Boo! Or is it Boo Hoo?

The Redskins lost today. Despite a valient effort, we were thwarted at every critical moment. Missed tackles, blown coverages, bad officiating and stupid turnovers cost us when we could least afford it. Even though we played well enough to win, fate interceded on behalf of the country.

I always knew that the Redskins are the greatest franchise in football, capable of life-altering brilliance. Little did I know that the team is psychic. Consider:

If history holds, the 28-14 result portends a victory for Kerry on Tuesday because the result of the Redskins’ final home game before the presidential election has always accurately predicted the White House winner. If the Redskins win, the incumbent party wins. If they lose, the incumbent party is ousted.

The streak began in 1933, when the Boston Braves were renamed the Redskins. Since then, beginning with Franklin Roosevelt’s re-election in 1936, the trend has held, including a 2000 Redskins loss to the Tennessee Titans that predicted George W. Bush’s win over Al Gore.

I hate to see the Redskins lose, but I have to make my sacrifice for my country in its time a great need. And more importantly, thank you, Mark Brunell, for taking your quarterback suckiness to astonishing new heights. The country owes you a debt of gratitude.

P.S. Sorry, Will, the only way Nader could’ve won was if the game had ended in a tie. Alas, no such luck.

Paint your yellow spot?

What is the Oral-B&#174 Rembrandt&#174 Whitening Pen? I saw this advertised in a magazine and felt compelled to look it up online. On that front, consider it a marketing success. On the logic scale, consider it a miserable failure. Why would anyone paint their teeth to make them white?

I brush my teeth every day. Wouldn’t it make more sense to brush with a whitening toothpaste? Somehow it seems easier for me to combine both into one simple activity than to require two steps to achieve the same result. Whitening toothpaste is like the genius of including a gun in the barrel of a walking stick. Sure I’d primarily use the cane for extra stability, but if I’m ever attacked by a monkey, I’d be prepared to whip some ass.

I digress… Browsing the website, I did ask myself what are the advantages of the Oral-B&#174 Rembrandt&#174 Whitening Pen? Here are the Oral-B&#174 marketing points:

Product Features:
+ Whitens while you sleep
+ All-in-one gel and applicator
+ Wide, sponge tip for quick application to all teeth
+ Quick-dry formula with no messy dripping
+ Enamel-safe
+ Fresh mint taste

I’m sold, but at $12.99, I have to look for another alternative. I’m going with the $4.98 pack of 2 Bic&#174 Wite-Out&#174 Exact Liner Correction Film/Pens. Now, if Bic&#174 would just put it out in bubblegum flavor, my teeth will be whiter than any fence Tom Sawyer could paint.

The Gods were happy, so no lightning

With such a spectacular comeback win by the Hokies last night, I must comment on the smarter kids at Georgia Tech. Consider this quote from a student when referring to the atmosphere of Big Time College Sports&#153 on the Georgia Tech campus:

“It validates that we’re not just nerds,” Kwon said. “Not only are our degrees much better than yours, but we can whip you on the field, too.”

That validates it in the same way the smahrt kids probably feel about the Hahrvahrd Lacrosse team. But there is something that makes me not quite ready to put my two Virginia Tech diplomas on the spinning roll attached to the bathroom wall. Consider:

“Here it is in all its glory — game day at Georgia Tech,” said fifth-year student Johnny Kwon, looking out over the lawn in front of the architecture building. “We sit here, drink beer and watch all the nerds walk by that aren’t going to the game.”

Even with my lesser diploma, I know that people, even nerds, are referred to as “who”, while inanimate objects are referred to as “that”. The right statement is “We sit here, drink beer and watch all the nerds walk by who aren’t going to the game. They’re carrying their X-ray glasses that run on batteries and atomic energy.”

Oh, and our quarterback doesn’t accidentally step out of the back of the end zone for a safety.

I give it 2,146,316 stars

The football season is always a welcome arrival because I love watching the Redskins, but on the one fall weekend during the season when the Redskins have their bye week, I like to enjoy getting out of the house on that Sunday. This year, that free Sunday was this past weekend.

Normally, I’d waste the day at the mall or a bookstore, just seeing what life was like outside of my cave. Not this time. On Sunday I slept until 1:00, which is the normal starting time for the Redskins. Once I was dressed to make my quarterly appearance into the world, Danielle and I decided to experience the fine comedy stylings of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, in the form of Team America: World Police.

Special note… I include some high-level movie spoilers in this review. Do not read forward until after you’ve seen the movie if you don’t wish to know anything about the movie. I will not give away any jokes, though. That’s my warning.

Going into the theater, I expected to laugh because South Park is hilarious, so anything from Trey Parker and Matt Stone will inevitably possess the same comedic bent. Think comedy as societal skewering. I enjoy that and, having read a few reviews, I was prepared for comedy and political commentary. I was not prepared for such crude, violent, sexual puppets and jokes so offensive and wrong that they’re so right. Bottom line: I haven’t laughed so hard and so often at a movie in years.

From the opening scene in Puppet Paris to the closing scene in THIS SPOILER BLOCKED, Team America: World Police carries its mission forward with focused reckless abandon. It mocks the brainless brawn of “shoot first, maybe ask questions later, if there are any survivors” with the multi-talented Team America police officers and its flawless I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E. It chastises the vapid condescension of “never shoot, because capital ‘L’ Love is all we need” with the assembled mass of actors, who are only representative of liberal dumbass idealists who comprehend complexity as poorly as anyone. No politician or candidate is mentioned by name or inference, and that is a valid omission. The theme of Team America: World Police is larger than the immediate presidential election.

Like everything Trey Parker and Matt Stone do, there is song. I won’t mention the song titles here because that would give away too much, but I will say how thrilled I was at the brilliance and timing of every song. As the story moved into one song, Danielle made me laugh out loud as she predicted “And now, he sings.” You’ll have to see the movie to know the moment and the song. As for my favorite musical moment (and political statement), I’ll just say that I think Toby Keith and Aaron Tippin will be pissed if they ever understand the joke.

Despite what some reviews and news stories are implying, this isn’t a politically biased film. Team America: World Police isn’t Fahrenheit 9/11 with puppets. This is political commentary with a brain, not a party affiliation. It uses a coherent story to explain its point. As political commentary, Team America: World Police succeeds because it skewers the inflexible Culture of Fear sold by the Right and the blind Culture of Kumbaya sold by the Left with equal viciousness and insight. Team America: World Police promotes sanity above political ideology. There are serious issues facing the world today; we can’t hide from them, but we also mustn’t make pretend that America is perfect and that our ideas and ideals are all that is valid. The world is infinite shades of grey, while our current political agendas see only black and white. Ultimately, intelligence matters. That is the essence of Team America: World Police. Throw in a few fornicating puppets and the result is genius.

Better never than late

Remember the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, the one that President Bush said was essential to preserving American society? There’s a new development, courtesy of President Bush. Before I address that, in order to remind everyone of the FMA that President Bush supports, reconsider the language of the proposed amendment:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

Put that into the context of President Bush’s comments during an interview with Charles Gibson. Consider:

“I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between, a union between a man and a woman,” Bush said. “Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass … laws that enable people to you know, be able to have rights, like others.”

This is ridiculous. Denying marriage and “the legal incidents thereof” to same-sex couples within the Federal Marriage Amendment excludes the possibility of civil unions, yet President Bush says he supports allowing states to create civil unions. While I believe him when he says this (honestly, I don’t hate Bush or think he’s evil; I just think he’s incompetent), his support is an empty token. His statement demonstrates how he views the world in black and white. President Bush supports the FMA even though it blatantly conflicts with his support of a state’s right to recognize civil unions. The language doesn’t matter as long as it accomplishes the bigger goal. That is legislating in broad strokes rather than fine lines.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. After I formulated my thoughts on the President’s statement, I read Andrew Sullivan’s opinion. Consider:

For what it’s worth, I tend to think this is his real position, rather than a belated realization that his extremism on this matter has cost him many votes. But if it is his real position, why didn’t he say so before? And how can he support the FMA which specifically bars the “incidents of marriage” for gay couples? President speak in forked tongue. More to the point, he must surely be opposed to the state amendments in eight states that ban marriage for gays and also anything that even vaguely looks like a marriage. Those states are Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah. If you agree with this president, you have to vote against these state constitutional amendments. They bar civil unions as well.

To his credit, the President (through his Press Secretary) did make this statement; everyone missed it. Consider this:

Q: When the President says that the states should be free to pick legal arrangements other than marriage, does that include civil unions, specifically?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, states can make their own decisions with regard to legal arrangements. That would include hospital visitation rights, it would include insurance benefits, it would include civil unions — we talked about this earlier. The President has made it very clear that he would not have supported it for the state of Texas.

Q: Civil union?


Ultimately, President Bush’s argument still comes down to this, his fundamental (fundamentally stupid) argument about same-sex unions:

“Look. If you’re interested in preserving marriage as a union between a man and a woman, there is one way to do so, without the courts making the decision. That’s through the constitutional process and obviously I think that’s the way to go, because I am concerned that courts are making this decision. This is too important a decision to have a handful of judges making, on behalf of the American people,” Bush said.

Nine judges made a decision for 300,000,000 Americans in the 2000 Presidential election. You didn’t seem too upset then, Mr. President. How is this different?

Two thumbs up for conflicting opinions

With one week until the election, this is where my thought process still is…

I’ve never seen Waking Life, but I might have to see it now after reading this quote from Roger Ebert:

I have seen “Waking Life” three times now. I want to see it again–not to master it, or even to remember it better (I would not want to read the screenplay), but simply to experience all of these ideas, all of this passion, the very act of trying to figure things out.

That’s enticing to me, since it’s essentially the same aspect of Before Sunset that I loved. But really, Mr. Ebert ends his review with the inherent philosophical curiousity that justifies his opinion, but also relates to the larger issues of life that movies can inspire:

It must be depressing to believe that you have been supplied with all the answers, that you must believe them and to question them is disloyal, or a sin. Were we given minds in order to fear their questions?

Mr. Ebert wrote that line three years ago, but it’s still relevant. It clarifies the differences in our current political climate. I know on which side of that question I fall. Does that mean I’m unpatriotic?

Agree with us and the debate is unbiased

Browsing Andrew Sullivan’s blog this morning, I decided to finally click one of his ads to see what it was. The specific ad I chose was for As you can see, the ad features John Kerry in a goofy pose with the tag line “He’s tall. He’s scary. He flip flops. Yeah, he’s an idiot.”, so I assumed it that the website sponsor would be some ridiculous, partisan hack who had an agenda othe than debating issues on merit. Every time I assume, I remember why it’s not a great idea. The truth here was worse than that. turned out to be a ruse to ultimately redirect and attract new subscribers to

Is this a partisan ad?Last month, I rejoined after an extended absence. I like the underlying concept and was ready to download new audiobooks to add to my collection. One of the most interesting aspects is the ability to download convention speeches and presidential debates, along with other miscellaneous speeches leading up to the election. This is a brilliant idea. It’s too bad Audible’s marketing department ruined all brilliance with this pathetic, partisan ad.

I’m going to contact them to get an explanation, to determine if they created any “George W. Bush is an idiot” ads. If they did, I’ll express my anger at the stupidity of targeting ads to audiences allegedly predisposed to the partisan sentiment expressed when the underlying product is meant to give the full political spectrum of information. If the Kerry ad is the only version, I’ll express my anger and cancel my subscription.

I’m already rethinking my plan. I’ll still contact Audible to express my anger, but I will cancel my subscription regardless of the answer. This is unacceptable. I don’t know if I’d feel the same way if the only ad was the “George W. Bush is an idiot” version, but I only have the information at hand, which mocks the candidate I support. I hope I’d feel the same way if the reverse had been true. I suspect I’d disagree with the marketing plan but wouldn’t be as upset about the sentiment since it matches my own. That doesn’t make it smart.

Businesses have the right to support any candidate they wish, but with that, the executives run the risk of alienating customers based on personal preference. Unless the business is privately held, the executives need to be certain that the shareholders are willing to take this risk. I’d love it if would make the audio of the marketing meeting where this plan was hatched. That would be a brilliant tool for every college marketing class.

This ad is a perfect example of why it’s better for people who run businesses to use their own money to push their agenda. If they show me, the customer, that they’ll use my money to support something I abhor, I’ll take my money elsewhere. Welcome to the real world, Audible.

A Walk Is Never Better Than A Home Run

I don’t usually watch the playoffs when my favorite teams aren’t involved because I have a busy life of internet surfing and tv watching to pursue, but I’m riveted to the Red Sox-Yankees series. The last three days of baseball have been a complete emotional roller coaster for me as I root for the Red Sox. In the 14th inning on Monday, I was so nervous I felt as though I would puke. Last night, I was bouncing my legs, pacing in between innings, and rarely flipping channels during commercials for fear of missing a pitch. I was as jittery as I would be after drinking a pot of Turkish coffee. I might even have been confused for a die-hard Red Sox fan.

Part of the excitement for me is in rooting for Curt Schilling. I’ve respected Schilling’s talent since his days as the Phillies’ ace. He didn’t have the experience then, but he had the bravado and desire to be The Guy. After his ALCS Game 1 performance, I wanted him to pitch again. Anyone who watched Schilling in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series knows what kind of pitcher he is when the spotlight is on him. Even with the ankle injury, I knew he’d pitch big.

Boston acquired Schilling to pitch in one game this year and this was it. Coming through in the game would be clutch, even without a torn ankle tendon. With it, his performance will be legendary. Consider the words of ESPN’s Bill Simmons, a life-long Red Sox fan:

This was about heart. This was about coming through when it mattered most. This was about choosing to pitch for a tortured franchise, promising that things would be different, and then persevering only because you gave your word.

To avoid needless puffery of my own, it will not be legendary for his pitching. That was great, but a win to pull the Red Sox even isn’t the same as winning Game 7. That he put his career and his reputation at stake for the team and delivered is what will make it legendary. The most amazing aspect of Schilling’s performance, consider the preparation needed for his start last night:

“This training staff was just phenomenal – the things they did for me over the last four, five, six days,” he said. “To avoid having it popping in and out, they sutured the skin down to something in between the two tendons to keep the tendon out. It worked.”

As good as Schilling pitched, The Curse of the Bambino crept into Yankee Stadium. For the few minutes when Alex Rodriguez was called safe, allowing Derek Jeter to score and reduce the Red Sox lead to 4-3 with 1 out in the 8th, I felt a little piece of the “Here we go again” horror that Red Sox Nation surely felt. When the umpires reversed the initial call to the correct call, I began to believe what my baseball instincts were screaming, that this might be The Year&#153.

After the game, when asked about his karate chop of Bronson Arroyo’s glove, Rodriguez said this:

“I know that line belongs to me and he was coming at me,” he said. “Once I reached out and tried to knock the ball, the call went against me. I should have just run over him.”

Yes, you should’ve, but you didn’t. Not quite good enough teams make mistakes, while championship teams run the guy over. Tonight, we’ll find out if that lapse is inherent in this Yankees team or if the Red Sox finally have that little extra to win the ALCS. I can’t wait.

Vegens don’t eet meet

Cruising through K-Mart this weekend, cutting through the Foods I Refuse to Eat&#153 section to get to the DVDs, I spotted the Spam&#174. Having avoided Spam&#174 for decades, I stopped to look as a reminder of all that should never be and all that, at least for me, will never be again. Searching for the label, I chuckled because it wasn’t easy to find. If I “concocted” Spam&#174, I wouldn’t want the ingredients readily known, either, so it was a knowing chuckle. Considering I’m not a crazy vegan who gets morally indignant when others eat meat, the Spam&#174 fascination died quickly, only to be replaced by the undeniable reality that is Treet&#174.

TreetWhat is Treet&#174 and why does no one ever promote this in all its glory? With all that “Virginia Baked Ham Taste”, who could loathe such a glorious addition to the luncheon meat aisle? Consider this amazing product promotion from the wonderful folks at Armour:

A popular addition to the Armour Franchise – Premium Pork Luncheon meat uses 100% pork with seasonings for a great taste. Fully cooked, ready to eat – enjoy hot or cold. Try it in one of the great luncheon meat recipes.

Seriously, people, what is wrong with America? We’ve descended to the point where people will happily buy a can of squishy, congealed meat by-product bathed in fake seasonings to make the resulting glop assume the fake identity of a Virginia Baked Ham. It’s positioned next to the Vienna Sausages, so in a wink-wink-nudge-nudge way, I know what it’s supposed to be, but for the love of anything that is even minutely holy, people who buy and consume this should be smacked and force-fed frozen peas.

As an experiment, let’s pretend for a moment that I’m a child who eats meat. If my mother or father places Banana Treets in front of me as I watch morning cartoons, I’d rationalize that my parents don’t love me and would prefer that I quietly move out and live with trolls. I’d happily agree, but the move would have to wait until I finish heaving out my guts.

Before America’s food processors dump churned horses pigs into nuclear war-proof product cans bound for discount store shelves, here’s a simple request: run spell check on the label.