Tuesday, September 30, 2008

don't distract me from my distraction with things that matter

Sunday night. I'm enjoying the Bears defeat of the Eagles. Or I'm dreading what looks like another second half collapse. Or both. Still, I'm watching football. Then something strange happens. Al Michaels mentions the current financial crisis on Wall St. and makes several references to the bailout.

Tuesday morning. Today. I'm trying to enjoy the SportsCenter highlights of last night's Ravens/Steelers game that I didn't watch in favor of Heroes and actually spending some time with Andi. The SportsCenter crew make what feels like a dozen more bailout references.

This has to stop. I watch sports - and I don't think I'm alone in this - to not think about what's going on in the real world. I watch sports so that, for a few wonderful moments, there's nothing more important than my team's defense coming up huge on 4th and goal or nothing more important than the offensive failures that kept that defense on the field. If my team isn't playing, there's nothing more important than the other games shaking out in a way that favors my team in the standings. If the game has no affect on my team's possible playoff future, then there's nothing more important than the stats of a receiver who's on my fantasy team. In short, sports are a distraction that allow me to get way too heavily invested in something that I can remind myself is actually pretty trivial should it go poorly.

I do not want your references to the real world in my sports. Not during the game. Not when you're broadcasting the highlights. There are at least 5 channels I could have turned to if I wanted to hear what people thought of a bailout plan and its affect on the financial future of this country. When I watch the game, I just want to think about the game.

Everything else will still be there when the clock hits 0:00.

Because I've already sullied a post about watching football with political nonsense, I may as well toss you a link to a video where Barney Frank becomes my hero for pointing out the absurdity of Republicans politicizing the failure of the bailout plan by talking about how Nancy Pelosi tried to politicize the bailout plan(via Catie Braly by way of Facebook, for full disclosure). Enjoy this more than I was able to enjoy SportsCenter this morning.

Monday, September 29, 2008

bootlegging obama merchandise is probably more fun than it should be

I was one of 18,000 people who went to see Obama speak in Greensboro this past weekend. The speech itself was another typical Obama home run and Obama got a little more aggressive than he allowed himself during Friday's debate.

"Through 90 minutes of debate, John McCain had a lot to say about me, but he didn't have anything to say about you," Obama said. "He didn't even say the words 'middle class.' He didn't even say the words 'working people.'"

The McCain spin control has countered with the already tired Palin line about Obama talking about foreign policy without saying "victory," a word that McCain and Bush love to use without ever giving so much as a hint of what victory in the broad "war on terror" or even specifically in Iraq actually means.

I'm not here to talk about whose talking point is better (Obama's is). I'm here to talk about how awesome the bootleg Obama merchandise that surrounded the rally was. Buttons, t-shirts, and rally towels were among the available options. With some Obama stuff already on the way, I was only tempted to purchase two items.

One was a button, featuring a shirtless Obama punching forward with "HOPE" tattooed on his knuckles. In retrospect, denying myself this bit of awesome was a complete misstep. Mostly because I can't find an internet image of this thing, and I'm concerned that no one will believe it existed.

The other item I found a little odd was a t-shirt featuring Obama shaking hands with Martin Luther King, Jr. It read "Dreams Do Come True." While I think that might be a little funny and over-the-top, this rally showed that Obama means much more to many of the attendees than just a presidential candidate ever could.

Hope is awesome.

Friday, September 26, 2008

would you really trust me to write a book about a teenage girl?

While anyone who particularly cares already knows about this*, I still wanted to give my industry outsider opinion on the cancellation of DC's Minx line of comic books. Minx was an imprint that produced comics aimed directly at teenage girls, supposedly inspired by the success of manga and a few other books like Persepolis among a demographic that remains unreachable when it comes to big-time, American-based funnybook publishers.

Given the clueless approach taken towards the creation of this line, I'm not surprised to see that it's been scrapped. The story at Comic Book Resources gives this line:

Multiple sources close to the situation agree...that this development should be seen as a depressing indication that a market for alternative young adult comics does not exist in the capacity to support an initiative of this kind, if at all.

I disagree. I think the audience is out there, clearly. Someone is buying the books that gave DC the confidence to go ahead with the Minx line. Let me toss out an idea that you may do what you will with.

My diligent internet research reveals that the best-selling manga title is a series called Chobits. The creative force behind it is a group of four creators that go by "Clamp." All four are women. Persepolis was created by Marjane Satrapi. In case you were unaware, she's also a woman.

So who are the creative forces behind the Minx books? Mostly men. There were some women involved, but by-and-large the Minx line was guys trying to write comics for teenage girls. In the case of Mike Carey, who does fantastic work with the X-titles over at Marvel, they're 50-year-old guys trying to write books for teenage girls.

So DC(and Marvel, if you're interested), if you want to attract this audience, start hiring the best female creators you can find. Let them do whatever they want to do. Put that product on the shelves of the local bookstores and promote it as its own thing. Not as a big company most known for supplying movie studios with material trying to imitate something...but as something that exists on its own. Let the dollars roll in. Thank me later.

*I wanted to talk about this earlier, but decided that it would be good to let this post hang out up top for a little bit longer.

Monday, September 22, 2008

if pressed, this is what i'd say hope looks like

I registered voters yesterday. I stood for two hours in front of a gas station and registered voters. Two of them. One per hour. I couldn't be more pleased with how I spent that time.

I stood next to Andi with my clipboard, held so that a sign taped to the back of it proclaiming "Register to Vote" could be seen by anyone who bothered to look, and asked passers by if they were registered. My fear that people would be annoyed seemed to be unfounded, at least in this location.* When asked if they were registered, people would respond that they were and then would tell us that they were happy to see us out there trying to make sure more people could answer the same way. Another person informed us that he had just registered and he "can't wait" to vote.

While the support was encouraging, we spent quite some time without anyone filling out the forms attached to our clipboards. Eventually, Andi and I began to wonder if our time would be better spent in a different area. We debated the pros and cons of moving our efforts and tried to figure out what alternative locale would prove to be more fruitful.

As we did this, a sixty-something black man passed by. "Are you registered to vote, sir?" I asked. He stopped dead in he tracks, looked at me, and smiled one of the friendliest smiles I've seen from behind his slightly unkempt, graying beard. "No. Let me run inside and I'll be right back out." His son was with him. The son, a registered voter, was plainly excited that his father was showing interest and assured us that he was in no rush. He would make sure his father registered.

It turned out the old man didn't need any prodding from his son. He came out of the convenience store and made a beeline straight towards me. Since he was without his glasses, he asked me to fill in his information for him.

We all joked around as the old man dictated his responses. When I asked him what party affiliation he preferred, he emphatically stated that he wanted to be a Democrat. They asked Andi and I about our affiliation. I gave a quick look around to make sure our impartiality wouldn't be jeopardized by answering and mumbled that I a Democrat as well, adding that I was "kinda afraid" of what a John McCain presidency would be like.

"Kinda afraid? We're more than just kinda afraid!" came the response.

By the time I handed over the clip board and form for him to look over and sign, the old man's smile widened even more (I have no idea how that could have even been physically possible). I can't imagine what it must have been like for him, knowing what he's seen in his lifetime, to finally be registering to vote(and knowing who he was registering to vote for, assuming that being more than kind of scared of McCain doesn't translate to a Libertarian vote).

The old man and his son thanked us, we thanked them, and they went back towards their truck. Before he got in, the old man looked up and repeated what we'd heard earlier from another new voter: "I can't wait."

Andi and I didn't say another word about going somewhere else.

*See previous post.

falconbridge shopping center's politics are more important than your rights

I didn't want to ruin a very positive post with this story, but I think it should be mentioned that the organizer for yesterday's voter registration drive was forced to stop registering people to vote in front of The Mardi Gras Bowling Center by the people that run that little strip mall(The Falconbridge Shopping Center, for those wishing to stay clear). She had nothing that identified her party affiliation or support for any candidate, she was just told that they knew she was with the Obama campaign and was forced to stop registering people to vote.

My take on all of this was that this was pretty low. No one there was trying to sell anything. No one there was pan-handling. People were being asked a simple question: "Are you registered to vote?" If the answer was yes, they were told to have a nice day. If the answer was no, they were asked a simple follow-up question: "Would you like to register now." If the answer was yes, then five minutes later they had filled out the form and were on their merry way. If the answer was no, they were told to have a nice day.

Apparently, someone found this to be entirely objectionable and complained. At least, that's the official story. My guess, since the recounting of the banishment from the greater Mardi Gras area(The Falconbridge Shopping Center, for those wishing to stay clear) included that the owner of the property was very insistent that she knew for a fact that it was Obama volunteers registering people, it had more to do with the name Obama than any customer annoyed at having to answer a question or two without even breaking stride.

So you don't like Obama. Why stop people from registering to vote? If you think that people registering to vote hurts your candidate's chances...doesn't that say something about the candidate you're supporting?

Andi had a second, and probably more poignant take on the situation. On the way home, she lamented the fact that there is no such thing as public space. From one end of Durham to the other, if you want to register people to vote in actual high traffic areas, you're doing so at the mercy of whatever developer owns the land.

With that in mind, I'd like to point out that the people at The Woodcroft Shopping Center of Durham have been more than accommodating to volunteers helping people register to vote. I shop at their Food Lion and occasionally dine at their Subway or Pulcinella's Italian Restaurant. You should do the same

Saturday, September 20, 2008

big american NFL review: AFC weeks 1&2

Just ahead of week 3's snaps and just after NC State ended ECU's BCS dreams!

Did I overrate the Chargers?

I'm not ready to say that I have yet. They let one slip away in the final seconds against a very good Panthers team and lost to a Broncos team that I might have underrated in Denver. That's right, I said they lost. They didn't have it stolen from them from a referee, they lost. Was that a fumble? Yes. Absolutely, it was. I'm not saying the call wasn't blown. What I am saying is that no one on the San Diego defense caused that fumble, so in my estimation that means they deserved the loss.

That said, you'll have to remember the Chargers got off to a slow start last year and came close to knocking off the Patriots and getting to the Super Bowl. 0-2 is a rough hole, but the Chargers have too much talent to be done just yet.

Are the Patriots finished?

No. But they are in danger of losing the AFC East. Don't you dare for a second think that I'm jumping on the "Favre is the answer to all of the Jets' problems" bandwagon, though. I'm talking about Buffalo. The Bills have been impressive for two weeks. I'm not ready to call them the favorites to knock New England off of the top of the division yet, but I'm not ready to say that Matt Cassel is going to be just fine leading the team either.

The Patriots, with their squeezably soft schedule, are still very much a playoff team.

Did I overrate the Jaguars?

Unless they fix the problems hey have on the offensive line, I absolutely did. The good news for them is that Indianapolis doesn't seem to be the team they have been over the last few years and Houston hasn't stepped up their game the way I expected them to. The bad news is that the Titans seem to have powered through the quarterback drama to a 2-0 record and don't look that bad. Suddenly, "not that bad" puts them in a pretty good place unless the rest of the division wakes up.

Do I still like the Browns chances of making the playoffs?

Kinda. But after two weeks of football, not nearly as much as I did before the season started.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

button button who's got the button

Andi just ordered two of these official Obama buttons for us:

They're great and all, but I almost purchased one of these awesome bootleg Obama t-shirts:

big american NFL review: NFC weeks 1&2

Two weeks down in this NFL season, and these are the questions I have for myself:

Is Carolina that good?

The Panthers have emerged as an NFC favorite behind strong 4th quarter play from Jake Delhomme and Jonathan Stewart running over and through defenders when he's not carrying them for 5 yards at a time.

Week 1 was what seemed like an impressive comeback win over my preseason Super Bowl pick in San Diego. The Chargers might not be the team I thought they'd be, though(more on that in the AFC version later). The second win was another comeback win where they dismantled my beloved Chicago Bears who had, for the two quarters before that, dominated the line of scrimmage in a whole and total fashion. Then again, the Bears weren't expected to make much noise this year.

Still, the Panthers ended up destroying the Bears in the field position game(even when Hester wasn't injured yet) and shut down Chicago's run game in the second half. This was also where they found out who needed to be the star of their running game. Oh, and they have Steve Smith coming back next week.

I'd guess that, yes, the Panthers are that good. Apologies to Delhomme for that whole "overrated" tag in the preseason. Anyone that takes that hit from Lance Briggs and then becomes a better quarterback has earned my respect. The only thing I see stopping Carolina is if, even after proving the other kids on the team can catch the ball, Delhomme becomes too locked in on trying to get Smith the ball. They just look really good right now.

So what about the Bears?

Hester is out, but that hardly seems to matter if 1) other teams can duplicate Carolina's kick coverage or 2) The Bears take a bad "block in the back" penalty on every kick return. That's going to make it tough for the offense. Kyle Orton isn't going to give you any bad turnovers, but he also made zero good deep passes against the Panthers (including missing an easy touchdown pass to a wide open Booker). The one deep pass that was caught was under-thrown and Brandon Lloyd made a tremendous adjustment to get to it.

If the Panthers are as good as I think they are, then there's no shame in the loss. It was a bad half for a majority of the team and one bad game for Orton and the special teams(minus, of course, that touchdown they generated). Orton and the receivers can work on the timing for deep throws, so the Bears may well be able to win this division. It's a two-team race between them and the Packers at this point. Why?

Did I overrate the Vikings?

Yes. I did. You're not going to get 160 yards out of Adrian Peterson every game. And, while they're as good as ever at stopping the run, they haven't been able to take the pass away from anyone. They're 0-2 and about to play Carolina.

A lot of the blame here has been placed squarely upon Tarvaris Jackson's quarterback performance. So he's out and Gus Frerotte is in. When you bench your guy for a 37-year-old best known for injuring himself by head-butting a wall (if there's a video of this on the web...someone tell me) and your secondary has been nothing but torched with Steve Smith coming to town...that's 0-3, and that's hard to come back from no matter how amazing your running back is.

Have I changed my mind about the Giants missing the playoffs?

No. The Giants have looked better than I thought they would, but they still only look like the third-best team in a division with Philly and Dallas. The Monday Night game was epic. While I no longer feel like St. Louis is going to sneak into the playoffs(I went out on a limb, so sue me) to keep a third NFC East team out of the playoffs, the emergence of the Panthers as a serious threat combined with my stubborn insistence that the Saints will also make the playoffs still leave the Giants out of the playoffs while being a better team than what the NFC North and West will end up sending in as their winners. Tough break, but I don't want to hear a word about expanding the playoffs.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"i would be so much less nervous if i could just kill something -- not a baby, not a baby."

Honestly, yesterday afternoon I was ready to write an irate entry about how we should stop paying so much attention to Sarah Palin and start talking about important issues in the upcoming election(even with a full understanding that real issues and facts do nothing to sway swing voters...bunch o' jerks). Then my mom sent me this:

Then trusted friend and finder of funny interwebs Maya Roseman pointed me in this direction:

There are more of these here, and they're all pretty much hilarious.

So instead of outrage, I've fallen further into the trap of paying more attention to Senator Oldie Whats-his-face's pick of Palin(they call her Caribou Barbie on The Stephanie Miller Show for a running mate than anything of substance.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

for the love of all things holy, please give me someone to vote for

The gubernatorial debate is a train wreck. Neither Pat McCrory nor Bev Perdue* are doing anything to get my vote. Seriously, if I ran for Governor on a platform of occupying the mansion while doing my best not to let North Carolina implode in the time it takes to get some serious candidates for the position next time around, would you vote for me?

My campaign slogan, while admittedly clunky, is also a winner: "Four years of me doing nothing is better than four years of either of these jerks doing something."

*Michael Munger is a third-party candidate but, since he's a Libertarian and there's not a chance in hell that you'll ever see me voting for one of those kids, I'm not even going to put his name in large print.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

if i end up having to say "i told you so," i'll be very upset

The video below is from the CFL. It's awkward and anti-climactic. It's also exactly what we'll be looking at before long in the NFL if they don't implement my recommendations regarding end zone celebrations. Don't say I didn't warn you.

By the way, I'm so happy that football season is here I could cry.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

officially speaking, Chad Ocho Cinco is faster than a horse

I just received the following update on one of the wideouts on my fantasy football team:

Thu, Sep 4 The Cincinnati Bengals said Thursday that they will refer to the receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson by his new legal name, Chad Ocho Cinco, in all club business. That includes the back of his jersey for Sunday's season opener at Baltimore.

No, I will not ever tire of this.

fact-checking the republicans. because they won't do it themselves.

Here's a short list of lies from the Republican National Convention. I'll bet the "liberal media" won't call them out on any of this.

I'll be in the corner balling my fists in rage if you need me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

another hilarious palin picture. and just a few words.

Alright fine. Since she gives her speech tonight, here are a few reasons to think that Sarah Palin is a lousy choice for John McCain as a running mate. You're welcome.

1. She Abuses Power

Let's start with the fact that she's under investigation for firing public safety commissioner Walt Monegan since he wouldn't dismiss her ex brother-in-law. We've all heard about this one by now, I'm sure. While the facts may come out from this investigation that Palin has done no wrong, you have to wonder why the McCain campaign is now working to stall the final report from this investigation. It doesn't end there, though.

According to this article in the NY Times, there are reports of Palin, during her mayoral days, firing a librarian for failing to help Palin ban books. Think about this, not only did she want to ban books from the local library, but she fired the librarian for sticking up for free speech.

Too bad the first amendment doesn't carry the weight with her that a misinterpretation of the second amendment does (and thank goodness for her a "flag desecration" amendment was never passed). Then again, she's probably a better shot than Dick Cheney (oh, no I didn't!).

From there, there are also allegations that she drove out any number of city employees, including an outright firing of the police chief, for supporting her opponent in that race. If McCain really wants a "reform" image, maybe he shouldn't have picked a running mate who has fired people for their politics the way a certain presidential administration that has ruined the last eight years but shall remain nameless has been known to do.

Or if you want to link her practices further to those of the Bush administration, how about the secrecy and distaste for the media?

Ms. Palin also upended the town’s traditional ways with a surprise edict: No employee was to talk to the news media without her permission.

2. She Hates America*

Palin has supported a party who wishes Alaska to secede from the United States. As the linked article points out:

The revelation that Palin appeared to support the secessionist Alaskan Independence party (AIP) - whose motto is "Alaska First" - sits awkwardly with McCain's campaign slogan, "Country First", and will be controversial in a country whose oath of allegiance includes the phrase "one nation, indivisible".

3. Her Policy is Hypocritical

By now, we've all also heard about her knocked up daughter. It's a given that Bristol has become a walking, talking example of the need for comprehensive sex education(which Palin is against); but it doesn't end there. Palin also slashed funding a program designed to provide "young mothers a place to live with their babies for up to eighteen months while they gain the necessary skills and resources to change their lives" and help teen moms "become productive, successful, independent adults who create and provide a stable environment for themselves and their families."

So if Palin wants to stick to her guns(no, I'm not putting that picture up again...but thanks for asking), she should probably toss Bristol and the Bastard out on the front lawn since teenage mothers deserve so little.

Of course, Palin and the McCain camp have been outraged over the attention that Bristol and her Oops Baby have been given, and have emphasized that having this baby is a choice that Bristol has made with the full support of the Palin family and deserves to be made in private. Palin's views on abortion, though, show that words and ideas like "private" and "choice" only matter when it's her daughter's choice that's to be made in private.

4. She Doesn't Have the Experience

I kind of hate that I'm helping to beat this tired talking point to death, but I do think it's relevant. After all, if McCain wins she's going to be the president if a seventy-something who's had several bouts with cancer does what most seventy-somethings who have had several bouts with cancer tend to do: dies.

So I think it's important to point out that I'm tired of hearing the following:

-Governing a state with 30 people and a million miles of tundra means you've got experience governing the "largest state in America." I don't care how technically true it is, it's a lousy talking point that makes zero sense to anyone who thinks about it.

-The ability to deploy the Alaska National Guard means you have commander-in-chief experience. This is also a horrible talking point that falls apart with any critical thought...unless she led Alaska's National Guard into an invasion of Canada and no one noticed.

-Governing the state closest to Russia automatically gives you credibility as a diplomat. Maybe Alaska and Russia have all kinds of closed-door meetings of international importance that no one has ever heard of or ever will, but I doubt it very seriously.

Here are the facts:

-She was mayor of a town with less people in it than attended college with me before becoming the governor of 47th largest state, in terms of population, while Barack Obama was working to secure loose nuclear weapons and materials(and worked with Republicans when making that happen). You tell me which of those sounds more like relevant leadership.

-She managed to mire herself in scandal during her short time in those positions.

-Sarah Palin did not even get a passport until 2007. Doesn't sound like international diplomacy experience to me.

5. She Doesn't Do Her Homework

In her own words, about a month before being named as McCain's running mate:

She, like a certain idiot in office now, cannot pronounce "nuclear." Yep, just like George, she like to say "nu-cu-ler."

She has the nerve to be surprised that, on a national stage, her knocked up daughter is getting so much attention.

6. She's A Reflection of John McCain's Judgement

The knocked up kid(in spite of trying to run as the party of moral high ground), the pending investigation(when trying to run as a "maverick reformer"), and the lack of experience(when simultaneously blasting Obama for his lack of experience) are all things that the McCain camp knew about when they picked her. This just isn't a good choice.

Is the guy who made this decision after one meeting and with that information at his disposal really who you want running this country for the next four years?** Me neither.

*If Barack Obama can be a secret Muslim, then this affiliation obviously means Palin hates America very, very deeply.

**Or until he dies, whichever comes first.