Thursday, November 6, 2008

Zoe Writes Her First Song

Okay...I'm giving Zoe a bath after school today:

Zoe: "Dad, can I sing you a song I wrote myself?"

Me: "You wrote a song?"

Zoe: "Yes."

Me: "I'd love to hear it. By all means...sing."

Zoe (singing): "I love my fa-mi-ly. Mom-my and Gabe-and-me."

Me (aghast): "What about me? I'm part of your family too!"

Zoe: "Oh, yeah...I forgot."

Gee...thanks, kid!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Today's Big Election News

WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS!

Oh, yeah. The Dow totally tanked, too. But, more importantly...

WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS! WILLIAM AYERS!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shut Up About "Lipstick On A Pig"

We should've seen this coming. Everybody knows that Barack Obama and John McCain are going to hug it out together for the 9/11 anniversary tomorrow. Mutual praise will be dished out and both candidates will decry how the campaign has turned ugly and stupid while promising a "fresh start." Of course, that means you have to spend the days leading up to 9/11 slinging as much mud over the transom as possible. Today (9/10), in fact, is "How Low Can You Go?" day. McCain gives us a detestable "ad" casting Obama as a leering perv who wants to teach kindergarten kids about sex. Obama, shockingly, returns fire by calling McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, a pig. Well...except he didn't. He said, correctly, that trying to pass off four more years of Republican rule as "change" was like trying to put lipstick on a pig. That's what he said. Read it yourself. If you see Sarah Palin being called a pig in there somewhere, then you're being all touchy-feely sensitive and easily offended. And we Democrats will not stand for that kind of brazen encroachment on our emotional property. [...sniff...]

Seriously, Republicans? Shut up about this one. S...T...EFF...U. Barack Obama most certainly did not call Sarah Palin a pig. So knock off the fake righteous indignation. Stop clutching your pearls and frantically fanning yourselves over something you clearly don't really believe. It's pathetic coming from a socio-political class that revels in tough talk from their chickenhawk pissboys in nutbar talk-radio. I mean, just think about it. What is the one thing you guys resent the most about Obama? The one thing that scares you to death? No, no...the other thing. The fact that he's smart. For a guy as smart as Barack Obama to suddenly decide to call Sarah Palin a name with the whole goddamn world watching would take nothing less than a complete break with political reality. Or a suicidal urge to torpedo his own campaign. And if he did have that break with political reality...or he did want to torpedo his own campaign...don't you think he'd at least get his money's worth and call her a lying twatwaffle? It's crap. You don't believe it...so shut up about it.

Hell, I'm willing to go on record: Sarah Palin is not a pig.

As far as I know.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Rifleman...Holy Crap!

I recently picked up an el cheapo DVD that has four episodes of The Rifleman on it. The Rifleman, for those not familiar, was a TV Western that ran in the late fifties about a widowed rancher named Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors) with a modified Winchester '94 rifle that fired by simply cocking it and a young son named Mark (Johnny Crawford). I remember watching the show as a kid back in the seventies when it ran nightly at 7:00 PM on channel 17. Mostly I remember that bad-ass opening with Chuck Connors firing off ten or so rounds and then walking down the street...reloading and glowering at the camera. Iconic stuff, really.

What I didn't remember, until watching the episodes on the DVD, was that The Rifleman was hands-down one of the most violent shows in the history of television...and I mean that in an incredibly awesome way. I want the whole series now...even though the plots are rather formulaic, to say the least. The four half-hour(!) episodes on the DVD play out like this:

- Lucas and Mark are working on something at the ranch. A need to run into town arises. They go into town together.

- Once in town, they are immediately accosted by 8-10 roughnecks who make fun of Lucas for not carrying a pistol. Lucas brandishes his rifle and warns them that he could, if properly provoked, shoot every damn one of them in the chest at point-blank range before they could even draw their sidearms.

- The roughnecks don't appreciate being talked to like that. They plan to follow Lucas and Mark home and get the drop on them at nightfall.

- That night, Lucas puts Mark to bed. The roughnecks break in and, sure enough, they have the drop on Lucas...that is, until Mark flings open the bedroom door and, in his nightshirt no less, tosses Lucas his rifle.

- Lucas catches the rifle and shoots every damn one of the roughnecks in the chest at point-blank range before they can even draw their sidearms. Then, with the corpses of the dead still strewn everywhere around the house, he gently puts Mark back to bed with a kiss to the forehead.

Check out the YouTube below for a taste of The Rifleman. He even shoots Sammy Davis Jr. in the chest at point-blank range in this video. I swear I think a young Sam Peckinpah must've directed some of this stuff. "Eat hot lead, Hoss and Little Joe!" BLAM-BLAM-BLAM-BLAM-BLAM-BLAM!

(Edited to add: Since this was posted over the weekend, I've learned that...yes, indeed...Sam Peckinpah not only directed over a half-dozen first season episodes...but he, in fact, created and developed the concept of The Rifleman as a television series!)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What Community Organizers Do

First of all...thank you, Lord, for one last opportunity to tee off on that philandering and fear-mongering dirtbag Rudy Giuliani (pictured). Rudy said in his RNC speech last night that he doesn't know what a community organizer does. This, of course, got a big laugh from the almost 100% rich-ass, white crowd. First of all, from where does Rudy Giulani derive the moral authority to question anybody about anything? This is a schmuck whose organizational skills include organizing NYPD and State Patrol escorts for his mistress on the taxpayers' dime. If the Republicans actually put any stock in this "family values" claptrap that they pander to the Christian right with, Rudy would never even make it onto the stage. He'd be up in the cheap seats, next to Levi "fuckin' redneck" Johnston, swapping roofie stories and shocker techniques. Instead, since it was Red Meat Night at the RNC, they decided to trot out Mitt Romney and Rudy, two already despised-and-rejected Republican primary washouts, to show their asses. Mittens was his usual douchey self, leaving a trail of vinegary footprints to and from the podium...but Rudy had a question. So let's answer it.

What do community organizers do? Well, Rudy...do you remember, back in 1988, how George W. Bush used his State of the Union address to urge idealistic young people to step in and fill the gaping void left in social services by Reagan-era budget cuts? That's exactly what Barack Obama did on Chicago's South Side. He went in there and assured workers who had lost their jobs that they were not forgotten. He convinced successful businesspeople to invest in at-risk neighborhoods. He registered tons of voters and invested them in the political process. He offered hope and optimism to people who needed it badly. Obama was, in fact, what Bush himself (with a little help from noted wordsmith Peggy Noonan) referred to as a Point of Light. Now you Republicans...Rudy, Mitt, Sarah, McCain...you go ahead and mock that all you want. Beats the hell out of running on the issues for you guys, that's for damn sure.

But, you know what? Now that I think on it...just wait until November 4. On that day, the Republicans will damn skippy find out first-hand what community organizers do.

Random Thoughts On The Palin Speech

1. She certainly closes up any GOP "arrogance gap" with Obama.

2. Her bland, Peggy Hill-like looks are overrated. Nice stems, though.

3. Evangelicals/Wingnuts will love her act. Swing voters, maybe not.

4. She knows how to deliver a laundry list of Things We Disdain.

5. And now, we'll see how she is with issues.

6. That's right...I forgot...This election isn't about issues.

7. Who's on top of this ticket, anyway? Remind me again.

8. All of a sudden, the GOP now loves good speech-givers?

9. The sarcasm and mockery isn't going to play. Not this year.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Levi Johnston: Hockey Superstar

"Johnston cuts loose a seed! Straight into the five-hole!"

"Johnston: Two minutes for a below-the-waist check."

"Johnston with the textbook poke check!"

"Johnston's not known as a diver but here's a situation where he would've been much better off just going down."

"Johnston: Five minutes for an illegal butt-ending."

"That goalie should know...you can't close your legs tight enough to keep Johnston out of there."

"Johnston with much more than just the tip of his stick clearly in the crease."

"Johnston got his shaft on the biscuit...just not enough rubber."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

About The Obama Speech Tonight

I'm not sure that I have anything to add to the sentiment expressed so eloquently by the above artwork. I'd love to be able to credit the original creator but, as near as I can tell, it's been floating around the intertubes so freely the last couple of months that its much-deserved creative credit has somehow fallen through the cracks. Whoever you are, be you dude or dudette, you rock.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

So I've Got That Goin' For Me...Which Is Nice

Okay...I'm snuggling up with Zoe as I put her to bed tonight:

Me (whispering): "I've got the best little girl in the whole wide world."

Zoe (whispering): "And I've got the best Daddy in Winterville."

Gee...thanks, kid!

Monday, August 25, 2008

You Down With DNC? (Yeah, You Know Me!)

With the Democratic convention getting cranked up tonight, I figured it was time to pop off about politics again. I haven't blogged about the presidential race lately because...well, frankly...because the subject tears my nerves up. Look at where we're at now: A Republican president with historically abysmal approval ratings. Democrats holding a big lead in party self-identification. An unpopular war rages on while the economy tanks...all under George W. Bush's watch. And yet, this race is still anybody's for the taking (at least according to the polls) right now. We'll see how things shake down after Labor Day...but I still just can't see McCain shaking all the historical trends working against him in this election. Besides the bad news I just outlined, he also has meta-narratives to overcome. Young always beats old. Change always beats more of the same. Among McCain and Obama supporters, the passion gap is massive. Did you see the response to Obama after his speech in Germany? After the Biden introduction speech? Unreal. Do you see anyone straining, leaning wayyy out over the barricades, extending their fingers as far as they'll stretch...just for a touch from McCain? I mean, the answer to that isn't just "No"...it's "Eww."

But here's some random junk heading into the convention:

- The Republicans are dispatching The Douchenozzle Brothers, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, to Denver in hopes of grabbing some press. Way to expend some political capital there, RNC. The two highest-profile flameouts from the Republican primaries. Those two, and their Sunday morning talk show ideological cronies better watch themselves. If the GOP ever wants to get an African-American vote for the next several generations or so, need to be a little more self-aware about how much open enjoyment and delight they seem to be taking while kneeing Obama in the groin.

- It's touching that Senator McCain feels so badly about Hillary being "passed over" for a spot on the Democratic ticket. Of course, he still has a slot open on his own ticket, doesn't he? It'd suit me just fine. I'm fed up with her clenched-teeth praise for Obama, anyway. Oh...and don't forget to take fucking Debra with you, too...

- I like the Biden pick...and I'm praying that McCain takes Romney. Joe would make him cry at the debate. Besides, Mittens would be a never-ending source of 30-second ad fodder.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Quick Thoughts On "The Day"

Yesterday, "The Day That Never Comes"...the first official, completed track from Metallica's upcoming Death Magnetic album was made available for download. (You can also just stream it on the 'Talllica website, if you prefer.) At first listen...and I say that after several listens, actually...I'd say "TDTNC" sounds like what would happen if "Fade To Black" and "One" had a baby that was raised on the Load album by its foster parents, "The Unforgiven" and "The Unforgiven II." That, by the way, is a compliment. The St. Anger coffee can drums are history, guitar solos are back in a big way and...good god...Het's soaring lead vocal is to die for. A very nice surprise given how strained and croaky he's sounded at just about every show this summer (except Bonnaroo...you got a good one, Jamer). There's a suprisingly melodic bassline courtesy of the new guy, Robert Trujillo, and the song simply feels epic.

The biggest issue I had was with the crappy sonic quality of every online version of "TDTNC" I could find. Granted, as is the case with so many MP3s these days, it could be a compression issue. I haven't heard "TDTNC" on the radio yet...but folks on the 'Tallica message boards say that it sounds much better being broadcast. And I imagine that it will sound even better on CD, where the all of the various musical components will have room to breathe. But I'm sure not going to pay a couple of bucks for "TDTNC" on iTunes (a service I hate, anyway) to get something tinny-sounding and clippy. Again though, I gotta reiterate...it's a fantastic song...one that's sure to kill live.

Death Magnetic streets on September 12. So far, so good, boys...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"We Are Nihilists. We Believe In NOTHING!"

Since the Georgia Bigfoot turned out to be bullshit, I'm not sure I believe in anything, either. Except maybe pro-wrestling. (sniff)

This Old Heart Of Mine [UPDATE]

I had my regular six-month check-up appointment with my cardiologist today. Things went pretty swimmingly until he remembered that, in addition to the blocked artery that was opened via angioplasty, there was a second artery that wasn't blocked yet...but one that he still thought needed to be monitored closely. He flagged me down just as I was getting ready to check out and ordered an immediate Echo Stress Test. Basically, he added an additional hour-and-a-half, much of it to be spent on a freaking treadmill, to the appointment. Great. So, I dutifully did my waiting room time (40 minutes!) before trudging once more into the echo chamber. Chest shaving ensued, along with gluing electrodes to my Sasquatchian upper-torso, smearing me with sticky goo from the ultrasound probe, and...finally...the main event, putting me on a treadmill and trying their goddamndest to make me have another heart attack.

Bottom line? It's all good. The "stented" artery from the angioplasty is holding steady and the other artery showed no signs of any additional placque or blockage. I'm fine...or I'm at least good to go for another six month. Then it'll be time for another nuclear stress test. And I've only got these twice-yearly tests and my 400-pill-per-month routine to look forward to...well...for the rest of my life, actually. If it means more time with Lauren and the kids, it's all hella worth it. Speaking of Lauren, there was one bit of terrific medical news from Dr. Agrawal today. The last thing he said to me, in fact...just as he headed out the door of the examination room: "Oh...and remember, make love every night." Sorry, baby. Doctor's orders.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Please, Lord...Let Me Have This One Thing

Offering up further proof that there's absolutely nothing they can't do, a couple of good ol' boy North Georgia shitkickers have done gone out and bagged themselves a Bigfoot. In the North Georgia mountains, no less. (Up yours, Pacific Northwest!) As you can see in the linked article, the naysayers are already out in full force...but look at that picture and tell me that's not a genuine, by-God Bigfoot. Believe me, I've seen Harry And The Hendersons enough times on HBO to know a Bigfoot when I see one. Besides, I need this to be real. The aliens are never gonna land on the White House lawn. Apparently, Nessie's never going to rise up out of the Loch and go all Cloverfield on Scotland. But is it really that much of a stretch to think there might be some kind of woolybooger out there in the woods? Come through for me, fellers. I want to believe.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hand Over Heart, All Together Now

Juro fidelidad a la bandera
de los Estados Unidos de América,
y a la república que representa
una nación bajo Dios,
indivisible cón libertad
y justicía para todós.

Suck it, Dr. Broun.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Punch-Love Drunk

I love boxing. To me, there's nothing more exciting than the night of a big fight. Order the pay-per-view, invite some friends, pop the corn and chill the Cokes. We haven't done that in a long time...basically because there hasn't been a fight worth ordering in the last decade or so (that's a subject for another rant)...but the house parties we threw for the Bowe-Holyfield trilogy of fights are among my favorite sports memories. So you think I'd love Olympic boxing. I mean, look at the list of Team USA alumni: Evander Holyfield, Oscar De La Hoya, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard, Pernell Whitaker, George Foreman, Roy Jones Jr., some guy named Cassius Clay...and that's barely scratching the surface.

But Olympic boxing, with its ludicrous electronic scoring system, makes me tear my hair out. There are five judges, each armed with a little gamepad-looking device that they use for tallying "clean" punches. Boxer A lands a clean punch...push Button A. It sounds simple enough...but, my god, where to begin with the glitches in scoring a fight this way? First of all, it devalues overall ring generalship and defense. What is boxing, anyway? I mean, for generations it's been nicknamed "the noble art of self-defense." What are the last instructions given by the referee before the opening bell? Is it "Remember, throw as many punches as you humanly can"? No...it's "Remember, defend yourself at all times."

Secondly, there are no extra points given for knockdowns. Inexplicable. Then there's the matter of flurries. What happens when there is a flurry of punches (a rapid-fire back-and-forth exchange) between the two fighters? Can any judge evaluate whether ten shots thrown in quick succession by two men are "clean" or not? Of course, that depends on the individual judge's definition of "clean"...which is another problem unto itself. I've seen this scenario countless times in the last couple of days: Boxer A throws a big shot. Boxer B gets his arm up to defend himself agains the shot. Boxer A's punch ends up landing 80% on Boxer B's arm and glancing 20% off the top of his head, harmlessly. The scoreboard tallies a point for Boxer A. Infuriating.

Yes, I know 10-point-must scoring (in which the winner of a round is awarded 10 points while the loser get 9 points or less) can be a farce and it leaves the door wide open for politics to influence the judging. But are you telling me that doesn't happen in gymnastics? In figure skating? And as these Olympic kids come through the system, learning to throw as many punches as they can per round with no regard for ring generalship, they aren't going to be worth watching by the time they matriculate to the professional ranks. Awarding fights purely on the basis of the number of punches thrown flat-out sucks. It lowers Olympic boxing, allegedly the pinnacle of amateur competition, down to the level of Toughman tournaments in backwater dives. Bring back "real" judging.

Hey, don't just take my word for it:

Farcical and Shameless Olympic Boxing Scoring Goes On.

Britain Coach Blasts Judges After 'Stupid' Scoring in Murray Defeat.

Boxing Judges Under Fire Again From Australians in Beijing.

Friday, August 1, 2008

She's Leaving Home (For A Few Hours, Anyway)

I know, I know...I promised from Jump Street that I wouldn't do any "Daddy Blogging." But this is a big event. Things are about to change and stay changed for the next 14 years. Long story short? I just can't wrap my head around Zoe starting Pre-K next week. Has it really been four years since I picked her up for the first time? All 3-pounds-and-change of her (she was born six weeks ahead of schedule). I can't stand for her to be out of my sight. When she spends the night over at "Grammy's house," I wonder what she's doing...what she's thinking...what she's eating or drinking...when she's going to bed...is she asleep yet? Does she miss me as much as I miss her? And now I'm getting ready to turn her over, for six hours every day, to people I don't know. People I've never even met (not yet, anyway).

Of course, Zoe's over the moon about the whole thing. She can't wait. She talks about all the little friends she's going to make...all of her future sleepover pals. Me? I obsess over crazy little details like, "Who's going to open those big school doors for her? Do they have somebody who does that?" Let me tell you...the folks are going to love me at Open House next week at Winterville Elementary when I whip that one out. Actually, who am I kidding? They've heard all the stupid questions many times over. They're very lucky. They're getting one swell kid in Zoe Jane Holcomb. I'm even sure that I'll eventually stop thinking about them as The Lousy Bastards Who Are Taking My Baby Girl Away.

Meanwhile, it'll be Gabey and me holding down the fort during the day. Total Sausage Fest. We'll be able to watch Superman and wrestling DVDs all day. Best of all, though? I'll be getting him dressed after lunch so we can go pick up his big sister from Pre-K. Those two....let me tell you...people ask me all the time how much I enjoy taking care of the two of them. And I always give them the same answer, "Dude...it's totally the other way around."

Thursday, July 31, 2008

This Is Sooo Not Me

Once? I chuckle at it. Twice? Okay...weird. But three times in the last week or so, I've been on the receiving end of e-mails intended for this guy. Once about donating some autographed CDs to charity and two booking inquiries. While I briefly considered sending my prospective bookers a lengthy and lurid contract rider demanding a dressing room stocked with midget porn, every lubricant known to man, and a 55-gallon drum of pure grain alcohol, I ended up shooting them back a politely worded "You got the wrong Mike Holcomb" missive. I can only wonder if Gospel Mike ever gets e-mails ragging him about being a pro-wrestling fan and urging him to update his damn blog every once in a while.

Friday, July 25, 2008

50 Random Thoughts On "The Dark Knight"

After refusing to wade into the record-breaking opening weekend crowds and being severe thunderstormed-out on two previous attempts earlier this week, I finally saw The Dark Knight last night. Multiple geekgasms. Twenty-four hours later, there are so many ideas and impressions spinning around in my head that I don't think I'd be able to write a coherent proper review. So I turn to the blogger's best friend...the big honkin' list. Most of these items are positive...but there are a few nitpicks and one or two actual complaints. (WARNING: SPOILERS ABOUND...Don't read this if you haven't seen TDK and you want to be unspoiled. Fair warning.) Let's get after it:

1. A week of reading glowing reviews and talking to friends who had seen it left me wondering if The Dark Knight could live up to the hype and if it had any surprises for me left in it. Well, it blew past the hype and...yes...there were plenty of surprises.

2. It is easily the best comic book hero movie ever made (moving past, for my money, Spider-Man 2 and X2: X-Men United).

3. TDK is also one of the very best crime dramas I've ever seen. It is very densely plotted and features many lengthy procedural segments. It's nice to see The World's Greatest Detective doing some actual detective work.

4. Heath Ledger created a Joker who had audience members visibly squirming every time he got within arm's length of another onscreen character. If you thought Jack Nicholson was more clown than Clown Prince of Crime, then TDK's (and Ledger's) Joker is good for what ails you.

5. Aaron Eckhart comes close to stealing the movie as Gotham D.A. Harvey Dent. This is a Batman movie featuring Harvey Dent...in which you end up rooting for him to not become Two-Face. It's a heartbreaking character arc and a terrific performance from Eckhart.

6. Director Christopher Nolan, showing off his flair for verisimilitude and realism, leaves the origin of The Joker up in the air (no vat of acid) and gives Harvey Dent pre-scarring references to his lucky coin and the nickname "Two-Face." Very well-done.

7. A recurring notion for me throughout TDK was the film's many callbacks and seeming homages to the work of legendary director John Ford. For instance, the memorial service for Harvey Dent and the covering up of his misdeeds echoed the ceremony and cover-up for Henry Fonda's Lt. Col. Owen Thursday at the end of Ford's Fort Apache. Both characters were buried as "heroes" in the interest of maintaining morale.

8. TDK's composers, Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard came up with a great recurring musical motif for The Joker. Whenever Joker goes into his "Wanna know how I got these scars?" routine, a cacophony of strings begins buzzing like an insect...growing louder and increasingly high-pitched as his tirade continues. It's evocative of Bernard Herrmann's classic work on Psycho.

9. Commissioner Fucking Gordon just rules all. Up until Nolan took over the Batman film franchise, it was infuriating to see what directors Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher had done to Gordon...one of the most vital and interesting characters in the Batman mythology. Gary Oldman's Gordon gets it so right...kicking ass on his own and serving as Batman's closest battlefield ally.

10. I also love Nolan and Christian Bale's fresh take on Bruce Wayne...making him a raging, narcissistic asshole. This schmuck is the last guy in Gotham you'd suspect of being Batman.

11. Lucius Fox's response to Bruce's request for a new cowl: "You want to be able to turn your head, don't you?" I know that Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney...none of whom were able to turn their heads even an inch in their Bat-suits...got a laugh out of that line.

12. That said...I wasn't nuts about the new, helmet-style cowl. Or the new suit in general.

13. More John Ford: The debate over who was the better choice for handling lawlessness, the lawyer or the vigilante?...was also a prevalent theme in Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

14. As much as I admired Zimmer and Howard's work, I'm bugged that Nolan's films don't feature an instantly recognizable "Batman Theme." Danny Elfman's Batman theme (from the Burton films) is one of my all-time favorite pieces of movie music.

15. In the acting department, I guess Maggie Gyllenhaal is a step or two up from Katie Holmes in Batman Begins. In the looks department? Many, many steps down.

16. The Bat-Pod, while cool, was impractically designed. One of these days, Batman is going to get his cape caught in the back tire. Put a fender on that thing before your neck gets snapped, Bruce!

17. Michael Caine = Best. Alfred. Ever.

18. More John Ford: The skyscrapers of Gotham and the streets below served to frame the film's action every bit as much as the ever-present mesas and valleys in Ford's films.

19. Eric Roberts. I'm just always happy to see Eric Roberts in anything. One of the immortal hambones of modern cinema. Refer to The Pope of Greenwich Village for further proof.

20. So many reviewers have referred to TDK's ending as bleak and hopeless. The people of Gotham defied The Joker. They didn't "eat each other" when given the opportunity, as he predicted they would. That's a very hopeful ending.

21. I would've loved more Cillian Murphy...but even bringing back Scarecrow for just a cameo was a nice touch.

22. Looks like Gotham didn't rebuild that ultra mack daddy elevated train system from Batman Begins.

23. The mayor of Gotham was a total dink. Aren't all mayors in movies dinks? Who was the last heroic or even sympathetic mayor in a movie?

24. And the mayor was played by Nestor Carbonell...who played Batman knockoff "Bat Manuel" in the live-action TV version of The Tick. Ha, ha!

25. The opening bank heist reminded me of Heat.

26. Having William Fichtner on hand as the badass, shotgun-wielding, mob bank manager reminded me of Heat.

27. Batman and The Joker ending up across a table from each other reminded me of Heat.

28. I loved the film's emphasis on real-time practical special effects. (Of course, when the DVD comes out, I'll probably learn that most of it was actually CGI...)

29. More John Ford: The decision to cover-up Harvey Dent's crimes was, I thought, a callback to the famous "Print the legend" ending of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

30. I didn't think the Coleman Reese subplot was fleshed out properly. I've seen speculation online that Reese's character might become The Riddler. Ehhh...I don't see it.

31. While watching TDK, I never really thought about Ledger's death until The Joker's line to Batman near the end of the film: "I think you and I are destined to do this forever." If only...

32. I have to give credit to Ain't It Cool News Talkbacker "antonphd" for coming up with the idea originally...but, fuck yes, Aaron Eckhart for Captain America. That movie's already on the books...sign Eckhart up for it, taco pronto.

33. Batman = The Dark Knight. Harvey Dent = "Gotham's White Knight." Again...good stuff.

34. Spontaneous audience applause when Gordon turns up alive and nabs The Joker. I can't remember the last time I heard that kind of reaction in a theater.

35. Why does the Batmobile always have to get destroyed? And they totaled a Lamborghini! My inner gearhead was crying...

36. After Batman saved Rachel from falling...he didn't seem too concerned about Bruce Wayne's guests still being terrorized upstairs by The Joker and his gang, did he?

37. Memo to Christopher Nolan: Listen. No Robin. Ever. This is non-negotiable.

38. Another intriguing online discussion/controversy: Is Harvey Dent dead? Or was he shipped out to Arkham Asylum while Gotham was told he was dead? We know Commissioner Gordon has no qualms about conspiracies and cover-ups. Hell, we thought he was dead for half the movie...

39. Heath Ledger will win that posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Etch it in stone.

40. And I won't be surprised if Aaron Eckhart is nominated for the same award. Hell, I'll be disappointed if he isn't.

41. I can't believe Wal-Mart and Target are chockablock with TDK toys. You are nuts...NUTS...if you take a child under the age of 13 or so to this flick. This sucker is a hard PG-13.

42. "Watch me make this pencil disappear."

43. There's never been a comic book hero movie with TDK's body count. The stakes are raised every time The Joker strikes and there is a genuine feeling of helplessness at the film's end with the bomb-rigged ferryboats and the hostages in the high-rise.

44. Having a morally uncompromised character like Lucius Fox (and a universally beloved actor like Morgan Freeman), clash with Bruce/Batman over the ethics of his methodology gave that particular conflict a ton of credibility.

45. Another memo to Nolan: Don't even think of re-casting The Joker at some point. Heath Ledger retired the jersey. Maybe a decade or so down the road...if a movie adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel is ever made...maybe then I'd accept another actor as an aged Joker.

46. I get serious Patrick Bateman/American Psycho (a movie I love, BTW) flashbacks whenever Bale goes into "asshole Bruce Wayne" mode. Fire up some Huey Lewis and The News..."Is that a raincoat you're wearing?"

47. As much as I loved TDK, I actually think the mental image I'll carry most vividly from that night at the movies is the little kid on Ben Stiller's shoulders, stabbing him repeatedly in the neck, from the Tropic Thunder trailer. That movie looks piss-yourself hilarious.

48. Nice character-establishment moment: Bruce Wayne dumping his drink off the side of the building at the Harvey Dent fundraiser. Bruce knows he could be eye-to-eye with rough trade at any time of any night. He can't be impaired.

49. One more shout-out for Aaron Eckhart before signing off. I, too, believe in Harvey Dent.

50. If you haven't seen The Dark Knight yet, do so at your earliest convenience.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Heard Any Good "Knock Knock" Jokes Lately?

Stone-cold serious question. Lately, Zoe's been all about the "knock knock" jokes. She's four now....and she's experiencing the zazz of a well-delivered punch line for the first time. I have no doubt that she's well on the way to becoming Winterville Elementary Pre-K's Ralph Malph when she starts in a couple of weeks. Like all good raconteurs, Zoe is down with the classics. Here are the hot "knock knock"-ers in her rotation right now:

- "Dwayne." "Dwayne who?" "Dwayne the bathtub...I'm dwowning!"

- "Boo." "Boo who?" "Don't cry. It's just a silly 'knock knock' joke."

- "Little old lady." "Little old lady who?" "I didn't know you could yodel."

- And the meta zinger: "Orange you glad I didn't say banana?"

So, back to the question...Anybody heard any good "knock knock" jokes lately? Give me some fresh material while Zoe still has time to work on it before Pre-K starts. Remember, she's only four years old...so don't be suggesting the blue stuff. That means you, "Dick Hertz." (Pic courtesy of The Rip Post)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: My Picks

The main "official" criteria for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame eligibility is the 25-year rule. It has to be 25 years since your first record was released. Bearing that in mind and looking at the acts becoming eligible this year, I see three no-brainer, mortal locks for induction:

- Stevie Ray Vaughn

- Run-D.M.C.

- The Smiths

Since that's kind of a tiny class, why not use this year's ballot as an opportunity to correct a couple of semi-glaring omissions? Taking into account the 25-year rule, and factoring in the additional qualifications of influence and popularity (not to mention the amazing longevity of one of these two acts), I would close out my 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot with:

- The Cars

- Cheap Trick

The Cars were by far the biggest-selling New Wave/skinny-tie band. And they didn't wear out their welcome...six albums and out. "Just What I Needed" still jumps out of the radio at you today just like it did the day it was released. Heartbeat City was one of the essential albums of the eighties. They managed to make some of the most innovative and enjoyable videos of MTV's heyday despite not having a thimble of charisma between all five members of the band combined. The dudes from Fountains of Wayne (hey, "Stacy's Mom" sounds like it came straight from side two of The Cars' Candy-O) could handle the induction duties.

Cheap Trick would have to take a rare night off to be inducted. They're still out there...playing 200-plus nights a year just as they have for the past three decades. They are responsible for "Surrender," the most underrated rock anthem of all time. They had that amazing run of Heaven Tonight, Live At Budokan, and Dream Police. They were glam. They were New Wave. They were metal. They were pop. They oughtta be in the Hall. I'm sure die-hard Trickster Billy Corgan would be pleased to deliver a few induction remarks on their behalf.

My Little Lizard King

Looks like Gabriel just checked into the Morrison Hotel:

And, much like Morrison, Gabe is prone to whipping his penis
out at the most unexpected and inopportune of moments. I'll
also be shocked if his first complete sentence is anything other

Saturday, July 19, 2008

In Defense of St. Anger


The last entry here at HYH, in which I listed my favorite albums for each year of my life, prompted the following comment from Jamie:

You gotta be kidding about St. Anger... You know I'm down with Metallica but I hated that album with a fucking passion... Listened to it once and shelved it.

I know that a defense of Metallica's 2003 album, St. Anger, will probably be met with the kind of skepticism usually reserved for articles with titles like "Charles Manson, Misunderstood Sweetie" and "The Crucifixion: Why Not One More Nail Through The Forehead?" Given that, it's important to note that...despite what you may read on Metallica fanboy message boards...St. Anger was not universally reviled upon its release. Far from it, in fact. Rolling Stone magazine gave the album 4-out-of-5 stars. Entertainment Weekly called it Metallica's best record since 1991's "The Black Album." The UK's New Musical Express says it's "an immense statement of superiority." The problem, according to so many of the Metallica faithful, was that it wasn't the desperately-hoped-for return to Kill 'Em All/Ride The Lightning-style thrash. Instead, it was a document of a breakdown and a damn-near breakup. It was Metallica, warts and all.

And, to be perfectly honest, it's an album that...like Jamie...I wasn't nuts about at all upon first listen. Just like I wasn't nuts about the first Ramones album the first time I heard it. Or The Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat. Or the first Clash album. Or any other number of classic albums that took time to "get." I didn't "get" St. Anger until I saw the acclaimed Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster. "Frantic," a song that reads like a postcard from rehab, didn't resonate with me until I learned first hand about James Hetfield's nine-month exile from Metallica, during which he finally confronted his alcoholism. Watching James go nose-to-nose with drummer Lars Ulrich brought home the line about being "madly in anger with you" from the title track. I don't want to say the movie and the album are indispensable from each other...but, much like The Beatles' Let It Be movie and album, they each fill in a lot of the other's blanks.

Granted, there are plenty of things to dislike about St. Anger. Jamie and I haven't talked about this...but I know that with Jamie being a drummer, he is rightly and very much correctly dismayed about the album's drum sound. Holy crap...it's like Lars is pounding on coffee cans. There's an audible "PING" with every snare shot that is downright headache-inducing. Then, there's the lack of guitar solos...on a METALLICA album. Come on, not even I was down with that. Producer Bob Rock filling in on bass? Fucking yikes! Here's what I would recommend to Jamie, and anyone else willing to give St. Anger another listen: Take the DVD of rehearsals that was included with the CD release and rip the sound from it. I swear the songs come to life like a sumbitch. You get for-real drums. You get new bassist Rob Trujillo thumping his fingers off. Kirk Hammett improvises a few solos. The soundtrack from the rehearsals DVD is the real St. Anger, as far as I'm concerned.

And, you know what? I didn't even buy that many albums in 2003. So there.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Official Yearly Record(s)

All the cool bloggers are doing it...so why not me? An album from each year of my existence on this planet. Other folks may have their own criteria...mine was simple. First, I had to own it...and I did find, to my kinda surprise, that I actually do own albums from every year since my birth...and I had to like it a lot. I went back and perused critics' favorites lists from 1961-on and picked the highest-ranked album that I listened to the most. Simple as that. Be forewarned...I won't be fronting about how much I love hip-hop or pimping the indie flavor of that year. In fact, I'm pretty sure you'll find my tastes to be almost aggressively middlebrow. So...with all that in mind...here we go:

1961 - Sinatra's Swingin' Session (Frank Sinatra)
1962 - Sinatra and Strings (Frank Sinatra)
1963 - The Concert Sinatra (Frank Sinatra)
1964 - A Hard Day's Night (The Beatles)
1965 - Rubber Soul (The Beatles)
1966 - Pet Sounds (The Beach Boys)
1967 - The Velvet Underground and Nico (Velvet Underground)
1968 - The Beatles [aka The White Album] (The Beatles)
1969 - Tommy (The Who)
1970 - Deja Vu (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)
1971 - Who's Next (The Who)
1972 - Harvest (Neil Young)
1973 - The Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd)
1974 - Walls and Bridges (John Lennon)
1975 - Born To Run (Bruce Springsteen)
1976 - Ramones (The Ramones)
1977 - Rocket To Russia (The Ramones)
1978 - Darkness on the Edge of Town (Bruce Springsteen)
1979 - The Wall (Pink Floyd)
1980 - The River (Bruce Springsteen)
1981 - Beauty and the Beat (The Go-Go's)
1982 - Under the Big Black Sun (X)
1983 - Murmur (REM)
1984 - Purple Rain (Prince and The Revolution)
1985 - Tales of the New West (The Beat Farmers)
1986 - Life's Rich Pageant (REM)
1987 - The Joshua Tree (U2)
1988 - ...And Justice For All (Metallica)
1989 - New York (Lou Reed)
1990 - Ragged Glory (Neil Young)
1991 - Metallica (Metallica)
1992 - Automatic for the People (REM)
1993 - Siamese Dream (Smashing Pumpkins)
1994 - Definitely Maybe (Oasis)
1995 - And Out Come the Wolves (Rancid)
1996 - Fountains of Wayne (Fountains of Wayne)
1997 - OK Computer (Radiohead)
1998 - Hey! Album (Marvelous 3)
1999 - From Here To Eternity Live (The Clash)
2000 - In The Flesh (Roger Waters)
2001 - Is This It (The Strokes)
2002 - The Rising (Bruce Springsteen)
2003 - St. Anger (Metallica)
2004 - Smile (Brian Wilson)
2005 - Devils and Dust (Bruce Springsteen)
2006 - We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (Bruce Springsteen)
2007 - Magic (Bruce Springsteen)
2008 (so far) - Flight of the Conchords (Flight of the Conchords)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Reason To Believe



Other than the crap from Kenny Bania, it was an amazing night at Philips Arena. Bruce was calling more audibles than Peyton Manning. Over a half-dozen deviations from the posted set list. Here we go:

Blood Brothers - Not actually played live...but used as background music for a very moving Danny Federici tribute video that played as Bruce and the band took the stage. Watch it here.

Reason To Believe - A new, thumping "Sprit In The Sky"-inspired arrangement.

Out In The Street - Audible. I prefer "OITS" a little later in the set. Very minor quibble, though.

Radio Nowhere - Holy crap did this ever smoke! I've never seen Mighty Max throwing his head back and getting all Keith Moon on his kit like he did tonight for "RN."

No Surrender - Audible...and always welcome. Two buddies in their forties in front of me hugged at the "we swore blood brothers against the wind, now I'm ready to grow young again" line. Awwwwwwwe. Seriously, it was a sweet moment.

Blinded By The Light - Audible. Played in tribute to Danny.

Your Own Worst Enemy - Rarely played on this tour. My favorite song from Magic.

Trapped - Awesome. Crowd screaming along. Nobody's sitting down yet.

Murder Incorporated - Audible.

Prove It All Night - Incredible, mind-blowing guitar solo by Nils here.

She's The One - Great Bo Diddley pound-down by Max. We're still not sitting.

Livin' In The Future - Politically charged intro gets 100% positive reaction. I guess the folks bugged by Bruce's politics have simply stopped coming to the shows. Cool. That's more seats for true believers.

The Promised Land - On the set list but an audible in terms of order. "TPL" was supposed to be the third song.

Bobby Jean - Audible. Taken from crowd sign.

Point Blank - And we finally get to sit down and catch our breath.

Devil's Arcade - A little bit of a mass exodus. The crowd has clearly chosen "DA" as tonight's bathroom break song.

The Rising - And we're on our feet again. Nils kinda biffs up the "dream of life" part. He's a little off the beat.

Last To Die - This song really kills live, too. The Magic stuff is really holding its own against the classic hits.

Long Walk Home - See above.

Badlands - Mayhem ensues. Great "whoa-oh" crowd participation during the instrumental break.

(Encore Time)

Thunder Road - Audible in terms of set list placement. Taken from crowd sign.

Born To Run - House lights up, naturally. More mayhem. And just when you think it can't get any more frenzied...

Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) - Audible. Taken from crowd sign. It's a madhouse. Philips Arena is absolutely up for grabs at this point.

Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out - Audible. The band tried to leave after "Rosalita" but Bruce stops them. No break...one long encore.

American Land - Including band introductions. Sensational closer for an amazing set.

I really don't know how much longer Bruce and the band can keep this up. Like I said yesterday, these guys aren't getting any younger (and seeing Clarence, who has battled health problems, retreating to an on-stage comfy chair so many times was a little unsettling). But damned if they didn't tear the place up one more time for me last night. I'll figure out where it fits in the overall ranking of Bruce shows I've seen after I've had time to ruminate on it a little bit. All I know right now is I showed a little faith and there was magic in the night again. Bruce has still never, ever let me down. Not once. If you get a chance to see this show...go. You owe it to yourself.

First Of All...Up Yours, Kenny Bania

Tickets blew out so fast for Bruce on the day they went on sale that, in order to get decent seats, Lauren and I bought single seats that were four rows apart (if we'd bought two together, they would've been up in the rafters). So we figured that on the night of the show, someone who was on my row as a single would be more than willing to trade up four rows, that is...be four rows closer to the stage, mind you...and Lauren and I would've been able to sit together.

So, we get to Philips Arena last night and my row is filling up with groups...except for one seat. The seat next to me. I'm thinking, "Oh man...this couldn't be working out better." Finally, about ten minutes before the lights go down, the dude with the seat next to me shows up. Yes, he's alone. Perfect, right? Well, this Kenny Bania (pictured) from Seinfeld-looking jerk refuses to trade up. No good reason given. He just won't do it. He's there by himself and he won't even consider improving his seat/view by four rows to do a solid for a fellow Bruce fan.

You, sir, are an asshole. And I hope you got a flat tire on the way home.

Sorry. Just had to vent.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tonight


It's weird to walk around in the morning knowing that it's going to be one of the most unforgettable days of your life. Yep...It's finally Bruce Day. And I know it's going to be unforgettable because every Bruce concert I've ever attended is permanently etched in my memory. I can tell you who I went with, where we ate, set lists, what every member of the E Street Band was wearing. All of it...absolutely indelible.

The set lists for this particular leg of the Magic tour have been something to behold. Songs from The River that haven't been played in years are turning up. Epic ballads like "Racing In The Street" and "Jungleland" are being played. "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" has been in the regular encore rotation. How I would love to hear "Jungleland" live one more time. You just don't know how many more chances you're going to get to see this amazing band in action...especially given the untimely death of "Phantom Dan" Federici...I can't help but wonder if that's the reason some of these seminal, definitive E Street classics are being dusted off. These guys are all well north of fifty years old now. How long can they keep "burnin' down the road"?

But that's not a question for today. Or, more importantly, for tonight.

Hell all day they're busting you up on the outside
But tonight you're gonna break on through to the inside
And it'll be right, it'll be right, and it'll be tonight

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hyblmania Is Runnin' Wild!

My pal, neighbor, and the pride of Winterville, former UGA great and now professional golfer Ryan Hybl, just had himself one pretty amazing weekend at the Athens Regional Foundation Classic. The tournament, a stop on the PGA's Nationwide Tour, was held over at Jennings Mill Country Club in Bogart and Ryan, who's currently splitting his time between the Hooters and Tarheel tours, was granted an exemption to be one of seven former UGA players in the field.

On Friday, playing in the final group, Ryan was flirting with the "cut line" (after two rounds, the field is cut to the top sixty scorers...plus ties) all the way down the back nine. On his eighteenth hole...as the absolute last guy left out on the course playing...he made a clutch birdie to make the weekend cut. Then, yesterday...in the final round, he went out and shot his third consecutive below-par round to finish in a tie for twenty-fifth overall. Not too shabby for a guy making his Nationwide Tour debut. In fact, one of the players Ryan finished tied with was Aussie Paul Gow, the winner of the inaugural ARFC two years ago.

Here's the best part: The Top-25 finish means "Goodbye, Hooters Tour" (at least for now)...he's now automatically entered in the next Nationwide event, the Henrico County Open in Richmond, Virginia. When I stopped by the Hybls' last night for a quick "congratulations," both Ryan and his wife Rebecca were running around like crazy...trying to balance taking in everyone's best wishes with their new, last-minute travel plans for a week in Richmond. "Dude...there are worse problems to have in this world," I reminded him.

I had the honor and fun of following Ryan around Jennings Mill for his opening and closing rounds. Lauren even tagged along on Sunday. We got to meet Ryan's parents and other Team Hybl supporters from around the country. It was a pure blast and I've got no doubt that one day we'll be following him around Sugarloaf or East Lake as a member of the PGA Tour.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rock Bottom...The Absolute Nadir


Good god...Hillary Clinton throwing back a shot of Crown Royal. Unless she goes to Indiana today and shows that she can write her name in the snow or she lights up a few farts with some good ol' boys in North Carolina, this has to be the most idiotic stunt yet in a Clinton campaign of pratfalls and falling britches. All of this was, of course, prompted by the undeniable assertion by Barack Obama that a country where seven out of ten people think the country's going in the wrong direction might have a few folks who could accurately be classified as "bitter."

Well...fuck yes, I'm bitter. I'm bitter about the direction of this country and I'm particularly walking around with a permanent bitter beer face because Hillary Clinton is doing her damndest to make sure John McCain takes us down that same road for another four years. Of course McCain is going to make hay out this...but where does the Clinton campaign get off? The only proper response from a fellow Democrat to Obama's remarks should be, "Well...we may be caught up in a heated battle but I damn sure agree that working class Democrats have plenty of effing reasons to be bitter."

I've gone from being resigned to holding my nose and voting for this woman if she steals the nomination to wearing a head-to-toe biohazard suit into the booth. Ive got babies and I fear too much for their future to ever put John McCain within reaching distance of The Button...but dammit Hillary Clinton is pissing me off to no fucking end whatsoever. Don't fall for this crap, Pennsylvania...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Final Four Predictions


From what I understand, they also have a men's Final Four. I don't give a good-sized tinnerman's rip about it.


Game One: (1)Stanford vs. (1)Connecticut - I'm not a big believer in Stanford. Never have been. Until proven otherwise upon the court, West Coast women's college basketball is the punk kid sister of the game that is played here back East. Stanford lucked out and played their way into the Final Four against another fraud number-one seed...the team that was awarded the number-one that by all rights should've gone to LSU...Maryland. The Cardinal have a wonderful stud player in Candice Wiggins, who has had a stellar career...but Connecticut has The Future (if not The Present) on their side in All-Everything freshman sensation Maya Moore. Nobody has "D"ed-up on Stanford like Connecticut is going to tomorrow night. The Huskies roll up on The Cardinal in a laugher.

Game Two: (2)LSU vs. Tennessee - Anyone who knows me knows that I have a disdain that borders on the pathological for all things orange and Tennessee. But even I can't take delight in the Lady Vols' superstar and future number-one WNBA draft pick Candace Parker dislocating her shoulder in Tennessee's Elite Eight win over Texas A&M. Parker's shoulder popped out twice against the Aggies and she was clearly ailing when she returned to the game after having it re-set and taped up. That's all the blood in the water LSU's Sylvia Fowles, Erica White and their all-time good guy coach Van Chancellor are going to need to smell. This is LSU's mind-boggling fifth consecutive trip to the Final Four...and they're going to the championship game. The Lady Tigers win a tight one..with a final margin that maybe gets artificially bumped with free throws at the end...over the Lady Vols.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Don't Take Your Guns To Town, Son


I'm so relieved that I can now finally...legally...pack heat when I bop into Loco's or Beef O'Brady's. After all, one never knows when some no-account, ornery varmint like Liberty Valance (above) is going to show up and knock your chicken fingers basket out of your hands.
And on MARTA, too? Even better. Nobody's taking Pelham One-Two-Three (above) on my vigilant watch. God bless the gold-domers for seeing to it that never again will I have to worry about stepping with the kids into a Chuck E. Cheese outgunned. And to think, most state legislatures use these last-minute proceedings for running through wild-ass, unreasonable crap like allowing an adult to buy a beer on Sunday.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sadly, "Nature" Takes Its Course

I've got a friend who ribs me every time I blog about wrestling. I'll hear from him today.

The Post-Ric Flair Era began this morning. After losing his retirement match with Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania on Sunday, they threw "The Nature Boy" one helluva going-away party on RAW last night. They brought out just about all of the former Horsemen (Paul Roma and Steve McMichael were nowhere to be seen, thank god). They brought out the man that Flair has always called his favorite opponent, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. The legends came out: Harley Race, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. The stars of today were introduced: John Cena, Chris Jericho, Triple H, HBK. There were some glaring omissions (where were Terry Funk, Jack Brisco, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, and...imagine the crowd pop if TNA had allowed him to attend...Sting?) but the Horsemen reunion more than made up for it. Of course, Flair's family was also on hand...and I've gotta say, Ric's hot daughters and wives put to shame any of the ring-rat entourages "Naitch" used to have on his arm on TV back in the day. Yowza! Finally, all the wrestlers backstage surrounded the ring and serenaded Flair with a chant of "Thank you, Ric!"

And even though it's rare to ever hear the name "McMahon" and "class" in the same sentence, it was indeed quite classy for Vince and his family to not impose themselves upon a celebration that was clearly meant for "the boys." According to those in attendance in Orlando last night, the McMahons did finally come to the ring after the RAW broadcast had left the air. In addition, The Undertaker also came out after the TV cameras were shut off to pay his respects. If you're a Flair fan, it was a scene you'll never forget...and one that WWE will hopefully release on a DVD at some point.

Without getting too "It's still real to me, dammit!" about the whole thing, I've gotta say...Ric Flair was one of the most important figures of my childhood. When I was a kid, Ric Flair was a legitimate sports icon...just like Muhammad Ali or Hank Aaron. As I grew older and began to look at pro-wrestling with more of a critical eye, I began to appreciate the way Flair made an opponent look like a million bucks. One sloppy and painless-looking elbow from Dusty Rhodes would sent Ric bouncing from ringpost to ringpost like an out-of-control Plinko chip. He carried notable stiffs like Lex Luger and Nikita Koloff to memorable matches. Put him in there with another guy who could go, like Steamboat, and you'd get a 45-minute or hour-long classic from which you'd be afraid to turn away. You might miss one of many "Holy shit!" moments.

As incredible a wrestler as Flair was, he was an even better talker. If you've got the Flair 3-disc DVD set or the 2-disc Four Horsemen DVD set, you can see normally stonefaced badasses like Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson biting their lips and turning away from the camera because they're on the verge of cracking up at some hysterically over-the-top Ric Flair interview. I don't know if Bartlett's Familiar Quotations has made room for "To be the man, you've gotta beat the man" or "Wheelin', dealin', kiss-stealin', limousine-ridin', jet-flyin' son of a gun" yet, but they damn well ought to.

So it's the end of an era for me. I could be an old fart and say I'm done with it now...but, hell, I've quit watching wrestling so many times and always came back that it's pretty clear it's got a hammerlock on me. But this is tough. Real tough. So long, "Naitch." You'll always be real to me, dammit.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The (Not So) Amazing Race

Well, today was the big race. The first annual Dawg Trot 5K, benefiting the University of Georgia Alumni Association. This was the race, on the campus of my beloved alma mater, that I chose to be my "comeback" event...my first race since suffering a heart attack almost a year ago. I had three goals coming into this race: 1. Have fun. 2. Finish. 3. Have enough left in the tank to be passing people at the end. I was so unconcerned about my finishing time that I didn't even wear my watch.

36:23. I wish I would've worn my watch.

There were a lot of factors involved in that unsatisfactory time...some physical, some mental. And it's not like I was expecting to lay down the kind of time that I was running a few years ago when I was fortunate enough to win my age group (40-44) in several races. After all, I was practically sedentary for six months after the heart attack. But bringing it home at 30-minutes-plus isn't acceptable for me.

Training went pretty well for the last three months. I realize I didn't do nearly enough hills...especially given the terrain on the UGA campus. And the race-day adrenaline that I was counting on to give me a little boost jumped up and bit me on my pert backside. The starter sent us off and the opening pace was like that of a hundred-yard dash (primarily due to the presence of many, many Run and See Georgia Grand Prix regulars...this was a field of greyhounds, man). I pressed way too early and wound up gassed by the first mile marker. Total rookie, bush-league screwup.

By the time I was able to recover my pace, I was well past the two-mile marker and staring up the formidable "Ag Hill," leading into the home stretch. That's when things got very mental. I reached for the reserve mojo and just couldn't tap into it. And I think I know why. I think I was afraid to push myself because I was worried about my ticker. Ultimately, I did manage to kick it somewhat around the the 2-and-a-half mile point...but I knew when I crossed the finish line that I hadn't left it all out there on the pavement. I knew I had held back.

So, that's why I can't wait to get out there again. There's a big race in downtown Athens next Saturday...but, from running it before, I know the hills are hellacious. So I think I'll try the race at Sandy Creek Park next Sunday. I've had some success there before and maybe the field won't be so hardcore with another big race the day before. Meanwhile, it's "on the road again" every afternoon next week. Gonna hit the hills and gonna push myself. Get past that mental block.

All in all, though? I had a blast. It's good to be back...ish.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More Of The Wright Stuff

Hillary Clinton today on Reverend Jeremiah Wright:

"He would not have been my pastor," Clinton said. "You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend."

You know what else you choose? You choose which preachers you want to invite to the White House to beg for absolution and forgiveness after you've been busted for carrying on with one of the interns.



President Bill Clinton chose Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Hillary needs to think long and hard before playing that particular card again. She's got a nationally televised debate with Obama coming up in a couple of weeks. Does she really want to throw Wright in Obama's face and give the moderator an opening to bring up the good Reverend's visit to the Clinton White House? And exactly what he was there for? Chances are she'll try to gloss it over by explaining about all the sniper fire he had to dodge on the way into the building.

"Deltalina"? More like "Fugalina."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What In The Blue Hell Is Wrong With Pennsylvania?

I mean...COME ON! Where you at, Phillie? You gotta represent. Steeltown, don't tell me you're buying Hillary's shit. Southcentral, you guys awake? Intercourse, are you intercoursing with me? I'm not even going to make some smartass remark about Hillary's message resonating in Santorum Country (okay...so I just did)...but the prospect of Obama sustaining a double digit stomp-job deep in the very cradle of the republic does not exactly fill my heart with optimism. I can only assume (read...hope) this thing is going to tighten up naturally as we get closer to the primary. You want to be 12-15 points up on the Sunday before the primary, not over a month out. That's a long-ass time to sit on a lead.

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Playboy" Gary Hart (1941-2008)

"Playboy" Gary Hart, manager of some of the most feared pro-wrestlers to ever step into the ring, died yesterday at the age of sixty-six. He was found dead in his Euless, Texas home by his son...no other information has been released yet. You can keep "Captain Lou" Albano, Jimmy "Mouth of the South" Hart, and even Bobby "The Brain" Heenan...for my money, the "Playboy" was the best wrestling manager ever. Having been "blessed" with a naturally menacing appearance and a tongue of pure silver, Gary Hart's niche in the business was serving as a mouthpiece for mute monsters such as The Great Kabuki, The Spoiler, The Missing Link, and Pak Song (pictured). However, my most indelible Gary Hart memories are of his longtime association with Abdullah The Butcher.

Gary Hart and Abdullah (pictured) were made for each other. Abdullah, now an Atlanta restauranteur, was the one wrestler that always scared the living crap out of me as a kid. On nights that Georgia Championship Wrestling came to town, my buddies and I used to stake out the parking lot of the local gym in Buford to watch the wrestlers arrive. It was always such a trip to watch Abdullah drive up in an ordinary compact car, gather up his gear, and then immediately get into character as soon as he spotted us. He would usually perform a judo thrust in our direction, accompanied with a menacing grunt...and we would run like hell.

As terrifying as he was, though, it was Gary Hart's microphone skills that took Abdullah to the next level. "Ladies and gentlemen...it's 'bout to get scary in heah...so hold tight to yah children's hands...'cause I'm 'bout to bring out...dah beast...dah remorseless creeee-chah....dah 'Mad Man from dah Soooo-dan!' Aaaaahb-doooooh-laaaah...dah....Booooooootchaaaah!"

So long, "Playboy." And thanks for the nightmares.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sorry, John...Not This Time

A mere eight months out and you're already digging deep for the "Vote for me or the terrorists win" card? I shudder to think what your fourth-and-long play must be. Or is an unrejected, unrepudiated, and undenounced (and, no, a simple "he doesn't agree" from a campaign spokesperson doesn't come close to cutting it) Rep. Steve King trial-ballooning it for you? Give him a little "Straight Talk," Senator.

If there's one tiny bit of upside to Georgia having their SEC Tournament second-round game against Kentucky moved to Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum in light of the extensive tornado damage to the Georgia Dome, it's this: With attendance being restricted to only the players' families and the working press, they'll feel like they're playing back home at Stegeman Coliseum.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

You Can't Keep A Good Dog Off Your Leg

Did you notice that slight whiff of vinegar in the air? Yes...HYH's favorite douchebag, Mitt Romney (pictured, left), is back. And he's furiously humping John McCain's leg for a spot on the Republican ticket in November. Never mind that just a couple of months ago, he very publicly said:
“I’m not going to be any vice president to John McCain either, that’s not going to happen.”
It must be nice for your every utterance on the record to be nothing more than a first draft, to be struck through with your inner red editing pen at will. Still, I wouldn't bet against a McCain/Romney marriage of convenience. After all, McCain fell right back into Dubya's loving arms after getting slimed repeatedly by Bush during the 2000 campaign. I say bring Mittens on. There's not a Democrat on Barack or Hillary's VP short lists that wouldn't humiliate this emptiest of suits in a debate. And it gets Dan Quayle off the national punchline hook. Call it the 20-Year Mercy Rule.

Six More Long Weeks

I've had tickets in hand for over four months now...and the Bruce concert is still more than a month away. Still more than a month to the most alive, electric moment possible...that moment in every Bruce show when the regular set ends and the houselights come up. It's encore time...and there's no telling what you're liable to hear. If you've been there, you know exactly what I mean. The entire arena, buzzing with anticipation. Anything can happen. Jeez...I can't wait.

It looks as though Bruce is still faithfully plugging "Magic" all these months later, playing three-quarters of it in most sets. No complaints...I love that record. But, for the hell of it, here's my dream Bruce set:

Radio Nowhere
Prove It All Night
Hungry Heart
The Promised Land
Brilliant Disguise
I'm On Fire
Darkness On The Edge of Town
The River
Backstreets
The Rising
Candy's Room
Badlands
Out In The Street
No Surrender
Glory Days
Racing In The Street
Thunder Road
Born To Run

(First Encore)
Cadillac Ranch
Born In The USA
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
Jungleland

(Second Encore)
"Devil With The Blue Dress" Medley
Dancing In The Dark
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Yeah, More Politics...Deal With It

You know, seeing as how she's a 49-state losing, race-baiting gaffe machine, the Clinton campaign could've kept Geraldine Ferraro around to be a constant pain in their ass for all I care.

Dude, they raise a lot more doubts about "humor" than "neutrality."

Silda Wall Spitzer = Total MILF

What the hell is Eliot Spitzer thinking?

His wife, Silda (left), has totally got a Lindsay Wagner (right)
thing working. You can even throw a little Erin Gray and Cheryl
Tiegs into the mix. Very appealing to us dudes of a certain age.

"The Results Of Those Primaries Were Fair..."

Guess who?

If you are a voter from Florida or Michigan, you know that we should count your vote. The nearly two and a half million Americans in those two states who participated in the primary elections are in danger of being excluded from our democratic process and I think that’s wrong. The results of those primaries were fair and they should be honored.

She can't believe that. She just can't. When she goes to bed at night, fully pantsuited and blinged-out just in case the phone rings at 3:00 AM, she can't honestly believe that the sham results of the Florida and Michigan primaries are "fair." Is there anything she won't say to steal this nomination? Comparing Obama to Ken Starr? Obama only wants to see the Clintons' income taxes...maybe he should remind everyone about what Ken Starr was looking for. Trying to spin the absurd fantasy that Obama would lose to McCain in the blue states that Clinton has so far carried? Freaking Dennis Kucinich would probably carry California and New York against McCain.

Every day this campaign goes on, my memories of Election Nights in '92 and '96...the fondest memories in a life of political junkiedom...grow dimmer and dimmer.

Friday, March 7, 2008

STFU, Hillary

Here's Hillary Clinton on a "do-over" in Florida and Michigan, which held nominating contests that broke Democratic Party rules:

I would not accept a caucus. I think that would be a great disservice to the 2 million people who turned out and voted. I think that they want their votes counted. And you know a lot of people would be disenfranchised because of the timing and whatever the particular rules were.

Oh, absolutely. That's why the unfairness of caucusing was such a pet topic of yours during the Fall and Winter debates leading up to primary season. You were so eloquently passionate about the disenfranchising, undemocratic caucus process long before you started getting the ever-loving snot kicked out of you in every single one of them, weren't you?

Yeah, that's right. I know. The last time you guys heard from me, I was "wobbly" about the Obama/Clinton race. I was still in the Obama camp but growing increasingly anxious about his ability to hit back...hard (and I still am, BTW). But the conduct of the Clinton campaign has been such a dealbreaker for me that, much like my pal JMac, I'm having trouble fathoming why true, blue Dems aren't deserting Hillary in droves.

How dare she come on my TV and even so much as insinuate that my sleeping children are in trouble if I vote for the other guy? And who's pantsuited, coiffed, and immaculately made-up at 3:00 AM, anyway? But don't settle for my take on this...take it from Larry David.

Rock on, Obama. Let's finish this effing thing.

On a personal note, I've entered my first 5k race since my heart attack last Spring. It's a charity race, sponsored by the UGA Alumni Association, set for March 29. My cardiologist has warned me that there's a very good chance that I will drop dead before reaching the finish line.

Nahhhhh! Just selling the drama. But this is, of course, a very big deal to me. Can't wait.