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Friday, January 28, 2005

News: Remembering the Challenger 

Nineteen years ago this morning I remember sitting in Ms. Corman's math class, disappointed because we had not been chosen as one of the third grade groups to go to the library and watch the space shuttle Challenger blast off.

The previous week we had learned about NASA in our social studies class, and how a woman named Christa McAuliffe was going to be the first teacher to travel into space on the upcoming Challenger mission. Maybe it was because we were still in the midst of the Cold War and the space program was still a shining beacon of American exceptionalism, but all of the teachers in our school took pride in the fact that a fellow educator had been designated for such an honor.

I remember seeing the other classes walk down the hall toward the library, all of them buzzing about getting to see the shuttle make its way into the heavens, and feeling awful that I couldn't see it, too, as I had taken an interest in the space program before we ever learned about it in school.

Then, just a few minutes later, I remember seeing those same kids walking back by, with horrified blank stares on their faces. The teachers had the same expressions. Ms. Corman walked out into the hall to find out what was wrong, and one of the kids blurted out, "the spaceship blew up."

I couldn't tell you what we studied the rest of the day, or if we did anything. But I can recall with great clarity what a third grader looks like after seeing a seemingly indestructible marvel of modern engineering explode in mid-air. I can also recall the maudlin look my homeroom teacher, Mrs. Lightsey, gave me as I left that day. I told her that I hoped we found the astronauts alive, and even though she knew better, she tried to reassure me that there was hope for their survival.

Nineteen years. It's hard to believe it's been that long since the Challenger's crew lost their lives. I suppose that on the eve of the Challenger disaster, people were saying the same thing about the Apollo I tragedy, which had happened nineteen years ago that day.

Though I'm not old enough to remember Apollo I, I'll never forget the Challenger, or Christa McAuliffe, or the other six brave astronauts that gave their lives in the pursuit of discovery and exploration. President Ronald Regan said it best when he addressed the nation that evening.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honoured us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'
After the tragedy I also remember critics clamoring to shut down the space program. I'm glad that they did not succeed. John Kennedy considered space the "new frontier," and said as much in his 1961 inaugural address. He was right; Americans are not a stagnant people. We're at out best when we strive for new heights and take on new challenges.

The space program represents all of the characteristics that best embody the concept of America. President Kennedy knew that, as did President Reagan and now President Bush. It's important to continue to look toward the heavens, seek new knowledge, and yes, even explore new worlds. The crew of the Challenger knew that, and as we remember their loss today, let us also celebrate their boldness, courage and patriotism.


Televison: Austin Held Hostage (Day One) 

With a dearth of serious topics in the news recently (those Iraqi elections and Senate Cabinet confirmations are fluff), I've decided to continue my Real World blogging.

In the next few weeks I suspect that rumors will start circulating here in Austin about the current cast. Who's hot... who's not... who's a bitch... what bars they frequent... all of the really important characteristics that make the show. MTV can put them up in a swanky house and give them a cool job, but if the cast doesn't have that perfect blend of good looks and worthwhile drama, then what's the point of watching, right?

In about 12 hours the cast members will probably all make their first appearance on Sixth Street, and in about 14 hours they'll probably have their first house quarrel. In fact, I'm sure that downtown will be overrun tonight with people trying to get a glimpse of the RW kids, most of them hoping to get on television in the process.

Thank God I live up North. Blogging about these drama queens is about as far as I'll go. Speaking of drama queens, how about a quick list of the RW's worst-ever cast members. This should be much easier than yesterday's all-star cast.

10. Kaia, Hawaii: Sure she went topless 95% of the time, but she wasn't attractive. She also a manipulative bitch.

9. Stephen, Seattle: I sometimes like the troublemaker (e.g., Puck), but this guy caused too much drama without bringing the funny. He was just as much a pain in the ass on the RW/RR Challenge a few years back.

8. CT, Paris: That squirrelly guy from Paris was probably worse, but CT's tough-guy act got old fast. And bro, you really need to hook up a pair of tweezers for that minefield between the eyebrows.

7. Jud, San Francisco: I know he eventually married castmate Pam (who was a doctor... remember when RWers had actualy careers that didn't involve reality television?), but he was such a little puss that hearing him talk made me sick.

6. Steven, Las Vegas: Remember the pregnancy scare? "I think being a dad might be good for me. It would give me some direction." The only direction this guy needs is to the VD clinic.

5. Flora, Miami: Pure evil.

4. Mike, New York II: This Jerk-off and Hyde of a character seriously whips my ass. One minute he's goofy Mike and the next minute he's "The Miz," an even goofier wannabe wrestler. If Vince McMahon wants to atone for a lifetime of sins, he'd put "The Miz" up against The Undertaker in the next Wrestlemania and tell the 'taker to forget, for about ten minutes, that wrestling is fake.

3. Coral, New York II: She's seen Bring it On one a few too many times, because no one is naturally that sassy. How does this annoying bitch have a single friend? And when is she going to get a real job?

2. Amaya, Hawaii: Her name should be Drama-ya. Remember on one of the RW/RR challenges, where she refused to bob for pig's feet because she's "Jewish"? She's about as Jewish as I am liberal.

1. Montana, Boston: The best RW moment ever was when her boyfriend, Vag, called her and started screaming "you whore" for ten minutes after she had a date with someone else. The second best moment ever was when she was fired from the youth center for giving wine to kids. Montana was the most self-righteous drama queen in the show's history, and that's one serious accomplishment.

There are plenty of others I could have mentioned, but I do need to do some actual work today, so I'll leave it at that. Hopefully, though, someone from the Austin cast will make us proud and squeeze into the top ten once this season has reached its conclusion.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sports: Where Was This Two Years Ago? 

The Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, is offering his readers the chance to become his intern. Are you kidding me? Tell me I wouldn't be perfect at that job.

(Don't really tell me that I wouldn't be perfect at that job).

Too bad there's a catch: you have to be between 21-25. Damn getting old. [uncle rico] If only I could go back to 2002, I know I could be the Sports Guy's intern[/uncle rico]. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go hit someone in the face with a steak.


Televison: Austin Held Hostage (T-minus One Day...) 

Filming for "The Real World: Austin," supposedly begins tomorrow. To celebrate our city's denigration into the MTV-stained annals of reality television, I thought I might pick my all-time, all-star "The Real World" cast. I'll try to follow the show's formula in selecting my group. As a disclaimer, I should note that I haven't really watched much of the past few years, so that should explain a lack of recent cast members.

- Elka (RW: Boston) Mild-mannered and conservative, with a bit of a wild streak, this former Texas Longhorn stood out as the brightest spot in the show's best-ever cast. Plus, she's hot, which is really what I look for in a RW cast member. She gets a minor deduction for dating that Irish nancy-boy, but I think she eventually realized the un-patriotic error of her ways and tossed him like a stale pint of Guinness.

- Cyrus (RW: Boston) Cyrus was a player. He knew how to work the RW magic. Let's see, you take a camera crew into a bar and the girls will flock toward you. That's all Cyrus right there. Everytime one of these mop-headed pretty boys does that they should have to pay royalties.

- Bryn (RW: Las Vegas) Sure, she's a psycho, but every RW cast needs one. Besides, that douche Steven deserved to have a fork thrown at him. He was a loser, who poorly represented Austin. Did I mention that being hot is the chief criterion for inclusion? Bryn was just as hot as Trichele, but not such a slut. An added bonus is that because my list lacks the homosexual usually found in RW casts, Bryn will have to compensate by flaunting the bi-sexual tendencies that she showed in spurts during the Las Vegas season.

- Kevin (RW: Back to NY) I didn't think much of Kevin before he became part of the afternoon show on Austin's sports radio station, 1300 The Zone. In fact, I thought he was nuts for constantly shunning the advances from that girl Laurie. He defended himself to a caller last year, outing Laurie for going bald, so I suppose that's understandable, though his devotion to the Chicago Cubs is not. Still, he's a loyal Horn and he does carry Chad Hastings for three hours a day, so I have to give him credit for possessing more talent than your average ex-reality "star" (see: Kevin's roommate Mike aka "The Miz").

- Karrie (RW: Chicago) She might have had the roundest head in the history of round heads, but it worked. She was still hot. I didn't really watch this season, so there's not much more to say. I mentioned she was hot, right? I think she had a crush on one of the guys, and he wasn't having any of it. I can buy Kevin's excuse for snubbing Laurie, but the guy in Chicago needs to be castrated for this inexcusable behavior.

- Teck (RW: Hawaii) Has there ever been a bigger loon that comparatively looked normal, simply because he lived in a house full of even bigger oddballs? Seriously, you had a ragin alkie in Ruthie (aka "Tigress Woods, for her resemblance to the golfer), the gay guy that up and left the show mid-season, the girl that never wore a shirt, and the annoying girl with boobs the size of Oahu. They were all nuts. By default Teck was the most normal, and he went skinny dipping five seconds after arriving.

- Laurie (RW: Back to NY) Hair or not, this girl was pretty hot. Besides, I'm sure the bigwigs at MTV could spring for a decent wig.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Astros: A New Look 

Houston's roster isn't the only thing getting a facelift in 2005. The preeminent Astros fan site, Orange Whoopass.Com, has a new design and message board interface.

If you love the Stros and don't have an account there, then you're missing out on the best Astros discussion forum on the 'net.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Sports: Hear Ye, Hear Ye 

I proclaim today, Jan. 25, as the official start of baseball. I'm tired of waiting, and basketball just isn't doing it for me.

On the way to work this morning I heard the tail end of Bucky and Erin's interview with Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido, on 1300. It reminded me that Texas' 2005 season kicks off with the annual Varsity/Alumni game this Saturday at Disch-Falk Field. The Horns take to the road next week for an opening series against Tony Gwynn's San Diego State club.

Then I got to work and clicked over to OWA. What do I find there but the opening salvo in the first 2005 war of words between Houston and Chicago.

The bad feelings between the Cubs and Houston appeared to be on ice during the offseason.

However, Cubs manager Dusty Baker turned up the heat Saturday, saying the Astros play "dirty baseball."
Ah, yeah... the sun is out and temps are in the mid-60s. The Horns are heating up the carpet at The Disch, and Dusty Baker is already crying. It feels like Spring to me.

Last year my Horns finished two wins shy of a championship. My Astros finished one game shy of playing for one. Both teams should contend again in 2005. And yes, the Cubs are still cry-baby bitches.

Play Ball!


Movies: Academy Award Nominees 

Winners will be announced Feb. 27 at the 77th Academy Awards. View the nominees here.

I didn't see any real surprises, though I am disapoointed that The Passion of the Christ garnered just three nominations (Cinematography, Makeup and Original Score). Still, it's three more nominations than Michael Moore received, and that's a good thing.

Before I offer up any predictions, I need to seee a few films: Hotel Rwanda, Million Dollar Baby, Ray, Vera Drake and Being Julia (at least I'll try to see those last two). Until then, a few initial thoughts...


- Kate Winslet didn't get the double nomination, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a Best Actress win for her role in Eternal Sunshine.

- Though I haven't seen three of the performances yet, I'm going out on a limb to say that this could be the strongest Best Actor field in years.

- Did I mention that Fahrenheit 9/11 received zero nominations?


- C'mon, Mel deserved a little better? At least throw him a bone with Art Direction.

- The Best Supporting Actor category looks fairly weak. Alan Alda's The Aviator role was nothing special.

- No kudos for Garden State, which surprises me. It wasn't a Best Picture contender, but strong acting and quirky stories usually mean at least a nomination or two.

- Paul Giamati gets shut out of the Best Actor field, yet Sideways gets a nod for Best Picture.


Monday, January 24, 2005

DVD Review: Super Size Me 

I'm never eating McDonalds again.

Well maybe not "never," but I can guarantee that I wont any time soon. Watching Super Size Me literally made my heart heart. It was if all my years of JIB tacos and Ultimate Cheeseburgers, and late-night Taco Cabana or Whataburger started expanding in my arteries at once.


If writer/director/star Morgan Spurlock's intent -- during his 30-day, all-McDonald's diet -- was to ween America off of fast food, then I wouldn't be surprised to see him succeed, so long as his documentary gains more exposure. Though its mypoic McFixation sometimes seems more like a crusade against the Golden Arches than a public service announcement on American health, I'm all for a self-imposed moratorium on fast food burgers and fries for a little while.

Are you happy, Morgan? You've converted me.

Sure, fast food is disgusting, and yes, it's unhealthy. Spurlock makes a powerful case for why Americans should clean up their diets. But I think he does something of a disservice with his film. First off, nobody eats three fast food meals a day, and the people that do overindulge on fast food probably don't go as all-out as Spurlock does in his experiment.

Super Size Me reminds me of scientists that inject lab rats with things like saccharin in extreme doses and then conclude that saccharin causes cancer. Of course three fast food meals a day is bad, especially when "Super Sized." But so is smoking three packs a day, and that's nowhere near the norm, even for smokers. Spurlock's bizarre diet is so over-the-top that it loses credibility.

Now I would still recommend that people watch it. Hyperbolic or not, Super Size Me is informative. It's also funny, with an animated cast of characters (e.g., Spurlock's vegan girlfriend, and a guy that's eaten nothing but Big Macs for years and still sports a cholesterol rating of 140). Just don't get too worked up over it. You don't want to have a Big Mac-induced heart attack. 7/10


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Politics: The Bars at Night are Big and Bright 

While one Texas congressman wants to make it easier for legal drinkers to get sloshed, a colleague in the Legislature intends to make that more difficult (bypass registration), particularly for underaged drinkers.

A House bill filed this week would require Texans who buy kegs of beer to fill out a state registration swearing they are 21 years old and promising not to serve the beer to minors.

Beer retailers criticized the bill Wednesday, saying they would bear the burden of the proposed registration program and its bookkeeping.

The keg registration is one of three bills meant to reduce underage drinking filed by Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands. Eissler got behind the legislation at the urging of one of his constituents, Susan Wagener, whose son died of acute alcohol poisoning in 1999 on the campus of Texas A&M University.

A second Eissler bill would punish vendors who sell alcohol to people during the early morning hours of their 21st birthdays. The law is aimed at curbing birthday binge drinking that has led to deaths like those of Michael Wagener.

Another bill would limit the amount of alcohol that may be served in any one drink by licensed retailers to a half-ounce of pure alcohol or the equivalent. A police investigation into Wagener's death confirmed that he had been served eight or nine 4-ounce shots of liquor in 30 to 45 minutes, roughly the amount of a one-liter bottle of liquor
I understand the first bill, though I'm not going to start a letter-writing campaign to my Representative in support of it. But the other two? We Texans have a term for stupid ideas like those -- it's called "horseshit."

Personal responsibility is a great thing. It's an American thing. It's what separates us from a lot of other countries, where citizens cede their personal sovereignty over to a government that they expect to take care of them.

The death that apparently served as the catalyst for this proposed legislation is unfortunate. I feel sorry for his family. But it's not a reason for the government to overstep its obligations to protect the rest of us. Isolated incidents are simply not cause for excessive regulation.


Politics: Inauguration an Extravagance? 

Some friends and I had a discussion last night about the perceived extravagance involved with the Inauguration. They argued that it's unnecessary and pointless to make an even out of continuing the job as president.

I say, "screw that." We won, and now we get to gloat. I don't care about money or any of that. It's privately funded, for starters. Even if it wasn't, what's the difference in an Inauguration and any of the other state dinners and parties (and don't forget the glorified vacations, er, CoDels) that get thrown during the year, most of which are taxpayer-financed.

Extravagance didn't start with President Bush, and everytime I hear someone complain about the Inauguration I want to mail a check to cover a few more flower arrangements. For all of the crap this man has taken the past four years, he deserves a day like today.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Random: Because Sobriety is Overrated 

What are the odds of this legislation passing?

A bill's been filed in the Texas House that would allow hotel bars to serve alcoholic beverages 24 hours a day, seven days a week even on Christmas. The bill by Democratic state Representative Harold Dutton of Houston would require only that hotel-bar alcohol sales be solely for on-premise consumption.
I'm getting a picture in my head. It's 2:15 a.m. at Austin's swanky Driskill Hotel, where a middle-aged guy in a hounds-tooth coat has just ordered a Pinot Noir for himself and the 20-something piece of arm candy to his right. About that time a horde of drunk Sixth Street yahoos barge in, screaming profanities and ordering rounds of Jose Cuervo and Bud Light, as they seek to continue the post-2 a.m. party.

Yeah, this bill is going to go over really well.

Even the lush in me cringes at the thought. I remember the glory of Bourbon Street and it's all-night bars when my friends and I road-tripped to NOLa for the Texas-Tulane game a few years back. None of us were in shape to attend, much less remember, that game. Now I'm I'm even older, and this kind of tempation is just pure evil.

Like my friend Matt says, "nothing good happens after 2 a.m."


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Austin: Finding a Use For Bums? 

My buddy Porter might just have himself a little money-making scheme in the works.

Anyway I decided that I want to go into a lucrative business venture with bums. I think I will look up sports scores and other news items and then relay this info to bums in the mornings via walkie talkie. Then they will write this info on signs like a public service message. Then people will tip them money and I will get a cut and just give the bums enough for some smack and hashish. This is kind of like the guys in Houston selling newspapers but the info would be much more up to date. I think I'm onto something here. Really, I do.
Read the whole thing.


Monday, January 17, 2005

Sports: Because I Can't be Any Worse than Rich Kotite... 

Despite my poor showing in last weekend's NFL Playoff predicitons, I like to think that I know a little bit about football. I did grow up in Texas, after all. So with that in mind, I'd like to announce -- to any of the many NFL general managers and NCAA athletic directors that no doubt visit my blog daily -- my intentions to pursue a career as a football coach.

I think my resume speaks for itself.


Objective: To obtain a coaching position at the professional or collegiate level, and all of the perks (fancy cars, hugh diamond championship rings, personal fame) that come along with it

Professional Experience

Insite Magazine Dec. 2000-Present: Staff writer for monthly Austin
entertainment magazine.

- Featured future NFL All-Pro WR Roy Williams in Sept. 01 issue
- Featured future NFL All-Pro Derrick Johnson in Sept. 02 issue
- Featured Austin Wranglers AFL franchise in Feb. 04 issue

WORLD Magazine 1998: Freelance contributor

- Penned feature brites on prominant athletes including San Diego Charger QB Doug Flutie and Univ. of Kentucky QB Tim Couch

Temple Daily Telegram 1993-98: Intern/Stringer for daily newspaper

-Covered college, high school and recreational sporting events throughout Central Texas
- Semi-close ties to several area coaches, including legendary Temple HS Coach Bob McQueen; had crush on his daughter, Amanda, but never worked up the nerve to ask her out


Temple High School

- 1995 Honors graduate
- Provided award-winning coverage of Temple Wildcat football
- Sports anchor for KATV News broadcasts
- Sports editor of student newspaper, The Catalyst
- Attended every game in four years, including 1992 State Championship victory against Houston Yates

University of Texas at Austin

- Bachelor of Journalism. Dec. 1999: Concentration in Public Relations; minor in Business
- Attended more than 25 football games as a student
- Had a crush on a blonde UT cheerleader named Kelli, but never worked up the nerve to ask her out
- Friends with back-up OL Richard Land; partied several times with notable football players, including Ricky Williams, at The Buffalo Club

Playing Experience

Team Bunt Spring 2003: Austin City Parks and Rec Flag Football League

- Starting CB/FS for 3-5 team in 'C' division
- Averaged 2 "tackles" per game; 3 pass breakups
- Devised defensive gameplans
- Atoned for lack of speed/quickness with cunning instincts

Travis Middle School 1989-90: Temple, Texas

- Assumed starting OG duties late in the season for 3-5 7th Grade 'B' Team
- Back-up C/DT for 8th Grade 'B' Team district champions
- Standout special teams contributor; 1 fumble recovery
- Persevered despite small frame and no real athletic ability

Additional Qualifications

Football Fan 1977-Present: Texas Longhorns and Dallas Cowboys

- Withstood a decade's worth of taunting and heckling during the "Dark Ages" of Texas football and loyalty never wavered
- Wore a Longhorn t-shirt to school one day after humiliating 46-3 Cotton Bowl loss to Miami in 1991
- Traveled to remote areas including Fayetteville, AR, Lincoln, NE, New Orleans, LA, and Boulder, CO, to support Texas football
- Stuck with Cowboys throughout incompetent reigns of Dave Campo and Chan Gailey

Madden 2002 2001: Sony Playstation Video Game

- Eight-time Coach of the Year during ten-year franchise mode (All-Madden level)
- Compiled 133-27 regular season record and won seven Super Bowls in that span.

NCAA 2004 2003: Sony PS2 Video Game

- Compiled 66-6 record over six seasons (All-American level)
- Won 3 BCS championships
- True forte lies in recruting; nabbed more than 15 5-star recruits in each of six seaons

Long Island Commission/Capitol Hill Punishment 2000-2003: Fantasy Football GM

- Posted 37-52 record over four seasons in various leagues
- Finished one game out of playoffs on two seperate occasions

QB1 1991-Present: Interactive Football Game

- Finished first nationally during the 1991 Pigskin Classic (Texas A&M v. Stanford)
- Routinely dominated competition at both G. Willie's (Temple, TX) and T.G.I. Fridays (Austin, TX)
- Drew the ire of many drunks, who didn't like losing to a 14-year old

Master Productions 1994, 97: Temple, TX, Media Company

- Color Commentator/Analyst on Temple Wildcat broadcasts.
So maybe I'm not cut out to be a head coach, but an assistant's job is just fine. Hell, I can eat as well as Mark Mangino and drink as well as Mike Leach, and they both ended up getting head jobs in the Big XII. And let's not even get started on Rich Kotite or Ray Handley.

So... DeLoss Dodds? Jerry Jones? Whaddayasay?


Friday, January 14, 2005

Sports: NFL Divisional Playoffs 

I think I gave up on weekly NFL predictions somewhere around Thanksgiving. I just hadn't spent enough time watching the NFL to make decent picks. But I'm ready to start it back up now that the playoffs are getting interesting.

Are you ready for this? Call me a nut, because I'm prepared to pick ALL FOUR ROAD TEAMS TO WIN. I repeat, I'm going with the 'dogs in every playoff game. Why? read on...

St. Louis @ Atlanta: Doesn't it seem like the Rams play better with their backs against the wall? Sure, Mike Vick led the Falcons to that memorable road win at Lambeau two seasons ago, and the Rams choked one away to the Panthers last season, but for as good as Atlanta has looked this year, doesn't it seem like they've overachieved. St. Louis, on the hand, half-assed it through 17 weeks. I think the Rams will come in looking to prove something, and if they get the running game going, then who knows?
Rams 26, Falcons 20

Minnesota @ Philadelphia: Maybe I'm picking this because I pegged the Vikes as the NFC Super Bowl rep before the season started, or maybe I'm picking Minnesota because I want Randy Moss to moon those bastard fans in green. No matter, I'm going with the guys in purple. In Week Two I watched Minnesota piss down their legs in a loss to Philly. But the Eagles haven't played a meaningful game in weeks, and who knows how Philly will make up for the loss of Terrell Owens. Plus when in doubt, go with the team that has more of an "F the world" mindset.
Vikings 23, Eagles 20

Indianapolis @ New England: I know the drill... Peyton Manning can't win in the cold and/or in the playoffs. Well Barry Bonds was a postseason flop before launching eight HRs in the 2002 postseason. Great players show up eventually, and Manning gets to face a secondary ravaged by injury. These aren't the Pats of a year ago, and I don't think Indy will be intimidated.
Colts 24, Patriots 23

NY Jets @ Pittsburgh: Flat out... until such time as they hoist the Lombardi Trophy, I will maintain that the Steelers are a 10-6 team in a 15-1 team's body, which managed to catch every possibly break. The Jets aren't world-beaters, but they just have to play a smart game. If Curtis Martin's 31-year old legs have three hours left in them, then it's on to the AFC Championship Game.
Jets 20, Steelers 16


Random: A Public Service Announcement 

Do you like to send forwards? Do you get e-mails about boycotts and free money and curses and then pass them along to 20 of your friends, urging them to pass it along to 20 of their friends?

Would the following e-mail seem accurate to you?

Pepsi has a new "patriotic" can coming out with pictures of the Empire State Building, and the Pledge of Allegiance on them.

However, Pepsi left out two little words on the pledge, "Under God." Pepsi said they didn't want to offend anyone.

In that case, we don't want to offend anyone at the Pepsi Corporate Office, either.

So, if we don't buy any Pepsi product, they will not be offended when they don't receive our money that has the words "In God We Trust" on it.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, or if you've actually sent off the aforementioned e-mail this morning, could you do the rest of us a favor and please visit Snopes.Com. Mill around there for a while, and bookmark it before you leave. Then next time you get an e-mail about Wal-Mart secretly making donations to the Nazi Party, go do a search at Snopes and ascertain the veracity of the e-mail before you forward it to an address book's worth of people.

It'll save you from looking like an idiot, and it'll save the rest of us from getting annoyed.

Thank you.


Thursday, January 13, 2005

Movies: Lincoln Biopic 

Am I alone in finding Liam Neeson an odd choice to portray Abraham Lincoln?

According to Variety, Steven Spielberg is in negotiations with Liam Neeson to play President Abraham Lincoln in a biopic that is scheduled to start production next January.

The DreamWorks movie about the President is based on a bio being written by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. The book entitled “The Uniter: The Genius of Abraham Lincoln” will be published next fall.
Neeson is a great actor, no doubt. But watching a Brit (or any foreigner) assume the role of America's greatest president just seems, well, un-American. Plus, I don't want to see the President sit young Tad Lincoln on his lap and explain midichlorians to him.

Is there not a single domestic actor that could pull this off? Tim Robbins is a pretty tall guy. And what about the guy that played Lincoln in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure?


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Movies: Coming Soon... 

So I'm sitting here thinking about the movies that I'm most anticipating in 2005. Off the top of my head, three titles stand out: Sin City (April 1), Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (May 19), and Batman Begins (June 17).

Why these three titles? Jessica Alba, Natalie Portman and Katie Holmes, respectively.

Yes, I'm fairly shallow.


Random: Survey Says... 

Will at VodkaPundit and Michele at A Small Victory both have survey fever today (though the former is much more extensive than the latter).

If you're bored, stressed or need a break from the daily grind (or any and all of the above), then take a stab. Or maybe just slap'em in an e-mail and pester your co-workers.

I'm not taking the time to answer all of them (which will explain the missing numbers), but a few couldn't hurt. You'll have to visit their sites for the full surveys.


1. What did you do in 2004 that you’d never done before? Went to Colorado, twice.

7. What date from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory? November 2. So much about last year involved the election. It was just a monumental date.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My Houston Astros, and an honorable mention to Mack Brown.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Michael Moore, Dan Rather, the DU crowd in general

14. Where did most of your money go? Football season expenses... six home games, three road games (including Arkansas and Colorado), hotels, game tickets, and more booze than the American Liver Association would want to hear about. had I gone to the Rose Bowl, I might have ended up spending more on Texas football than I did on rent.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Jeff Kent's walk-off HR in Game Five of the NLCS.

16. What song/album will always remind you of 2004? You know? There really isn't anything that stands out. I think I bought four CDs all year.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Quality blogging.

24. What was your favorite TV program? The West Wing. I started getting into the Bravo syndication pretty heavily.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Not really. I throw around the word "hate," but truthfully I don't hate anyone. Now I really dislike a lot of people... most people, even... but no one new, I don't think.

26. What was the best book(s) you read? an old one... "Alas, Babylon," by Pat Frank

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Kanye West

28. What did you want and get? (in order) An Astros playoff berth, re-election for President Bush, a Longhorn BCS appearance

29. What did you want and not get? A win against OU, a new job.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 27... Went to Hula Hut with a group of friends for a low-key dinner.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? To have worked on a political campaign during election season.

34. What kept you sane? Moving, though it didn't happen until mid-December, so 23/24 of 2004 was marked by lunacy.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Natalie Portman, Kate Winslett

36. What political issue stirred you the most? The culture wars (i.e., secularist attack on Christianity) and the war on terror.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. "Well I've been down / I've been down too far to care / I keep getting in my car / but I'm not going anywhere." Old 97s


CD I have in my car that I roll up the windows to listen to: Any of a number of gangsta rap Ds I own.

Book I read flat so no one could see the title: Love in the Time of Cholera

Crappiest song ever sung at karaoke: "Total Eclipse of the Heart," which I performed Old School style.

What I order at the bar when no one is listening: I've been known to drink the swirl margarita from time to time at Trudy's.

Fast food item I adore: Jack in the Box tacos, and the Caba Bowl at Taco Cabana


DVD Review: Saved 

Hollywood often has a difficult time dealing with matters of faith and Christianity. It seems that its secularist establishment -- even when raising serious questions -- cannot broach the subject without resorting to taking cheapshots at it.

Saved falls into that trap. Its central message, that society -- meaning both Christians and non-Christians -- should practice more tolerance and understanding with each other, is one with which I mostly agree. But like the friend that can never give a compliment without first qualifying it in a backhanded manner, Saved chooses not to present its theme through straightforward means. No, it lampoons Christians in a way that paints their faith and practices as bufoonery.

The story centers around a girl (Jenna Malone) that attends a Christian school. A devout follow from an early age, she resorts to drastic actions when her boyfriend admits that he is gay. Shunning her desire to remain chaste until marriage, she gives up her virginity in an attempt to cure his homosexuality, leading to a series of events that have her questioning her faith.

Non-Christians will no doubt cackle with delight at the movie's subtle slams of Christian tenets and over-exuberant scenes of worship, while their born-again brethren cringe at seeing their beliefs defiled. After all it's standard fare in our "progressive" society. Fundamentalists, as we all know, are responsible for all of society's ills, right?

Sure the movie has a few honest laughs, and I did enjoy many of the characters (Eva Amurri stands out as the Jewish bad girl), but at its schizophrenic heart, what is Saved all about? Is it a dark comedy with a smidgen of light-hearted satire thrown in? Or is it a vehicle for the anti-Christianity camp to score another victory in America's ongoing culture wars.

In a way it's both, and how you see it will no doubt reflect which side of the war you're on. For me the more positive aspects are enough to save (pun intended) it from total blasphemy, but in the end Saved is nothing more than a cheapshot, no matter what it's trying to say. 5/10


Television: More "Real World" Fun 

Before people start thinking I'm a "Real World" junkie, I want to preface this post by saying that I've only seen the current installment (RW: Philadelphia) twice, and I really haven't watched regularly since the Las Vegas season.

But I'm glad I saw last night's episode, if only for the single greatest line in television history:

"I think that scabies might be the best thing to ever happen to the house."
Nice. One of the blonde girls got scabies and the rest of the house freaked at the thought. I would have, too.

The shots of them gingerly disinfecting everything -- holding linens like you might grip a dirty baby's diaper -- was the best RW moment since a distraught Montana moped through cleaning every inch of the Boston house, after she was fired from the youth center for giving wine to kids.

If some dumb ho brought scabies into my house then I'd be on the next taxi to a hotel, and you can damn sure bet MTV would be picking up the tab.


Television: Austin Held Hostage 

I know that just two days ago I said that "I couldn't be any less enthusiastic" about the upcoming "Real World: Austin." That's still true. However, it doesn't mean that I won't extensively cover it here on the blog, because, frankly, what else do I have to write about right now?

Anyway, it appears that the RWA house has been located. I had heard rumors about several spots, but this post on the (shudder) "Real World: Austin" unofficial message boards seems about right.

A warehouse located at Third Street and San Jacinto, which is downtown near the convention center, raised suspicion because of the presence of cameras and construction. The folks at realworldaustin.com seem to think this is it; checking out the building revealed "NO TRESPASSING" and "UNDER 24 HOUR SURVEILLANCE" signs... Of course, we'll know for sure once seven self-absorbed 20-somethings show up with cameras in tow.
Well of course it is downtown. Austin really isn't that big. The only logical spots to house this disaster-in-the-making would be either (a) downtown near the bar districts, or (b) out near Lake Travis. The latter would require some awfully long drives once Sixth Street closes down, and I doubt that MTV wants its "self-absorbed 20-somethings" commuting under the influence, so count that out. Downtown there are a number of high-rises and condo buldings popping up, but if I paid $300K for a 900-square foot closet and a week later I had a bunch of kids living above me, partying into the wee hours, I'd raise just a little bit of hell about it. That means that this warehouse idea makes sense.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Random: Let's (Not) Get Freaky 

This story sounds like something I'd expect from rural Texas or somewhere in the Midwest, but no, it's actually from the bastion of blue-state liberalness, otherwise known as California.

"Fed up with students' racy moves, a principal at a California high school has taken the unusual step of canceling the rest of this year's school dances.

Principal Jim Bennett of Lemoore Union High School said he warned students at a winter formal dance last month to either quit dirty dancing or face the possibility of not dancing at all.

But he said the students continued "freak dancing," a form of sexually suggestive dancing that involves grinding the hips and pelvic area."
That last line kills me. I wonder what the crew at Club Razzoo's on Bourbon Steet would think of this. Their "Dirty Chicken Dance" sounds like it would fit in well at the Lemoore Union soirees.

This story also reminds me of a classic Beavis and Butt-head exchange. During a video, Beavis jumps up and starts humping the corner of the couch, leading to the following...

Butt-head: Beavis, huh huh, get down.
Beavis: (continues humping) Oooooh, I AM getting down, heh heh, yeah...

To the students of Lemoore Union, I say this: watch Footloose and the Best of Beavis and Butt-head, and fight for your rights to get freaky. Now who's down for a little Dirty Chicken Dance action? (note: it's not appropriate for wedding receptions, and "it's your fault for having five hours of open bar" doesn't work as a good excuse).


Astros: Ashes and Sack-Cloth 

The flags are flying at half-staff in the Astros nation today.

Carlos Beltran is gone, as are Houston's chances, I fear, to compete for a National League pennant. Pitchers and catchers don't report for another month, so new GM Tim Purpura and owner Drayton McLane still have time to work magic, but barring some serious moves, I think the Stros are staring a .500 season -- at best -- in the face.

In a way I'm not too bummed about Beltran's departure. Committing $100 to one player is a risk for a mid-market team like Houston. What if two years from now Beltran sustains an injury that leads to a decline in production and/or ability? Then you have the same yahoos that continually assail Jeff Bagwell's contract doing the same thing with Beltran's.

But who am I kidding? Beltran is a guy you can build around. Yeah, his overall offensive stats don't resemble Barry Bonds, but he brings a total package: power, speed and defense. He makes the guys around him better, and he comes to play at crunch time. His presence will be sorely missed this season, especially if Houston finds a way to sneak into the playoff race.

I'll refrain from any Beltran or Scott Boras bashing. It's pointless now. They made their decision and no matter what I think about it, Houston still has a Texas-sized hole in center field. I commend Astros management for making every effort to sign the star, but it didn't happen and Spring Training is right around the proverbial corner, so there's no time to throw a pity party.

With no real marquee free agents available (Jeremy Burnitz is as close as you'll find), there remain a few trade possibilities. The simple fact, though, is that now is the time that some of the club's younger guys have to step up.

2005 will be a transition year for the Astros, as the Bagwell and Biggio Era draws to a close in what should be Bidge's final season in Houston. Now is when guys like Morgan Ensberg and Adam Everett (and possibly Chris Burke and Jason Lane) have to prove that they are the long-term answer at their respective positions. For Houston to have any shot at the postseason, these young players have to realize their potential.

I think that between now and mid-February, Purpura will make an addition or two, which will hopefully improve this ballclub. If he doesn't, and what we have now is what we take into Opening Day, then I think we're in for a long summer. For now I'm keeping the faith.


Friday, January 07, 2005

Television: Carlson to MSNBC? 

With Tucker Carlson out at CNN, it looks like MSNBC could look to out-Fox Fox.

Carlson has been talking with MSNBC about a prime-time opening replacing Deborah Norville.

“I would host any kind of show for (MSNBC chief executive) Rick Kaplan,” said Carlson, whose Friday night PBS show “Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered” resumes this week.

An MSNBC spokesman had no comment on CNN’s decision.

“We think Tucker is a great journalist and we’re exploring our options for a new 9 p.m. show,” said MSNBC’s Jeremy Gaines.
Carlson back-to-back with Joe Scarborough would be the best two hour block of cable news programming. What would the libs say when MSNBC suddenly has a better conservative lineup than Fox? Madness, I tell you!

The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy rolls on...


Televison: Austin Gets 'Real' 

"The Real World" is headed to Austin and I couldn't be any less enthusiastic about it.

What was once an entertaining, interesting concept, has devolved in recent years into a superficial exhibition of drama kings and queens, who seem to have no ambition in life other than turning their appearance into a revolving door career of reality show follow-ups.

What can we expect from Real World: Austin?

Murray promised "The Real World" homestead in Austin would be just as unique and palatial as the pier in Seattle, the loft in New York, the mansion in New Orleans and the former bank in Philadelphia, the location of the latest season. There will be a hot tub, some antiques and maybe even some neon or cowboy kitsch from local stores. But don't expect a horse.
Neon or cowboy kitsch? Please Lord, don't let MTV try and portray our city as some redneck haven of backasswardness. But don't let them make it look so cool as to elicit any more transplants, either. No matter which way they go, I fear a lose-lose for Austinites.

The only real winners will probaly be the downtown bar owners, who are no doubt foaming at the mouth. If the show continues its reputation of the past few years as a three month drunkfest, then I expect crowds on Sixth Street and Fourth Street to swell uncontrollably. Yee haw.


Politics: Universal Health Care 

While meandering through the IMDB yesterday, I noticed that Michael Moore's next movie, Sicko, will focus on healthcare in the U.S. Since the film won't be released until later this year, I'll refrain from turning this into a Moore-bashing post. In fact, the catalyst for for this entry has little to do with Moore.

In the IMDB's message board section (each movie or actor's entry always has a section at the bottom with recent posts), an individual poses the question: "Why do Americans have to pay to be treated by a doctor?" Now if you read these boards much, you already know that the IMDB's forums often denigrate into a cesspool of U.S.-bashing. We're stupid, evil, lazy and racist, and the foreigners that post there will gladly, and frequently, tell you as much.

This particular thread is even heavier on the vitriol than normal, even from the Americans. One of them writes, "we have to pay because ... doctors are money hungry." Hmmmm... maybe some of these people are right when they call Americans stupid. Anyway, that statement is so ludicrous that I won't bother addressing it.

No, I'm more interested in one Australian's post:

Don't YOU think that it should be everyone's human right to receive basic healthcare? We do. Thank God for Medicare. Why should you be refused treatment just because you can't afford it? We're not talking about a luxury item here. It's about the government giving a crap whether their people are healthy and have access to necessary treatment/drugs/therapy etc. when required. We really are the lucky country.
Forgetting for a moment our capitalistic economic system, the founding American principle of rugged individualism, and the fact that our Government does care (evidenced by programs such as Medicaid), this brand of thought still strikes me as absurd. Our Aussie friend has never heard of a slippery slope, it seems.

Is healthcare a "human right"? No, I don't think so, at least not in the way he or she states. And if you think it is, then where do human rights end? Is shelter a human right? It's certainly not a luxury. Should the government start purchasing my food for me? I need food to survive much more than I need medicine. And if the government starts taking it upon itself to provide me with all of this, then all of the sudden we've become the world's biggest socialist society.

Medical school is hard. Students spend thousands and thousands of dollars just to become doctors, and once they do it takes years before they start making the money to pay off their debt, much less become "rich." Pharmaceutical research is hard, too. Companies might spend millions to develop and mass-produce a drug. Then there's always the possibility of malpractice and recalls and all of the other pitfalls that the healthcare industry faces on a daily basis.

Do many of the people involved in this get rich? Yes, they do. Are all of them money-grubbing bastards, whose sole purpose is to make the big bucks? Please. It's a high-risk, high-reward gamble that pays off for some and I don't begrudge these people any of the money that they might make. But in the end, there's a reason that doctors become doctors, and I don't think it has nearly as much to do with a paycheck as these cynics make out.

As far as healthcare as a whole is concerned, I'm glad that the people in other countries feel satisfied with their system. But they're them and we're us and I'm satisfied with what we have. Do I think we have a perfect healthcare system in the U.S.? No, I don't. It's flawed. One study says that in 2006, more than 50 million Americans could be without health insurance, a figure that no doubt includes many children. But that's cause for fixing what we have, not scrapping it and substituting socialism for American ingenuity.


Music: New Old 97s Release 

With football season over and a potential dismal year for the Astros on the horizon, I've found something worth looking forward to in early 2005: the Old 97s Live DVD, due out on Jan. 25.

The track listing leans heavily toward the recent stuff, but I can deal. Now, if the guys would just book a show here in Austin sometime soon, life would be great.


Astros: Comin' to Town 

The Astros will visit Central Texas for a preseason exhibition with Round Rock on April 1. Though it's yet to be seen exactly who the Stros will have on the roster at that point, I think I'll have to fork over the $20 to see this one.

In other Astros news... 37 hours to go in the quest to sign Carlos Beltran. Whereas I was confident in that happening as recently as three days ago, I'm putting our chances around 40% right now.

I hate Scott Boras. If he and Michael Moore fought to the death, I'd root for a tie.


Thursday, January 06, 2005

Random: Thought For the Day 

Maroon 5's "This Love" could possibly be the worst song I've ever heard.

One of the many annoying people that sit near me at work has it as her cell phone ringtone. Why?


Politics: Belated Thoughts on Fahrenheit 9/11 

Two nights ago I finally subjected myself to Michael Moore's anti-Bush propaganda piece that some out there feel is a legitimate contender for Best Picture at next month's Academy Awards.

It was... well, it wasn't good.

I'll admit that parts of it were well-constructed. Moore obviously has a talent when it comes to appealing to emotion and pandering to the lowest common denominator. But much of the film was boring and almost all of it of it was deceitful. That which wasn't was so transparent that any objective eye could see its slant. In fact I have a hard time fathoming how anyone short of the loony far left could call F9/11 remotely objective or profound.

But that's okay.

I get Fahrenheit 9/11. I understand what it's about, and it doesn't bother me. I like to listen to conservative talk radio. I love Laura Ingraham, and I think Bill O'Reilly's program is much more tolerable than his television show. Sometimes I'll even tune in Michael Savage, despite his crazed rants and shouting fits.

The point is that for me, these shows help me escape. I reside in one of the few big blue islands within Texas' giant red sea. Liberals are all around me and between the "Bush is a Punk-Ass Chump" bumper stickers, anti-Bush graffiti, and local moonbat alternative weekly, The Austin Chronicle, sometimes I just want to listen to someone on my side espouse things that I believe.

Michael Moore says that his film was made for the people that don't vote. Maybe that's true in some ways. But the real truth is that Fahrenheit 9/11 is a pep rally for people that hate the President. Like a conspiracy theorist trying to shape facts to satisfy an agenda, Moore uses any and every unflattering snippet to paint the President as a warmongering terrorist that stole and election, misled the people, and sacrificed American lives to make a few bucks for his family.

It's comical. Seriously, I laughed -- many times. Now had I seen it before the election, I might not have. But President Bush won re-election despite Moore's falsehoods and in some ways, that reinforces my faith in the American people. It shows two things: (a) people are smart enough to see through bullshit, and (b) ignorant, apathetic sloths that can't pry themselves away from reality TV to care about the political process are all talk and no action, even when coaxed by dishonest filmmakers, and thankfully need not be feared by the rest of us as ever posing a real threat to our way of life.

But let them cheer and whoop and slap anti-Bush stickers all over the back of their Prius, if it makes them feel better. Meanwhile I'll tune it to the local conservative radio station and go make plans for the Presiden't second inauguration.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Blog: Blogroll Addition 

Today I added Darrell Vaughn's Hill Country Views, which looks to be a blend of politics and culture with some sports mixed in as well.

This post in particular -- about the affect of population growth and Electoral College reapportionment -- caught my eye. I know that President Bush basically picked up fourteen electoral votes in November just via the 2000 census. As Darrell points out, that continuing trend could bode well for the GOP in the 2012 election as well on both the national and state levels.


Austin: The Trudy's Challenge 

Austinites will agree that out fair city holds a wealth of tasty Tex-Mex dining destinations. Trudy's probably doesn't rank in the upper echelon of such eateries, but what they lack in food quality, they more than make up for with the best Mexican Martinis on the planet.

Trudy's MexiMart is basically a margarita -- though a more potent version than you're likely to find most at places (not counting Baby Acapulco's legendary purple Everclear margs). Their perfect blend of tequila and whatever else they use makes even the most marginal food palatable. The only drawback? Trudy's will only serve you two of them.

In college my friends and I joked that someday we'd take the "Trudy's Tour," meaning we'd embark one evening on the quest to drink our fill of Mexican Martinis at each of the three Austin locations. It sounded like an exciting adventure in alcoholism, but it never came about.

Then we met some guys at a baseball game about three years ago, who not only accomplished the feat, but also documented it on their website with an array of photos that somewhat resembled the famous drunk Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash snapshots. I thought of those guys last week when talk of the Tour resurfaced for the first time in years, but alas -- their site is apparently no more. All that's left is this message:

This website has been taken offline at the advice of my lawyer. Do not attempt The Trudy's Challenge. In fact, don't even speak of The Trudy's Challenge. Indeed, you should leave this website immediately, and if you ever even so much as THINK about the Trudy's Challenge, run to church.

Thanks for the memories Trudy's!
Now I feel an obligation to make this happen. Anyone up for drunk-blogging?


Movies: 2004 Year In Review* 

I put an asterisk in the title line because I'm not fully done with 2004. I recently rejoined Netflix and there are still a number of titles that I'd like to see -- several of which I suspect are Oscar-worthy.

For now, I'll stick with 2004's titles that I've actually seen. Based on my IMDB voting history, that includes:

The Alamo (2004) 4
The Aviator (2004) 8
Before Sunset (2004) 8
The Big Bounce (2004) 5
Blade: Trinity (2004) 4
The Butterfly Effect (2004) 6
Closer (2004/I) 8
Club Dread (2004) 4
Control Room (2004) 6
The Day After Tomorrow (2004) 4
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) 10
EuroTrip (2004) 6
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) 3
Finding Neverland (2004) 10
Friday Night Lights (2004) 8
Garden State (2004) 9
The Girl Next Door (2004) 3
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) 7
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) 8
King Arthur (2004) 7
Maria Full of Grace (2004) 8
Miracle (2004) 9
Mr 3000 (2004) 5
Napoleon Dynamite (2004) 7
Nine Innings from Ground Zero (2004) (TV) 9
Ocean's Twelve (2004) 7
The Passion of the Christ (2004) 10
The Perfect Score (2004) 3
Sideways (2004) 8
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) 8
Spartan (2004) 5
Spider-Man 2 (2004) 5
Starsky & Hutch (2004) 5
Team America: World Police (2004) 7
Troy (2004) 6
The Village (2004) 5

While the number to the right of each movie denotes the IMDB rating I assigned, I'd like to state -- in my defense -- that many of the numbers are arbitrary and reflect the mood I was in at the time. My true feelings might be over- or undervalued, depending of things such as spite.

Of the 36 titles listed, my ratings averaged out to roughly 6.5 per movie, and my lowest rating (3) had as many titles -- three -- as my highest rating (10). That sounds about right. But what does it all mean?

For the time being I think it means that 2004 has been a thoroughly average year for movies. Sure I'll see a few more films in the coming weeks that will have me reshuffling my year-end top ten, but for every one of those I watch, I'll pass on five or more awful movies that don't even need to be viewed to verify their wretchedness.

The Academy Awards take place on February 27, and nominations will be handed out on January 25. As we near those dates expect to see a lot more of these types of posts. I hope to have my own movie awards list posted before the actual nominations are announced, and after that I'll have my own takes on who will win and who should win once the red carpet is rolled out.


Monday, January 03, 2005

Random: Enduring Memories of 2004 

The people, places and events I'll remember most, in no particular order:

The Rose Bowl- Yes, it was in 2005, but it was the 2004 season. Quite possibly the best football game I've ever seen.

Game Six, NLCS- Jeff Kent's blast ended a gem, and as long as I live, I'll never forget him holding his index finger up as he crossed the plate, yelling "one more win." Too bad the Stros never got it.

Election Day- From the early day jitters to the late afternoon gambling site scare to the elation when Fox prematurely called Ohio at 11:30, it was an altogether great night.

Ronald Reagan's death- A week long of mourining and rememberance that was unlike anything I had seen before. I think this marked the biggest swell of national pride since 9/11.

The Passion of the Christ- Was it the best movie of the year? I don't care. It was the most impactful film I've ever seen.

Barack Obama- I'm not sure that he's the savior that some Democrats think he is, but the man overshadowed Bill Clinton at the DNC and that's not easy to do.

Zell Miller- His RNC address might have been the most fiery speech since Teddy Roosevelt told folks to walk tall and carry a big stick.

Dead (Old) Media Walking- Tom Brokaw's gone, and Dan Rather is on the way out. Few watch network news anymore, and bloggers have become a de facto media watchdog.

Boston Red Sox- I think I speak for baseball fans everywhere when I say (a) congratulations, and (b) let the "curse" die, once and for all.

Summer Olympics- I was pleasantly surprised. Going into it I expected the worst Olympiad ever, but in reality Athens pulled it off, and gave us a games full of memories.

Southeast Asia Tsunami- As the death toll continues to climb, all I can think about is how horrifying it would be to watch helplessly as a mountain of water sped toward you. My prayers certainly go out to the hundreds of thousands of people affected by this tragedy.


Saturday, January 01, 2005

INsite: The Pregame Tailgate (January 2005) 

The Pregame Tailgate

by Andrew Fox

What can we expect from 2005? The official TPT crystal ball sees all.

Jan. 4- Oklahoma crushes USC in the Orange Bowl, leaving the Pac-10 winless in its two bowl contests against Big 12 teams. Pac-10 officials, in an attempt to boost their conference’s strength, approach the Big 12 about acquiring Texas Tech and Baylor in a trade for Cal, Stanford and a lifetime supply of premium California Pinot Noir. The deal falls apart when Cal coach Jeff Tedford balks at the thought of having to beat real competition in the regular season.

Jan. 21- Sportswriters across the country lambaste Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido after Garrido fails to emerge from the clubhouse to congratulate the winning side in the Horns’ first preseason intrasquad scrimmage.

Feb. 16- Jambalaya sales in Austin skyrocket when Louisiana blue chip QB Ryan Perriloux officially signs his letter of intent to play at Texas. Hornfans.Com crashes minutes later following the first of many “Young v. Perriloux” debates.

March 25- Sixty-six thousand Texas fans – many dressed in commemorative Rose Bowl gear – flock to DKR-Memorial Stadium for the Texas spring football game. Though the exhilaration of Texas’ blowout win over Michigan has yet to subside on the Forty Acres, many still boo after Vince Young throws an interception on the game’s first play. The boos grow louder when the Orange team punts several plays later, and by the end of the game, offensive coordinator Greg Davis needs a police escort back to the locker room. One fan burns his season tickets on San Jacinto after the game, screaming the Rose Bowl win was nice, but “it’s not metal for the war chest.”

April 3- Texas’ second trip to the Final Four in three seasons ends in defeat when Daniel Gibson’s last-second shot misses by the smallest of margins. The excitement of the moment causes Dick Vitale to have a seizure.

April 23- Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells trades both of Dallas’ first round draft picks to the New York Jets for Curtis Martin and two fourth round picks in 2006.

May 1- An entire Chicago Cubs home stand is cancelled due to Sammy Sosa’s excessive crying about a lack of playing time.

July 12- Astros’ OF Carlos Beltran wins MVP honors at the Major League All-Star game. Beltran blasts two home runs and makes a diving catch to rob a triple, helping the NL to earn home field advantage for the World Series.

July 30- At the trade deadline, New York owner George Steinbrenner offers Houston’s Drayton McLane his penthouse apartment and the deed to Yankee Stadium, for Carlos Beltran. McLane’s pot-sweetening request for an additional $100M proves to be too much money for even Big Stein. Steinbrenner tries to raise the money by selling his soul to Satan, but it turns out that he already did that 23 years ago. Beltran remains an Astro.

Aug 2- On the eve of training camp, Dallas QB Vinny Testaverde dies of extreme old age. Owner Jerry Jones and coach Bill Parcells scramble to fill the hole and end up coaxing Phil Simms out of retirement. Meanwhile, in California, former NFL star Ricky Williams issues a statement questioning why the media isn’t so quick to criticize Testaverde for “abandoning his teammates.”

Oct. 10- Mack Brown’s Texas Longhorns beat Oklahoma for the first time since 1999. Dallas-area bars lose millions when stunned Texas fans remain in their Cotton Bowl seats until the late hours, not knowing how to react.

Oct. 25- Disgruntled with his lack of playing time, Drew Henson leaves the Dallas Cowboys and signs with the World Champion San Antonio Spurs, hoping to become the first athlete to be a total bust at three professional sports.

Nov. 1- Roger Clemens outduels Randy Johnson in Game Seven of the World Series to give Houston its first world title in baseball. The win is bittersweet as it proves to be the final baseball game for both pitchers, as well as Astros legends Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, whose shoulder falls off during a sixth inning at-bat.

Dec. 6- Texas hammers Colorado to win the Big 12 Championship Game, clinching the Horns’ second consecutive Rose Bowl appearance. Texas draws fellow unbeaten Miami as its BCS Title opponent, thus denying the Pac-10 and Big Ten of their traditional match-up for yet another season. Among the most outspoken critics are Cal fans, who blame Texas for their 3-8 record.

Dec. 13- Texas QB Vince Young wins the school’s third Heisman Trophy. Hornfans.Com shuts its doors forever when fans bombard the site with posts that no matter what the media says, Ryan Perriloux should start over Young, and that offensive coordinator Greg Davis should be fired.

Dec. 25- Texas coach Mack Brown receives a raise and a 25-year contract extension. Angry Texas fans firebomb campus.


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