Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An inspiring video (starring a girl) and what it inspired (starring a dude)

All of us who have been swapping videos and pictures via the web over the years, remember the big controversy several years ago about the cheerleader who backflips through the basketball goal -- Was It Real Or A Fake, was the burning question of the day for a month or so there. You can make the call yourself:

Well, it seems that some college dudes decided they needed to prove once and for all that it could be done. And here are the spectacular results:

Dave Barry does Biblical exegesis

He carefully analyses the text of Luke's account of the coming of the Magi to worship the Christ Child, and draws the following impeccable conclusion:

[T]he very first Christmas gifts were NOT wrapped. This is because the people giving those gifts had two important characteristics:

1. They were wise.

2. They were men.
Go read the rest.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Gift That Keeps On Giving Dept

My brother-in-law Mike gave my mom, for Christmas, a how-to book on dancing, complete with an instructional DVD. So my mom is on the phone with me and my dad, and she's telling me what she got for Christmas. You would think she would know to be careful what she said in front of that particular audience, but no-o-o-o-...

"For Christmas, Mike gave me a book on how to dance, and it included a VD..."

Oh, yeah, Mom, you know you just made the blog.

(A hat tip to August, not for the item, but for the title of this post, which title was his response upon being told the story.)

No, You Don't Understand, It's An Emergency! Dept

After all, isn't voting one of our fundamental civil liberties?????

(Note to American readers: In England one dials 999, not 911, no doubt much to the confusion of English blondes, who have enough to do having to learn how to spell b-a-n-a-n-a-n-a-n-a-..."I know how to spell it, I just don't know when to stop.")

Criminal Mastermind of the Day Dept

Now, let's see...I need a piece of paper to write my hold-up note on...oh, hey, that oughta work...

And they arrested the dad, on the charge of deserving what he got...right?

Because if not, there is no justice in this world.

Book 'em both, is what I say, on the principle that these things (i.e., rude people gettin' what's comin' to 'em) must come, but woe to them through whom they come (just 'cause somebody deserves it doesn't mean you hand it out to 'em).

You will gather from this that I object rather strenuously to people who think that they are part of the entertainment in a movie theatre. I still bitterly remember the woman who was sitting in front of me at the Alamo Drafthouse on opening night of The Fellowship of the Ring, and who not only allowed her phone to ring during the Council of Elrond, but actually answered it and carried on a conversation about SHOPPING (!#$!@#$!#@), in normal conversational tones of voice, for two or three minutes. And if I'd'a had a blunt instrument handy I might well have done something regrettable my own self. (Yes, I know, I know...let it go, Pierce, let it go...)

Oh, sorry, almost forgot the hat tip: Judi.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dave Barry's Year in Review for 2008 is out

At last we know, among other things, how John McCain came to choose the Sarahcuda as his running mate.

But my favorite line of all is this one:

"Tiger Woods, in an epic performance, wins the U.S. Open playing on an injured and very painful knee, thereby proving, beyond all doubt, that golf is not a real sport."

Though it's hard to top:

"In non-economic news, a Las Vegas jury convicts O.J. Simpson on 12 counts of being an unbelievable idiot. He faces more than 60 years in jail, which could end his relentless quest to find the killer of the people he stabbed to death in 1994."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

"I'll Be Home For Christmas..." Dept

"...if o-o-nly-y-y in a stolen fire truck."

HT: Obviously I have been catching up with Dave.

Guy Of The Day Dept

Don't you just hate it when your back porch gets icy? Well, a homeowner in New Bedford has come up with an inventive solution. And because he's a guy, it involves a blowtorch.

HT: Dave, unsurprisingly.

Saturday, December 27, 2008, sorry about that

All this time I've been talking about Eileen-of-the-coffee-shop, and now that Newbie Barista Extraordinaire Kristina is bringing home copies of the work schedule, I discover that there is no Eileen working at Java Dave's. Though there is, as it turns out, an Aileen.

I sure wish these Filipinas would learn how to spell their own names...

Oh, and speaking of Newbie Barista Extraordinaire Kristina: I had been disappointed to find that the ever-cheerful Junior had decided to stop working at Java Dave's to concentrate on his studies, thereby depriving me of the only male baristo with whom I could talk Rockets basketball, etc. over my mochas grandes. But then, two days after word hits the streets that Kristina has taken the job, Junior decides maybe he'll work a few shifts at Java Dave's every now and then, after all.

Coincidence? I report; you decide.

One of your co-workers, should you choose to accept the mission

Good lines from ESPN today

In summing up the year in sports, Jim Caple takes note of Usain Bolt's genuinely hilariously ridiculous dominance of the Olympic 100-meter men's final as follows:
Aug. 16: Usain Bolt wins the Olympic 100-meter dash and sets the world record despite turning around and moonwalking the final 30 meters.
And for those of you who didn't see Bolt pretty much taking a victory lap while the rest of the field wondered where he had disappeared to: Caple isn't exaggerating. Well, okay, maybe just a little.


The Sports Guy turns out to have exactly the same opinion of White Men Can't Jump that I have (I presume that he, too, was stunned by how good Woody Harrelson was in that movie, though he doesn't come right out and say so):
I would tweak "White Men Can't Jump" with the following moves: Denzel Washington for Wesley Snipes and Sharon Stone for Rosie Perez. Here's why: Snipes killed that movie (at least for me) because he was such an obviously lousy basketball player in real life. Every hoops scene physically pained me; really, nobody could stop this 5-foot-6 guy who dribbles over his ear, shoots line-drive jumpers and does the same crossover move every time? He's so bad that every time it's showing on Encore or TNT, I keep waiting for Mike Dunleavy to sign him during the closing credits. I just can't handle it. As for Rosie Perez, remember when the Son of Sam claimed his neighbor's dog talked him into murdering people? If I listened to Rosie's voice long enough, I really feel like I could commit a homicide. And you know what else? I don't think I'd go to hell for it. Maybe 20 years in purgatory, but ultimately, God would understand. I'm amazed this hasn't been used as a defense in a murder trial yet: Overexposure to Rosie Perez's voice.
Word, Sports Guy. Word.

The Sports Guy on Princeton University (don't ask how he winds up on this topic):
One last thing: Don't go to Princeton. I'm still waiting to meet my first Princeton grad that I might like. I am like 0-for-79. Princeton grads carry themselves like bad guys in a sports movie. Remember the scene in "Pretty In Pink" when James Spader ordered his two henchmen to beat up Andrew McCarthy because he didn't approve of McCarthy's poor girlfriend? There's no question that Spader's character went on to Princeton, just like there's no doubt Johnny Lawrence went to Duke. Neither hypothetical situation is up for debate.
And you wonder why, despite the fact that the Sports Guy has the morals of a porn star -- and, even more damning, the fact that the Sports Guy thinks I just complimented him -- I can't help but like the guy.

I didn't link to the Sports Guy's column, by the way, because my kids sometimes read the blog and follow the links, and Simmons's column, despite being on, is, in his words, "a free-flowing conversation that sometimes touches on mature subjects," always assuming that by "sometimes" you mean "incessantly" and by "touches on" you mean "revels in with complete disregard for any vestige of good taste." But when he can tear himself away from the college frat boy puerility and get back on the topic of sports, he's both insightful (especially when talking about the NBA) and hilarious. So, you can find him on Page 2 at if you don't mind wading through the dung to find the pearls. (I've been a consultant for so long, of course, that I personally am largely immune to verbal dung.)


But the line of the day unquestionably goes to former Tampa Bay defensive end Pat Toomay, who suffered through the infamous 0-14 season in which Tampa Bay coach John McKay, when asked what he thought about his team's execution, replied, "I'm in favor of it." And then, of course, Toomay has suffered thirty years of being called up by reporters every time some hapless NFL team opens the season 0-8. So, what's it like being one of the '76 Bucs, Patrick me boy?

Answers Toomay: "The luster wears off."

The Lions, by the way, are practically certain to put an end to the Bucs' purgatory. After all, how many teams have on their squad -- much less start -- a quarterback capable of plays like this one?

The Peril makes his first contribution to Wikipedia

Hey, somebody else started it -- some dude dropped into the "salutatorian" article on Wikipedia the smug statement that, "Princeton University chooses a 'Latin salutatorian' based on the ability to write and deliver a speech to the audience in that language; thus, the speaker is typically a Classics major." Now, my feeling is, if you're going to tell a story, you have to tell the whole story.

And now the whole story has been told (drop down to the new "Latin salutatorian at Princeton University" section). Considering that I think the whole Latin salutatorian sham is the perfect summing up of the essence of Princeton University -- both the boundless pretension, and the vacuity behind the pretentious facade -- I thought I managed to tell the story with commendable good humor and even a reasonably positive spin, don't you agree, Gentle Reader?

P.S. I liked many of my fellow Princeton Students; after all, my best man Kevin was a fellow Princeton '89-er, and I still look back with a certain amount of regret on my failure to investigate relational possibilities with Eleni or Adrianne or Tina (despite the near-certainty of rejection), and I wouldn't trade my year in the Princeton Gospel Ensemble for anything. But the fatuous self-importance of the University culture itself...[finds self at a loss for family-friendly words]...

Friday, December 26, 2008

A fascinating article on the recruiting wars, with two caveats

Caveat the First: Sooners will like this article much more than Longhorns will, because OU both (a) wins the recruit and (b) comes off as far classier and far less willing to bend or break the rules than do the Longhorn folks. I think it important to emphasize that the truly outrageous attempts at bribery, and the notoriously wild party, are all instigated by Longhorn boosters, without the knowledge (much less participation) of Mack and his staff. I have to say, though, I've always been deeply grateful to Stoops for his integrity and for my feeling free to cheer for him without worrying that I was cheering for a contemptible man (imagine being a USC fan in the wake of the Reggie revelations, reading this article in which JaMarcus nearly commits to USC solely and purely for the sake of the parties). Hard to read this article as a Sooner fan and not feel your chest expanding several sizes.

Caveat the Second: It's the New York Times; so unfortunately practically every word of it is probably a lie. [sigh] In fact, this article is probably evidence that Mack is a saint who wouldn't play Times-ball and that Stoops is just the guy who ponied up the protection money. [sound of air escaping from previously expanded chest]

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Merry got strepthroat, and since my dad (with his two artificial knees) can't risk bacterial infection, my parents can't be here for Christmas now.


Especially for the kids -- who now have to eat their dad's cooking for Christmas dinner, and (in the Christmas spirit) gamely pretend to like it.

Let's just say Dad won't be trying turkey. How does spaghetti sound for a Christmas dinner?

Since you asked, kids...'s what Dad wants for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

You have to read this one, too

Don't forget your handkerchiefs as you read about the night Grapevine Faith High School coach Kris Hogan asked half his kids' parents to go cheer for the other team.

A disappointment for Eileen and Daniela

Christmas is going to be at my house this year; so I e-mailed Dessie to ask her to send the kids' Christmas stockings over. Alas, the answer came back: she couldn't find them.

Now, I am trying to make it, without borrowing any money before payday, all the way through December (nine kids for whom presents have to be bought and to whom money has to be given for all the presents they need to buy each other, plus four -- count 'em, four -- of the nine birthdays all land in December as well). I don't really think I'm gonna make it, but if I do, it's gonna be a squeaker. So the following internal dialog ensues:

"What do you think those fancy Christmas stockings cost? I'm out fifty bucks before I even turn around, I betcha. [sigh] OK, Pierce, I guess the kids get homemade felt Christmas stockings this year. Which is going to be fun since you never sew...okay, say you get a piece of felt, and you fold it in half, and then you cut half a sock shape into it -- that should work; at least you'll know the two halves will match...yeah, that oughta work. But then don't they need some sort of cuff at the top? And how do you put names on them?...Dude, you better call your mom."

My mother and sister made my sister's wedding dress and hat from scratch, without a pattern -- they just looked through bridal magazines until they saw something that inspired them, and then they designed it and made their own patterns and produced the whole thing from scratch. So, you know, Christmas stockings they could do in their sleep. I call my mom, and we go over my plan, and she assures me that it should work, even for as hopeless as a neophyte as myself. Mom and Pop already have the car packed, as they're about to head out for Oklahoma City; but Mom says, "Hang on and I'll try to see how many I can make for you before you leave." We agree that we'll both start and when together we've gotten to nine we'll be done.

I have Rusty and Merry and Sally with me, and we head off for Java Dave's, which is right next to Jo-Ann's -- the plan is that the kids can check e-mail while I go over to Jo-Ann's and try to collect the stuff I need. On the way it occurs to me that I have no idea how to tie the thread off when I get done so that it won't just fall out. I'm about to call my mom, but then I think, "You know, I bet Eileen knows how to sew; I'll just have her show me." I therefore go into Java Dave's with the kids, and as they scatter toward the computers, I go up to the counter where Eileen and Daniela are chatting.

"Hi, Mr. Pierce," they say, and I greet them back, and then I ask Eileen, "Miss Eileen, do you by any chance know how to sew?"

Eileen and Daniela are used to the fact that my conversation tends to the unpredictable, but this is a more eye-widening conversational opening gambit than they expect even from me. Seeing their evident confusion, I quickly explain the situation, and add, "I think I can sew the things well enough for them not to fall apart when the toys get dropped in -- I mean, they won't look good, but the kids don't expect that. The problem is I don't know how to tie the thread off, and [to Eileen] I was hoping you could show me."

"Oh, Mr. Pierce," says Eileen with sincere regret, "I don't sew."

This actually surprises me -- Eileen had seemed to me like the kind of person who would know how to sew, for some reason, though now that I think of it I have no idea what I think "a person who can sew" looks like. But at this point Miss Professional Pre-School Teacher Daniela jumps into the conversation:

"But, Mr. Pierce, I can help you -- I'm very crafty."

Resisting the urge to make a bad pun, because I don't want to antagonize her until after I've got the stocking situation taken care of, I thank her profusely. "So all I need is the felt, the thread, a needle, and a thimble, right? And scissors."

"Yes, Mr. Pierce, that should do it. And I can show you exactly how because we've made them before. I'll help you."

This is excellent news. "Great, I tell you what, I'll walk over to Jo-Ann's and get the stuff, and then I'll bring it back here and I'll make one of them here, to make sure I know how."

We now have a plan; plus Eileen and Daniela no longer need to fear boredom for the rest of the evening even if it's a slow customer night -- I put the over-under for blood-drawing finger punctures at, say, five. A veritable live-action America's Funniest Incompetent Seamster episode is about to unfold before their eyes; this is much more interesting than the typical Evening At Dave's.

I walk over to Jo-Ann's and find there the same helpful lady who was given the thankless task, a week or so ago, of helping me decide what supplies Rusty might need for making a Christmas stocking craft project in school -- a rather more complicated task than you might suspect, given that Rusty had forgotten to bring home the note with the list of supplies, and had forgotten to mention the project until 8:00 the night before he was supposed to bring his materials. In the event, not only did she equip Rusty with the stuff that he needed, but it turned out Rusty was one of only two or three kids who remembered to say anything to the parents and brought supplies, and therefore the whole class used Rusty's and the other two kids' materials, and Rusty brought home a very cute, but very very small, Christmas stocking. So when I see that she is working this shift, I make a beeline for her.

"Oh, hello again," she says. "How did your son's Christmas stocking project turn out?"

I tell her the story and thank her for her help. Then I explain that I need to make stockings for all my kids because their Christmas stockings have unexpectedly been lost during the divorce process, and I list the materials and tools I'm expecting to buy, and I ask, "Is that everything I need?"

She has a very odd expression on her face. "Well," she says carefully, "I think that would be fine, but you do realize that we sell felt Christmas stockings ready-made, right?"

"Really?" Choosing my words and tones equally carefully, I inquire, "How much do they cost?"

"We have them on sale now, actually, 60% off -- I think they're about a dollar and a half."

I suppose the expression on my face is eloquent, because she smiles and says, "They're over here."

So in the end I bought the ready-made felt stockings for about the same price as, I suspect, it would have cost me to buy the materials; and she showed me this very useful stuff called "glitter glue," of which I bought several different colors. And for the last couple of days the kids have had a high old time decorating their own Christmas stockings. Plus I called my mom, who in the half-hour or so since we had last talked had already cut out all the material for all the stockings and was about to sail into sewing the first one, but who was very glad to be able to call off the dogs, as it were.

But alas for Eileen and Daniela -- their entertainment for the evening vanished into thin air. Not a single drop of blood or yelp of agony...

The Devil's Dictionary: Hypocrite (n.)

One who, professing virtues that he does not respect, secures the advantage of seeming to be what he despises.

The Devil's Dictionary: Hurry (n.)

The dispatch of bunglers.

The Devil's Dictionary: Humanity (n.)

The human race, collectively, exclusive of the anthropoid poets.

The Devil's Dictionary: Hovel (n.)

The fruit of a flower called the Palace.

The Devil's Dictionary: Hostility (n.)

A peculiarly sharp and specially applied sense of the earth's over-population.

The Devil's Dictionary: Hospitality (n.)

The virtue which induces us to feed and lodge certain persons who are not in need of food and lodging.

The Devil's Dictionary: Honorable (adj.)

Afflicted with an impediment in one's reach.

The Devil's Dictionary: Historian (n.)

A broad-guage gossip.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Honorary Roterhals Of The Day Dept

Naturally I have only one question: where can I get one? Gives a whole new meaning to the term "drafting" -- who knew it was really spelled "draughting"?

(I wouldn't use the word Roterhals in the presence of any Germans, by the way -- not because it's obscene or anything, but simply because I have no idea what the German for "redneck" is and therefore just made that one up my own self.)

By the way, it isn't every day that I learn a new word, but I have just added the self-evidently useful word hoon to my vocabulary, with much delight. I strongly recommend going to Jalopnik's Hoon of the Day home page and spending an entertaining half an hour or so watching, incredulously, videos such as this one. Note, by the way, that the last two chaps are not honorary rednecks; they're the real deal, and would fit right in with my buddies and me at home (yes, I know, the accents...the guys would forgive it, and the girls would just find them exotic: "So, how did y'all like growin' up in Canada?"). After all, pace Jennifer, there are plenty of Kiwis who know perfectly well exactly what to do with a chainsaw or some baling wire.

UPDATE: I am obliged to pass on one of the comments to our Honorary Roterhals video, from commenter DannyBN, who wishes to know, "Can he be arrested for driving over the influence?"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas T-Shirt Of The Day Dept

T-shirt seen on a teenaged girl yesterday while picking up a few odds and ends at Wal-Mart:
Dear Santa,

Define "good"...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just read it, okay?

Like I could even imagine what it would be like to be either Dr. J or Alexandra Stevenson.

It's a compelling, riveting story in its own right; and the lit lover in me couldn't help but admire the construction of the story, which is exceptionally well written. Just a magnificent piece all around.

How To Compliment Without Being Suspected Of Flattery Dept

Jennifer's first words to me this morning:

"Nice haircut....It was about time."

I chose to focus on the first half of that greeting...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Crying In Santa's Lap Dept

Jennifer passes on the fact that the Houston Chronicle has put together a slideshow of Santa's-lap photos that didn't quite turn out the way the parents probably expected, due to the fact that the children involved were most definitely not happy about being dumped into Santa's lap. Most of them are of kids in various stages of tears and crying, and are admittedly reasonably cute if you like little kids and all. (Which I do, of course.) So by all means go check 'em out.

My own favorite, by FAR, is the one kid who isn't the slightest bit scared of Santa -- I think perhaps Santa ought to be scared of him:

Tough Question Of The Day Dept

There's something that Gilbert Lafaye (who I suspect is not a member of MENSA) just can't figure out about the Pink Panthers:
“Almost all of them are intelligent,” said the prosecuting lawyer, Gilbert Lafaye, at their sentencing. “But with this intelligence why do they follow the path to easy money?”
Hmmmmm...that's a tough one, there, Gilbert...

HT: Jennifer, whose delight in the whole article leads me to think that perhaps I'll discreetly hide away all my diamonds the next time I invite her and Cory over for dinner.

Finke solves my problem

Sean and Kegan turned sixteen yesterday. I had a very pleasant dinner with Sean (Kegan, alas, had a fever of 103; so I left cash for the copay along with instructions for the boy to hie himself, or to get somebody to hie him, to the doctor today...can't take him myself because I have an ARD meeting down in Stafford with Rusty's teacher). There's a major problem with having two teenaged boys turn sixteen simultaneously: i-n-s-u-r-a-n-c-e, baby. So Sean and Kegan have been discussing which of the two of them will go ahead and get the driver's license, and have agreed that it'll be Sean.

Sean and I talked over some possible options for mitigating the insurance bite -- for example, since I buy my cars used, pay cash for them, and don't carry liens on them, I am only obliged to carry liability insurance, as opposed to Dessie and her mother, who like their cars new and financed, and therefore are obliged to pay hefty insurance premiums that would go stratospheric if they were to add a sixteen-year-old boy. So perhaps I could get a third much-used car and put Sean on my insurance (but will they do that if he doesn't live with me?). Perhaps I could get a motorcycle, which would allow me to use the HOV lane on my commutes even on days when Anya doesn't have any HCC classes scheduled, and then let Sean use the Honda (being male and practical, Sean has no objections to being seen in that beat-up old car as long as it gets him from Point A to Point B)...but again, can he go on my insurance if he doesn't live with me?

But you will note that in all the discussion, we took it for granted that Kegan wasn't going to drive because only Sean was going to get his driver's license. Then this morning my buddy Scott and I are chatting about it, and Finke points out something that I suppose should have been obvious:

"They're identical twins -- why do you need two licenses?"

(1) Scott is an evil man.

(2) What a great idea!...

The Devil's Dictionary: His (pron.)


(In the original Devil's Dictionary, this definition was omitted, and in its place was a definition of "Hers," duly defined as "His." The attitude of the courts has, shall we say, evolved since Bierce's time.)

The Devil's Dictionary: Hippogriff (n.)

An animal (now extinct) which was half horse and half griffin. The griffin was itself a compound creature, half lion and half eagle. The hippogriff was actually, therefore, only one-quarter eagle, which is two dollars and fifty cents in gold. The study of zoology is full of surprises.

The Devil's Dictionary: Helpmate (n.)

A wife, or bitter half.

The Devil's Dictionary: Heaven (n.)

A place where the wicked cease from troubling you with talk of their personal affairs, and the good listen with attention while you expound your own.

The Devil's Dictionary: Hearse (n.)

Death's baby-carriage.

The Devil's Dictionary: Hatred (n.)

A sentiment appropriate to the occasion of another's superiority.

The Devil's Dictionary: Harbor (n.)

A place where ships taking shelter from storms are exposed to the fury of the customs.

The Devil's Dictionary: Happiness (n.)

An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And Here I Am Stuck In Houston For Yet Another Year [Sigh] Dept

[in melancholy, quavering tenor] I-i-i-'ll be ho-o-o-o-me for Christ-mas...if o-o-n-ly-y-y in my-y-y dreams...

I bet the deer alone is enough to haunt Jennifer's...

HT: Dave, naturally

Monday, December 15, 2008

Andre Dawson Quote Of The...Well, Of All Time Dept

Andre Dawson, on being a role model:

"I want all the kids to do what I do, to look up to me. I want all the kids to copulate me."

Life in civilization has its dilemmas; but that's what the service industry is for

For example, say you're a guy, and (what with being straight and all) you can't wrap a Christmas present to save your life. Plus, let's face it, think about the time it takes -- time that could be more profitably spent, especially if there's Guinness in the fridge and footie on BBC 2.

So last year you paid somebody to wrap your girlfriend's present, but she got all upset: "You paid someone to wrap my present? You don't even care enough about me to wrap my present yourself!?!" Which, to be fair, she's right, you don't, but then it was a week before you got any after that, and we certainly don't want that again.

So, on the one hand, time wasted wrapping a present when you could be drinking and cheering on the lads on the telly. But the girlfriend is all happy because you love her so much you wrapped her present yourself, and you have at least, say, a 1 in 4 chance of getting laid.

On the other hand, save the time on the present, pour the beer, cheer the lads. But then no sex for a week.

Tough call...

But wait! There's a solution! Enter CrapWrap.

HT: Dave.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Devil's Dictionary: Hangman (n.)

An officer of the law charged with duties of the highest dignity and utmost gravity, and held in hereditary disesteem by a populace having a criminal ancestry. In some of the American States his functions are now performed by an electrician, as in New Jersey, where executions by electricity have recently been ordered -- the first instance known to this lexicographer of anybody questioning the expediency of hanging Jerseymen.

(I don't think the definition itself is all that great but I simply had to get that last bit onto the blog.

The Devil's Dictionary: Handkerchief (n.)

A small square of silk or linen, used in various ignoble offices about the face and especially serviceable at funerals to conceal the lack of tears.

The Devil's Dictionary: Habit (n.)

A shackle for the free.

The Devil's Dictionary: Grave (n.)

A place in which the dead are laid to await the coming of the medical student.

(If you know the historical background to this then it's funny. If you don't...well, the joke's probably not worth the explanation; so don't worry about it.)

The Devil's Dictionary: Generous (adj.)

Originally this word meant noble by birth and was rightly applied to a great multitude of persons. It now means noble by nature and is taking a bit of a rest.

The Devil's Dictionary: Gallows (n.)

A stage for the performance of miracle plays, in which the leading actor is translated to heaven. In this country the gallows is chiefly remarkable for the number of persons who escape it.

Hooray! Hooray! The holiday gift guides are here!

First, there's the newbie: the Sports Guy has done a sports-memorabilia list, complete with bitter comments from fans who sent in nominations. (My favorite, from Brandon in Newton, Mass: "What Bears fan wouldn't get excited over this signed Rex Grossman action photo for $178.99? Check out that beautiful short-arm throw! I wonder which team caught that beauty.")

And then there's the master: yes, Dave Barry's 2008 Christmas Gift Guide is here! My favorite may well be the Uroclub, which I thought would have something to do with Europeans...again, I emphasize that these are all real products you can actually buy.

Criminal Mastermind -- And Kung Fu Old Masters -- Of The Day Dept

Key quote: "As for those three, they get out of their cart now with a certain bounce, according to Itow. "We say stuff to each other like, 'Go ahead, punk. Make my putt."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Well, that's certainly a point in its favor

Because if my new car is going to break, I certainly want it to do it well:

The makers of the Covini C6W insist that their six-wheeled wonder will offer better breaking, less risk of aquaplaning, and increased comfort.

As a result of listening to Sunny 95.5 for an interminable week...

...I have come to the following conclusions in re Christmas music that I do not yet possess.

1. I've made good choices to this point; the average quality of the Christmas music I already possess is a couple of notches higher than the average quality of what Sunny has been playing, which I presume is the best music Sunny can find. (I have a smaller, more exclusive collection; you couldn't run a 24/7 Christmas station for a month off of my collection successfully. Of course, it's arguable that Sunny hasn't done it successfully, either.)

2. I let Dessie keep the Josh Groban Noel album because I found it disappointing after buying it last year. Upon further review, I have concluded that it actually is an outstanding album and that I simply had absurdly high expectations for it. In particular, his treatment of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" is the only one since the original that I've ever heard that not only knows what the song is about (the heartache felt by servicemen at war and their families back home at Christmastime), but found a way to capture that within the song itself. I literally wipe tears off my cheeks every time I hear it -- and any version of that song that doesn't break your heart, is a failed version. I should own the album just to own that song. (But his "O Holy Night" is first-rate as well.)

2. Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is a great song, but I'm guessing the rest of that album kinda sucked, because Sunny, which is in desperate need of Christmas material to eke out its rotation this month, never plays anything off that album except that one number.

3. Barry Manilow's treatment of "Winter Wonderland" is actually pretty inventive. You'd think Christmas music would be right up Manilow's street. I think I'll have to acquire that album.

4. Why in the world do I not have the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's whole trilogy yet?? Sunny plays half a dozen different TSO cuts in this rotation and every single one of them is a winner.

5. Obviously I have Johnny Mathis's original classic Merry Christmas album, but there are at least a couple of Mathis Christmas numbers that Sunny has been playing that aren't on that album but are well worth the hearing. So I think I'll have to set about acquiring his later Christmas stuff, too.

6. Amy Grant continues to hold her spot as the queen of Christmas music; every cut from her early Christmas albums except the painfully forgettable "Tender Tennessee Christmas" has held up spectacularly over time. The one other piece I didn't particularly care for (the treacly, paint-by-numbers sanctimony of "Grown-Up Christmas List") has been covered by something like seventy-five other artists, including a Spanish version by Luis Miguel; so arguably, when it comes to that cut, it's me that has the problem rather than the song.

7. But Karen Carpenter's Christmas efforts have not held up well. Too bad because I always liked Karen Carpenter.

8. On the fence about James Taylor. Good, but I'd've expected better. You'd think his voice was a made-for-Christmas voice but the cuts Sunny's playing are merely workmanlike.

9. And speaking of voices made for Christmas: Didn't Anne Murray once do a Christmas album? Maybe not. At least, if she did one, Sunny apparently wasn't impressed.

10. I'd give a year of my life just to hear one version...just a single solitary one version...of "Silent Night" that was sung by a person who had not misunderstood the lyrics of the "radiant beams" verse. But I suppose it will never happen.

For the benefit of any talented singers who are considering singing "Silent Night" in my presence this Christmas, that verse does not mean that the Son of God is love's pure light, nor does it say anything at all about any radiant beams:

Silent night, holy night.
Son of God, love's pure light radiant beams from thy holy face with the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

Or, in other words:

Silent night, holy night.
Son of God, Jesus, Lord: love's pure, radiant light beams from thy holy face, since redeeming grace is dawning at thy birth.

So for heaven's sake, phrase it properly, will you? Carry the "light" right through into the "radiant" with no rest, deaden the t of "light" as much as you can in order to keep the "light radiant" transition as legato as possible, and make the t of "radiant" and the b of "beams" both nicely crisp: it's your job as the singer to make "radiant" go with "light" rather than "beams." And no breath after "face," either; "love's pure light radiant beams from thy holy face with the dawn of redeeming grace" is one phrase with no commas. Do your job; sell the meaning across the natural rhythm of the music so that the musical melody itself becomes counterpoint to your phrasing and the meaning of the poetry -- it's one of the nicest artistic effects in the carol canon when done properly -- rather than slavishly following the musical path of least resistance and thereby allowing the meaning to disintegrate.

I mean, really, how hard is this?

[smiling happily]

Kinya starts work at Java Dave's tomorrow morning at 7:00.

[deep sigh of satisfaction from Papa]

I think this is an excellent hiring decision on Ms. Becky's part; I expect revenue from high school boys to spike dramatically...I mean, you don't think the boys will be falling over themselves to buy coffee from cuteness like this?

The Devil's Dictionary: Future (n.)

That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.

The Devil's Dictionary: Fidelity (n.)

A virtue peculiar to those who are about to be betrayed.

The Devil's Dictionary: Fiddle (n.)

An instrument to tickle human ears by friction of a horse's tail on the entrails of a cat.

The Devil's Dictionary: Fickleness (n.)

The iterated satiety of an enterprising affection.

The Devil's Dictionary: Fib (n.)

A lie that has not cut its teeth. A habitual liar's nearest approach to truth, the perigee of his eccentric orbit.

The Devil's Dictionary: Female (n.)

One of the opposing, or unfair, sex.

The Devil's Dictionary: Fashion (n.)

A despot whom the wise ridicule and obey.

(Hence the fact that the Peril's coworkers have yet to be graced with the vision of the Peril sensibly clad in bib overalls. Though, to be sure, he is considering wearing them to the MRE Christmas party this evening...)

The Devil's Dictionary: Famous (adj.)

Conspicuously miserable.

He's a good candidate, but it's a stupid argument

In re Tim Tebow and the Heisman: the case for Tebow just isn't, in my mind, that good. Are you saying that Tebow is better than Bradford because he can run as well as throw? News flash for you: McCoy rushed for more yards than Tebow, and did so despite being his team's only true offensive weapon -- he led his team in rushing. So don't give me the Tebow's-a-great-runner nonsense -- especially since, in the Ole Miss game, in front of his own fans, Tebow got his Gator butt well and truly stuffed when the game was on the line.

Perhaps you're saying that Tebow wins because of his leadership? Hm, let me see, how well did he lead in that Ole Miss game? In fact, how did he play in the games leading up to the Ole Miss game? Here's a hint for you: it's spelled S-U-C...

Meanwhile McCoy took a team with vastly less talent than either Tebow or Bradford had, and has 'em at #3 with half the country convinced they've been robbed out of a national championship shot. And in UT's one loss, it was Colt leading what would have been a comeback for the ages -- without his best receiver, who had gotten hurt and was out of the game -- had he not scored too quickly on the final drive, leaving Harrell and Crabtree time for a miracle of their own, making their game-winning plays while Colt watched helplessly from the sidelines. Again, in the lone UT loss (which came on the road against one of the four or five best teams in the country) Tech beat the UT defense while Colt could only watch; in the Florida loss (which came at home against an Ole Miss team that nobody's going to confuse with a BCS contender), Ole Miss won by stuffing Tebow himself with the game on the line. Tebow came out and made a big dramatic speech after the Ole Miss game, and since that point he has been a leader. But Colt has led his team throughout the whole year. Good for Tebow for taking responsibility and making an apology -- but I prefer a quarterback who doesn't stink up the joint in the first place and has no apologies to make. Have Tebow's backers, who universally point to that press conference, forgotten why that press conference was necessary in the first place??

And the nonsense about how "Florida wouldn't have won the SEC without Tebow" -- does anybody really want to look at the rosters of OU, Florida and UT and try to say with a straight face that those three teams have any business being spoken of in the same breath on a pure talent level? And yet those three teams are, clearly, the three best teams in the country, and there's a genuine controversy over which two of the three should be in the national championship game. UT is in that conversation for one reason and one reason only:

UT has Colt McCoy. Who is the best football player in college football this year.

Now, if you go by stats, you'll go with Bradford, not Tebow. If you go with dual-threat capacity, you'll go with McCoy, not Tebow. If you go with biggest-difference-to-his-team, you'll go with McCoy, not Tebow.

But if you're from the SEC, then you think that your conference has some sort of divine right to be genuflected to by all comers, and you just know that the right answer has to be Tebow. And so you resort to appeals to "the intangibles," and you use Tebow's I-may-not-be-able-to-outplay-Ole-Miss-but-I-know-exactly-how-to-play-the-gullible-media news conference to turn the Ole Miss debacle into an argument in Tebow's favor...

...and you'll use dumb arguments like this one, from ESPN:

Tebow's statistics are overshadowed by those of more prolific Big 12 passers such as McCoy, Bradford and Texas Tech's Graham Harrell. But if the award were determined by strength of schedule, Tebow would be a landslide winner. In 13 games this season, Tebow faced eight of the country's top-30 defenses. In those eight games, Tebow completed 63 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and no interceptions. Nine of his 12 touchdown runs also came against top-30 defenses. Conversely, Bradford faced only two of the country's top-30 defenses, and nine that ranked 66th or worse. McCoy didn't face a defense ranked better than 65th and had his way with eight defenses ranked 86th or worse.
Notice that this whole argument is intended to say that Tebow's statistics shouldn't matter -- and yet it's an entirely statistical argument. What do you mean, ESPN, by a "top-30 defense"? You mean a defense that is statistically in the top thirty. And I'll guarantee you that you're hoping nobody will notice that all those "top-30" defenses Tebow was facing, played against the Ivy League South offenses of the SEC, whereas the fact that the Big XII South defenses were statistically ranked lower than the SEC defenses had a lot to do with the fact that, for example, Baylor had to play Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas and Oklahoma State. If you let Baylor play against Auburn and Georgia and LSU and Vanderbilt, and you made Alabama play against Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas and Ok State, there's a pretty good chance that your statistics would tell you at the end of your four-game schedule that Baylor was a better defense than Alabama.

Do you see my point? "Ignore Tebow's statistics; they're worthless unless you look at whom he had to play against," says ESPN, and then proceeds to say, "He played against great defenses, which we know because their statistics were better -- and good luck waiting for hell to freeze over if you expect us to point out that those defenseive statistics are worthless unless you look at whom those defenses had to play against. Because, you see, we have the intellectual integrity of Bill Clinton. You got a problem with that?"

How about: yes, I do.

Look, Tebow's a great player. It's just that he picked a bad year to go for his second Heisman. Last year he had a weak field to go up against, and deserved to win. This year he improved his game once he decided to get serious about it -- but the competition he's up against this year is at a completely different level, and the matchups are just wrong for him. If you value stats -- and Tebow's backers last year wanted to make sure everybody knew that stats were the only thing that ought to matter -- then Bradford whoops him like a stepchild. If you instead pull a switcheroo and go for leadership or dual-threat or difference-made-to-team, then Tebow can't compete with McCoy. No matter which set of standards you decide to use in order to land the Heisman for Tebow, one of the Big XII q-b's beats Tebow by that very standard.

Sorry, Timmy boy, but that's the way it is. Not that you might not win anyway, given the strength of the SEC myth. But you won't deserve it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

An excellent satiric line from the Hatemongers

The crack young staff over at the Hatemongers Quarterly are no big fans of Barack Obama, and their satire occasionally gets heavy-handed. But this line was a gem:

"Not for nothing does this delightful president-in-waiting possess the same middle initial as Jesus H. Christ..."

Blonde Joke of the Day Dept

Q. Why are blonde jokes so short?
A. So that redheads can remember them...

(Hey, whaddaya know, Holly, here's one you probably like. But don't tell Jennifer...)

UPDATE: So I just told this joke to Eileen, who I thought was as mild-mannered a lady as God makes 'em, but in honor of her Filipina heritage I considerately changed "redhead" to "brunette" -- and got punched (well, okay, tapped) on the arm in mock outrage for my pains. I didn't know Eileen had it in her... [with pride] See, I knew it was a good joke.

A classic Christmas car... Hey, wait a minute there!

I've been spending a lot of time at Java Dave's this week because I've had a nasty little contagious virus and the doctor forbade me to go in to work; but I had work to do all the same. So Java Dave's became my office.

Alas, Java Dave's has, ever since Thanksgiving, kept the soundtrack tuned to Sunny 95.5, one of these syrupy easy-listening stations that is playing nothing between now and Christmas except Christmas music. Now, since there are a pretty limited number of playable Christmas songs, this means that I am heartily sick of most of the songs on their playlist, even though I really like most of those songs under ordinary circumstances.

But there's one song I haven't gotten sick of, mostly because it cracks me up every time I hear it. It's not so much that the song is amusing, though it is, to be sure, a classic comic masterpiece. It's that Sunny 95.5 has decided that this song -- the old sui generis 1940's-era watch-me-seduce-you-since-we-both-know-you-really-want-me-to, we're-not-"no-means-no"-feminists-here dialog duet, "Baby It's Cold Outside" -- Sunny 95.5 has decided that "Baby It's Cold Outside" is a Christmas song.

I's a very cute and classically inventive musical number and all, but...a Christmas song??

Actually, it occurs to me that many of my younger readers are not necessarily big fans of Ella and Louis and may not know the song. So here are the lyrics, which are sung back-and-forth between the girl and the boy, with only the last, "Baby, it's cold outside" of each verse being sung together, in harmony. The girl sings the first half of each line and the boy responds:

I really can't stay
Baby, it's cold outside
I've got to go 'way
Baby, it's cold outside
This evening has been
Been hoping that you'd drop in
So very nice
I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice
My mother will start to worry
Beautiful, what's your hurry
My father will be pacing the floor
Listen to the fireplace roar
So really I'd better scurry...
Beautiful, please don't hurry
Well, maybe just a half a drink more
Put some music on while I pour

The neighbors might think
Baby, it's bad out there
Say, what's in this drink
No cabs to be had out there
I wish I knew how
Your eyes are like starlight now
To break this spell
I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell
I ought to say no, no, no, sir
Mind if I move in closer
At least I'm gonna say that I tried
What's the sense in hurting my pride
I really can't stay
Baby don't hold out
(together) Ahh, but it's cold outside

I simply must go
Baby, it's cold outside
The answer is no
But baby, it's cold outside
This welcome has been
I'm lucky that you dropped in
So nice and warm
Look out the window at that storm
My sister will be suspicious
Gosh, your lips look delicious
My brother will be there at the door
Waves upon a tropical shore
My maiden aunt's mind is vicious
Gosh your lips are delicious
Well maybe just a half a drink more
Never such a blizzard before

I've got to go home
But, baby, you'll freeze out there
Say, lend me your comb
It's up to your knees out there
You've really been grand
Your eyes are like starlight now
But don't you see
How can you do this thing to me?
There's bound to be talk tomorrow
Think of my life long sorrow
At least there will be plenty implied
If you caught pneumonia and died
I really can't stay
Get over that hold-out
(together) Ahh, but it's cold outside

Where could you be goin'
When the wind is blowin' and it's cold outside?

(together)Baby, it's cold, cold outside
Now if that song doesn't capture the spirit of Christmas, you show me a song that does... [chuckling delightedly]

Intrinsically insightful Spanish metaphor of the day

The main Spanish word for "wife" (other than mujer itself, which is more generically "woman") is esposa, obviously cognate with English "spouse." And there's a masculine form esposo, which means "husband," though I think you more commonly say marido y esposa for "husband and wife" than esposo y esposa.

But while Spanish does have a verb esposar, it does not mean the same thing as the English "to espouse," or, "to get married." If you get married in Spanish, that's casarse. To esposar somebody... to handcuff 'em. In fact, the word for "handcuffs" is las esposas -- "the wives."

Insightful people, those Spaniards...

UPDATE: [laughing] Five minutes after this post went up, Christi la esposa de Esteban, who actually knows Spanish, dropped this comment onto the preceding post...great minds, I guess. Or, at least, minds with similar senses of humor.

So, Christi, did you enjoy this bit of Perilous brilliance?

Seems to me more like editorial commentary than linguistic science

Over at the helpful Wiktionary, the entry for the Spanish term esposa (wife) lists precisely one "related" term: responder, which is Spanish for "answer."

What are you trying to say there, chicos?

The Devil's Dictionary: Expostulation (n.)

One of the many methods by which fools prefer to lose their friends.

The Devil's Dictionary: Experience (n.)

The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.

The Devil's Dictionary: Eulogy (n.)

Praise of a person who has either the advantages of wealth and power, or the consideration to be dead.

The Devil's Dictionary: Erudition (n.)

Dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.

The Devil's Dictionary: Epigram (n.)

A short, sharp saying in prose of verse, frequently characterized by acidity or acerbity and sometimes by wisdom.

Bierce then provides example, among them:

We know better the needs of ourselves than of others. To serve oneself is economy of administration.

Beauty in women and distinction in men are alike in this: they seem to the unthinking a kind of credibility.

The Devil's Dictionary: Envy (n.)

Emulation adapted to the meanest capacity.

Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A...Oh, !@#$!, Look Out! Dept

Some of Ken Levine's all-time favorite sports injuries, with a hat tip to Ace's sidebar (and a reminder to my children that they are not allowed to visit Ace's blog without adult supervision).

Neologism of the Day Dept

The guys at work were discussing the (apparently) pressing issue of whether George W. Bush should really be considered a Texan, the majority of the Texans present arguing that Texas ought not be blamed for him. Then one of the guys mentioned something about Dubya's being a "philanthroper."

Now so far as I know, this isn't actually a word; but in my opinion it certainly ought to be. The only question, then, is: what should the word "philanthroper" mean? Personally, I would define it as follows:

Philanthroper, n. A smooth-talking gentleman who goes from one charitable organization to another seducing all the naive young female volunteers.

The only problem is that Carter seems to think that, whatever a philanthroper is, Dubya is one of them, can I put this delicately? Let's just say the imagination boggles:

[now imagining Dubya with a black pencil moustache and a cape, kissing a lady's hand and saying breathily, "Allow me to introduce myself, señorita. I am" -- he pauses for dramatic effect -- "Don Dubya!"]

P.S. After posting this, it occured to me to go check to see whether perhaps philanthroper is actually a word and I'm just exposing the limitations of my vocabulary. It seems to be half and half: there's no entry for philanthroper at, but if you google the term you find that a whole lot of people use it as a synonym for philanthropist. So give it ten years or so and it'll probably make the dictionaries.

It'll just make the dictionary with the wrong definition, that's all.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Max Planck Knows Everything Important About China Dept.

As one can see from this issue's cover.

HT: Dave.

The Devil's Dictionary: Encomiast (n.)

A special (but not particular) kind of liar.

The Devil's Dictionary: Emancipation (n.)

A bondman's change from the tyranny of another to the despotism of himself.

(And I certainly can't pass up the opportunity to remind you of the schoolboy who, in an essay for his history class, informed his suprised instructor that "Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves with the Emasculation Proclamation.")

The Devil's Dictionary: Egotist (n.)

A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.

(Probably the best-known of all of Bierce's definitions. It also reminds me of Bennet Cerf's typically groan-inducing definition of an egotist as "an I-sore.")

The Devil's Dictionary: Education (n.)

That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.

Peril's note: (a) I love this definition and (b) I can never read this definition without thinking of Princeton.

The Devil's Dictionary: Eccentricity (n.)

A method of distinction so cheap that fools employ it to accentuate their incapacity.

Okay, it's just that I think the pun is perfect, okay?

You have no idea how long I've held off on posting this joke on the blog, out of deference to friends who genuinely admire Obama (or at least admire his speeches and choose to believe he actually means them). But it's just too good a pun and I can't stand it any more. So, having raised the caveat that I do not for a moment believe that Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden are in any way moral equivalents, and having stated clearly that I would object to the comparison if it were to be made in any way seriously, I give you:

Q. What is the difference between Obama and Osama?

A. It's the b/s.

I blame Barack Obama (not really)

The only thing worse than the BCS... having a bunch of Congressman decide they need to fix it.

Words fail me. At least, words I can type onto this family- and Baptist-friendly blog fail me. Words that I can type without melting the keyboard on the laptop -- those words fail me.

In fact, do you know what? The very worst and most horrific Russian obscenities I can think of -- and Russians are way better at bad language than are Americans or even Englishmen -- are not adequate. Words really have failed me.

[insert primal scream here]

Do you know the only law I really want Congress to pass? I'd like Congress to pass a law making it illegal for Congressmen to breed. It's the least they can do for future generations and would be far more helpful to the country than 99% of the legislation that actually gets passed.

You'll notice, by the way, that these...these...words have failed me again...these Congressmen have absolutely no intention whatsoever of doing a single damned thing to stop the outrageous economic exploitation of the student athlete. Those of you who adore Barack might remember that Barack, when given the chance to point out the obvious fact that the rich white men who rake in millions as A.D.'s and coaches in the NCAA, are able to command those salaries solely because the NCAA uses its monopoly power to exploit the labor and value provided by the (mostly black and poor) student-athlete on a scale, both in proportional and absolute terms, that Andrew Carnegie and Cornelius Vanderbilt and the California grape-growers of wrath couldn't have dreamed of in their wildest fantasies...when handed that opportunity on a silver platter, Barack instead talked about a playoff system. And now these Texas Repubs are actually going to introduce legislation to force a playoff system...but do you think either Barton or McCaul would ever in a million years pass legislation requiring the NCAA either to allow unlimited transfers to student athletes, or else to force any coach or A.D. to sit out a year anytime he decided to leave one school and jump to another one, for example? -- much less to force the NCAA to drop the ludicrous "amateur athletics" sham for basketball and football and start sharing the pot with the athletes who make the whole thing work?

I don't seriously blame Barack for the fatuosity of Barton and McCaul (ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Texas Republican Party! and I can't imagine why it might have been that the American people have finally decided that Texas Republicans are not, after all, probably the best choice of people to entrust the running of the country to). Each man is responsible for his own idiocy. (I certainly take full responsibility for the idiocies committed on this blog.) But for giving us that playoff fluff instead of taking a shot at some of the grossest systematic injustice currently existing in the U.S....for that I do blame Barack.

Real leadership, that was, Barry Boy.

I like this guy Crabtree

Michael Crabtree cracks me up with his cheerful attitude toward the OU/Tech game:

"[The Sooner] coaches were even talking noise to me when I was on the field. It was funny, I was laughing. They were saying some crazy stuff, like ‘You’re not doing it today.’ I was like, ‘Dang, I have three people on me. I guess not.’ ”
Crabtree is now officially on my list of top-level athletes I'd actually like to spend a couple of hours hanging out with. I love that attitude.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bad (by which I of course mean good) pun of the day

From an advertisement I just heard for a massage spa:

"Give your friends and family a massage for Christmas. They'll be touched."

And how.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My favorite Saturday moment did not even involve my Sooners

Does that make me a bad person?

(Explanatory note for persons who didn't watch the ACC title game: the player in question had his arms up as he watched a key field goal attempt, which -- to the detriment of Frankie Boy's health -- was successful.)

Scoop Jackson's grandma explains it to you

"There's no such thing as common sense because, baby, sense ain't common."

-- Scoop Jackson's grandmother

Children's Letters to God Dept

Natasha forwards on the following children's letters to God, which I think I've seen someplace before and which I think are mostly at least genuine.

Dear God,

Instead of Letting people die and haveing to make new ones Why don't you just Keep the ones you got now?

Dear God,

I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church. Is that ok?

Dear God,

I think the stapler is one of your greatest invention

Ruth M.
Dear God,

I think about you sometimes even when I'm not praying

Dear God,

I am Amearican

What are you?

Dear God,

Thank you for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy

Dear God,

I bet it is very hard. for you to love all of everybody in the whole world There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it.

Dear God -

Please put another Holiday between Christmas and Easter. There is nothing good in there now.

Dear God,

If you watch in Church on Sunday I will show you my new Shoes

Mickey D.
Dear God if we come back as something please dont let me be Jennifer Horton because I hate her.


I would like to live 900 years like the guy in the Bible


Dear God,

If you give me the genie lamp like Alladin I will give you anything you want except my money or my chess set.

We read Thos. Edison made light.

But in Sun. School they said you did it.

So I bet he stoled your Idea.


Dear God,

If you let The dinasor not exstinct we would not have a country. You did the right thing.

Dear God,

Please send Dennis Clark to a different camp this year.

Dear God

Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each so much if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother


Why is Colt staying at UT?

Best explanations from commenters on this story:

"It's really simple as to why he is staying. He's getting paid A LOT more at UT than he will in the NFL."

Though I suspect the commenter has gotten confused and thinks the letters "UT" stand for "Ohio State University" or "University of Southern California"...still a good snark.

Then there's this:

"I think he's staying in college another year because he's afraid if he goes pro the Lions might draft him. I would be."

Now that's an absolutely valid point (though I suppose he could try to pull an Eli Manning). But to me, that's possibly a reason to go ahead and go. If you're a quarterback -- and, by the way, on this point I'm totally serious -- you want to be a late first-round draft pick, I think, because you're going to make plenty of money but that way you get to learn your craft on a good team that has time to develop you. Sam Bradford genuinely has to fear that he'll get drafted by the Lions, or some other similarly bad team, if he comes out this year. Colt would have a good chance of winding up with the Patriots or the Steelers or the Cowboys. If I'm a late first-rounder as a quarterback, I don't want to move up, because I want the long-term career, not the up-front money.

Personally, I never found him appealing to begin with

Ill-thought-out headline of the day considering what The Dishonorable Larry Craig was accused of: "Sen. Craig loses appeal in airport sex sting case."

The Devil's Dictionary: Duty (n.)

That which sternly impels us in the direction of profit, along the line of desire.

The Devil's Dictionary: Duel (n.); with a bonus piece from Mark Twain

A formal ceremony preliminary to the reconciliation of two enemies. Great skill is necessary to its satisfactory observance; if awkwardly performed the most unexpected and deplorable consequences sometimes ensue. A long time ago a man lost his life in a duel.

PERIL: I pretty much am obliged, at this point, to include Mark Twain's account of "The Great French Duel," which makes essentially the same point as Bierce, but at much greater (albeit equally hilarious) length. Take it away, Sam my boy!

"I Second Gambetta in a Terrific Duel"

Much as the modern French duel is ridiculed by certain smart people, it is in reality one of the most dangerous institutions of our day. Since it is always fought in the open air, the combatants are nearly sure to catch cold. M. Paul de Cassagnac, the most inveterate of the French duelists, had suffered so often in this way that he is at last a confirmed invalid; and the best physician in Paris has expressed the opinion that if he goes on dueling for fifteen or twenty years more--unless he forms the habit of fighting in a comfortable room where damps and draughts cannot intrude--he will eventually endanger his life. This ought to moderate the talk of those people who are so stubborn in maintaining that the French duel is the most health-giving of recreations because of the open-air exercise it affords. And it ought also to moderate that foolish talk about French duelists and socialist-hated monarchs being the only people who are immortal.

But it is time to get at my subject. As soon as I heard of the late fiery outbreak between M. Gambetta and M. Fourtou in the French Assembly, I knew that trouble must follow. I knew it because a long personal friendship with M. Gambetta revealed to me the desperate and implacable nature of the man. Vast as are his physical proportions, I knew that the thirst for revenge would penetrate to the remotest frontiers of his person.

I did not wait for him to call on me, but went at once to him. As I had expected, I found the brave fellow steeped in a profound French calm. I say French calm, because French calmness and English calmness have points of difference. He was moving swiftly back and forth among the debris of his furniture, now and then staving chance fragments of it across the room with his foot; grinding a constant grist of curses through his set teeth; and halting every little while to deposit another handful of his hair on the pile which he had been building of it on the table.

He threw his arms around my neck, bent me over his stomach to his breast, kissed me on both cheeks, hugged me four or five times, and then placed me in his own arm-chair. As soon as I had got well again, we began business at once.

I said I supposed he would wish me to act as his second, and he said, "Of course." I said I must be allowed to act under a French name, so that I might be shielded from obloquy in my country, in case of fatal results. He winced here, probably at the suggestion that dueling was not regarded with respect in America. However, he agreed to my requirement. This accounts for the fact that in all the newspaper reports M. Gambetta's second was apparently a Frenchman.

First, we drew up my principal's will. I insisted upon this, and stuck to my point. I said I had never heard of a man in his right mind going out to fight a duel without first making his will. He said he had never heard of a man in his right mind doing anything of the kind. When he had finished the will, he wished to proceed to a choice of his "last words." He wanted to know how the following words, as a dying exclamation, struck me:

"I die for my God, for my country, for freedom of speech, for progress, and the universal brotherhood of man!"

I objected that this would require too lingering a death; it was a good speech for a consumptive, but not suited to the exigencies of the field of honor. We wrangled over a good many ante-mortem outburts, but I finally got him to cut his obituary down to this, which he copied into his memorandum-book, purposing to get it by heart:

"I die that France might live."

I said that this remark seemed to lack relevancy; but he said relevancy was a matter of no consequence in last words, what you wanted was thrill.

The next thing in order was the choice of weapons. My principal said he was not feeling well, and would leave that and the other details of the proposed meeting to me. Therefore I wrote the following note and carried it to M. Fourtou's friend:

Sir: M. Gambetta accepts M. Fourtou's challenge, and authorizes me to propose Plessis-Piquet as the place of meeting; tomorrow morning at daybreak as the time; and axes as the weapons.

I am, sir, with great respect,

Mark Twain.

M. Fourtou's friend read this note, and shuddered. Then he turned to me, and said, with a suggestion of severity in his tone:

"Have you considered, sir, what would be the inevitable result of such a meeting as this?"

"Well, for instance, what would it be?"


"That's about the size of it," I said. "Now, if it is a fair question, what was your side proposing to shed?"

I had him there. He saw he had made a blunder, so he hastened to explain it away. He said he had spoken jestingly. Then he added that he and his principal would enjoy axes, and indeed prefer them, but such weapons were barred by the French code, and so I must change my proposal.

I walked the floor, turning the thing over in my mind, and finally it occurred to me that Gatling-guns at fifteen paces would be a likely way to get a verdict on the field of honor. So I framed this idea into a proposition.

But it was not accepted. The code was in the way again. I proposed rifles; then double-barreled shotguns; then Colt's navy revolvers. These being all rejected, I reflected awhile, and sarcastically suggested brickbats at three-quarters of a mile. I always hate to fool away a humorous thing on a person who has no perception of humor; and it filled me with bitterness when this man went soberly away to submit the last proposition to his principal.

He came back presently and said his principal was charmed with the idea of brickbats at three-quarters of a mile, but must decline on account of the danger to disinterested parties passing between them. Then I said:

"Well, I am at the end of my string, now. Perhaps you would be good enough to suggest a weapon? Perhaps you have even had one in your mind all the time?"

His countenance brightened, and he said with alacrity:

"Oh, without doubt, monsieur!"

So he fell to hunting in his pockets--pocket after pocket, and he had plenty of them--muttering all the while, "Now, what could I have done with them?"

At last he was successful. He fished out of his vest pocket a couple of little things which I carried to the light and ascertained to be pistols. They were single-barreled and silver-mounted, and very dainty and pretty. I was not able to speak for emotion. I silently hung one of them on my watch-chain, and returned the other. My companion in crime now unrolled a postage-stamp containing several cartridges, and gave me one of them. I asked if he meant to signify by this that our men were to be allowed but one shot apiece. He replied that the French code permitted no more. I then begged him to go and suggest a distance, for my mind was growing weak and confused under the strain which had been put upon it. He named sixty-five yards. I nearly lost my patience. I said:

"Sixty-five yards, with these instruments? Squirt-guns would be deadlier at fifty. Consider, my friend, you and I are banded together to destroy life, not make it eternal."

But with all my persuasions, all my arguments, I was only able to get him to reduce the distance to thirty-five yards; and even this concession he made with reluctance, and said with a sigh, "I wash my hands of this slaughter; on your head be it."

There was nothing for me but to go home to my old lion-heart and tell my humiliating story. When I entered, M. Gambetta was laying his last lock of hair upon the altar. He sprang toward me, exclaiming:

"You have made the fatal arrangements--I see it in your eye!"

"I have."

His face paled a trifle, and he leaned upon the table for support. He breathed thick and heavily for a moment or two, so tumultuous were his feelings; then he hoarsely whispered:

"The weapon, the weapon! Quick! what is the weapon?"

"This!" and I displayed that silver-mounted thing. He cast but one glance at it, then swooned ponderously to the floor.

When he came to, he said mournfully:

"The unnatural calm to which I have subjected myself has told upon my nerves. But away with weakness! I will confront my fate like a man and a Frenchman."

He rose to his feet, and assumed an attitude which for sublimity has never been approached by man, and has seldom been surpassed by statues. Then he said, in his deep bass tones:

"Behold, I am calm, I am ready; reveal to me the distance."

"Thirty-five yards." ...

I could not lift him up, of course; but I rolled him over, and poured water down his back. He presently came to, and said:

"Thirty-five yards--without a rest? But why ask? Since murder was that man's intention, why should he palter with small details? But mark you one thing: in my fall the world shall see how the chivalry of France meets death."

After a long silence he asked:

"Was nothing said about that man's family standing up with him, as an offset to my bulk? But no matter; I would not stoop to make such a suggestion; if he is not noble enough to suggest it himself, he is welcome to this advantage, which no honorable man would take."

He now sank into a sort of stupor of reflection, which lasted some minutes; after which he broke silence with:

"The hour--what is the hour fixed for the collision?"

"Dawn, tomorrow."

He seemed greatly surprised, and immediately said:

"Insanity! I never heard of such a thing. Nobody is abroad at such an hour."

"That is the reason I named it. Do you mean to say you want an audience?"

"It is no time to bandy words. I am astonished that M. Fourtou should ever have agreed to so strange an innovation. Go at once and require a later hour."

I ran downstairs, threw open the front door, and almost plunged into the arms of M. Fourtou's second. He said:

"I have the honor to say that my principal strenuously objects to the hour chosen, and begs you will consent to change it to half past nine."

"Any courtesy, sir, which it is in our power to extend is at the service of your excellent principal. We agree to the proposed change of time."

"I beg you to accept the thanks of my client." Then he turned to a person behind him, and said, "You hear, M. Noir, the hour is altered to half past nine. " Whereupon M. Noir bowed, expressed his thanks, and went away. My accomplice continued:

"If agreeable to you, your chief surgeons and ours shall proceed to the field in the same carriage as is customary."

"It is entirely agreeable to me, and I am obliged to you for mentioning the surgeons, for I am afraid I should not have thought of them. How many shall I want? I supposed two or three will be enough?"

"Two is the customary number for each party. I refer to 'chief' surgeons; but considering the exalted positions occupied by our clients, it will be well and decorous that each of us appoint several consulting surgeons, from among the highest in the profession. These will come in their own private carriages. Have you engaged a hearse?"

"Bless my stupidity, I never thought of it!" I will attend to it right away. I must seem very ignorant to you; but you must try to overlook that, because I have never had any experience of such a swell duel as this before. I have had a good deal to do with duels on the Pacific coast, but I see now that they were crude affairs. A hearse--sho! we used to leave the elected lying around loose, and let anybody cord them up and cart them off that wanted to. Have you anything further to suggest?"

"Nothing, except that the head undertakers shall ride together, as is usual. The subordinates and mutes will go on foot, as is also usual. I will see you at eight o'clock in the morning, and we will then arrange the order of the procession. I have the honor to bid you a good day."

I returned to my client, who said, "Very well; at what hour is the engagement to begin?"

"Half past nine."

"Very good indeed.; Have you sent the fact to the newspapers?"

"Sir! If after our long and intimate friendship you can for a moment deem me capable of so base a treachery--"

"Tut, tut! What words are these, my dear friend? Have I wounded you? Ah, forgive me; I am overloading you with labor. Therefore go on with the other details, and drop this one from your list. The bloody-minded Fourtou will be sure to attend to it. Or I myself--yes, to make certain, I will drop a note to my journalistic friend, M. Noir--"

"Oh, come to think of it, you may save yourself the trouble; that other second has informed M. Noir."

"H'm! I might have known it. It is just like that Fourtou, who always wants to make a display."

At half past nine in the morning the procession approached the field of Plessis-Piquet in the following order: first came our carriage--nobody in it but M. Gambetta and myself; then a carriage containing M. Fourtou and his second; then a carriage containing two poet-orators who did not believe in God, and these had ms. funeral orations projecting from their breast pockets; then a carriage containing the head surgeons and their cases of instruments; then eight private carriages containing consulting surgeons; then a hack containing a coroner; then the two hearses; then a carriage containing the head undertakers; then a train of assistants and mutes on foot; and after these came plodding through the fog a long procession of camp followers, police, and citizens generally. It was a noble turnout, and would have made a fine display if we had had thinner weather.

There was no conversation. I spoke several times to my principal, but I judge he was not aware of it, for he always referred to his note-book and muttered absently, "I die that France might live."

Arrived on the field, my fellow-second and I paced off the thirty-five yards, and then drew lots for choice of position. This latter was but an ornamental ceremony, for all the choices were alike in such weather. These preliminaries being ended, I went to my principal and asked him if he was ready. He spread himself out to his full width, and said in a stern voice, "Ready! Let the batteries be charged."

The loading process was done in the presence of duly constituted witnesses. We considered it best to perform this delicate service with the assistance of a lantern, on account of the state of the weather. We now placed our men.

At this point the police noticed that the public had massed themselves together on the right and left of the field; they therefore begged a delay, while they should put these poor people in a place of safety.

The request was granted.

The police having ordered the two multitudes to take positions behind the duelists, we were once more ready. The weather growing still more opaque, it was agreed between myself and the other second that before giving the fatal signal we should each deliver a loud whoop to enable the combatants to ascertain each other's whereabouts.

I now returned to my principal, and was distressed to observe that he had lost a good deal of his spirit. I tried my best to hearten him. I said, "Indeed, sir, things are not as bad as they seem. Considering the character of the weapons, the limited number of shots allowed, the generous distance, the impenetrable solidity of the fog, and the added fact that one of the combatants is one-eyed and the other cross-eyed and near-sighted, it seems to me that this conflict need not necessarily be fatal. There are chances that both of you may survive. Therefore, cheer up; do not be downhearted."

This speech had so good an effect that my principal immediately stretched forth his hand and said, "I am myself again; give me the weapon."

I laid it, all lonely and forlorn, in the center of the vast solitude of his palm. He gazed at it and shuddered. And still mournfully contemplating it, he murmured in a broken voice:

"Alas, it is not death I dread, but mutilation."

I heartened him once more, and with such success that he presently said, "Let the tragedy begin. Stand at my back; do not desert me in this solemn hour, my friend."

I gave him my promise. I now assisted him to point his pistol toward the spot where I judged his adversary to be standing, and cautioned him to listen well and further guide himself by my fellow-second's whoop. Then I propped myself against M. Gambetta's back, and raised a rousing "Whoop-ee!" This was answered from out the far distances of the fog, and I immediately shouted:


Two little sounds like spit! Spit! broke upon my ear, and in the same instant I was crushed to the earth under a mountain of flesh. Bruised as I was, I was still able to catch a faint accent from above, to this effect:

"I die for... for ... perdition take it, what is it I die for? ... oh, yes--France! I die that France may live!"

The surgeons swarmed around with their probes in their hands, and applied their microscopes to the whole area of M. Gambetta's person, with the happy result of finding nothing in the nature of a wound. Then a scene ensued which was in every way gratifying and inspiriting.

The two gladiators fell upon each other's neck, with floods of proud and happy tears; that other second embraced me; the surgeons, the orators, the undertakers, the police, everybody embraced, everybody congratulated, everybody cried, and the whole atmosphere was filled with praise and with joy unspeakable.

It seems to me then that I would rather be a hero of a French duel than a crowned and sceptered monarch.

When the commotion had somewhat subsided, the body of surgeons held a consultation, and after a good deal of debate decided that with proper care and nursing there was reason to believe that I would survive my injuries. My internal hurts were deemed the most serious, since it was apparent that a broken rib had penetrated my left lung, and that many of my organs had been pressed out so far to one side or the other of where they belonged, that it was doubtful if they would ever learn to perform their functions in such remote and unaccustomed localities. They then set my left arm in two places, pulled my right hip into its socket again, and re-elevated my nose. I was an object of great interest, and even admiration; and many sincere and warm-hearted persons had themselves introduced to me, and said they were proud to know the only man who had been hurt in a French duel in forty years.

I was placed in an ambulance at the very head of the procession; and thus with gratifying éclat I was marched into Paris, the most conspicuous figure in that great spectacle, and deposited at the hospital.

The cross of the Legion of Honor has been conferred upon me. However, few escape that distinction.

Such is the true version of the most memorable private conflict of the age.

I have no complaints to make against any one. I acted for myself, and I can stand the consequences.

Without boasting, I think I may say I am not afraid to stand before a modern French duelist, but as long as I keep in my right mind I will never consent to stand behind one again.

The Devil's Dictionary: Dragoon (n.)

A soldier who combines dash and steadiness in so equal measure that he makes his advances on foot and his retreats on horseback.

The Devil's Dictionary: Distance (n.)

The only thing that the rich are willing for the poor to call theirs and keep.

I'd say, maybe, seven? More or less?

You might think that nobody would have any problem filling out the following questionnaire:

But you would be wrong:

HT on both: the indispensable

I hereby designate Colt McCoy, Texas, as... First Choice to receive the Heisman Memorial Trophy awarded to the most outstanding college football player in the United States for 2008. To the best of my knowledge he conforms to the rules governing this vote.

My Second Choice Is: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma.

My Third Choice Is: Tim Tebow, Florida.

Also, I hereby register my outrage that the Heisman Club continues to force us voters to choose the best player in college football without letting us see how the players do in their respective most important and high-pressure games on the biggest stages for the highest stakes. Is there a single person in America who still thinks that the best player in college football in the 2005/2006 season was Reggie Bush rather than Vince Young? I mean, seriously? Doesn't even Reggie's mom secretly believe that injustice was done there?

Guess it'll be a while before I get around to learning Spanish, eh?

So I'm trying to refresh my Spanish, which is mostly a matter of reaquiring my lost Spanish vocabulary, as Spanish grammar is something less than a challenge. My problem there is that it's difficult to know when the Spanish my books are giving me is really Iberian Spanish, i.e., Spanish as spoken in Spain, when my purpose is to be able to communicate with people who speak Spanish in Texas. Fortunately Veronica and Daniela at Java Dave's are both kind enough to answer any questions I might have ("do you really ever use the word acontecimiento?") with a good, reliable, down-home Mexican answer.

So I was trying to figure out how to use the word esperar, which, my dictionary vaguely says, means "to hope to" with the subjunctive but "to wait to" with the infinitive. I wasn't sure I was understanding it fully; so I made up an example sentence and fired off an e-mail to Daniela to ask, "Do I have this right?"

As it happens, I did in fact construct the sentence properly. The only problem was, I was typing in a hurry and blew off the tilde, which is to say, the little squiggle that turns n into ñ. My sentence was, "Espero aprender español hasta que tengo mas años," which means, "I'm waiting to learn Spanish until I have more years" -- that is, until I'm older. But, as I say, I blew off the tildes, including on the final word años, i.e., "years:" "Espero aprender espanol hasta que tengo mas anos."

I hit the send button, and then I took my hot tea and walked out of the coffee shop to go home. But something was nagging me...and as I settled into the front seat, the penny at long last dropped.

And I finally remembered -- sadly, too late -- what anos-without-the-tilde means.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Apparently their target audience is "persons who have lots of money but no clue whatsoever about investment strategies"

Just heard this passage from a commercial for a furrier:

Not only do your furs keep you warm for years, says the spokesperson, but...

"...and they are also a great investment.

"Right now our prices are lower than they have ever been..."

Um, excuse me, but I generally prefer to invest in things whose value goes up. If prices are lower now than they have ever been, doesn't that mean that anybody who invested in fur coats in the past has, not to put too fine a point on it, made a pretty sucky investment?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

And if that doesn't settle it then nothing will

I would say that the Sooners covered. And for the first time in his tenure, I saw Stoops genuinely trying to run up the score...and as much as I value sportsmanship, I could only shake my head and think, "Yeah, but there could be votes at stake, and some of those voters are mind-bogglingly, can-we-please-beat-them-into-insensibility-with-ropes-and-banish-them-permanently-from-college-sports stupid...I swear I hate this whole BCS s*** and what it has done to the game."

And besides, by the time we got to that game, I'd've happily watched us score triple digits just to make the whining stop. Loved the sign that various people were holding up at the championship game, which was basically this picture on a stick:

Two good takes from people who aren't OU fans:

First, here is Andy Staples arguing that we shouldn't condemn either Stoops (for running the score up to 60) or Brown (for politicking shamelessly like the mother of all media whores), because the BCS brutally penalizes good sportsmanship. I will reluctantly grant the point and withdraw my earlier criticism of Brown -- though I still think it's a big point in Stoops's favor that he refused to call in to the UT/A&M game. But I'll grant that Brown probably thinks politicking is now as much a part of the game as recruiting, and that it's an understandable point of view. Criticism hereby withdrawn.

Then there's's Mark Schlabach, who has clearly come to the same conclusion that the overwhelming number of voters has come to:
A couple of hours before Saturday night's kickoff of the Big 12 championship game, an airplane dragging a banner flew high above Arrowhead Stadium.

The banner read: "Enjoy the Bowl."

Sometime next week, a banner figures to soar over the Texas state capital again.

It should read something like, "Right now, we'd beat the hell out of you."

Actually, I don't think Oklahoma would beat the hell out of Texas, even now -- though you all know already that I think Oklahoma has taken its game to a new level on both offense (with the kinks worked out of the running game) and defense (having compensated for Reynolds's loss, and now having gotten Alex English back, which somehow I had forgotten was due to happen), while Texas is still basically the same team they were for those twenty-seven minutes in October. I think Texas would put up a heckuva fight. But anybody still arguing that Texas ought to be in the BCS is now arguing a technicality; they're saying that you should put your hands over your eyes and somebody else's hands over your ears and ignore entirely the question of which team is playing better football, and should say instead, "It's a single-elimination tournament [even thought it isn't], and we beat OU two months ago [though since then we've lost to a team that OU proceeded to obliterate], and therefore we should go because only head-to-head matters [though we should get the second BCS slot instead of the Tech team that beat us head-to-head]."

And besides, I don't think UT fans can take much solace in my opinion that UT would put up a better fight than Tech or Mizzou. I didn't think OU would beat Tech by four touchdowns; they won by six. I thought an OSU upset was more likely than a three-touchdown OU win in Stillwater; OU won by twenty with a hurt quarterback and half a playbook. I didn't think OU would cover the seventeen-point spread on a Missouri field in sub-freezing temperatures; OU not only covered the seventeen-point spread but tacked an extra three touchdowns and change on top of it. So, I don't think OU would beat Texas by more than a touchdown or maybe ten points...but at this point that clearly means little or nothing.

Meanwhile, so much for the body of work argument. Here's the comparison between OU and UT, game-by-game, setting aside the head-to-head shootout (which we'll get to at the end), working backwards from last night (using the average of how long ago OU and UT played each team) on the principle that more recent results tell you more about how a team is playing now.

Missouri (#25, yesterday for OU, 7 weeks ago for UT): Texas won by 25 at home in a game that was over by halftime; OU won by more points than my calculator can handle...okay, by 41, in a game that was over by halftime. As far as I'm concerned that's a wash; both teams obviously were way better than Missouri and any difference between the degrees of dominance is rounding error, basically. You could argue that there's a significant difference between the 31 that the UT defense allowed at home and the 21 that the OU defense allowed on the road but frankly I don't buy it. Missouri didn't belong on the field with either team; end of useful comparison.

Texas A&M (2 weeks ago for UT, 4 weeks ago for OU): please, like it's useful to compare how either team did against this bunch of losers. You might as well try to decide whether Leonard or De La Hoya was better by asking which of them could beat the crap out of me faster. Texas A&M serves the same purpose as Missouri does in this discussion, which is, none at all -- anywhere, anytime that either Missouri or A&M plays either OU or Texas, the result will be obliteration.

OSU (#13, last week for OU, six weeks ago for UT): Texas won by four at home; OU won by 20 on the road with a quarterback who couldn't take snaps then but can now. Big, big edge to OU, no matter how UT might try to spin it.

Texas Tech (#8, two weeks ago for OU, five weeks ago for UT): Texas lost by six on the road, getting outgained 579-374, but having to play without its best receiver, who is now back at full strength; OU won by 44 at home in a game that was more lopsided than the score made it appear, as Tech was overwhelmed as though they were just another Chattanooga and OU showed mercy in the fourth quarter. With all due allowance for Cosby's injury and home field advantage, this is a huge edge to OU. (I leave it to UT fans to decide whether they want to allow injuries into the discussion.)

Kansas (7 weeks ago for OU, 3 for UT): OU won at home by two touchdowns while still trying to figure out how to compensate for Reynolds's injury; Texas won by four touchdowns on the road. With all due allowance for the injury and letdown factors and improvement since the games took place, this is still an edge for UT. Not a huge edge, but definitely an edge.

Baylor (9 weeks ago for OU, 4 for UT): OU by 32 on the road, UT by 24 in Austin; no edge awarded to OU on the grounds that obliteration is obliteration (see, above, Missouri and A&M).

Those are the common opponents. The edge is clearly to OU, and furthermore the more heavily you weight recent results compared to not-so-recent results (in order to capture the improvement factor) the bigger that edge grows. Furthermore, in all three cases where I refused to grant an edge to either team, the edge would have gone, had one been awarded, to OU rather than to UT; so I'm being pretty generous here, I think even Mack would have to admit, should he be overcome by a momentary attack of intellectual integrity.

That's your common opponents. Now what about other games? I would go the rest of the way in order of impressiveness of victory...except that, since nobody else gave either team a game, you basically have a series of obliterations. So the question is, which set was a stronger set?

OU: TCU at home, Cincinnati at home, Nebraska at home, K-state on the road, Chattanooga at home.

UT: Colorado in Boulder, Arkansas at home, Rice at home, UTEP on the road, Florida Atlantic at home.

You could argue that OU should receive a slight edge, except -- look, let's be honest here. Trade schedules and you get the same results: ten obliterations. I just don't think you can award an edge here.

So UT has, basically, two arguments to say that it's a better team at this point than OU is: the second half of the Shootout, when they had OU shorthanded on defense (an argument undercut partly by the results of the first half but much more by the fact that OU has clearly improved dramatically since then and UT doesn't appear to have), and the fact that they spanked Kansas slightly more resoundingly than OU did. OU's arguments: Tech and OSU. And the more bitterly UT fans trumpet the importance of home-field advantage, the more they inflate OU's already big advantage in the OSU comparison. Plus, in every spot where I refused to award an edge and rounded to equality, the rounding error worked in UT's favor.

I'd say at this point, if it hasn't been settled for you in OU's favor, then there's literally nothing OU could have done to get you to admit they were better than UT even after UT's loss at Tech.

Unfortunately for Mack, this ain't single elimination, and the Sooners are going to the national championship.

But that doesn't take away the fact that UT is a great team, one of the two or three best in the country, and that they have had a great season, and that they have every right to feel unhappy about how it all worked out. Hey, I thought it sucked last year that OU was knocked out of the BCS by virtue of a Sam Bradford concussion...but then OU, disappointed at not playing for the national championship, went and embarrassed themselves in their bowl game. So my advice is, go take it out on Ohio State, boys. And cheer for OU to wallop the Gators, because then you can spend the next thirty years telling yourselves, "We shoulda been the champions."

And you might even be right.