Friday, February 27, 2009

Columbia Pike Sunset

Just a little something to end the week with. Here are a couple of shots from my balcolny looking west down Columbia Pike in Arlington. 

Enjoy the view.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

TMI Thursday: War and Poetry

Round about this time in 1991, I was somewhere in the Saudi desert and, according to the Wikipedia, the ground war to liberate Kuwait was into its second of four days by Feb. 26, 1991.

But just in case something had happened, our platoon sergeant, Sgt. Lambert, had seen to it everyone in the platoon would have at least one happy memory to take with them to the farm they'd just bought.

The night before the platoon rolled north through the breech to evict the evil invaders from Kuwait, Lumpy, as Sgt. Lambert was known for resemblance to the “Leave it to Beaver” character, walked around passing out handfuls of tissue to everyone in the platoon.

“Have fun boys, you never know if it's going to be your last time.”

The next morning one of the guys, I forget who now, commented to one of my buddies, “Bull” Morris, “Hey Bull, hope you don't mind, but I was thinking about your wife last night.”

You'd normally think these would be fightin' words, especially when everyone involved was carrying at least 400 rounds for an automatic rifle, but Bull was a pretty cool dude. His response? “Was she any good?”

So I know what you're thinking, “He promised us poetry in the title, and I ain't seen no damn poetry yet. Just a damn story about communal whacking.” Well, I promised you some war poetry, and here it is. Remember those two words: war and poetry. The first was written by my friend Puddin' and the other by my friend Rat. Yes, we all had nicknames. None of them were flattering, and all of them are cherished memories. Mine, in fact, is inscribed on a big glass mug.

The first poem, From Man To Shit, may be mildly disturbing. I found this out a year later when some damn Swabbie thought it was a suicidal cry for help, rather than one Marine's twisted and humorous tribute to a friend. The Navy has no sense of humor.

The second, Desert Storm “91”, is just plain offensive (remember, "war" and "poetry"). I didn't post this in a Navy space since even then I knew I'd have ended up spending days in sensitivity classes. Again, absolutely no sense of humor.

As amazed as I was to discover I still had the original copies of these monuments to Marine wartime creativity, I decided to provide a clear text version for anyone who can't quite read them.

From Man To Shit
If you slash my wrists
do I not bleed?

Will you curse me for
my deathly deed?

If you crush my spine
do I not scream?

This is the end
of my childhood dream.

I snuff out
the days last smoke.

I know my life's
become a joke.

Cross my path
I'll have no choice

In your death
I must rejoice.

- Puddin' Damnit!

Desert Storm “91”
Welcome to the Kuwaiti dump
Come aboard my little chump

The air is full of burning oil
Our bodies dingy from the soil

My penis is as hard as rock
I need a bitch to service cock

We haven't seen a beer in months
Or porno mags with dripping cunts

But someday soon it will all be over
And I will go home to kick Rover

And fuck my girl for hours on end
Until my penis starts to bend

- Rat “91”

Monday, February 23, 2009

Liquid Crystals by the Barrelful*

I did something last week I don’t normally do: I watched Charlie Rose.

I don’t know what compelled me to stop my clicking thumb but, for some reason known only to my thumb, it paused just long enough for me to hear a snippet of what Charlie and his guest were talking about.

The guest was Mark Andreessen, one of the founders of Netscape along with Jim Clark (he provided the coin). What Andreessen said was something along the lines of “The New York Times needs to kill its print edition.”

“Huh? What? You bastard! You shut the hell up! What do you mean ‘kill the print edition’ ”?

Yeah, that was the former reporter in me taking offense at any unbeliever (i.e., non journalist) who’d dare suggest newspapers are dead/dying and that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. So I decided to watch a little more of his heresy so I could be properly superior and mock him more effectively in this space.

You know what happened during the next 30 minutes? I was converted. Three years after leaving journalism proper I’ve now forsaken my chosen craft like Judas discovering he’s short on pocket change and Jonesing for hooker in the temple.

How did this happen? Within the last few months I know I’ve commented to someone something to the effect, “Newspapers will never die, people like reading an actual newspaper too much for them to go away.”

But do we really? After years and years of free newspapers on my desk every morning, and a subscription to the WaPo after I moved to Arlington, I haven’t gotten a paper at my door in more than a year. A big part of this is I just didn’t have time to read through the whole paper, and because some asshole neighbor of mine used to steal my WaPo at least once a week, but even that reinforces my recent conversion.

My asshole neighbor can’t steal my online paper. Well, he could steal my internet service, but he can’t keep me from reading my papers online. Yep, papers. I don’t just read the WaPo, along with it and the NYT my list of online papers also includes the Raleigh News and Observer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Houston Chronicle, Beaumont Enterprise, San Francisco Chronicle, the Guardian as well as CNN, ESPN, MSNBC and the BBC.

So as much as I used to enjoy taking the Sports section with me during my Sunday constitutional, the truth is that’s really not a very comfortable place to read the paper. Your ass generally falls asleep within a couple of articles.

Then, right after Andreessen finished talking, I was buying a tour book for my niece who’s going to Spain this summer, and I started clicking around Amazon’s Kindle store.

Holy. Fucking! Crap!@!@!@! That thing is cool!!!

Now I don’t know if I’m ready to drop $350 on one of the new Kindles, but I’m damn tempted to do my part for the economy. Those things are sweet.

They are also the keen (a lamentation for the dead uttered in a loud wailing voice, or sometimes in a wordless cry – according to Webster’s, what a great word) of the newspaper industry. Instead of getting your online paper for free, you can get your WaPo and NYT delivered directly and wirelessly to your Kindle every morning ($9.99/month for the WaPo and $13.99 for the NYT). It’s still cheaper than what you’re paying for the print edition and I’m guessing more convenient since you can carry it with you everywhere.

Seriously, as soon as these things have half or even a quarter of the market penetration like the iPod, the physical manifestation of your favorite newspapers and magazines are done. Never to be seen again.

If you were a newspaper owner and could get rid of your entire production operation (printing) and distribution network (delivery drivers) and focus on putting that money in your pocket, why the hell wouldn’t you? It’s not like you’re going to pay your reporters or editors more (trust me on this), so why not just get rid of the paper version of your paper and send it off through the ether every morning at 4:45 a.m.?

The news business is a glorious one. A business filled with excitement, pride, sadness, public service and everlasting glory (for some). But, like all businesses, they have to change with the times. Why are newspapers still putting out words on paper – the same product they’ve been delivering for 400 years?

Computer and technology companies (and any company that wants to be really successful) reinvent themselves every 18 to 24 months or they’re history. As sad as it makes me to say this, I think it’s time for us to bury our Dead Tree Editions.

* There’s an old saying to describe the power of a newspaper: “Never pick a fight with people who buy their ink by the barrel.”

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Two flags for our fathers

I was going to write a TMI today, until I got to the “This Day in History” section at the bottom of my online NYT. It sent my thoughts in another direction.

Does anyone recognize this picture shot by Lou Lowery:

What about this one by Bob Campbell:

No? I didn’t think so. These two pictures are not nearly as famous as this one, taken by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal:

Yeah, I figured that one might be familiar. It was taken about a half second before Campbell's photo above it and from a slightly different angle.

As famous as Rosenthal’s photo of the flag going up on Mount Suribachi is, it is important to remember Rosenthal passed Lowery as Lowery was going down the mountain after taking his picture. This in no way lessens the historical impact of Rosenthal’s Pulitzer Prize-winning picture. It’s an amazing picture (and one of the most reproduced photographs in history) and is an icon of the Marine Corps.

“(T)he raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years” – Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, after witnessing the first flag raised on Mount Suribachi

Three of the Marines in Rosenthal’s picture – Franklin Sousley, Harlon Block, and Michael Strank – were killed in action on Iwo Jima. The other three men – Marines Rene Gagnon and Ira Hayes, and Navy corpsman (medic) John Bradley – survived the battle and returned home. In the picture they are, from left to right: Hayes, Sousley, Strank, Bradley, Gagnon and Block.

In the end, though, Lowery worked for Leatherneck Magazine and Rosenthal for the AP and it was his picture that filled the front pages of American newspapers within days. Not only is history written by the winners, it’s often difficult to change the history that is written first.

(Speaking of history, if anyone’s interested, both flags now call the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico home. They’re displayed on a rotating basis to protect them from the ravages of time.)

Facts about the Battle of Iwo Jima
Today is not the anniversary of the Suribachi flag raising – that comes next week on Feb. 24. But it was 64 years ago today when U.S. Marines first stormed the eerily quiet beaches of Iwo Jima. They didn’t stay that way for long and battle for the island raged for the next 35 days.

During those 35 days, 110,000 Americans (mostly Marines) battled more than 22,000 Japanese soldiers for control of the 8 square mile island. Arlington County, the smallest county in the United States, has an area of 26 square miles.

When the battle ended, 21,703 of the Japanese soldiers had been killed and 1,083 were captured. The 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Divisions lost 6,821 killed and 19,189 wounded.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Music, play music

My nephew turned 11 last week, so in addition to the required card with a Jackson inside, I made him an additional offer: to increase his music collection. I told him if there was any music he wanted that I have I'd be happy burn it and send it along. And, since he said he only has "about 43 songs on my iPod" how could I pass up the chance to profoundly influence (read: corrupt) the musical tastes of the next generation of Dews?

Actually, when I was looking through his Touch at New Years, I was kinda impressed with some of the stuff he already had on there, namely The Stones. I was less than awed though, by the fact that virtually the next "artist" in the list was Taco and his "Putting on the Ritz." That song was fine in the 80s, but it's just wrong now.

He also kinda whispered into the phone, to show me how cool he is (and he is, he's gonna get all the girls in about a couple of years), "I already have two songs with the F-word in them."

So my question is this: do I expand on my 11-year-old nephew's collection of songs with "bad" words in them? I'm personally of the opinion there is no such thing. My sister, on the other hand, might not be so quick to agree.

He's asked for some AC/DC, Green Day, rap and, warming my heart to no end, some jazz to "help me mellow out." I can do all of this, but do I send him Union Underground, System of A Down and Marilyn Manson? (I've already decided to include Barenaked Ladies and Ben Folds.) Or, like with the set of miniature steel drums I so desperately wanted to send him for Christmas when he was 4 or 5, do I hold back? (This decision last was easy in retrospect, my sister would have someday, when I have children, repaid this debt with full interest and a little extra thrown in for good measure.)

It's not like I'm going to send him the Ghetto Boys (this'd be funny, but there are some lines even I won't cross), but what's wrong with a little Ice-T or Snoop?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Two bridges

One of the hardest things to do in D.C. I've found, is to get a parking space in West Potomac Park on a Saturday. Well, I did that this past weekend and, along with the parking space, I found a new favorite running route. 

Not that I like running, of course, but I found a course to run that makes the self-inflicted torture a bit more enjoyable. And yes, for those of you wondering, there will always be a "Declaration of Hatred" of running in each of these little updates. It's not as if I can actually like running, even if I like what it is doing to my body. 

I didn't run at all last week because of a nasty little biological invader in my body which sapped all of my energy and then gave me alternating fever and chills for the better part of three days. By the time Saturday morning rolled around I was finally feeling mostly human again and decided to banish the toxic guests from my body with some good old fashion exercise.

Well, anyway, back to the run. I started off in West Potomac Park on Ohio Drive, SW, (always thought this was called something like "West Potomac Drive" or something like that, but I guess not) heading down the Potomac toward the 14th Street Bridge. I went over the little bridge at the end and ran past the George Mason Memorial and then a quick glimpse of one of my favorites, the Jefferson, before making a right onto the 14th Street Bridge. 

I thought this part of the run would be pretty hard: all long and straight with cars and trucks whizzing past, but it wasn't so bad. Unlike a spring or summer Saturday, there were only a couple of other people on the bridge and I was able to keep a pretty good pace.

After exiting the bridge I kept going, my legs a bit dead now, and went up and over the Boundary Channel Bridge and past the Navy-Marine Memorial, not to be confused with the Marine Corps War Memorial, in Lady Bird Johnson Park. As you can see from the view in the picture, which isn't mine, it's easy to understand why this little jaunte has become my favorite running course in and around the District. 

Well, it was just about here, maybe a little further on, where the legs ran out of gas and I had to stop running for a bit. Although I stopped running, I never stopped moving and kept up a brisk pace while walking. From here until I reached the Memorial Bridge, was a bit of stop and go. Perhaps it was because the trail on the Virginia side is just ever so slightly uphill or, more likely, it's because I still haven't figured out how and what I need to eat to keep the fires in the furnace burning brightly as I run. I'm still working on this and any suggestions on running and nutrition will be greatly welcome. 

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, heading for home. Two of my goals for this run on Saturday were to run all the way across both the 14th Street and Memorial bridges. I'm happy to say I accomplished this. I even managed to keep a pretty good pace and not look like a fat, pathetic out-of-shape old guy while I was running across the Memorial Bridge. At least I devoutly hope so. 

I finally finished up my run next to the Lincoln Memorial and near one of my most favoritest signs in the whole wide District of Columbia:

Actually, I finished running for the day on Saturday right at the end of that crosswalk and walked the rest of the way back to my car. After crossing Independence Avenue I thought about running a bit more of the way, but decided not to. Overall, out of the whole 3.1 mile distance, I figure I ran about 2.3 of the miles (I measured using the ruler tool on Google Earth). Not bad, but I hope to start stringing some of my fits and spurts together soon into some longer stretches.

I liked the length of this route and the fact that it's pretty flat, but not totally flat (hey, to me those little uphill sections are huge) and the views are definitely something that'll keep you entertained as you go into oxygen debt. I think I'll be doing this run again very soon. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Snips and Snails…

How appropriate is it that Friday the 13th falls the day before Valentine’s Day? Of course, February 13 always comes the day before Valentine’s Day, but for some reason I’m intrigued by the coincidence of the two dates this year.

I’m wondering how many men are going to make decisions today or, rather, more likely fail to make decisions that will to lead to disasters tomorrow. It’s funny when it happens in the movies, not so funny when you’re personally involved.

In this life I have loved three very different and exceptionally beautiful women and, amazingly, been lucky enough to have them feel the same way about me. Just writing that sentence brought a smile to my face as memories flood back. I don’t know if three loves over the course of my adult life (so far) is a lot, but it feels about right. (Yes, for those of you asking, scientists are hard at work trying to figure out how three women could have fallen in love with the Foggy Dew. Seriously, this is Nobel-level work.)

The funny thing is for those three beautiful faces there are nothing but the vaguest memories of Valentine’s Days past. The only way I can explain it is when you love someone, February 14 isn’t sooo important because you demonstrate your love every day. Not just once a year in a big, over-the-top commercial way.

The memories I do have of Valentine’s Day are of those February 14ths when my reach exceeded my grasp. The ones that didn’t go … quite so well. Why is it a holiday dedicated in our minds to love is so often seared into our memories because of (generally male) screw-ups and forgetfulness?

We men are, at our essence very simple creatures. Barely evolved beyond single-celled organisms in some ways. You have to remember for us it’s not so much just having the thought count, but rather the actual physical act of engaging our brains beyond the necessary imperative drives of food, shelter and … and … Hey look! The game’s on!

In “The Break Up” Brook says, “I want you to want to do the dishes.” To which Gary gives the perfect, unfiltered guy response: “Why would I want to do the dishes?” (Note: I don’t mind doing the dishes, this is merely an example of typical guy thinking.)

Translated to today and tomorrow’s events it could also be written this way: Honey Bunny, “Oh, you don’t have to do anything special for Valentine’s Day. Just being with you is enough for me.” Dude, “OK.”

See? Simple. Literal. And then we wonder what we did to piss off the women we love.

This year I find myself quite single and, unless something extraordinary happens in the next 24 or so hours, February 14 will pass me by quietly. It’s a very slight disappointment personally because, no matter what I’ve written above, society-at-large demands coupling of us all. But I’ll deal with that.

I’m a guy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

'Nuff Said

Somehow, the Dook Chronicle doesn't look so bad in this lighter, more heavenly shade of blue. Don't ya think?

The shift in hues is due to an ongoing and long-standing bet between The Daily Tar Heel and the Chronicle. The day after the game the loser prints its banner in the winner's color, includes a headline of the winner's choice and the losing editor personally delivers 100 copies to the winner's office.

In today's paper, the requested headline shows up today in the little box in the bottom left corner. It's a little hard to read in the picture above, so I blew it up here for your ease of reading:

They've gotten better about losing. When I was at Carolina we'd make them print "Dean Smith is God" and in the weather section they'd give the daily temps as such: "High of 54, low of 35, Carolina sucks shit through a tube."

I gotta say though, I kinda enjoyed that high level of animosity back in the day. Seems to me, the Dookies are getting so used to losing to Carolina they decided denial (rather than acceptance) is the best course of action.

Whatever helps you get through the day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Going for four in a row...

Despite my best efforts to avoid talking about sports here, well, there's no way I can't not mention tonight's game between the forces of good - the wonderful, beautiful, marvelous North Carolina Tar Heels - and evil - the loathsome Blue Devils from the University of New Jersey at Durham. If you're from New Jersey and I've offended by my implications of a connection between your home state and Dook, well, deal with it. There's a lot of Garden State license plates in the parking lots in Durham.

During my time in Chapel Hill, the Heels had a pretty good run of luck against the Dookies. There were some thrilling games and a good time was had by all. Earlier in the decade, though, Dook got the upper hand and won something like 15 of 17 games. But, in the last three years the pendulum has swung back and Carolina has taken five of the last seven games including three in a row at Cameron Indoor Stadium (the Dookies' home court).

That last number is important because, if Carolina wins tonight, it means an entire class of students at Dook will graduate having spent the better part of a year living in tents to see their team lose four times to Carolina. For those of you not familiar with the Dook camping-out ritual for the Carolina game, many of the students at this prestigious "institution of higher learning" have been living in tents for the past two months to get into the game tonight.

I consider myself a sports fan, but seriously? Two months in a tent for basketball tickets? I've spent three months in a tent, but I had a pretty good reason (mid-January through mid-April 1991). It's almost like the Dookies are trying to prove to themselves and everyone else they're better fans.

They are creative, I'll grant that. More annoying? Absolutely and without a doubt (I dare you to Google "Duke + Speedo Man"). But are they better fans because they suffer for their coveted riser space at Cameron? I don't think so.

In closing, I'd just like to say:

Go Heels!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I tink I hab a code

Right after I wrote my post update about my run on Saturday I started feeling not quite like myself. In fact, I started feeling pretty rotten. 

I don't often get sick and I wondered what it was that may have triggered these alternating episodes of fever and chills. What is it that's changed? 

Then I came up with the answer: It's because I started exercising. It's my body's way of getting back at me for abusing it on a thrice weekly basis. So to speak. Wink wink. Nudge nudge say no more, eh?

The body's not going to win. Hopefully I'll be able to get in at least one run this week. 

Also, after a day an a half off of work, I've come to a couple of conclusions. First, being sick as a grown-up with 200+ channels and an HD TV is a whole lot better than being sick as a kid. Second, unlike the guy in the picture, being sick as a grown-up without anyone to fuss over you kinda sucks monkey balls. 

Where'd you think I was going with this? I'm a guy, everyone of us wants someone to check our fever with a kiss on our forehead...and then bring us a bowl of soup and a PB&J on toast with the crusts cut off. Actually, I kinda like the crusts. They can stay. 

All kidding aside, I'm kinda glad to be heading back to work tomorrow. There are just so many History Channel and Discovery shows you can watch about the geological history of the Earth and the creation of the universe. 

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Can't quite put my finger on it...

I have a little twitch in the corner of my eye and a tremble in my hand. I can't quite explain what's going on. 

It's Sunday. Five minutes to one and for some reason I'm having what feel like the symptoms of withdrawal. But I'm not doing any drugs.

What is this? What could it be?

I'm feverish and sweating. What's different about this Sunday than last...Oh, damn. I just realized what the problem is: The clock just ticked over to 1:01 p.m. and ... there's ... there's ... BOWLING ON ESPN!?!NBA BASKETBALL ON ABC!?! HOCKEY? HOCKEY ON NBC! COLLEGE BASKETBALL ON CBS!! (OK, this last one's not so bad.) 

Like men all across America today, I'm coming to grips with reality. The Super Bowl ended last Sunday with the Steelers victorious (and no one really cares about the Pro Bowl) and now there's NO. MORE. FOOTBALL!! Until August. Holy Crap! What are we going to do for the next six months? 

Our long national nightmare is just beginning. Sob...

Note: I am kidding about all of this. While I don't plan my weekends around football games or other sporting events, I am just giving voice to all of my brothers out there who find themselves being dragged to "He's Just Not That Into You" today. 

Enjoy the popcorn. 

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Going to the Mall

Last Friday I think it was, I'd written about my first week running. It had gone pretty well and, as much as I told my friend The Doc in our conversation Tuesday that I "fucking hate running," I was looking forward to running this past week. 

I went out Tuesday and, except for a slight wardrobe malfunction at the beginning (my shorts were falling off my ass), my little 2-mile clock-wise loop went pretty well. I'd run further than I had before and, for the first time, my calves didn't bother me too much.

Today I'm going out to do something I've been wanting to do for a long, long time. I'm going running on the Mall. Since I moved here three years ago (Oh, yeah, yesterday was my three-year anniversary of living in D.C. Hooray!) running on the Mall has been something I've wanted to do, but hated running too much to bother.

Hopefully, I'll be back to do it again. 

Next up: Running up Capitol Hill. It may not seem like much of a hill, but it's friggin' Everest to me, running-wise.

Well, I'm off for my slow, short-loop around the America's Front Yard. 

Post Game:
Well, I made it back alive and relatively unscathed. Knees hurt a bit, but that's about par for the course. I ended up running from 4th Street down to the Washington Monument and back. I ran all the way down and most of the way back. Hopefully, next week or so, I'll be able to go further. 

Forgot to mention this earlier: This past week I ran on Tuesday and felt even better that day than in the days previous. I had intended to run on Thursday as well but, there's always a but and mine's generally larger than others, as I walked in from my car after work and froze my butt off on that little jaunt, I made an executive decision. It was too damn cold to run so I skipped it. But not without a little guilt. 

A very little guilt.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

TMI Thursday: Left or Right?

My brother had a friend in college who went by the unusual moniker of John Mike. Don’t ask me how or why, I don’t know.

But anyway, John Mike and my brother played together on the rugby team and, like all good rugby players, partied hard after their matches. If you’ve ever been to a rugby party, then what comes next probably won’t surprise you one bit. If you haven’t, well…

John Mike’s tradition at these parties was to show up with a Fo’ty of the Bull in each hand and commence to drinkin’. When he finished the first fo’ty, he’d crack the one in his other hand, but keep his grip on the empty so he didn’t have to be bothered with those annoying trips to the bathroom.

Basically a rugby player’s lo-tech version of recycling.

There was only one problem, my brother told me, with John Mike’s system. About halfway through the second fo’ty, when each bottle held a similar amount of golden liquid, John Mike would often forget which bottle was malt liquor and...which one wasn't.

Astonished onlookers would tell him, “John Mike, you’re drinking your own piss.”

To which, John Mike had a simple answer: “Man ain’t no man can’t drink his own piss.”

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bad Comparisons

I had a great time watching the Super Bowl this weekend, and it was made even better by the fact the Steelers brought the hardware home to Pittsburgh.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

Aside from the very brief period when the Arizona Cardinals took the lead in the fourth quarter, there was really only one thing that annoyed me about the game. Actually, it was in the week-long lead up to the Super Bowl – and pretty much every other Super Bowl and every football game important or not – and in many of the interviews when the final gun had sounded.

“O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war's desolation!”
– Fourth Verse, Star Spangled Banner

I don’t remember exactly who it was – he says studiously averting his eyes from Pittsburgh’s quarterback among others – but every time I hear a millionaire football player refer to his teammates as a “band of brothers” and the game as a “field of battle” I cringe a little.

"The noblest fate that a man can endure is to place his own mortal body between his loved home and war's desolation.” – Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy football and it’s the gladiatorial sport of our day. The players in the NFL are some of the best athletes in the world and I’m consistently amazed at how they do what they do. And how they get up again and again after having been done to.

But, with incredibly and extraordinarily rare exceptions (to name a few), not a God damn one of them has any fucking idea what they’re talking about. Those well manicured fields at the center of multi-hundred million dollar stadiums are not “fields of battle” and, while they may be close to their teammates, I don’t think I’d go so far as to call a football team a “band of brothers.”

“From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile”
Saint Crispin’s Day Speech, Henry V

I agree with the Bard of Avon. To this day I still remember the names and faces of most of the Marines I served with during the Gulf War. The Marines who came and went before and after? Not so much. Just to be clear, I served in a headquarters communications unit and did not fire my M-16 during the war. Neither did anyone else in the company for that matter, but that does not lessen the bonds I feel toward those with whom I served.

Chance Phelps was wearing his Saint Christopher medal when he was killed on Good Friday. Eight days later, I handed the medallion to his mother. I didn't know Chance before he died. Today, I miss him.” – From "Taking Chance" a personal narrative by Lieutenant Colonel Michael R. Strobl, USMC.

Premiering later this month, Feb. 21, is the HBO movie “Taking Chance” starring Kevin Bacon as Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl. In April 2004 Strobl escorted the body of Marine Lance Corporal Chance Phelps from Dover Air Force Base to Phelps’ home in Dubois, Wyoming.

If you want a glimmer what it is to be a member of a band of brothers, click on Chance Phelps name above and read Strobl’s story. More than 300,000 fans turned out in the streets of Pittsburgh yesterday to welcome the Steelers home, but all of their cheers pale in comparison to the power of emotion expressed and experienced by two Marines making their way across the heart of America.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Spreading like wildfire

Just to emphasize one of my major themes from yesterday, I would like to point out the almost absolute synchronicity between my comments about "punching the koala" and those made at virtually the same time by [redacted].

I've heard it said the measure of someone's intelligence is how much they agree with you. If that's the case, I'm hoping [redacted] is a bit higher up on the evolutionary scale 'cause I could really use the help.

I think this whole "punching the koala" thing may be growing legs and we'll soon be hearing it more and more in the coming days.

So to speak.

Catch up poetry

Noticed around the Interwebs yesterday a few of my favorite bloggers were taking part in the Fourth Annual Blogger Silent Poetry Reading. So, since I didn't know about this, I'm going to take advantage of it today with one of my favorites by ee cummings. Enjoy.

she being Brand

-new;and you
know consequently a
little stiff i was
careful of her and(having

thoroughly oiled the universal
joint tested my gas felt of
her radiator made sure her springs were O.

K.)i went right to it flooded-the-carburetor cranked her

up,slipped the
clutch(and then somehow got into reverse she
kicked what
the hell)next
minute i was back in neutral tried and

again slo-wly;bare,ly nudg. ing(my

lev-er Right
-oh and her gears being in
A 1 shape passed
from low through
second-in-to-high like
greasedlightning)just as we turned the corner of Divinity

avenue i touched the accelerator and give
her the juice,good


was the first ride and believe i we was
happy to see how nice she acted right up to
the last minute coming back down by the Public
Gardens i slammed on


brakes Bothatonce and

brought allofher tremB
to a:dead.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday Six-Pack

Growing up in Pittsburgh our pastor was able to get us in-and-out of Sunday Mass in 42 minutes flat. He, like everyone else in the congregation, needed to get home, get breakfast out of the way (for the congregants, a big Sunday breakfast for their massive Catholic families) and then settle in for the day’s Steelers game. No one could give a more meaningless, but most importantly, quick, homily than Father Rogers.

So today, Super Bowl Monday*, I’d just like to offer my congratulations to my Steelers on their breathtaking victory over the Arizona Cardinals and sixth Super Bowl championship. I am the kind of fan who believes in “any given Sunday,” and the Cards almost pulled it off last night. They gave the Steelers all they could handle, but in the end I think the deciding factor came down to the Chris Collingsworth “Kiss of Death Pick.” Throughout the playoffs, every team the NBC broadcaster has picked has gone down in flames.

So I’d just like to thanks Collingsworth for picking the Cards. Keep up the good work Chris.

Sex Sells
There was a lot of sex in the Super Bowl ads last night. We expect that, of course (seriously, where do you think the Budweiser Clydesdale was taking that circus horse? He was going to sow his wild oats), but one of my favorite ads is one many people hate. The ad in question, the Career Builder ad that kept repeating itself – the woman screaming in her car and the guy crying at the bus stop and so on and so forth – added a new phrase to what I thought was, until that very moment, a thoroughly closed lexicon.

Let me present to you for your consideration, the newest euphemism for masturbation. Adding to the glory that is whacking off, spanking the monkey and pounding the pud, I offer this: Punching the koala, a phrase I feel works equally as well for men and women alike.

So next time you find yourself heading off for a little “Me Time,” instead of using one of those tired old euphemisms, try this: “Well, time to go punch the koala.” Your friends and family will thank you and, more important, you’ll feel better about yourself.

Jackass of the Weekend Award No. 1
Dear Jackass in my building,

Next time, when in your haste to finish up your 113 loads of dirty baby clothes you decide to pull two of my three loads of laundry out of the dryer and then toss my expensive and not-yet-quite-dry work shirts on the table, don’t get annoyed at me when I passive-aggressively take my own sweet Goddamn time hanging them up so they don’t wrinkle any more while you’re waiting for me to empty that last dryer.

I set a kitchen timer so I don’t keep you and our other neighbors waiting, and I traditionally set it for 5 minutes less than the running time of our “Fires of Hell” dryers. So I know you pulled my still-slightly-damp shirts and jeans out and put your stuff in before the time I’d paid for expired.

Fuck you very much.

Jackass of the Weekend Award No. 2
This award goes to the not-bad-looking-chick in the Harris Teeter parking lot in Ballston on Saturday who, despite her great ass, is still a Jackass.

Would it really have been that much of an inconvenience for you to have walked that cart back up to the lobby of the store instead of pushing it into one of the very last empty parking spaces? Seriously, you only had to walk about 100 feet and your husband/boyfriend/incestuous brother-lover could have followed you in his BMW and picked you up at the door.

You didn’t seem to be suffering from any physical ailments or handicaps. In fact, it was your long and shapely legs attached to your ass that drew my attention as you loped gracefully across the lot with an embarrassed smile on your face while you selfishly made everyone else’s life just a bit harder.

I hereby place the special Irish Shopping Cart Magnet curse upon you and your husband/boyfriend/incestuous brother-lover’s shiny blue Beemer until you mend your ways. But you won’t, so you’ll just go on pissing people off with your thoroughly thoughtless actions and your car will continue to attract our four-wheeled agents of revenge.

Change we can believe in
Why am I at work today, the Monday morning after one of the most exciting Super Bowls in all of recorded history (at least since The Super Bowl in 1966)?

Now I don’t expect the government to bail us out on this one, since its powers are and should be limited, but I can’t understand why the NFL refuses to play its signature game on Saturdays. If this were the case, instead of being at work I could be at home watching the looped post-game coverage again and again with drool running from the corners of my mouth as I subconsciously contemplate which of your sponsors’ products I want to buy.

Get with the program. It’s February, you’re not competing with college football for air time or visibility. So move the game to Saturday (or the Sunday before President’s Day as an option) and let us sleep in as we bask in the reflected glow of our teams’ victories.

Six down, 994 to go
The whole time I was driving home Friday I was telling myself I was going to bail on my run and, instead, do it the next morning.

But then I found myself at home and realized if I let myself slide this early in the game it’d be the start of a bad pattern. I had no reason to skip the run I realized, and I found myself striping down and pulling on my running clothes.

I did my same 2-mile loop, counter-clockwise this time, and ran farther on the first burst (so to speak, since “burst” will never be a term anyone would apply to my speed) than the last two times. In fact, since goals are important, I ran the whole first mile at a decent pace, and then walked only in short stretches the rest of the way home.

My calves were still tight, but they’re coming around as they get stronger. I’m hoping this won’t be a problem by this time next week. The one concession I am making, since I felt a bit of a twinge in my knee yesterday, is instead of running Monday-Wednesday-Friday this week, I’m giving myself an extra day of rest and going out Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday. The big reason for this is, despite my total inability to complete the loop, I’d like to run on the Mall this coming weekend.

*Hey, if there’s an Easter Monday, there can damn well be a Super Bowl Monday for our country’s most important secular holiday.