30 May 2005

Another Reason Al Qaeda Hates Us.

Why do they hate us? Well, among all the other bogus, misguided, and delusional reasons these religio-fascists may cite, they hate our liberty and our freedom to chase our dreams. Danica Patrick; qualified 4th, led 18 laps, finished 4th. Nice work, rookie.

American Stars and Bars.

A heartfelt thanks to all who have made sacrifices in defending freedom and liberty.

I have occasionally felt of out of the loop on Memorial Day, like it's not for me somehow. In my family, I really don't have any close context of war and its toll. My relatives that spent time in the military don't identify themselves as veterans per se. An uncle went to Viet Nam, both my grandfathers were in "The Service," as they called it, during WWII, and my father's uncle spent time in Germany as a teacher after the fighting stopped. All returned home without physical harm, and, true to the stereotype, none really spoke much of those parts of their lives.

My stepfather's father was on a bomber crew in north Africa, and one of my grandmother's brothers was part of bomber crew based in England. To me, they have spoken of their roles as just going to work; that just happened to be their job at the time. Their descriptions are void of politics, morality and psychology. One of my grandmothers lost a cousin at the Battle of the Bulge, and the other lost an uncle in France during WWI; both seem to regard their losses as being from an era so far gone, that it almost isn't relevant today.

Glaringly obvious among the differences between the current war on terror and the wars of the 20th century is the level of sacrifice among the work-a-day public. In the early 40's, every citizen's life was touched, shaped, or defined by WWII. In today's America, unless we have family deployed abroad, we forfeit nothing. Don't weep to me about the price of gas ($1.84 per gallon as I write this) or tell me you had to wait 90 minutes at TSA screening before flying to Orlando. The absence of any denial of conveniences is the main reason the most debate about our overseas involvement sound like such petty selfishness.

These days, I don't feel as left out on Memorial Day, for it's a chance to recognize that dedication and sacrifice is required on all levels to emerge victorious.

On Sunday morning, I had the chance to be reacquainted with "America the Beautiful." It's too bad that our most of us only know or only hear the first verse. The song, in it's entirety, is not some chest-thumping chant of hubris, it's a plea for divine wisdom in the application of our national resolve, and a reminder that freedom isn't free, and the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

28 May 2005

The Labrador is Nothing if Not Full of Suggestion

We will go to the park now!

Meet the New Crack.

It'll make you less productive at work. You'll be distracted while driving. Conversaitons with friends and loved ones will suffer, because you mind is racing. You'll claim you can stop anytime, but you will always go back for more.

27 May 2005

Chanelling Memphis Minnie.

If it keeps on rainin'
Levee's gonna break.

May 2005, I spit at thee. Best make tracks, June is going to kick you to the curb.

Can we please have Spring?

Wearing the Inferiority Complex on the Sleeve.

Although I don't know heaps of people who don't live here who also haven't ever lived here, it seems I'm spend a lot of time explaining this place to others who ask. I even spend time explaining this place to people who have lived here but don't anymore. During these explanations, I always wind up trying to explain the ginormous inferiority complex this region carries around. In reality, this land is still overrun with Ah, Shucks folk and You Betcha types who don't know how to be cool in public. Our civic condition is recognizable in three forms:

First, we'll bend over quite far if it'll make us a friend. After about 20 years of the NFL in the perfectly-good outdoors, we hastily slapped together the Hubie Humparena, because, you know, all the cool kids in Florida and California will never let us have one of those neat-o Super Bowl things without a Tupperware-like facility.

Second, we worship at the feet of anyone now famous who even spent ten minutes here. The hallmark of all notable Minnesota natives is that once they are able, they get out and do not come back, unless it's to tuck one's tail after failure on the world's stage.

The third arm of this mutant state-of-being is that we are helpless in the face of those who would heap adualtion on us, for whatever fraudulent reason. The summit of this ailment is the statue of Mary Tyler Moore, a fictitions person, who starred in a crummy show that, in its six seasons, never shot a scene in this town other than the patronizing opening credit sequence. We'd follow Mary off the cliff, see; never mind the fact she was make believe.

When they put up the staute, which is really an advertisement for a cable TV station, it was a pretty embarrassing blight on Minneapolis' most prominant downtown pedestrian promonade, but then, the (then) mayor chimed in, which just confused us for the target of our shame:
There are some who are pretty proud of that, including the mayor, Sharon Sayles Belton."There are quite a few women out there who watched the Mary Tyler Moore show and thought her character helped to affirm the fact that women can be in major leadership roles, and can break through that glass ceiling," says Sayles Belton.
Yea, see, Mary was the worker bee. She never got promoted once on the show, but Sharon, you go, girl.

Anyway, this whole tirade came up because Eddie Albert died today. He was another one of those famous people who spent about 10 minutes in Minnesota, and I'm sure his passing will be hold-the-presses news. No ill will toward Albert; 99 is a good run, but I've got other lives to study first, if you please.

25 May 2005

Pints All Around Then.

Liverpool - Champions of Europe.

John Peel is smiling.

I had earlier threatened to live-blog the UEFA Champions League Final - couldn't pull it off; TV is downstairs, and PC is upstairs. I'm just not equipped for the wireless/portability game.

Instead I was glued to my Sony, where I watched Liverpool go behind AC Milan in the first bloody minute.
There was no time for either side to settle before Milan had taken the lead. Just 52 seconds were on the clock when Maldini's right-footed volley connected with Pirlo's free-kick and sailed past Dudek.

Then Liverpool went down 0-2, then 0-3 by halftime, which borders on the unclimbable mountain.

Kaka then produced a moment of magic to seemingly finish Liverpool's hopes before half-time as he swivelled away from his marker before threading a perfect pass through for Crespo to become only the third player to score twice in a Champions League final.

Then a funny thing happened: The teams came out to play a second half . . .

Paolo Maldini's fastest ever goal in a UEFA Champions League final and two from their Argentinean striker Hernan Crespo looked to have secured Milan's third UEFA Champions League crown, but second-half goals by Liverpool's talismanic captain Steven Gerrard, substitute Vladimir Smicer and Spanish international Xabi Alonso wiped out Milan's seemingly unassailable half-time advantage.

Liverpool and AC Milan played the last 30 minutes tied at 3, played the 30 minutes of extra time with no scoring. There were chances for both sides, and some remarkable work in net by Jerzy Dudek. Extra time came and went, and we're off to shootout.

Jerzy Dudek then saved from Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko in the shoot-out to clinch a stunning victory. It capped an amazing turnaround, with Liverpool looking out of contention after they were completely outclassed in the first-half. Liverpool's advance to the final was a major shock as they invaded the established order of Europe's footballing elite - overturning the odds against Juventus and Chelsea to reach Istanbul.

Liverpool are champions of Europe. Congrats boys, you've done right by all Merseysiders, both foreign and domestic.

You can be certain that OBE Ravenscroft has uncorked the red wine, and is toasting your efforts.

Radio Folks Say the Darndest Things.

I listen to talk radio. I know to some, this means that I have no mind of my own, and I've given my cognitive function over to some broadcast Svengali. Au contriere, I use all the stuff I hear to help me make up my own mind and form my own opinions. I've come to trust my instincts for fact vs. jive, and I'm a very good editor of such. I get around for chatter, and I'll listen to anything; local stuff, nationally syndicated stuff, federally-subsidized stuff, and even Brits who play in the dirt. This morning on my way to and from the $1.85 donut/coffee bliss, I heard two things that sent me to the keyboard to log the following items:

Paul Harvey, in his classic admonishing tone, noted that several members of congress went against W's stated position, and passed a measure that would remove restrictions on stem cell research. As Harvey put it, "they have voted to sacrifice living stem cells for scientific research, presumably, because the public good requires it." Paraphrasing the reasoning of congress, he repeated "we will kill living stem cells because the public good requires it." Harvey then goes on to make mention that (so far) 1,645 members of the American military have died in the Iraqi theater, and on Memorial Day, ABC's "Nightline" will read all their names, and show all the pictures of "the humans who have died, presumably, because the public good requires it."

I fling this out there because I am of two minds on both stem cell research and all that is Iraq, and if nothing else, Harvey's interpretation of these two items is certainly food for thought, especially among those who strive for ideological consistency, which includes me.

The other item is a discussion by Ron and Mark sparked by Turner Classic Movies airing "North by Northwest" last night. Among the all the discussions about Hitchcock films is the inevitable topic of the Incredible Blonde Female Lead Actress. Ron pulled right from my gray-matter filing cabinet when he basically said a fully-clothed Eva Marie Saint is immeasurably sexier that a naked Paris Hilton. Of course, I post this because it's such a stroke to my own ego when people I find bright and credible basically say the same things I'm already thinking.

Yup, I took the day off: The Rome fire department will have to outsource my role until tomorrow, as there's fiddling to do. If I can swing the physical logistics here at Casa Octane, I may be live blogging the UEFA Champions League Final.

24 May 2005

Just Sayin'.

So far I recognize only four versions of "Gates of Steel." My preferences, in order, are by:

1. 30 Lbs. of Blue Jeans
2. Supernova
3. Devo
4. Skankin' Pickle

22 May 2005

Turning left 24/7

Many years ago, I fired the cable company, forked out my own money (this preceded the era of free hardware) crawled up a ladder, and hung a dish on the south-facing side of Chateau Octane. Why would I do all that? I wanted Speedvision. At the time, it wasn't on the cable system, so I jumped from terrestrial to geosynchronous delivery just to see car racing.

It was the best. I was thrilled. The variety was headspinning: I got to watch the British Touring Car series, V8 Supercars from Australia, the European Le Mans Series, DTM, IMSA, CART, FIA GT, and the holy grail, Formula 1. They carried all 24 hours of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, all 12 hours at of the 12 Hours of Sebring, and a whole lot of annual endurance campaigns the Nurburgring, Spa-Francourchamps, and Bathurst. I saw the Dakar Rally, the Pikes Peak Hillclimb, the SCCA Runoffs, and the Isle of Man TT. It was high cotton.

Now it's NASCAR and all its plastic offshoots 95% of the time.

I had long given up on the major networks covering motorsports beyond Daytona and Indy. Now this weekend CBS carried the AMLS race from Mid-Ohio, and a couple of weeks ago, they had Spanish Grand Prix. Why would CBS even have the option? Because SpeedTV (as it's called these days) had another all day, all-NASCAR love fest. I don't remember which one. Was it:

  • NASCAR This Morning
  • NASCAR Infield Hot Pass
  • NASCAR Edition Speed News
  • Trackside NASCAR
  • NASCAR Victory Lane
  • NBS 24-7
  • NASCAR Racing Across America
  • NASCAR Live!
  • Inside NEXTEL Cup
  • NASCAR Fast Forward
  • Men Behind the Wrenches
  • NASCAR Behind the Wheel
  • NASCAR Performance
  • Busch Practice
  • Busch Qualifying
  • Busch Series Racing
  • Craftsman Truck Practice
  • Craftsman Truck Qualifying
  • Craftsman Truck Racing
  • NEXTEL Cup Practice
  • NEXTEL Cup Qualifying
  • NEXTEL Cup Racing
Maybe it was the one where NASCAR driver sit around and play Texas Hold-em. I'm not kidding. Or maybe it was the show dedicated to NASCAR technology, you know the one where they showcase the series' leading-edge innovations, like carburetor, pushrod engines and hiding from the rain for lack of grooved tires.

Hey, you can't argue with numbers right? I'm sure the folks at NASCAR HQ are thrilled to have SpeedTV acting as carnival barker, and I'm sure there plenty of groupies hanging on every word of every show.

Just not the groupies (like me) that like seeing a car turn right every now and then, maybe in the rain should that occur, and using functioning headlights when necessary.

See ya at the souvenir stand.

21 May 2005

Man of the Match; or at least of regulation time.

Quite the FA Cup final. In proper English sporting tradition the name a Man of the Match; Wayne Rooney today. In hindsight, it's easy to cite Freddie Ljungberg, who headed away a point-blank attempt from van Nistelrooy whilst defending on a corner, and Jens Lehmann, who bested Paul Scholes during the shootout, as more deserving.

If there was a Goat of the Match. I'd throw in for Ruud van Nistelrooy, who blew a couple of choice opportunities, or maybe Reyes for stupidly earning a red card at the end of extra time.

So that basically puts a fork in UK footy for the season, with, um, one exception.

A glance outside - when will it ever be summer? 56 and RAIN AGAIN today. All winter, I long for warmer, rainy days that will wash away the salt and filth of MNDOT winter, but now there's been so much rain that everything is dirty again; cars, windows, etc. I've been to the windward side of Oahu a couple of times during the rainy season. There it rains every single day, often a few times per day, for several consecutive months. The cars a filthy, there's red dirt everywhere, but darnit, they do have plate lunch around every corner.

20 May 2005

Friday Night stuff

The worst spring in memory is finally on the wane, surely heading for Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states with too many deer. The deer issue is not unique to the North American Tundra, but as a motorcyclist, I keep a keen eye for anything bigger than a vole.

Spring also means that the very spendy private college up the street is getting ready to fold up the circus tents for another year:

Six Macalester students were arrested and charged with obstructing the legal process with force after police say a Senior Week gathering of more than 100 students turned rowdy, but now students are questioning police officers' use of force during the incident. St. Paul Police were called about 11:50 p.m. Wednesday to assist the college's security because 150 students were reportedly causing a disturbance.

It's such a drag to go home to mummy and daddy in Palo Alto, Schaumberg, Maui, or wherever they come from, I can imagine they believe they have the right to blow off. Those mean Saint Paul coppers; always harassing the Social Justice majors.

During intermission of a play tonight, I was reading the actual newsprint edition of The Onion, which, like The Simpsons, never seems to go bad. One article reminded me of the kind of self-riotousness, self-esteem and hubris-fortification that are core curricula at that joint.

Off to the sack. One beer is enough. Plus, there be pay-per-view tomorrow morning! Arsenal vs. Man U; it's almost too bad someone has to win.

19 May 2005

Sign of old age or too much music?

I'm listening to Mark Wheat on The Current. He played a song I dug, so I aimed pencil at paper awaiting the back-announce: "The New Kid" by Old 97's from "Drag it Up." Cool, now I can go buy it.

Wait . . . back away from that online shopping site, open the My Music folder on this very same PC, and there's the album. Senior moment for me it seems, and I'm only a product of the Johnson Administration.

I keep waiting for Minnsota Public Radio to let me down with this new station, but so far they have not.

Out of the gate

Armed only with a PC and a can of Coors, your host breaks the surface.

What will happen here? Will my life allow me to keep this thing moving forward? Who on Earth was begging for the people at Coca-Cola to add a twist of lime?

As the Chemical Brothers put it "Here we go . . !"