Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pop's Cave

In the late summer of 1993, two of my college friends asked if I'd like to go with them to a place in Wisconsin called Pop's Cave. I'd never really been in a cave before and felt it'd be a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon. We left early in the morning with a change of clothes and plenty of supplies. The day was overcast, but that wasn't a concern as the cave was underground.

The leader of our group was a guy named Brock Friedman. Originally from Illinois, he was a big geology buff and greatly looked forward to going through the cave. The other fellow, from Wisconsin, went by the name of Daniel. Brock and Daniel (along with two others) elected to spend the summer in a house in Winona rather than go back home only to return in the fall (we were all students at Winona State University). I remember Brock mentioning a few times that he had a fear of driving up hills. He didn't know where this originated (perhaps he was a wheelburrow in a past life).

It was lightly sprinkling as we arrived at our destination. In order to get to the cave, we first had to climb a reasonably steep hill and then hike about half a mile. The rain had started to make the side of the hill (which was mostly sand) awfully muddy. We grabbed onto branches as we ascended. I was quite surprised that I didn't slip into the mud at all. My pants were clean. The worst was over.

We continued our hike with Brock leading. The rain was starting to increase. About 10 minutes later, we saw a sign that said "Pop's Cave" and proceeded to enter. The light from the sky gradually decreased as we descended. The other guys couldn't wait to get deeper, but it was then that I started hesitating.

The cave was going to be completely dark and all we had were a couple floodlights. What bothered me even more were the constrained quarters. This wasn't as big a cave as I'd hoped. I'm sure it eventually opened up more, but my fear started to get the best of me and I told the guys I couldn't go any further. They asked if I was sure. I said I was and headed back up to the real world. What a relief to get outta that hole.

I remember that Brock had locked all the car doors which was a bummer since I really woulda liked just relaxing in a dry car while waiting for the completion of their expedition. Screw it. I'm gonna head down there, anyway. So I walked back towards the top of the hill and then went down it. This time, I did get my pants dirty. Fudge.

I wanted one of the car doors to be open in the worst way, but knew they weren't. I crossed the road and went to open one of the doors. OMG! One of them was open. How could this be? I was incredibly thankful at my good fortune (God?) and changed clothes in the car. The time in Brock's car gave me time to reflect on life. Several months before, I'd been diagnosed with major depression, but with the help of therapy, medication, and Godfather's pizza, I was able to return to life with renewed vigor. I rested for a while, thankful for everything in my life.

I don't know how long it was before the guys showed up, 90 minutes, 2 hours, I didn't have a watch, so had no idea. I told them about the door being open. They told me how much fun they'd had exploring. We were all in a good mood as we headed back to Minnesota. Brock mentioned he wanted to stop in LaCrosse to pick up some kind of anime vid. We watched it that evening as our big day came to a close. Though the day was nothing like what'd I planned, I went to bed grateful for the opportunity to spend time with friends and feeling that perhaps a bloke named God just might be on my side.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Where Do You Want to Spend Eternity?

It's always been my dream to work at a crematorium. Since I'm not likely to get my wish (due to a misunderstanding in Grand Forks), this post is probably the closest I'll get until I pass on. Yes, I plan to be cremated once all the life in this body is gone. Cremation rates have steadily gone up over the past couple decades. Since it's your body, it up to you to decide if you'd prefer it to be burned to a crisp or slowly decompose over many decades. I prefer cremation since I'm a cut-to-the-chase kinda guy and think the whole casket and burial thing is too much too macabre and Edgar Allen Poe-ish.

I would prefer that my ashes be disposed of, not kept in a urn or some crap like that. I've often kidded that I wouldn't mind if they were thrown into the cat's litter box.

I've been to a number of cemeteries over the years and one thing I've noticed is the silence. One, in particular, had tons of trees, but I was unable to hear a single bird. Wonder if they know enough to stay away. Burial might be fine for some people, but I can't say I like the way it's presently done. I think caskets should be made in such a way that over time they decompose (just like the body inside). In that way, the remains are actually incorporated back into the earth as opposed to being encumbered by a box needlessly protecting it from the elements.

Many prefer to be buried for religious reasons. Quite a number of faiths teach that since the body will one day be resurrected, you should keep it in as good a condition as possible, especially after death. Problem is, if you look at a body just a few months postmortem, you'll see there's not much left to resurrect.

This Halloween, as you dance and drink at your favorite cemetery (I'll be roasting marshmallows at Fawcett's Crematorium), ponder for a moment if that is where you truly wish to spend your un-bodied days.


Was it Kierkegaard or Mark Wahlberg who once said that learning something new everyday is the key to life? Regardless, here's the juicy tidbit I just came across:

The word "sucker" originally referred to fellatio which helps explain why a guy called this 50 years ago would get so mad. It's hard to believe someone would get angry at being called a "jerk" unless you know that the word is actually a reference to masturbating.

The words "sucks", "bites", and "blows" also originated as sexual insults (P.L.T.).

Here's the full article where I learned this info as well as an interesting passage from it:

"Over time, taboo words relinquish their literal meanings and retain only a coloring of emotion, and then just an ability to arouse attention. This explains why "Close the fucking door", "What the fuck?", "Holy Fuck!", and "Fuck you!" violate all rules of English syntax and semantics—they presumably replaced "Close the damned door", "What in Hell?", "Holy Mary!", and "Damn you!" when religious profanity lost its zing and new words had to be recruited to wake listeners up."

Monday, October 27, 2008


Three years ago, my favorite snack to eat (other than Swiss Cake Rolls, that is) were Taco Doritos. They had just enough spice to keep me interested. Some time later, they came out with Salsa Doritos. I tried a few one evening and liked them even more than the taco ones.

A strange thing started happening, however. After ingesting a significant number of them, I experienced a dull pain in my chest. I had no idea what it was, but quickly came to the conclusion that it had to do with my chip consuming. A quick internet search told me that what I'd been feeling was heartburn. After feeling its symptoms one too many times, I realized I had to stop eating them, so back to the much-more-bland-in-comparison Taco Doritos I went.

About nine months later, I was tempted to walk again on the wild side, but found much to my chagrin, that the stores I frequented weren't selling them anymore. As this thread shows, I wasn't the only one who noticed their disappearance (I love his comment that "I would have an orgasm if I were eating them right now").

Check out this commercial for Salsa Doritos from a few years ago:

What I wouldn't give to have a bag right now.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Perils of Being Left-Handed

I've been a lefty for as long as I can remember.

I had to use the left-handed scissors while making things in kindergarten. On the first day of each school year, I would make sure to sit at a desk that had the arm part on the left side. These desks were harder to come by in high school, so I eventually just got used to sitting in a right-handed one (when taking tests, I would sit facing the right a bit so that my left arm could be supported at least somewhat by the top portion of the desk).

In junior high, my father wanted me to take up golfing, so got me a set of left-handed ones. Turned out that I'm right-handed when it comes to golf (same for bowling, baseball, foosball, etc.) I can use a computer mouse with either hand, though I favor the right.

What percentage of the population is left-handed? Approximately 7 to 10. It's more common in males than females. A recent book called "Right Hand, Left Hand" argues that the proportion of left-handers is rising and left-handed people as a group have historically produced an above-average quota of high achievers. The author says that left-handers' brains are structured differently in a way that widens their range of abilities.

Three of the last four Presidents have been left-handed (W. being the exception). Both Obama and McCain are also Southpaws. Other famous lefties: Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, Aristotle, Charlemagne, Julius Caesar, Paul McCartney, Michelangelo, Leonardo DaVinci, Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Nicole Kidman, Robert Redford, Julia Roberts, Robert DeNiro, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Keanu Reeves, Jerry Seinfeld, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Celine Dion, Jimi Hendrix, Sting, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Babe Ruth, Greg Louganis, Mark Spitz, Bruce Jenner, Dorothy Hamill, Larry Bird, Jimmy Conners, John McEnroe, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Colin Powell, Albert Einstein, and Oprah.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wassup! :P 2008

Its been eight long years since the boys said, "Wassup!" to each other. Even with the effects of a down economy and imminent change in the White House, they're still able to come together and stay true to what really matters.

Friday, October 24, 2008

July 24, 1985 (age 14) - Journal entry

Well, I did it. I'm living with my mom now. Just me and her in downtown Winona. Dad got really mad at me when I didn't want to take the trash out last month. He said he couldn't handle me anymore and asked mom if she would take me in. I would've acted up much sooner if I'd known that it would lead to this. :) I'd be even happier with a girlfriend, but this is nice. I get to see my brothers and sister every weekend, but definitely enjoy the quiet I have during the week. One other good thing is I can watch pretty much anything I want on TV now instead of having to share it with the boys. And mom will make whatever I want for supper!

I also get to go to movies whenever I want. Back to the Future is awesome! I've seen it 7 times already. I love movies about time travel and it's got a lot of laughs and a couple Huey Lewis songs in it. Some other good movies I've been to are European Vacation, Fletch, and The Man With One Red Shoe.

I have a paper route now. It pays about $20 a week, so I always have money in my pocket. I buy a LOT of tapes with my paper route money. I bought Simple Minds new one a few days ago. I also think Duran Duran are pretty gnarly.

I went to the rerelease of Return of the Jedi a few months ago. I hadn't seen it in a couple years, so was excited to see it again. Two guys I know from school, Matt Chester and Matt Struck, were there. I loved the movie for the first hour, but after that it was kinda boring. Weird to think of a Star Wars movie as boring.

Oh, crap. I forgot about one other good thing about living with mom. I don't have to go to the Jehovah's Witness meetings anymore. Dad still wanted me to go to them, but I was able to get out of it. :) I hate dressing up and now I can watch Family Ties and The Cosby Show since my Thursdays are now open. I'll miss seeing a few people from the Hall, but the meetings are so boring! Mom doesn't go to them, either.

I bought Weird Al's new tape a couple weeks ago.

It's got a song on it called I Want a New Duck! Get it?!

I also have a 10-speed bike. It's much faster than my old SkyHawk and doesn't have a banana seat!

I start 9th grade this fall. I'll be able to just walk to school now.

Previous entries:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Southern Sheriff Pulls Over Obama Campaign Bus For Broken Taillight

FOXWORTH, MS—Despite obeying the posted speed limit and having all inspection, registration, and insurance documentation up to date, Sen. Barack Obama's campaign bus was stopped for nearly four hours by Marion County deputy sheriff Dewey Clutter while en route to a Jackson, MS speech, sources reported Tuesday.

According to those on board the bus—including various journalists, members of the Secret Service, and Obama campaign staffers—several minutes passed before Clutter exited his cruiser. Witness statements all mention hearing the sheriff's jackbooted footsteps along the gravel roadside as he slowly approached the vehicle's passenger side. These reports also assert that, prior to reaching the front of the campaign bus, the sheriff paused momentarily to smash the right rear taillight of the bus before dragging his still-drawn baton along the entire length of the vehicle.

"Where's the fire, son?" Clutter, 42, was overheard saying to the Illinois senator and 2008 Democratic presidential nominee. "Driving like that in these parts, what with a busted taillight and all, fella like you liable to get hisself into a whole mess a trouble."

Obama protested briefly before Clutter interrupted the graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, brusquely informing the senator that he could "detain [Obama's] uppity ass for 48 hours without charging [him] with shit."

"Huh. Illinois," Clutter said while scrutinizing Obama's driver's license from behind a pair of mirrored aviator sunglasses. "You a long way from home, ain't ya?"

"Now Barry, someone 'bout your height, 'bout your skin color knocked over a Piggly Wiggly up in New Hebron just a coupla hours ago," Clutter continued. "But you wouldn't know nothin' 'bout that, now would you?"

Clutter then turned to Obama's wife, Michelle, looked her up and down, and wiped his mouth with a handkerchief.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

2002 Part III

Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson have a fender bender and spend the rest of the day on a collision course in the surprisingly good “Changing Lanes”.

If you have any doubts about Ben’s acting ability, they will be gone after viewing this. The movie is a great thesis on how one seemingly insignificant event can change the course of many lives (trailer).

Another good thriller is “Insomnia”, a moody film that stars three Academy Awards winners, Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hillary Swank. It takes place in Alaska (yes, Alaska!) and involves a cop (Pacino) who is after a killer (Williams). Check out the evocative trailer.

Williams is quite a baddie in the film, but I bought it. One of the most memorable aspects of the film and one that I hadn’t seen before was the movie taking place in Alaska at a time of year when the sun doesn’t set. As a child, I was fascinated by the idea of living someplace where it was day all the time (or night, for that matter). The film was directed by Chris Nolan who broke through with “Memento” and most recently directed the number two movie of all time, “The Dark Knight”.

Red Dragon” is a prequel to “Silence of the Lambs”. There was talk of Anthony Hopkins’ face undergoing digital youthing to make him look younger since “Lambs” came out more than a decade before, but nothing ever came of it. Edward Norton, one of my favorite actors, also stars. In the end, I was left a tad disappointed by it. Just a tad, though. If you like seeing Lecter go to town, you might wanna check it out (trailer).

The director of “Seven” and “Fight Club”, David Fincher, returned in 2002 with “Panic Room” (trailer). Starring Jodie Foster as a mother who goes with her daughter into a safe room when intruders break in, it’s a very intense experience, though not as good as Fincher’s late 90’s movie “The Game” which starred Michael Douglas.

Road to Perdition” was the second effort from Sam Mendes. His first was my favorite movie of 1999: “American Beauty”. Starring Tom Hanks, Jude Law, and the recently passed Paul Newman, it's a good gangster movie for people who don’t like gangster movies (trailer).

My best friend at the time was a huge Eminem fan. I kinda liked the rapper, though I actually preferred him with peanuts. :P So it was that one weekend afternoon, we went to “8 Mile”. It actually wasn’t too bad. After all the talk of him being anti-gay, I was pleased to see a scene where he stood up for one of them. As the credits rolled and Em’s song “Lose Yourself” started playing, my friend started really getting down with the music. A bit embarrassing, but what can I say, it is a good song.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Music on the Brain

Last Tuesday, when I went to Ms. Maggie Moo's website, she had a post titled, "Ruby Tuesday". I left the following comment:

"Dang it, Mags. The title of this post has me thinking of the Rolling Stones song of the same name. Oh, well. Nothing I can do about it now."

Last week, when going to the Eazy Cheezy website, I noticed Brian had just written a post entitled, "Stumbled Upon Toolbars, Utilities and Tips". Within seconds, the 70's classic "Stumblin' In" was going through my mind.

Last Friday, when digging out a Great Clips coupon, I noticed that it said "Walk Right In". Guess what song was going through my head just a couple seconds later?

On Friday, I went to a guy's website which was called Ask Me Why and immediately thought of the Beatles song "Tell Me Why".

As the above examples show, this happens to me all the time! I'll be reading a Time or Newsweek article and all of a sudden, a song will go through my head.

I'll be like, "Where did that come from?". Nine times out of ten, after looking over the paragraph or two that I just read, I'll find a series of words that corresponds to the song that is now rattling around in my noggin.

I would think this happens to others, but since I listen to an incredible variety of music (going from the 50's all the way to the present day) on a daily basis, I suspect my experience of it is much more acute.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

How I Became a Democrat

I suppose growing up during the Reagan years was what led me to side with the Republicans in the fall of ’88. If I’d been born a week earlier, I could’ve voted in that election, but alas, my conception was delayed. Nonetheless, I quite enjoyed coming home from school that fall and watching Inside Politics 88 on CNN (this was during the glory days of Bernard Shaw).

I remember the outcry from Bush Senior’s camp that Michael Dukakis allowed a felon (Willie Horton) to be released who subsequently murdered a woman. I recall how ridiculous Dukakis looked in that armored tank with a helmet on. I remember how Dukakis’ camp tried to paint Bush as a wimp and made fun of Bush’s VP pick, Dan Quayle (there's no doubt he was a bad choice).

(anyone notice any parallels between the magazine cover above and what's going on with Palin, another Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, exactly 20 years later?)

Despite this, if I could’ve cast a ballot that November, it woulda been for Dubya, oops, I mean George H.W.

In the early 90's, H.W. had phenomenal approval ratings as victory was won in the Persian Gulf War and Bush proved himself to be a tough cookie, well, at least as tough as a Fudge Stripe, anyway.

When ’92 came around, I was in college and still a fan of Bush. My mom liked Perot, but I looked forward to helping H.W. get re-elected. There was a decent amount of commotion on campus for Bill Clinton, but I can’t say I was won over. I remember going with my mom to vote for the first time at Winona’s City Hall. It felt good and actually rivaled eating at Friday’s, not really, but it was still cool. I admit to being a bit disappointed when Clinton won, but my view softened as he gradually won me over with his optimism and hot wife. I can remember how happy many of the students were in one of my classes the day after the election.

Time went by and I began to see the Democratic side more clearly: wanting to aid the poor, to provide affordable health care for all, not giving in to corporations and special interests. His optimism was quite catching and I wound up being quite pleased that he was President. So much so that in ’96, there wasn’t any doubt who I would be voting for. My future life partner and I headed to one of Winona’s fire stations to cast our votes for Bill on Election Day. I was working at Radio Shack at the time and remember one of the guys employed there said he planned to vote for Bob Dole. This other employee asked, “Why?”, and the man responded, “I just want Clinton outta there”. I thought to myself, “Is this guy in league with big business? Is he wanting to reverse Roe v Wade? Is he threatened by Hill?” Whatever the case, the country was in great shape and Bill was easily re-elected.

Course Monica broke a couple years later, but nobody’s perfect, right. At least Bill didn’t make mincemeat of habeas corpus, mislead the country into war with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11,

lie about a Bin Laden/Saddam connection, mislead America about the real cost of war, foster an environment of torture at Abu Gharib and Guatanamo, line Halliburton’s pockets in Afghanistan and Iraq with fat no-bid contracts, under-man and under-equip our armed forces in Iraq, resulting in unnecessary death and injuries, shun the Kyoto Treaty, lie about the effects of man-made pollutants on the environment to support corporate pals, give huge cuts to the wealthiest taxpayers, bitterly divide the nation along religious, party and sexual preference lines, have dreadful energy policies that led to record gas and oil prices, preside over the largest debt in U.S. history, have a colossal failure of preparedness, rescue and relief during Hurricane Katrina, foster a culture of corruption among GOP and top leadership (Tom Delay, etc), go it alone as the world's view of the U.S. declined, spy on Americans, and helplessly watch as the real estate market went up in flames. There are many others, but I want to get some exercise in while the night’s still young.

In '00 and '04, I was a good Dem and voted for Gore and Kerry. Though they didn’t win, I can say I played a small part in Minnesota going blue both years. Now as the election of 08 looms, will I vote for the new kid on the block, Obama, or the old guy who picked a lightweight as his VP?


Screw it. I'm just gonna ask my Magic 8-ball.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Two Movies That Haunted Me As A Child

With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it'd be a good time to share two movies which traumatized me as a child (I did a more bare-bones version of this post more than a year and a half ago).

Some of my favorite movies are scary ones ("Scream", "The Others", "The Ring"), but this wasn't always the case. At the age of 10, two TV-movies messed with my head big-time, so much so that I completely avoided the genre for the next half decade.

The first was "Salem's Lot", a 1979 telefilm based on a Stephen King book. I didn't watch the whole movie, but the part that disturbed me the most was when this vampire boy floated outside this man's window, entered his room through the window, and then bit the man. Here is the scene:

For weeks afterward, whenever I laid in bed, I would look out my bedroom window to be sure he hadn't found me yet, the vampire boy who caused all that commotion in Salem.

The other flick that disturbed my beautiful mind was 1981's "Dark Night of the Scarecrow" starring Charles Durning. Here's the plot summary:"A retarded man is unjustly accused of killing a young girl. Disguised as a scarecrow, he hides in a cornfield, only to be hunted down and shot. Later, members of the search posse are killed by a mysterious scarecrow." Here are some choice scenes from it:

I'd go to bed many nights afterward wishing I could forget what I'd seen. It's comforting to know I'm not the only one who had this reaction (check out this recent discussion board on "Dark Night").

Now, think back to your childhood, my friends. Did any movies inspire a similar reaction in you?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sick and Rich

While watching "Football Night in America" this past Sunday, Bob Costas stated that Keith Olbermann wouldn't be there to go over highlights because he had strep throat. This got me to thinking: Even if one is a millionaire, they're not immune to sickness. Having a boatload of money doesn't mean all your days will be lived in pleasure. For just a moment, I realized that having a lot of money might be a tad overrated.

An incident from 10 years ago brought home the same point. I was driving in downtown Rochester and saw a 30-something lady at the wheel of what looked to be a very expensive convertible. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that she was singing along to a Celine Dion song.

You would think that if someone is loaded, they would have access to more "refined" music, but here she was listening to one of the top recording artists of the day. As she drove ahead, it comforted me to know I didn't have to make 100 grand a year to hear the best that the music world has to offer. *insert Celine joke of your choice*

Full disclosure: I saw Celine in Vegas in 2005 and have to admit that I do like several of her songs. She closed her Vegas show with this one.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Stealing Online Identities & Meeting Complete Strangers

I can remember the first time I used email. It was back in my college days, circa 1995.

My statistics teacher said the computer lab had several VAX units which could be used to communicate with others who were logged onto the same system. It wasn’t email in the sense that you could send a message to others and they received it later. The other person had to already be logged on. The way to find this out was to go on the VAX and enter “finger” followed by the person’s name. I am not joking. Don't believe me? Check this out. Needless to say, I thought a number of nasty thoughts when looking for various females I was acquainted with.

The thing I most enjoyed was when someone had forgotten to close their VAX account before going to their next class. Most people who came across this would simply close out the other person's session and open up their own, but not me. I proceeded to “finger” a number of people that I knew and play with them a bit. I really went to town one morning.

I saw my high school friend, Brian, was on, so pretended that I was a woman interested in him. At first, he was suspicious, but then came around. After about 10 minutes, I looked up at the clock and saw that I needed to leave for my next class. Yikes! I had to burst his bubble in that time, so he wouldn’t contact the person whose identity I’d temporarily hijacked. I basically said I’d changed my mind and wasn’t interested in pursuing him.

I did a similar trick with a guy named Andy who was gay. We were in Hardee’s one evening and he asked me if I knew who tre321 (the identity I borrowed) was. It took all I had not to bust out laughing, but I was able to keep it together.

I actually met a woman in this way. We chatted on the VAX, fingered each other a few times, and ended up meeting for dinner at Perkins. We were both in relationships, so didn’t go any further, but I have to admit it was quite cool going out with a total stranger. By the way, her nickname was Squeaky. I sometimes wish I’d found out why.

Lastly, I met a cute couple one evening though the VAX. We had been chatting on it without knowing what the other looked like, so agreed to meet downstairs at a specific time. We talked for a bit, laughed a little and then went on our way. About a week later, the boyfriend contacted me and asked if I wanted to get together. I said, “Sure” and we went to a pizza joint which was located just a few blocks from the residence hall where I lived (It was called Fingall Hall, but I always referred to it as “Finger Hall”). We talked a great deal at Papa John’s, got to know each other better. He said sometimes he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be with his girlfriend for the long haul. I said this was normal. He gradually brought up the subject of being attracted to males at times. I let him share his feelings, not having any fear of hanging out with someone who may have homosexual tendencies (as mentioned above, I already had a friend that was gay).

After our dinner, we headed to my place for a short time. We talked some more and he stated that he’d like to experiment with a man one day to see if that was his actual preference. He strongly implied that he’d like me to be the one, but I said I was hetero and that was that. Poor guy, going out with a girl which is the supposed norm, but having feelings for men.

I’m sure he’s decided which way to go all these years later, but from time to time, when thinking of the angst he displayed, I can’t help but feel that non-judgment is one of the most important qualities one can have in life.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I Finally Contributed to Obama's Campaign!

As I strolled through Rochester yesterday afternoon, I came to the conclusion that it was finally time for me to put my money where my mind is and give some moolah to the junior senator from Illinois.

This wasn't totally altruistic on my part, however. I knew I could get a number of Obama-centric paraphanelia if I gave my money to the Democratic Party Office in town.

Having been there several weeks before, I knew exactly where to go (they're conveniently located near Friday's). I parked my car and was not at all surprised to see three cars in a row that had Obama stickers on them. Well, that's exactly why I was there. I wanna be like the cool kids.

I entered the office and right away noticed a great deal more activity than my last visit. There were people in several different rooms doing I'm not sure what, I didn't have time to look closely as the lady with the blue eyebrows asked how she could help me. I wasn't able to see if she still had the colored brows, but I do recall that something on her upper face was blue, if not the brows, then it was blue eye shadow. She is, without question, hardcore. Her blood is probably blue.

While looking over what was available, I noticed a young, well-dressed African-American woman wearing an Obama button on her lapel. She probably thought she'd be very old before seeing someone of color elected President. Now we could be a mere four weeks from seeing MLK's dream turn into reality.

I saw this gigantic Obama-Biden lawn sign that was going for ten bucks, but elected to get the standard one as well as a couple bumper stickers and a button. Total damage: $6.00.

The lady next to me was looking for an Al Franken sign, but all they had was this super-size one. After deliberating for a second or two, she decided to take it and had the smile of a kid on Christmas Day as she left.

On my way home, I passed the Republican Party office. Pretty much every vehicle parked there was an SUV. For some reason, that didn't surprise me at all.

Our next door neighbor is a staunch Republican and mentioned recently that she dislikes election signs. Imagine my satisfaction as I pushed the Obama/Biden one into place last night.

As that guy from "Saw" says, "Let the Game Begin".

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tis the Season

It’s flu shot season, boys and girls. Are you rushing to your local health clinic or worksite to get the injection that will protect you from all sorts of nasty bugs this winter?

I’m not. I had the shot once, many years ago and was under the weather for about a day after. Since then, I’ve not bothered. I don’t get sick very often and can’t recall the last time I had a cold that lasted longer than a day or two. Why? It could be because I take 500mg of vitamin C a day or maybe I just have a really good immune system (thank you, immune system, you rule). Perhaps it’s because I’m in a positive frame of mind most of the time or could it be that God just really likes me?

People around me like to say, “You really should do it, just to be on the safe side”. I’m like, “But it’s my body” (can you imagine if the flu shot was mandatory like many immunizations are?). When I hear that someone is sick, I frequently say to myself, “Yikes. What a waste of time”. The only good thing about being sick in my mind is how good it feels once you feel better. You appreciate life more and have a bit more spring to your step after having gone through a few days of hardship. Kinda like how most of us will feel when Dubya leaves office in 104 days.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Most Intolerable 150 Seconds I've Recently Experienced

The day before yesterday, I went to a movie with a friend of mine. About 10 minutes before the previews started, a commercial/music video was shown. I don't hate many things in life, but this video really gets my dandruff up. Five seconds into it, I audibly groaned before smiling as I showed my compatriot a pair of earplugs I'd brought along. He said, "You suck". We critiqued the video a bit as it played, my friend saying, "God, he sucks". Two weeks ago, when the video came on, I immediately left the screening room. Course I did have to go to the bathroom, but still. Well, I've kept you all in suspense long enough. Here is said video in all its glory (watch it loud to get the full effect):

Monday, October 06, 2008


Since we hear so much these days about the virtues of being a maverick, I thought I’d share the ways in which I fit that description as well. Most people don’t bring earplugs with them to the movies. I do. Most people listen to the radio (either terrestrial or satellite). Not me. Most people are right-handed. I’m not. Neither is McCain, by the way, nor Obama, Bill Clinton, Bush 41, or Reagan. Most people don’t mow their front yard one day and the back the next. Guess who does? Most don’t eat Healthy Choice’s French Bread Supreme Pizza every evening. Most people, especially in my age range, have downloaded at least one song off the internets. Most have had children by my age. Most people only like specific genres of music. Most people don't think Joe Biden’s wife is hotter than Sarah Palin.

Most don’t like Minnesota’s winters. Most people know how to swim. Most people think Keith Olbermann’s a blowhard. Most are afraid of death. Most people like watching TV during the day. Most people like tax cuts. Most need an alarm clock to get up in the morning.

I could go on, but I think I’ve given a significant amount of reasons why I am also a maverick. And if in McCain’s shoes, I would definitely look at Obama while debating him. Perhaps John’s afraid that if he looks too deeply into Barack’s eyes, he’ll fall under his spell and come on over to the left where it’s always sunny and seventy degrees.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Happy Days Are Here Again!

Lucky customers pump 35-cent gas

PEKIN, IL—A day after a run on a gas station where an attendant incorrectly set the pump price at only 35 cents a gallon, the owner was looking beyond the lost revenue.

"We lost about 1,000 gallons of gas and about $3,500," Mimi Zidan, owner of the Lucky Mart on Derby Street, said Wednesday. "But I don't feel too bad because the people looked so happy when they were buying gas. If I can do this for them, that's all right."

Tuesday evening, the attendant on duty at Lucky Mart on Derby Street realized something was wrong when the customers' bills added up to no more than $5 or $6 each after topping off their gas tanks.

As he struggled to deal with the hordes pouring in, he called Zidan on her cell phone.

Earlier in the evening, the attendant had adjusted the gas price, which should have read $3.50 a gallon, to 35 cents. That was about 5:30 p.m. The gas pumps were not corrected until about 7:30 p.m.

During that time, people called others to tell them to rush over and buy at the phenomenally low price. The result was that the situation at Derby and South Fifth streets was totally chaotic, with traffic backed up in all directions when Zidan returned to the store.

"I thought it was an accident," Zidan said. "For the first 10 minutes I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to say you must stop, the price is wrong."

But once the police came in and restored some order, she felt better.

Her sister, Amy Habal, who helps run the store, said it would have been nice if someone had told them about the mistake instead of calling their friends.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Crosse

This weekend, I’m looking forward to going to The Crosse. Yes, I know it’s a bit of a surprise, but I finally decided after living in sin for so long, that I really wanted to get right with the One (and I’m not talking about Obama). It is the end of an era for me. I believe it was Kierkegaard who once said, “Give me salvation…just not yet”. I know exactly what he means.

Alright. I kid. I’m actually going to LaCrosse (La is French for The), Wisconsin. Obama spoke there this past Wednesday. Unfortunately, I missed it (damn hemorrhoids), so I’m going on Saturday to walk where he did only a few days before (will I see one pair of footprints there or two?). Perhaps I will gain some of the great wisdom and judgment he has. If not, at least they have a Fuddrucker's.

I’m going to be picking up two of my best friends on the way there. They’ll fight a bit over who gets to sit shotgun, but such is life. I usually bring some upbeat, dance music to listen to. The forecast looks to be good on this, one of the last relatively warm weekends before Election Day arrives. Imagine how warm we’ll all feel if/when Obama is elected. It will make the winter so much warmer even if you happen to live in Alaska. I don’t know how in the hell this turned into an Obama entry, but whatever.

I just had an apple, the first I’ve eaten in a couple years. Not bad. God sure knew what she was doing when creating them.

For the second half of the trip to LaCrosse, we’ll be driving on the Great River Road which runs parallel to the mighty Mississip.

From there, one can see Wisconsin on the other side (kinda like how Palin can see Russia from Alaska). There are a number of things to do in LaCrosse that aren’t possible in Rochester. For one, brothels are legal there.

Scratch that last sentence. They have a very nice pawn shop there. Since I’ve yet to download a song (this is my 25th reference to that), I get my music the old-fashioned way (CD’s). I’ve purchased a number of good discs for a very nice price over the past year, really obscure stuff, too, like the Fleetwoods, Cat Stevens, and NSYNC. Shanon likes to shop for DVD’s while Brian is a lover of Xbox games. A few months ago, I went there with one of my Members Only jackets on and was so pre-occupied with looking through their stock that I failed to note the half dozen people who gawked and said, “Is this guy for real?”

Next, we’ll either go to Michael Cera’s (“Superbad”, “Juno”) new movie “Nick & Norah”

or to the putt putt course (loser has to vote for McCain). Later, after working up an appetite, we’ll hit my favorite pizza place in the world, Happy Joe’s. As I’ve noted before, the taco pizza is to die for. Don’t believe it? Well, let me put it this way: If I were asked to choose between the election of Barack and continuing to enjoy Happy Joe’s pizza, it would be a very tough choice.

Note: If this post didn't make you chuckle at least once, I don't know what to say.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

IQ and Politics

Check this out: the average IQ of each state and how they voted in the 2004 election.

Draw your own conclusions.

In other news, McCain's still being a pain in the ass.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

2002 Part II

Continuing my look at the movies I attended 6 years ago (when the Republicans were in charge and Dubya had approval ratings in the 80’s and 90’s):

Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate were reasonably amusing in the raunchy “The Sweetest Thing”, but it was nothing to write home about. “The New Guy” flummoxed me a bit. It’s about this nerdy guy who winds up being popular, but a scene at the beginning in which something happens to his “package” was so sanitized for the PG-13 rating that I wasn’t able to understand what had happened to it. They called him “Broke Dick” for the next 10 minutes of the film’s runtime. “Dragonfly” was a tolerable Kevin Costner vehicle that dealt a bit with the supernatural.

The Pianist” was a sorrowful movie about a Jewish piano man who winds up in the Nazi’s crosshairs near the end of World War II. Adrian Brody, who played the title character, won an Academy Award for his brilliant performance and upon reaching the stage to claim it, gave a very passionate kiss to Halle Berry. Here's the film's trailer.

Rob Schneider was his usual self in the “The Hot Chick”, but I'd much rather talk about the movie that most took me down memory lane in '02. It was a movie that originally came out 25 years previously, “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial”. I was expecting more people to be there on opening night (like there was at the reissue of “Star Wars” 5 years before), but twas not to be. Nonetheless, it turned out that having a large audience wasn’t necessary as watching it again on the big screen took me back a quarter century. I can still remember how the audience howled when Elliott said, “It was nothin’ like that, penis breath!“ and chuckled again when I heard the line at the ’02 screening. I literally felt 11 years old again and can say from experience that I don’t feel the same when watching the movie at home (I was able to go to a special screening of “Titanic” in ’03 and same thing happened: I was back in the latter days of 1997). This is why I wish theaters would have more screenings of classic older movies.

Richard Gere and Laura Linney were fantastic in the moody thriller “The Mothman Prophecies”.

Loosely based on the true story of the Mothman, it got under my skin from the opening scene (trailer). Richard Gere had another excellent movie released the same year which I’ll get to in a bit.

Minnesota native Josh Hartnett starred in “40 Days and 40 Nights”. It’s the story of a man that makes a pledge not to engage in any sexual activity whatsoever for the time frame listed in its title (this also includes self-flaggelation). Not great, but tolerable, this was the last movie I went to at Rochester’s Apache Mall Theatres (I took some pics of the theatre after the show for posterity).

Having Eddie Murphy and Robert DeNiro starring together sounded good on paper, but in my opinion, “Showtime” was crap. On the other hand, “Undercover Brother” starring Eddie Griffin gave me quite a few laughs.

I especially love the opening scene where Griffin is driving his Cadillac around town while sipping on some Orange soda and singing “We Want the Funk” (a few seconds of it can be found in this trailer).

There was some controversy when Schwarzeneggers’ “Collateral Damage” was released as it was the first film to deal with terrorism after September 11th. I found the movie to be reasonably good, but nothing compared to earlier Arnold masterworks like “Terminator 2”, “True Lies”, and “Kindergarten Cop” (kidding about the last one).

I thought “Orange County” would be the start of something special for Tom Hanks’ son, Colin, but in the intervening years, he hasn’t really been in anything very interesting. “The Hours” starring a trio of good actresses (Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, and Meryl Streep) and dealing with suicidal tendencies was quite downbeat, but (like “Schindler’s List”) was a movie I’m glad I viewed.

The second solid Richard Gere movie released in ’02 was “Unfaithful”.

Costarring Diane Lane and from the director of “Fatal Attraction”, it really helped me understand how it is that a partner can stray. What’s somewhat ironic in the film is that Gere is the one who gets cheated on. The film takes twists and turns that I never expected and is one of my absolute favorite movies of the year (trailer). Highly recommended.

Though most of my favorite movies are dramas, there’s nothing like a good knee-slapper on a Friday night. My friend and I went to “Jackass: The Movie” on opening night and the place was packed. At 31, I was probably one of the oldest ones at the screening. I did get a number of laughs from the movie, but overall, it was quite uneven. About a third was brilliant, another third was interesting, while the last third was either gross or blah.

I was surprised at how profound “About Schmidt” turned out to be. It stars Jack Nicholson as a widower who drives cross-country in an RV to his daughter’s wedding.

She plans to marry a man that Nicholson’s character despises. Kathy Bates has a very memorable supporting turn as the groom’s mother. I never cry at movies, but it was in this one that I came the closest to doing so in many years. It was the very last scene of the film that made me feel this way (that specific scene can be found here and then continues here, but be warned: it will most likely ruin the film for you if you plan to watch it in its entirety at some point).