Monday, March 31, 2008

Maybe it's just me, but she doesn't look Dutch...

The other night I was fortunate enough (thanks to the generosity of MRE) to land four tickets to see Fergie at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and so the Troika and I headed out to Reliant Stadium. 'Twas my first time in the stadium, believe it or not. I was mostly interested in the rodeo part; the Troika obviously were just twiddling their thumbs more (Anya) or less (Natasha) impatiently through the bronc riding and steer wrestling and barrel racing and bull riding.

In the end a good time was had by all. First of all, Fergie put on a great show despite the severe handicap of having no front row to play to -- at most of the great concerts I've been to over the years the performer's interaction with the front row is what gets the front guys up and dancing and then everybody else follows the leader, but at the HLS&R the front row is at least fifty yards away from the performer. But Fergie managed to overcome this handicap better than I would have expected. Secondly, an extended mini-set in the middle of the concert involved a medley of classics that, somewhat to the girls' bemusement, Papa recognized and could sing along with: some Stones, some of the older funk stuff, even a cover of "Barracuda."

Still, it's probably highly characteristic of my character that the two most memorable moments didn't really have anything to do with Fergie's performance. Indeed one of the two I only heard about later on: Chris Greer, whose sense of humor closely resembles mine, found himself sitting with his son behind a bank of four or five teenaged girls, and he and his son began a deliberately loud conversation that ran something like this:

"Man, I can't wait for this show to start -- been years since I've seen Reba McEntire and I've been looking forward to this show for weeks."

"Yeah, Dad, me too. Reba puts on such a great show. You think she'll do any of the old stuff? I mean, I think 'Can't Even Get the Blues No More' has really held up over the years..."

[now one merely sits back and watches as the horrified teenagers in the next row scrabble desperately around in their purses to check the dates on their tickets...]

But my single favorite moment came when Fergie gave a shout-out to her parents, who were in attendance:

"You know," says Fergie, "I have a really great dad. I'm like Miley Cyrus. Miley Cyrus has a great dad, too."

And at this point a teenage girl behind me, overcome with transports of delight at Fergie's unexpectedly high degree of coolness, screamed ecstatically, "Oh my God, she knows Miley Cyrus!"

You just never know when you're going to impress the younger generation, I suppose...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

This, despite having been voted the "Person Least Likely Ever To Be Called a [epithet deleted for the safety of friends who read the blog at work]"

Okay, we'll get to the anecdote behind the post title in a bit. (The censored epithet is "nigger;" I just figured having it at the top in bold, very large print might be too much of a shock to the corporate-political environment in which this blog from time to time is surfed.) First, however, a bit of more recent news. Long and brutal day yesterday dealing with minor car trouble on the Buick; all ended well but it didn't end until 11:00 p.m. or so, by which time I was exhausted. So I sat out on the landing and drank a glass of wine and a little bit of Scotch, chatting with Anya and our neighbor J.J. and the young man Myron who seems to spend as much time with my daughters as he can manage, though the no doubt romantic nature of his intentions has not yet been, to my knowledge, announced. (The Troika will probably be honked off by that last clause, but, yo, dyevochki, I was once a guy Myron's age, and you never have been and never will be, and if you want to believe he doesn't have the hots for at least one of you then that's your prerogative but don't expect to sell me that particular bridge.)

And it was probably the wine and whiskey (having given up alcohol for Lent I'm out of practice plus I was, as I said, exhausted), but when Myron and J.J. started trash-talking each other about basketball I became aware that tonight was going to be one of those nights.

By "one of those night," I mean something very specific. I was a perpetual motion machine as a kid, whose social salvation from the near-unforgivable male faux pas of getting good grades (very effeminate, where I grew up, that was), was the fact that I was an Academic All-State basketball player who cracked the starting lineup on the varsity on the very first game in which I was eligible to play. Which is to say, I loved basketball and was very good at it within the inevitable limitations of being a scrawny and not terribly fast five-eleven white dude, and of course any first-rate athlete can tell you that athletics gives you something you just can't get anywhere else, at least once you've earned your way to a certain level of accomplishment.

But about fifteen years ago I went and did something stupid and fell off a house and did severe damage to my back, and now on the rare occasions when I can't help myself and find myself back on the court, fifteen minutes of basketball one day gets paid for by two subsequent days of being hardly able to walk. So I don't play very often now...but every so often, as I say, I just can't stand it and for a few minutes I get a ball in my hand and a player between me and the goal and I get just a taste of it, just for a few minutes, maybe once or twice a year. And then I go back to being old and broken-down.

So, last night the realization sank in that the court was calling and there was no point in resisting it, even though by now it was after midnight and I was, as I say, exhausted. So I asked Anya to bring me my basketball. Response the first: Papa is such a kidder, isn't that a funny joke. Response the second: Papa, you can't really be serious, that's really stupid, how much have you had to drink? Response the third, resignedly: Okay, Papa, here's the ball you asked for.

I really just wanted to shoot a few free throws; I didn't challenge Myron or J.J. or anything, just quietly took the ball and headed off, alone, for the court. The unlit court, that is. Headed for the slick, wet concrete court through the misting rain, that is. (In other words, Anya's second reaction was eminently understandable.) But it seems that Anya then went and told Natasha (who loves basketball), "Natasha, you gotta see this, Papa is going off to play basketball right now," and of course once Anya and Natasha were headed for the basketball court Myron's attendance was a foregone conclusion, and J.J. tagged along as well...and so I found myself in a game of twenty-one, and resigned myself to getting beat. Not by J.J.; I'm three inches taller than he is and he's too young to know any defensive techniques that I don't know how to counter. But Myron is young and athletic, and I'm only good for about five minutes of defense before the pain starts to set in, and my jumper's no longer reliable enough for me to run off a quick twenty-one points in less than five minutes.

But as it turned out, I won after all. I had forgotten about the position Myron was in. Let's see, here you are with these two girls, at least one and probably both of whom you want to impress -- but you've gotten yourself into a basketball game against their decrepit old dad whom you know they like a lot. Is that a lose-lose situation or what? If the old guy beats you...oooh, major blow to the whole young-athletic-muscular-stud persona you've been working on. But if you go in and abuse the old guy, that's like picking on a little kid in front of girls, and besides, you'd really prefer for him to like you.

So I thought Myron played it pretty well. He played enough defense on me to keep me from just standing outside and shooting set shots, and once he realized I knew what I was doing and knew how to protect the ball he had fun seriously trying to steal the ball off my dribble. And after I jumped out to a quick 12-2 lead and he adjusted to my skill level, he played hard enough to get himself back in the game and catch up. The only thing that did him in was the fact that he assumed from my first few shots that I couldn't hit the extras from the top of the key, unaware that that was my signature spot back in the day; and so when I sighted it in and suddenly went on a five-of-six streak on the one-pointers, the game unexpectedly ended before he could adjust his strategy. Here he had thought it was at least a four- or five-possession game and the next thing he knows it's over in two possessions.

So he called for another game. Ah, but one of the advantages of being forty-one is that (a) you're past the point of having to prove your manhood whenever challenged and (b) you know when to take the money and run, metaphorically speaking. So I politely declined the offer and made a beeline for a nice hot shower and a couple of Advil.

And you know what? I think I'll save the other anecdote (the one I got the post title from) for another day.

UPDATE: Come to think of it, it turns out I already told said other anecdote on the blog, here -- though I think I need to enhance it with a picture of just how white a dude I was and am (think standard white copy paper but with rather more glare in daylight), and will therefore append my original driver's license as soon as I can get it scanned in.

I found this story moving...

...though you may find it morbid, in which case I apologize for bringing it to your attention.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pictures from the beach

Rusty and Sally and I, the last time it was my weekend, headed down to Galveston, where we managed to get fifteen whole minutes of swimming in before Rusty met up with a jellyfish. (No permanent harm done.) But hey, they packed those fifteen minutes full, as you can see from these pictures...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On the wit and wisdom of Maureen Dowd

Allow me to observe that Ms. Dowd's name is synonymous with moral rectitude.

That is the politest way I can think of to say that, when it comes to questions of right and wrong, Ms. Dowd is an unmitigated ass.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means" Dept

The word of the day for Woody Williams, overpaid (based on his disastrous performances last year) Houston Astros pitcher, is "capable." Three days ago Mr. Williams was discussing in a press conference how the aformentioned year of disastrous performances made him feel, and he enlightened us thusly:

"It was disappointing not being able to do the job I was capable of doing."

One more thing on Easter...

...I think this post holds up pretty well (wrote it a year or two ago).

Monday, March 24, 2008

And while we're on the subject of Easter...

...might as well remember Easters past -- specifically this memorable White House Easter Egg Roll from a couple of years ago.

By the way, I deliberately did NOT link to was my original intent, but when I went there to hunt down the video (which I originally received in an e-mail a couple of years ago) I discovered that's just say I'm now honked off that is in my web-surfing history list, and leave it at that.

Thought-provoking stuff from the Easter sermon

I'll just give you a couple of direct quotes from Fr. Walter's sermon, untainted by my own musings.

"What is it that robs you of your contentment? What is it that makes you tell yourself, 'The peace of God that passes understanding, is not for you'?"

"It is God's intention to restore to us the contentment that our imagination has stolen."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Steven Wright line of the day

"A friend of mine has a trophy wife, but apparently it wasn't first place."

Congrats to Pop...

...and all other Mountaineer fans (or, for that matter, Duke-haters).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A nice bit of rhetoric

Vodkapundit sent me to this restaurant review, which -- and this, I hasten to add, is not why I'm linking it -- spends most of its time in a quite astonishingly detailed blow-by-blow account of the reviewer's struggles to collect a sample of his own fecal matter, per the instructions of his NHS doctor, in hopes of recovering from the unmentionable gastrointestinal consequences of a trip to Bombay. One uses "unmentionable" in a wistful, ideal sense, regrettably; in point of fact the reviewer spends the first seven paragraphs of his restaurant review mentioning it. In, as I say, detail. I don't know about you, Gentle Reader, but I would think that if I were attempting to make a living reviewing restaurants, I would as a professional policy steer away from the, shall we say, unappetizing. But I suppose Mr. Gill, not I, is the expert here.

At any rate, eight paragraphs on Gill finally starts working himself around to telling us what restaurant is the nominal subject of his piece, and then proceeds to blast away at them most entertainingly. Vodkapundit considered this particular paragraph most quoteworthy:
My chicken and ham pie was a disaster. I use the word in the gastronomic sense. It wasn’t a disaster like an earthquake in Pakistan or the Black Death, but in its own dinner time, it was up there with the Thirty Years War. A sarcophagus of bone-dry, boiled and shredded ham, with hen tits. Once the pastry was on, they’d forgotten to make it taste of anything, or give it any liquidity. “Sorry, mate, we’ve paved it over now. Can’t dig it up again.”
But personally I was struck by a different sentence, in which the insertion of the single word "blamelessly" adds a very nice layer of irony to the damning-with-faint-praise technique:
I started with mushroom soup, which was a thick, grey custard of underseasoned field mushrooms and not much else. It was, blamelessly, what it promised to be: a liquid made out of fungus.
Now that latter sentence, if nothing else in the otherwise (frankly) rather disturbing piece, marks its author as a man who knows how to write.

Hmm, and I'm guessing that not a single one of my long-suffering readers can imagine why I would think that sentence worth cranking out a whole Peril post...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Technical Prowess of the BBC Dept

I happen to like Mark Steyn's ruminations on music and theatre rather more than his political stuff -- the politics I can drum up myself (though not with Steyn's peculiar gift for the pun-as-stiletto), but I have learned an immense amount about the "standards" from Steyn's columns over the years, with highly positive effects on my IPod playlist. Granted, the Troika would object to that last bit on two points: (a) I don't actually have an IPod, my "IPod" playlist residing happily on a laptop that I run through whatever speakers are handy as required, and (b) the Troika do not believe that the addition of, say, "The Best Is Yet to Come" to said playlist is properly designated a "positive effect." But you get my point all the same.

Still, being a connoisseur of human folly and incompetence, I have to admit that in reading Steyn's review of a "Perry Mason" episode written from England, the Land of the BBC, I got the most pleasure out of the following anecdote tacked onto the end:
Hopeful of finding a common thread to the programmes reviewed, I turned to that all-time classic cop series, Naked City (BSB Galaxy, Saturday): you know, "There are eight million stories in the naked city; this has been one of them." At midnight, the programme suddenly disappeared, leaving a riot of fuzzy lines.... Ever the dutiful critic, I roused myself and called up.

Eventually the phone was answered: "Hullo, er, British Broadcasting Communications. No, er, British, er, Satellite, er - hullo?" I identified myself as The Viewer. "Wait a minute," he advised, and returned a while later with someone else. "Your Galaxy Channel's gone off the air," I said. "Has it?" he asked, and went off to investigate. "You're right," he said, sounding surprised anyone would notice...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Redneck Mansion Dept

Responding to my pickup truck post from a couple of days ago, my Aggie friend Karl (who, like me, relived lots of youthful memories in reading that post) forwards on to me the following picture of a redneck's dream domicile. You will note, in particular, the front-yard fishin' hole which the uninitiated may mistake for a swimming pool.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Export Forgery Of The Day Dept

Some helpful advice on the manufacture of convincing fake government ID's may be found here.

HT: Ace

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pickup Trucks: "The World's Only Beer-Guided Motor Vehicle," plus an I-swear-I'm-not-making-it-up personal reminiscence

Just re-reading, this evening, P.J. O'Rourke's classic essay, "High-Speed Performance Characteristics of Pickup Trucks"...

An experienced pickup truck driver is a person who's wrecked one. An inexperienced pickup truck driver is a person who's about to wreck one [I have long qualified as experienced, having personally killed off three of 'em before I turned 18, but two of those were not my fault - RP]...The foremost high-speed-handling characteristic of pickup trucks is the remarkably high speed with which they head from wherever you are directly into trouble. This has to do with beer. The minute you get in a pickup you want beer. I'm not exactly sure why this is, but I blame it on Jimmy Carter having been President.

...You may be wondering where Jimmy Carter comes in. Well, Jimmy Carter was a redneck just like we all are trying to be, but he was a sober redneck. Most of us had never seen a sober redneck, and we have the Reagan landslide to testify that none of us ever want to see one again. It was a horrifying apparition...

...A pickup truck is basically a back porch with an engine attached. Both a pickup and a back porch are good places to drink beer because you can take a leak standing up from either. Pickup trucks are generally a little faster downhill than back porches, with the exception of certain California back porches during mudslide season. But back porches get better gas mileage...

...There are usually five gears on a pickup. [P.J. wrote this back when he and I were both a lot younger and pickup trucks were the good old-fashioned manly trucks with the three-speed H-pattern gearshift sticking out from the steering column where degenerate modern society puts a windshield wiper control cleverly disguised as a second blinker.] One is a mystery gear which is illustrated on the shift knob but cannot be found. Then there is first gear, which is good for getting stuck in the woods. When you aren't stuck in the woods it's good for yanking your bumper off while trying to help a friend who owns a pickup when he's stuck in the woods. First gear has a top speed of three. Second gear has a slightly higher top speed but you can't climb a speed bump without downshifting and the truck still gets only eight mpg. It is not known what third gear is for. All normal pickup driving is done in second. Pickups also have a reverse gear, which is good for getting more completely stuck in the woods than first gear can do alone...

That essay can be found in P.J.'s Republican Party Reptile, along with another fun piece he wrote in his Car and Driver days, "A Cool and Logical Analysis of the Bicycle Menace." (But I cannot recommend the one after that, "How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your..." -- um, ahem, actually, just forget I brought it up.)

Some of my boyhood friends may still remember that for a while I actually drove an old pickup in which I habitually avoided our town's main street in favor of the back streets. This was because only the main street had stoplights, and four-way stop signs could generally, given the generally light traffic and good personal relationships with the local police, be run with impunity. And it was important for me to run as many four-way stops as I could, because in those old three-speeds second gear was geared high enough that you couldn't start from a dead stop in second gear without stalling the engine. "But, Kenny, why wouldn't you just shift down to first?" I hear you cry. Well, that was a bit of a mechanical challenge -- not because the steering column was held together with duct tape (though that is actually a true statement). It's because the teeth on the rod that ran from the gearshift on the duct-taped steering column down to the lever on the outside of the know what I'm talking about, right? Anyway, over the years that rod had gotten worn down so smooth that, though you could shift up from second to first from the driver's seat, you couldn't shift back down again. You could only shift from second to first by turning off the engine, getting out, opening the hood, reaching down to the gearbox, and popping it back into first by hand. Then you could close the hood and get back in the truck and start it back up and head out again. Which I could take with philosophic equanimity; but people stuck behind you at a red light tended to start using sign language at you. So I stayed on the back roads and coasted through the four-way stops...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Stupidity strikes again at the Corner

Lisa Schiffren would stand an excellent chance to make a good case for keeping prostitution illegal if she were to pursue the potentially fruitful subject of the prostitute-slave trade in the Eastern Europe - Amsterdam pipeline. But otherwise her post is an excellent example of a person trying to justify government action by claiming that the government needs to solve problems that only exist because the government has already taken to meddling with stuff it ought to have left alone.

Without doing a full fisking, I have to celebrate this whopper of a line:
While the "consenting adults" standards is [sic] fine for non-commercial sexual transactions, including Rauch's adultery, once you are talking about big time prostitution — and this service went as high as $5500 an hour — you can bet organized crime is involved.
[chuckling gleefully] Now, just why do you think organized crime might be involved in prostitution? Let's provide Lisa with a hint or two here. Is organized crime involved in the illegal drug traffic? Um, yep. Is organized crime involved in the cigarette trade? Um, no. Now what might the difference be here?

Compare Lisa's sentence to this one:

"While the 'consenting adults' standard is fine for non-commercial production of alcohol for home consumption, once you are talking about big time alcohol production — and a single lot of Château d'Yquem has gone for more than a million dollars — you can bet organized crime is involved."

An entirely true sentence - if the speaker were speaking during the days of Prohibition and Al Capone. But is it true now that we've had enough of a collective return to sanity to repeal Prohibition?

What a maroon.

I emphasize again that, although my own opinion is that prostitution (for adults, obviously) should be legal, there are potentially good arguments lurking in Lisa's post...along with the stupidity. So, um, basically, I'm saying her post is probably very similar to most of my own...

Thursday, March 06, 2008

How many Obama supporters does it take to change a light bulb?

The first guy to pose the question gave a seriously lame answer, but fortunately one of his commenters rode in to save the day with:

"Two: one to Hope, and one to Change."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Must-see YouTube

I mean it, you are to stop whatever it is you're doing, plug in your headphones, and go listen to the Cactus Cuties singing our national anthem.

HT: Ace.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Presented without comment, for obvious reasons

Hey, ladies, I didn't write it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Proud Papa

Can't really provide any details, but I am so proud of Kinya I could bust (which is redneck for "burst"). In fact she got taken to Starbucks last night and there got informed that she could have anything she wanted, which in my current financial state is a rare event indeed.

It helped that that was the second time in three days that Kinya had scored a major relational triumph with me, in the face of the inevitable challenges one would expect from a dad and daughter caught in the kind of complex and difficult situation we find ourselves in.

Anyhow, thanks for the prayers, keep 'em coming.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

"But It Was So Out Of Character For Him" Dept

My favorite sentence from this delectable tidbit:

"Police were able to track him down using the papers inside, which included his name and his anger management homework."