we got some breaks during the day to catch naps and, you know, vote.

By the 7:30 closing time at the polls, we were told our location saw more than 1200 voters. Long day, much information distributed. Good times.

Then came the returns. Bad news. Andi and I went to Jim's "after party" for a little while, but it wasn't exactly a high energy occasion. The results(of this and a few other races) were really saddening, and mostly reminded me of what I told Lisa P when she revealed that she was registering as a Democarat:

As a registered Democrat, prepare to be baffled by your party's decisions while still voting for them because they're as good as it gets.

I'm only half-joking about forming the Awesome Party.

*I only differ with The Independent on one race. If anyone asked, I was pleased to tell them which one it was and why. You'd be surprised by how many people actually asked.

**I agree with her on virtually none of the primary choices, if memory serves, but she was really fun to watch.

Monday, May 5, 2008

if you need me to tell you how to vote, i'm totally there

We have primaries tomorrow in this state, so here are the candidates that I am humbly suggesting you go vote for if you're registered as a Democrat. If you've registered as a Republican, hope that these people all win so you can vote for them in November.

President: Barack Obama

I've gone back and forth on this one plenty in the months since it became evident that John Edwards just wasn't going to get a fair shake and it was going to come down to either the person who was my 4th choice or the person who was my 5th choice when the field of Democrats running for the nomination was announced. With the primary tomorrow, though, I'm pretty much locked in for Obama.

I like Senator Clinton on a lot of issues(her healthcare plan, for example, is cleanly the best option proposed by the three "viable" candidates) and won't feel the least bit bad about voting for her in the general election should she manage to hijack the nomination. At this point, I'm very concerned about some of the people that Clinton has aligned herself with and subsequently owes favors to in the process of just getting this far into the game. I'm also really turned off by some of the tactics she's used in this campaign. While that shouldn't be a major issue for one base a vote on, everything counts when you've flip-flopped on where your vote is going as much as I have.

Obama, in the meantime, is still a very sound candidate from a policy standpoint. What pushes him from "very sound" to "I'd like him to be president" with me is his promise to change the tone in DC. Sure, the last guy that promised to come into DC and be a "uniter, not a divider" turned out to be the most divisive president we've had in my lifetime by leaps and bounds; but that guy just promised to change the tone where Obama has already started acting on that promise even in the campaign stage. The other thing Obama has done to change the political discourse in the country is gotten new people into the process. The old guard will expect the same stuff, but maybe bringing people into the mix that maybe have a little more idealism will be just the thing the country needs for its politicians to take notice and do something new.

Senate: Jim Neal

I mean, you've been paying attention to this blog, right? Kay Hagen more closely resembles Senator Dole(who, if you're keeping score, is TERRIBLE) than she does a true progressive. Jim Neal, on the other hand, is entirely the real deal. Honestly, I'm really excited about him as a candidate and you'd be doing more than well to give him your vote.

Governor: Richard Moore

Neither of these candidates is great. They're both pro death penalty. Moore opposes the de facto moratorium we've got here in NC while Perdue is on the record as saying that the death penalty should be "painful and torturous" (this was in an interview with The Charlotte Observer 13 years ago, but that's still way too horrible a comment to go unnoticed even now). They've both done their parts in increasing the cost of getting an education on a UNC campus. Both claim to be pro choice, but Perdue has a voting record that isn't quite consistent with that claim. So based on that and the fact that the tuition increases Moore supported were at least much smaller than Perdue's, I'm giving the slight edge to Moore. Again, though, I'm not happy about either of my choices. If I had money and a snowball's chance in hell of winning I'd be running as a third party candidate. I'd call my party the Awesome Party, if you must know.

Lt. Governor: Hampton Dellinger

I'm not crazy about his name, but he's a progressive's progressive by all accounts. The Lt. Governorship would put him on a nice track to be NC Governor down the road. We'll need that if the current US Supreme Court makeup manages to overturn Roe v. Wade and make abortion a state decision.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: June Atkinson

Eddie Davis' signs with the giraffe on them are amusing, but June Atkinson has Planned Parenthood's endorsement. Supporting comprehensive sex education is pretty vital for someone in this office.

Auditor: Beth Wood, Insurance Commissioner: Wayne Goodwin, Labor Commissioner: Mary Fant Donnan, Treasurer: Janet Cowell

The bottom line here is that my research on these candidates didn't churn up nearly as much as my research on the bigger, sexier offices did. But I also found nothing that suggested I should go against The Independent's endorsements for these offices, so here we are.

NC Court of Appeals: James A. Wynn, Kristin Ruth

Same as above, honestly.

***note: from here, I'm not going to be much help if you don't live in Durham***

House of Representatives: David Price

He's running unopposed, so this is beyond a no-brainer. Still, I thought I'd throw in a mention that I'm quite pleased with Representative Price and will be very pleased to vote him in for another term in November.

Durham County Commissioners: Ellen Reckhow, Michael Page, Don Moffitt, Becky Heron, and Brenda Howerton

Durham School Board: Leigh Bordley, Durham District Attorney: Tracey Cline

Again, I'm comfortably leaning on The Independent as my guide after not finding anything to change my mind. Honestly, I spent too much time digging around for what I was going to do about picking a Governor. This makes me a pretty lazy voter, but I like to think that some basic picking around The N&O's website has at least bumped me up to the level of "reasonably informed lazy voter."

I'll be out at the polls starting early tomorrow doing what I can to get people who showed up to the dance just to throw down an Obama or Clinton vote to maybe give Jim Neal a look. So if I'm at your polling place, say hello. Or perhaps loudly tell me "No sir, there's no need for you to give me that information. For I already came here with the full intention of voting for Jim Neal. He is easily the best candidate and I encourage any of my fellow voters who happen to be listening in on this conversation to follow my lead!"

Seriously, vote for Jim Neal.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

on tuesday, you're going to go ahead and vote for Jim Neal. right?

Just in case any of my readers who happen to be North Carolina Democrats happen to have forgotten my previous urgings as it relates to the primary and who to put on the ballad against the horrible Senator Dole, I have some YouTubage for you to check out.

How Jim Neal and Kay Hagan differ on how to deal with the Iraq occupation:

I really enjoyed watching Jim swat away the notion that cutting funding for the war was somehow "anti-troop" and called it what it is: a negotiation tactic. Let's say that, come November, America decides that American flag pins and crazy preachers are more important than the issues and put John McCain in office. As senator, Kay Hagan will whine and complain about the course of the occupation(just as the Democratic party has done so far) just before voting to approve another blank check to continue the occupation(just as the Democratic party has done so far). A Senator Neal would be a voice in the Senate saying that the occupation gets no more money until the president(whoever that might be) submits a request that shows a demonstrative effort to end that occupation. That's about as "pro-troops" as you can get when it comes to this matter.

Just one of many reasons to get out there and put Jim Neal into this race against the insipid Elizabeth Dole. You don't just have to take my word for it, though. He nabbed what I consider to be a pretty big endorsement from The Independent.

Go vote on Tuesday. And do it well.