Monday, January 31, 2011

Saw this on ESPN...

...but it took a while to get a good version onto YouTube where I could link to it.

Does this shed any light on the long-running question of whether the following classic video was real or faked?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A lovely Chinese love poem with a fascinating story behind it

I very much like this poem written by Guan Daosheng to her husband Zhao Mengfu, some seven hundred years ago (I don't know who the translator is because the poetry collection I have on my Kindle doesn't say). I'll give you the poem, and then after that I'll tell you the story behind it, which is a fascinating and ultimately sweet story, even if you don't like poetry.

"A Poem of You and Me"

You and I
Have so much love,
That it
Burns like a fire,
In which we bake a lump of clay
Molded into a figure of you
And a figure of me.
Then we take both of them,
And break them into pieces,
And mix the pieces with water,
And mold again a figure of you,
And a figure of me.
I am in your clay.
You are in my clay.
In life we share a single quilt.
In death we will share one coffin.


Now for the story.

Guan Daosheng was an artist and poet in the days of the thirteenth-/fourteenth-century Yuan Dynasty -- you'll note that in the painting below, she has painted a poem onto the painting, thus combining both of her talents. (And no, I have no idea what the poem says because I can't read Chinese handwriting to save my life.) Her husband was himself a talented artist (arguably the father of modern Chinese landscape painting) -- in fact their son was a world-class calligrapher as well, much to the bemusement of the Emperor, who seems to have thought it wasn't quite fair for all that talent to be concentrated in a single family.

Daosheng and Mengfu married when she was 27, and they were very happy together for twenty years. But as they neared their fifties (and of course fifty was much older in the late 1200's than it is now), it was becoming trendy for older, well-off Chinese men to keep a young concubine, much as it apparently is in China now -- though I think modern Chinese businessmen don't typically tell their wives about their young women the way thirteenth-century Chinese nobles seem to have. Now Mengfu very famously loved his wife very much, but young and beautiful would-be concubines can be pretty tempting, especially when everybody else has one.

Well, Mengfu couldn't quite work up the courage to come right out and ask Daosheng if she would mind his bringing a concubine into the house. So he wrote a poem about it, in which he apparently (I haven't been able to find the actual poem) delivered the message, "I'd sort of like to bring in a PYT like my buddies are doing."

"A Poem of You and Me" was Daosheng's response.

[smiling] Mengfu apparently never again mentioned taking a concubine, and they lived on together very happily until Daosheng died, ten years later, at the age of 57. And three years or so later, Mengfu rejoined her in their "one coffin."

Bamboo and Stone

Ten Thousand Bamboo Poles in Cloudy Mist

"...I've married one of Shakespeare's dreams."

Here's you a name-that-poet test. I've just run across a poem from a poet I have read all my life...but I've never read this particular poem. His point is that being in love makes all the cliches that sounded so trite, suddenly be real and fresh and new again -- and it ends with the following lines, the last couplet of which goes straight into the Pantheon as far as I'm concerned.

Darling, when I look at you
Every aged phrase is new,
And there are moments when it seems
I've married one of Shakespeare's dreams.

(That's what poets are for, by the way: to say exactly what you feel better than you could have possibly said it yourself. "I've married one of Shakespeare's dreams..." Yes, exactly!)

So who was our mystery poet? The answer (which I would never have guessed)...well, here's the whole poem, called "Reprise." See if you figure it out before I tell you at the end.

Geniuses of countless nations
Have told their love for generations
Till all their memorable phrases
Are common as goldenrod or daisies.
Their girls have glimmered like the moon,
Or shimmered like a summer moon,
Stood like a lily, fled like a fawn
Now the sunset, now the dawn,
Here the princess in the tower
There the sweet forbidden flower.
Darling, when I look at you
Every aged phrase is new,
And there are moments when it seems
I've married one of Shakespeare's dreams.

The poet? Ogden Nash, of all people! The best nonsense poet ever, I think (even better than Edmund Lear), a man whose "Ode to the Llama" I memorized as a small child:

The one-l lama, he's a priest.
The two-ll llama, he's a beast.
And I would bet a silk pajama
There isn't any
Three-lll lllama.

After Kasia was born, however, my favorite Ogden Nash poem became his "Song To Be Sung by the Father of Infant Female Children." (Note, for example, such quintessentially Nashian lines as "Oh sweet be his slumber and moist his middle! / My dreams, I fear, are infanticiddle.")

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky;
Contrariwise, my blood runs cold
When little boys go by.
For little boys as little boys,
No special hate I carry,
But now and then they grow to men,
And when they do, they marry.
No matter how they tarry,
Eventually they marry.
And, swine among the pearls,
They marry little girls.

Oh, somewhere, somewhere, an infant plays,
With parents who feed and clothe him.
Their lips are sticky with pride and praise,
But I have begun to loathe him.
Yes, I loathe with loathing shameless
This child who to me is nameless.
This bachelor child in his carriage
Gives never a thought to marriage,
But a person can hardly say knife
Before he will hunt him a wife.

I never see an infant (male),
A-sleeping in the sun,
Without I turn a trifle pale
And think is he the one?
Oh, first he'll want to crop his curls,
And then he'll want a pony,
And then he'll think of pretty girls,
And holy matrimony.
A cat without a mouse
Is he without a spouse.

Oh, somewhere he bubbles bubbles of milk,
And quietly sucks his thumbs.
His cheeks are roses painted on silk,
And his teeth are tucked in his gums.
But alas the teeth will begin to grow,
And the bubbles will cease to bubble;
Given a score of years or so,
The roses will turn to stubble.
He'll sell a bond, or he'll write a book,
And his eyes will get that acquisitive look,
And raging and ravenous for the kill,
He'll boldly ask for the hand of Jill.
This infant whose middle
Is diapered still
Will want to marry
My daughter Jill.

Oh sweet be his slumber and moist his middle!
My dreams, I fear, are infanticiddle.
A fig for embryo Lohengrins!
I'll open all his safety pins,
I'll pepper his powder, and salt his bottle,
And give him readings from Aristotle.
Sand for his spinach I'll gladly bring,
And Tabasco sauce for his teething ring.
Then perhaps he'll struggle through fire and water
To marry somebody else's daughter.

And then, out of nowhere, this master of light verse comes up with:

And there are moments when it seems
I've married one of Shakespeare's dreams.

P.S. It having just struck me that "Ogden Nash" was probably a pen name, I went to Wikipedia to find out what his real name was. ("Frederic Ogden Nash," if you're curious.) And there I found a reference to my old friend "Ode to the Llama," with a footnote I'd never seen before: "The author's attention has been drawn to the existence of a type of conflagration known as the 'three-alarmer.' Pooh."

Knowledge comes at you from surprising places

For example, I now know that 笨, pronounced bèn, is Chinese for "stupid." (Also for "foolish" and "silly" and "slow-witted" and "clumsy.") And why do I know this?

Well, because...

1. I wanted a Chinese-English dictionary for my Kindle; so I went to the Amazon Kindle store and saw a five-star rated book called A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers. Now, a five-star rated dictionary was exactly what I was looking for...but what's this bit about "...for Lovers"? Was it only naughty words, or what? So I checked the reviews...

2. ...and discovered that it was a actually a novel, written by a young Chinese novelist who for years has gone back and forth between London and Beijing. And all the reviewers loved it; plus it sounded truly fascinating: it's a first-person novel that is written in the voice of a young Chinese girl from a nouveau-riche Chinese country-village family, who has been sent to London for a year to learn English (rather against her will, actually). Of course she is completely unprepared culturally and linguistically; and she falls in love with a much older English man who is pretty much the first person in England to actually be nice to her. So it is a novel of self-discovery on every level (including, I warn you, sexually, since one of the features of traditional Chinese life is that parents don't talk about sex to their kids and the Chinese government tries not to let anybody else talk about it either...there are numerous passages that are very explicitly sensual indeed). And the novel is written in English -- but it's the character's slowly-improving English, which is therefore in the early chapters Chinese syntax with English words. Here, for example, are the opening words of the prologue:

Beijing time 12 clock midnight.

London time 5 clock afternoon.

But I at neither time zone. I on airplane. Sitting on 25,000 km above to earth and trying remember all English I learning in school.

I not met you yet. You in future.

Looking outside the massive sky. Thinking air staffs need to set a special time-zone for long-distance airplanes, or passengers like me very confusing about time. When a body floating in air, which country she belonging to?...

3. Obviously, intrigued by the premise and impressed by the enthusiasm of pretty much every reader who had submitted a review, I bought the thing, started reading it...and couldn't stop until the end. Had to finish it. Had to.

4. But along the way, it caught my attention when the narrator asked herself, "How I finding important places including Buckingham Palace, or Big Stupid Clock?" For a moment I was thrown: Big Stupid Clock? But then I realized, "Oh, she must mean Big Ben." And the next thought: "Ah, so I bet ben means 'stupid' in Chinese." So I went and looked it up, and sure enough, 笨, pronounced bèn, is Chinese for "stupid." (Also for "foolish" and "silly" and "slow-witted" and "clumsy.")

And now I'm unlikely ever to forget how to say "stupid" in Chinese -- even if I have trouble remembering such basic and essential phrases as "Hello," "Thank you," and (critically) "Where's the bathroom?" I'll always know how to say "stupid," thanks to the Big Stupid Clock.

That kind of thing happens to me all the time, which is pretty much how I tend to wind up the possessor of so many random pieces of odd and not terribly useful knowledge.

In the meantime, I very highly recommend A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, by Xiaolu Guo.

By the way, here's one of my favorite paragraphs from the novel, as Zhuang's frustration from her daily English classes boils over into her journal:
Chinese, we not having grammar. We saying things simple way. No verb-change usage, no tense differences, no gender changes. We bosses of our language. But, English language is boss of English user.

But this one is good, too (obviously from much later in the book, as you can tell from the improved English):
"Love," this English word: like other English words it has tense. "Loved" or "will love" or "have loved." All these specific tenses mean Love is time-limited thing. Not infinite. It only exist in particular period of time. In Chinese, Love is "爱" (ai). It has no tense. No past and future. Love in Chinese means a being, a situation, a circumstance. Love is existence, holding past and future.

If our love existed in Chinese tense, then it will last for ever. It will be infinite.

Friday, January 28, 2011

What the poster guy said

HT: (warning: site not always entirely family-/Baptist-friendly).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Classic track and field moments

For our first event, ladies and gentlemen...the high jump!

Next, the pole vault...

...and, finally, the long jump.

Hey, I so totally agree with Hitler on this one

And how often do you get to say THAT?

If it weren't for YouTube, this guy wouldn't be famous...

...he hates YouTube.

What I love is the way every teenaged guy in the building who has a cellphone instantly races onto the court and starts videotaping.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Soberly"? Um...I don't think that's the right word.

Singrai Soren, a trainer of fighting roosters, was killed in Mohanpur in West Bengal after one of his birds apparently turned on him, the Daily Mail soberly relates.

So says the Daily Mail; but I have to say that I think if they had really intended to report the story "soberly," they would not have given it the headline, "Man Killed By Own Cock."

HT: Dave Barry.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Most Suprising Piece Of Legal Research So Far This Year Dept

In response to the interesting legal situation caused when zealous Austin police officers arrested Jose Rios and Samuel Olivo for DUI on Sixth Street, on the grounds that a horse and a mule each qualify as "motor vehicles", the district attorney observed: "We were surprised there is more case law on drunken cowboys in Ohio and Pennsylvania than we found in Texas."

Really? REALLY????

It's not at all hard to believe that drunks might be found riding horses and mules down Austin's Sixth Street on a Friday night. Indeed, one might express a certain amount of surprise when a Friday night goes by without at least one horseback rider in those parts. But that Ohio and Pennsylvania have more drunken-cowboy case law than Texas????

Oh, wait, of course! -- in Texas, it's probably legal to be a drunken cowboy.

Having found a rational explanation, I feel better now.

HT: Dave again. (Been catching up, obviously.)

TWBAGNFARB ("This Would Be A Good Name For A Rock Band")...

...but unfortunately the young performing artist in question (hey, clean up your mind there, she's a pop singer!) is a person, not a band.

Oh, wait, I forgot about this blog's solidarity with Dave Barry's strict policy regarding making fun of unfortunate never mind.

This guy's hunting license...

...has been permanently revoked.

HT: Dave.

Why We Need Guys

Because women have no idea how to make proper use of an iPhone.

HT: Dave, naturally.

I'd say that's a security violation

My first real win in Mandarin

On Sunday I discovered that Houston Chinese Church sells New Testaments that are in traditional Chinese characters with the pinyin transliteration above each character. That's exactly what I've been looking for; so I snatched it and then started reading the Sermon on the Mount. Well, it didn't take long to figure out that the pattern...


...means, "Blessed are the __________." Literally, it seemed to mean, "People who ________, are having ;" so I was guessing that maybe 福 means "blessed." So last night I asked Helen about it.

Her answer was that actually means "a blessing;" so we have, "People who ________, are [people] having a blessing." Now Chinese is starting to make sense to me; so I could actually see how that fit...and then I got an idea. So I said, very carefully:

"我是有福的, 你是我的福 [wŏ shì yǒu fú de, nĭ shì wŏ de fú]." Which seemed to me to have a nice little parallel rhythm to it, and which I devoutly hoped meant, "I am blessed -- you are my blessing."

Now, Helen has several different laughs. There's a sort of high girlish giggle that I get whenever I've tried to speak Mandarin and said something unintentionally comic. And there's a deep (for her) sort of throaty, satisfied chuckle that I get whenever something makes her really happy. So I delivered my line and waited for the "that's funny" giggle. When instead I got the happy chuckle, I knew before she even said so that I had gotten it right.

I live for that happy chuckle, by the way...

Maybe the rules should be rethought?

My seven-year-old stepson Kai was pretty honked off a couple of days ago. See, Helen's church has a scholarship program meant to encourage the kids in the church to do well in school; and if you manage to do at least as well each semester as you did the semester before, then you win a 300-RMB scholarship ($50).

Well, Kai came in second in his class in this semester's exams. There are three exams, and his scores were 100, 100, and 99.

But he didn't get the church scholarship...because last semester, you see, his scoress were 100, 100 and 100.

I am told that reconsideration of the rules is underway...

Liveblogging a day of NFL playoffs from the Baker St. Bar and Grill

This was originally four posts, which I've combined into one so that it's easier to read them in the proper order. They were all blogged from the Baker Street Bar and Grill, where I had gone to enjoy an afternoon of just kicking back and watching the games and trying (in vain, as it turned out, given the difficulties we encountered in getting our patch installed) not to think at all about work.

A conversation while watching NFL playoffs

ME, when on the opening kickoff Mike Tomlin throws one of his challenge flags to try to turn a sixty-yard Raven return into...well, into a forty-yard Raven return:

"Really? Within the first twenty seconds of the game, you're going to use one of your challenges for the sake of twenty yards? This seems smart to you? Really?"

[less than one-quarter of the game passes before Timlin throws his second flag, on a play where he had no hope of getting the call overturned but which at least was an important play]

REFEREE: "Pittsburgh is now out of challenges."

ME [addressing Timlin out loud in the pub]: "Thank God you saved those twenty yards on the opening kickoff."

BARMAID [politely]: Um...did you want another Bass?

Another conversation from the game

ME, when the Ravens get the ball back after an entire third quarter in which they have mechanically passed on every single first down and then equally mechanically run on every single second-and-long: "I think you'd better try running on first down this time."

CAM CAMERON: "No thanks, I prefer to have my quarterback throw a back-breaking interception on first down."

ME: "Well, you're the professional..."

STEELERS: "You shut up and stay out of this."

In all seriousness, it appears that it never crossed Cameron's mind that the Steelers might make defensive adjustments at halftime.

UPDATE -- and as I type, Baltimore throws an incompletion on first down to start the next drive. Who saw THAT play call coming??

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE -- and then they fumble the snap. Talk about a unit walking onto the field after halftime and just collapsing...the Baltimore offense just seems astonished that the Steelers defense came out in the second half prepared to stop the passing game, and appears to have no idea what to do next.

Another thought from the Baker St. Bar and Grill

This pub makes really very good bangers and mash. Very much enhanced the first quarter.

For the third quarter I ordered fish 'n' chips.

This pub makes really very good bangers and mash.

(In the meantime, Terrell Suggs is playing out of his mind.)

Why don't I just liveblog this?

6:28 [after an outstanding Ravens return for a touchdown] That may be the most astonishing initial move by a punt returner I've ever seen.

6:29 [after said return is called back on a holding penalty at about the Steeler ten-yard-line] I'm not at all sure that was a hold. And, to add to Ravens fans' misery, I'm not at all sure the Ravens offense can score a field goal even when your special teams unit gives them a first and goal.

6:30 I saw empty backfield and thought, "Bad idea" -- but there was nothing wrong with the play call, just an NFL receiver (Anquan Boldin) with hands of stone who cost his team four points. [Takes a deep breath and manages not to mention the name "Jackie Smith."]

6:34 Well, it's tempting to figure that it's now a question of which defense/special teams unit can either score on its own or else make it really really easy for its offense to score.

6:36 I didn't really care who would win the game when it started, but the Steeler players have played so dirty and been such jerks I'd now officially hate to see them win. (Meanwhile, Roethlisberger pulls one of his patented escapes to avoid a sack.)

6:38 That's a heckuva pass into a heckuva tight window for the first down.

6:38 This Steeler offensive line just really isn't very good, are they?

6:40 Since the announcers have mentioned the new overtime rules...why not just say, "The first team to score four points, or else the team that's ahead when overtime ends, wins" -- and be done with it? How hard is that? Instead, let me see if I can find and post the rules for postseason overtime in the NFL now...

6:41 And the Ravens let a wide receiver behind them on 3rd and 19 for a bomb down to the three. Well, okay, now I don't mind the Steelers winning, because a defense that brags as much as the Ravens brag, and commits that kind of mental error in that situation (with eight men in coverage, no less!!!), deserves to be eliminated from the playoffs. Heckuva throw by Roethlisberger, though, props to the man there.

6:43 [To the guy at the next table] Dude, if you're going to spill your beer, at least spill it on your own cell phone, not your date's.

6:46 Defensive holding on a running play at the goal line...not sure I've seen that before.

6:48 Harbaugh going absolutely nuts on the sideline trying to call a timeout like he's making a snow angel...and he can't get an offical's attention. How is that possible? Even a casual fan has to expect the Ravens to call time out in that situation...and not one of the officials checks the sideline to see what Harbaugh's doing?

6:49 So I think if I'm the Steelers I trust Roethlisberger enough to play-action here with most blockers really selling the run.

6:50 What a GREAT cutback by Mendenhall!! That should do it; I don't think Flacco has a two-minute touchdown drive in him against this defense. That phantom hold that called back the Ravens touchdown, and the dropped pass in the end zone, both look REALLY big now.

6:51 #68 is the same S.O.B. who got away with a blatant late hit in the first half. Did exactly the same thing here. I certainly hope the league fines him well and truly.

6:53 [laughing] There's no question which Pittsburgh unit Tomlin trusts more, or more likely which Ravens unit he fears more...despite kicking off fifteen yards back because of the penalty, he squib-kicks. The Ravens get the ball inside the fifty, and yet I can't help feeling that their odds of success just dropped dramatically, thanks to their not having been given the opportunity to score a tying touchdown without having to depend on their offense to execute.

6:54 Receiver was open, Flacco had plenty of time...and simply missed him. Terrible pass. I don't believe Flacco makes the jump this year.

6:55 Terrible pass, great defense by the offensive player to keep it from being intercepted. I don't believe Flacco makes the jump this year.

6:55 [laughing] You frequently see backs do a poor job of picking up a blitz, but you rarely see a back have a straight shot at the blocker and not even touch him -- athletic play by the blitzer to jump right over him, I'll grant you; but if you're blocking you HAVE to keep your head up and keep your shoulders higher than the blitzer's knees.

6:57 And that's it, though that last incompetion's on the receiver, not Flacco. TMQ's home-field-in-round-2 rule holds true.

That was a good game if you like defense. (Which I do.)

On the bright side, if you're a Ravens fan, you'll be happy to know that Ray Lewis just told the sideline reporter that next year's team is the most talented Ravens team he's been on since the Super Bowl team. (This is an inside joke for readers of The Sports Guy, who likes to make fun of Lewis's annual pronouncement to that effect.)

Whoops, I forgot I still owe you the new overtime rules


• Both teams must have the opportunity to possess the ball once during the extra period, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession, in which case it is the winner.

• If the team that possesses the ball first scores a field goal on its initial possession, the other team shall have the opportunity to possess the ball. If [that team] scores a touchdown on its possession, it is the winner. If the score is tied after [both teams have a] possession, the team next scoring by any method shall be the winner.

• If the score is tied at the end of a 15-minute overtime period, or if [the overtime period's] initial possession has not ended, another overtime period will begin, and play will continue until a score is made, regardless of how many 15-minute periods are necessary.


First one to four wins.

See, it's just not that hard...


And here we should certainly see WAY more offense in this game than in the last one.

7:17 Hey, where's the offensive pass interference call there? I guess maybe ruled uncatchable, but that was a first-play pick-six waiting to happen.

7:27 [laughing delightedly] Now THAT was a wild play...a great third-down conversion on third-and-fourteen inside Green Bay's own ten-yard-line, and then he shoots the gap between a couple of DB's and I'm thinking, "Hey, he could go all the way" -- except that then he's stripped from behind and the fumble bounces straight up into an Atlanta player's hands on a dead run -- except that he's at a dead run toward his own end zone, and then even after he turns around, every time he tries to dodge somebody he runs backwards some more instead of just going down so that I start to think we may yet see a safety on a ball fumbled fifty-five yards away from the relevant end zone, and finally the play ends after a spectacular block lets the runner pick up about twenty extra yards to wind up with only a negative-five-yard return...I think I need to see another replay. I was exhausted by the end of that play just watching all the running around that was going on.

7:34 Hey, I like this -- the Falcons are playing to win today. Gutsy call to go for it on fourth down there.

7:35 OH-HO-HO WHAT A RUN! That's a direct quote from yours truly, as yelled when Turner made that tackle-breaking spin move at the 5 on his way in for the TD.

7:43 Tennessee and Vanderbilt are playing women's basketball on the screen next to the Packers/Falcons big screen. Now, women's basketball can certainly be enjoyed, in much the same way that minor league baseball and high school football can be enjoyed. Competitive spirit, heart and character are independent of athletic ability. But if you're a women's team sport organization, and your athletes do not play in bikinis or at least in very short skin-tight shorts, then I really think you should demand that your sport never be shown on a television right next to a big-screen television that is showing an elite-level men's sporting event...because the comparison is painful. I realize that the University of Tennessee women's basketball team is composed 100% of young women who are more athletic, and more highly coordinated, than I am. But they're not playing on a television next to me. They're playing on a television next to Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan and Donald Driver and Michael Turner...and the girls, bless their hearts, look downright slow and clumsy, sheerly by comparison.

I think the whole business model for women's sports was thought up by committed feminists laboring under the delusion that most women would watch women's sports Because They Are Women -- that is, that most women see themselves as being On The Women's Side in some sort of gender-loyalty contest and make decisions accordingly. But I doubt that most women actually do see themselves that way; I don't think most women see themselves as owing some sort of loyalty to The Sisterhood. I think most women who like sports, like sports, for pretty much the same reason most guys who like sports, like sports. And the more you like something for its own sake (rather than out of some misguided tribal loyalty), the more you prefer to watch the people who are best at it, whether they're part of your tribe or not. I think most women who really like basketball, would much rather watch men's basketball than women's...because the men's game is better, in exactly the same way and for exactly the same reason that major league baseball is better than Class AA. Class AA has just as much heart and just as much passion and just as much commitment. But the major leagues have more athletic talent -- and that makes them better...but why am I spending all this time arguing this? The point is so obvious that anyone who doesn't already see it, is almost certainly emotionally invested in not seeing it, and all I'm doing is convincing them I'm a sexist pig (or whatever is the misandrists' preferred epithet du jour). So back to football we go, no doubt to the relief of all.

7:59 Wow, that's a pretty disastrous back-to-back pair of special teams plays for the Packers. First you give up a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and then when they kickoff to you, you try to catch the ball next to the sideline on your own ten and promptly fumble it out of bounds with no Falcon even close enough to you to be in the video shot. But at least you've got Rodgers trotting out there, whom the Falcons have yet to slow up.

8:01 [three Rodgers completions later, already in Falcons territory] As I was saying...

8:05 Troy Aikman, Master of the Obvious, after a completion down to the Falcons 8-yard-line on a drive that began at the Packer eight: "This is a pretty good drive here." Aikman is a nice enough guy but I'm not sure I've ever heard him say a single usefully insightful thing during a NFL broadcast.

8:08 Touchdown, Green Bay. Hey, Troy, I think that was a pretty good drive. What's your take?

In the meantime, if this were a baseball game, I'd be worried about sending Matt Ryan out to the mound after sitting so long on the bench -- you had a long Green Bay drive, followed by a Falcon kickoff return for a touchdown, followed by another long Green Bay drive. It seems like a week since Ryan took a snap.

Also, if I'm Matt Ryan, it's sinking in on me that my team's chances to advance rest pretty much entirely on my offense's ability to score a touchdown on pretty much every drive...because my defense looks completely outclassed at the moment.

8:33 Well, I was out of blogging commission for a while for two reasons:

1) I figured it had been a while since I had added anything to my bill (I feel a certain responsibility to rent the table, as it were); so I decided to try this pub's apple cobbler and their coffee.

This pub makes really very good bangers and mash.

2) Apparently there's going to be a live band here once the game is over, and the stage is in front of the big screen...and the band members decided to go ahead and set up even though we're not even done with the first half. This includes setting up two big speakers one on top of another, completely blocking the view of the tables along the side, where of course I happen to be sitting. And one of the band members, who weighs 350 pounds if he weighs an ounce and therefore blocks a wide proportion even of a very large screen...he spent a lot time just standing on the middle of the stage doing nothing but posing. Only with great difficulty (and only by reminding myself over and over that I am a representative of Christ to the world, and also that I don't want to embarrass my ridiculously kind and sweet wife even in absentia), did I manage to avoid saying something like, "Dude, I didn't come here to see your lame-ass wannabe small-town pitiful attempt to live out your adolescent Guitar Hero fantasy -- I came here to see elite professionals perform at the highest level. So move your useless ass out of the way." (This despite the fact that I have known at least three people who have played in local bands and I know how hard they work at it, and when they're not between me and an NFL playoff game I admire them and wish them the best of luck.)

See, I'm not really a very nice guy...I just have years invested in keeping my temper and not letting the mouth speak out of the overflow of the heart; and then of course I get lots of help from God's grace. When I remember to ask for it. Which is quite a bit less often than I should.

Anyway, I merely took a deep breath and moved to a different table.

I'm still pissed off, though.

[laughing at self] And, no kidding, I was in the middle of typing the sentence about "elite professionals perform at the highest level" when Matt Ryan threw a gawd-awful pick-six on the last play of the first half, thereby putting TMQ's home-team-wins-round-1 rule in grave peril. Maybe I'd be better off listening to the band after all...upon sober (more or less) reflection they're probably not going to play worse than the Falcons are playing at the moment.

9:00 They just turned the game off!! At the start of the second half!!! In order to make way for the Guitar Heroes!!!!

So I guess I owe the Guitar Heroes an apology, as it turns out that it's the pub itself that thinks I'd rather watch lame-ass wannabe small-town pitiful attempts to live out adolescent Guitar Hero fantasies than see elite professionals perform at the highest level. I'm so outta here -- hey, waitress, check please!

Friday, January 07, 2011

A photo or two

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Because, as I think we'll all agree...'s good to be leterate.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Now THAT's a New Year's Day present

I got to call Helen on her New Year's Day morning (my New Year's Eve) to tell her...that I had just gotten our approval letters from the CIS, more than a month before what I had thought was the earliest we could possibly expect to get them. Suddenly it becomes thinkable that I could have Helen here by March instead of August.

So, um, Happy New Year to us. (But you guys keep praying, please.)

Have to admit, though, the NookColor that Roma and Anya and Nadezhda Petrovna got me is a rockin' great present, too.