Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011: The Year that Happened

Part of the PATRIOT ACT's requirements is that anyone who has even thought about writing a blog during the year must provide a year-in-review post to point out the highs and lows of the previous 360 days or so. By rule, any actual news that happens the last few days of the year is criminally overlooked in year-end retrospectives.

Newspapers do this too, but mostly because it's a way to make it look like they're doing actual work when they're really selling you a paper filled with not only yesterday's news, but news from 11 months ago. They're freely admitting that no actual news happened that day, but they have pages to fill and your desire for instant nostalgia is such that you don't mind. It's the equivalent of a columnist packaging together the best of his old columns into a book and then having the audacity to charge you more money for the privilege of reading the same thing again.

So in no particular order (or guarantee of accuracy), here are my recollections of 2011: The Year that Happened.

Casey Anthony returned to fame when she killed Osama bin Laden. Anthony, of course, is best known for murdering people's ability to tolerate Nancy Grace.

Following a sex scandal that rocked the university, the school to the unusual step of no longer attending high school games to scout players for fear of garnering additional charges.

The dumbest people in America got together and decided to troll the Republican Party by being the only people running for the party's nomination.

Michael Jackson's doctor was found guilty of finding NBC's "Whitney" hilarious.

President Obama fueled speculation that the state of Hawaii is in on the conspiracy to cover up the fact he was born in Kenya by releasing his long-form birth certificate.

Kenya responded by saying Obama can't be from there as he's never finished first in a marathon.

The Miami Heat lost to the Humidity in the NBA finals.

Donald Trump was, at one point, a leading candidate to replace Meridith Vieria as co-host of the Today Show.

Steve Jobs finally created an app to take him to the afterlife.

Charlie Sheen redefined "winning" to mean anything but.

Harold Camping predicted the end of the world.


And people believed him.

The world didn't end.

Amanda Knox extended her study abroad time in Italy, much to the disappointment of her parents.

Prince William and Kate Middleton were upstaged on their wedding day by Kate's sister Pippa.

The Occupy Wall Street movement reminded us how much we all hate camping.

 I promised to post blog entries more often, but did not.

I'm promising to post more blog entries in 2012.

I likely will not, though I do look forward to unveiling a new feature in the coming days.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Next year's news today

In an attempt to save you some time next year, here's your BCS outrage column from December, 2012.
After another wild and turbulent season, the BCS once again failed in its only mission of providing a matchup of the two best teams. Sure, #1 will face #2, but as usual, there’s no clear consensus as two who those teams are with four or even five teams staking a claim to a spot in the BCS title game.

The BCS ranking consists a combination of computer rankings and human polls. While the computer rankings were fairly consistent, the human polls, which count as two-thirds of the vote, were wildly divergent.  The coaches poll fell mostly along conference lines, which makes since when you consider they spend all week preparing their team. It’s almost like they don’t have time to actually analyze the other 118 teams they’re not playing that week and delegate the vote to some Sports Information Director or secretary who actually decide who plays in the title game. And then there’s the Harris Poll voters, who I’m fairly certain think they’re actually voting for American Idol.

Making matters worse for the beleaguered BCS are the selections for the remaining championship games. Once again, a deserving team from a non-qualifying conference was passed over for an at-large selection so they could take  a major conference team that “travels well,” which translated from Bowl Committee to English means “brings lots of revenue for us.”  Add in the fact the Big East still gets an automatic bid and the BCS can't be taken seriously as a way to crown a national title.

As expected, fans expressed their outrage over the broken BCS system and everyone from Sports Illustrated to bloggers in their parents’ basement clamoring for change that's not going to come anytime soon.

Meanwhile,  the playoffs for FCS, Division II and Division III continue with quarterfinal games scheduled for Friday and Saturday in games throughout the country.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Big News (and no, we're not pregnant)

The amazing thing about Seinfeld is that after more than a decade off the air, it is still somehow relevant today, aided by the ubiquitous reruns and failure by network television to develop a bona fide comedy hit. So much so that with the Cubs making major changes to their font office, I still wonder who they’re going to hire as the Assistant to the Traveling Secretary and secretly hope that George Costanza is going to get the gig. Costanza “worked” for the Yankees in the mid-90s.

One of my favorite episodes is when George comes to the conclusion that every decision he’s made in life has been the wrong one. Essentially, he realizes he’s the Earl Hickey of fictional characters. Like all great Seinfeldian moments, he came to this realization at the coffee shop just before ordering lunch. After ordering WHAT?!? he says he’s been ordering that his whole life and nothing good has resulted, so he orders what he considers the opposite. (Jerry acutely points out the opposite of tuna is actually salmon since tuna swim downstream while salmon swim against the current.)

Anyway, an attractive woman at the diner hears George’s order and looks his direction. George, being balding and unemployed at the time, hesitates going to introduce himself, but Jerry and Elaine convince him that if every instinct he’s had is wrong, than the right thing to do is to approach the woman. George, working up his courage, walks over and says he noticed her looking at him. She says he ordered the exact same meal she did, to which George replies “I’m George. I’m unemployed and I live with my parents.” The woman responds flirtatiously with “I’m Victoria, hi.”

I mention all this because as of mid-December, I’ll be like George. Not in the sense that I’ll be changing my lunch habits in the hopes of meeting attractive women at coffee shops, but that I’ll be unemployed and living with my parents.

After two-and-a-half years of living and job hunting in Wilmington, NC, things just haven’t worked out. Well, the hunting has been fine, it’s the finding of a job that has been the issue. And with our living expenses increasing (who knew small children cost so much?), Yes Dear and I decided to hit the reset button and start over back home.

On one hand, it’s going to suck moving from Wilmington. It’s a great city and I can think of far, far worse places to be unemployed. We’ve met some truly amazing people and made some wonderful friends. As of yet, I’ve been unable to convince them to uproot their families and move to Statesboro, Georgia with us, but I’m hoping to entice them with such attractions as the National Tick Museum. If all else fails, I may have to spread false rumors about them to their bosses that would make them get fired but still be an enticing candidate for any jobs in Statesboro.

I’m going to miss random Tuesday trips to the beach with me and The Little Guy. I’ll miss the outdoor concerts every Friday night during the summer and the Shakespeare on the Green performances every spring. I’ll miss the summer league baseball games and the professional soccer team here, even if I didn’t ever make it out to a game.  I’ll miss meeting random actors when we’re out for drinks (ok, not so much on that last one.)

I’ll miss Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn and pub fries from Front Street Brewery. And I’ll miss story time at the library and dropping The Little Guy off for preschool. I’ll miss baseball games at Brooks Field and basketball games at Trask Coliseum.  Most of all, I’ll miss the people we’ve met here. I’ll miss my church family at Pine Valley United Methodist Church who welcomed us there as though we’d been attending for years. I’ll miss The Little Guy’s preschool teachers and the parents of his classmates. I’ll miss our friends that we hang out with and have supper clubs with.

But on the other hand, it’s exciting to move back to a place with so many friends and family. It’ll be nice living in a college town with college football. It’ll be nice living in a town with Nikko Japanese Steakhouse and the home of the original Zaxby’s. It’ll be nice to be in a town where I can go to Wal-Mart at any time, day or night, and feel 98 percent certain I’ll run into somebody I know. And it’ll be nice to have The Little Guy be closer to his grandparents, even if that is just down the hall.

What does this move mean for you? Well, if you’re among my Wilmington friends and have been thinking “you know, it’d be fun to invite Luke, Yes Dear and The Little Guy out to do that really fun thing,” you may want to get on that. We like you and all, but I don’t see us making a five-and-a-half hour drive to do whatever event you’re thinking of.

If you’re one of our friends who doesn’t live here, it means that if you’ve been thinking about coming to see all that Wilmington has to offer and wanted to do that with us, you probably should figure out a way to turn back time to the spring or summer when most of the fun stuff is going on. However, you’re still more than welcome to come visit/help us pack.

And if you’re one of our Statesboro friends, it means that despite your best efforts to rid yourselves of us, we’re coming back. But on the plus side, you’ll have a little more than two year’s worth of inside jokes to make us feel like we’re moving to a new place.

So allow me to introduce myself. “My name is Luke. I’m unemployed and as of mid-December, I’ll be living with my parents.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Regarding the previous evening


Just wow.

As I sit here 13 hours after one of the most memorable regular season nights in baseball history, I still can’t shake the feeling that I spent five hours of my Wednesday night watching something that I’ve never seen before and will likely never see again. On one hand, that feeling is awesome, knowing I witnessed a night that hasn’t happened in the more than 100-year history of Major League Baseball. On the other hand, the feeling sucks because it was such a rush that I hate to think I’ll live another 40, 50 or 60 years and never see something like that again.

Four games that featured four teams fighting for their playoff life. And through the magic of the internet, I was able to watch them all simultaneously. Not in the way that I would flip from one game to another to another and then back to the first one. But in the way that split my television into four quadrants and had each game going at the same time.

In the top left was Atlanta facing Philadelphia, with the Braves having blown an August lead of 10.5-game facing a Phillies team playing only to get ready for the postseason and essentially nothing else. Atlanta had been in full collapse mode since late August. The narrative for the collapse was the overworked bullpen. The fact is the team just stopped scoring runs.

In the top right was the Cardinals squaring off against the Astros. St. Louis had been left for dead with many analysts not even considering them a threat for the playoffs. Houston, well, Houston failed to win as many games all season as the Brewers did at home this season. I think it’s fair to say the Astros put a stamp on the game shortly after first pitch and mailed it in.

On the bottom left was the Tampa Bay Rays, the plucky little underdog with a miniscule payroll, terrible ballpark and fans who regularly disguised themselves as empty seats, facing the New York Yankees who were already in the playoffs and took the game so seriously that pretty much anyone who pitched in the game would not be on the playoff roster.

In the final quadrant was the Boston Red Sox, who are the American League’s equivalent to the Braves this season. They had a big September lead and proceeded to squander it like a high school kid getting his first paycheck. They were facing an Orioles team that, well, they’re not good at the baseball.

The Yankees jumped out to an early 7-0 lead off of the Rays’ young ace David Price, leading to disappointment on my part, not so much for the Rays, but for my hopes of a one-game playoff for Thursday. Meanwhile, the Astros rolled over like a well-trained dog, taking any suspense out of the Cardinals/Astros game. In Atlanta, the Braves and Phillies went back and forth, with Atlanta eventually taking a 3-2 lead heading into the 8th inning with their dynamic (if overworked) duo of Johnny Venters and Craig Kimbrel set to work the final two frames. Boston was clinging to their own 3-2 lead when the rains came, leading to a 90-minute rain delay.

It was around this time that my wife went to bed. It was also around this time that someone spilled the crazzizlebeans. (Note: I have no idea when the following happened in relation to the other events, just that they happened.)

The Phillies load the bases in the 8th, but don’t score. The Rays score six in the 8th, capped off with an Evan Longoria (who, to Rays fans, is prettier than Eva Longoria) 3-run homer to bring back to life their playoff hopes. The Cardinals finished off the Astros, leaving them stuck in the Houston stadium not knowing if they needed to pop the champagne or pack their bags for Atlanta for a one-game playoff. Boston has a guy thrown out at the plate trying to add an insurance run and the Phillies load the bases but are unable to score in their 8th inning.

My Twitter, meanwhile, is on the verge of meltdown (I follow a lot of baseball writers) with all the excitement.

In the 9th, the Phillies are facing Kimbrel, who set the rookie record for saves in a season (and also blew more saves than all but three pitchers in baseball). Somehow, they managed to score a run with two outs, tying the game and leading every Braves fan that I’m friends with on Facebook to act as though Kimbrel just took a dump on their lawn and then set it on fire for good measure.

Down in Tampa, the Rays were still trailing 7-6 with two outs in the 9th when they sent Dan Johnson to pinch hit. From April 28 until last night, you and he had the same number of hits. So what does he do? Just one strike away from their season being over, Johnson smashes a solo homerun down the right field line to tie the game. Why wouldn’t he? After all, the only guy having a worse offensive season than Johnson was Roy Halladay, the pitcher for the Phillies.

In Atlanta, the Braves and Phillies trade scoreless innings in the 10th, 11th and 12th with the frustration growing on Facebook. Were I a different person, I’d have had some fun with them, but I figured I’d leave them alone. They were suffering enough.

In the 13th inning, the Phillies managed to finally get across a run, leaving Atlanta down to their final three outs. With a runner on first and one out, Freddie Freeman grounded into a double play and as he ran past first, slammed his helmet down. Their season was over. A season that saw many predict them to win the Wild Card, if not the division title, ended with them watching the playoffs from the outside.

Back in the American League, someone turned the excitement meter up to 11. Boston sent its All Star closer Jonathan Papelbon (side note: my wife has his autograph. Sure it’s on a pink Cubs hat, but she has it.) to protect a 3-2 lead. With two outs, the Orioles got back-to-back doubles to tie the game at three. Then, a sinking line drive to left was nearly caught by a sliding Carl Crawford, Boston’s big offseason acquisition who did not live up to expectations. But it wasn’t caught. By the time he gathered the ball and fire it home, the Orioles had scored, leaving Boston’s fate in the hands of their most hated rivals, the Yankees.

Less than three minutes later, Evan Longoria (he’s still prettier than Eva to Tampa fans) hit a walk-off homerun to propel the Rays into the playoffs and complete the comeback from 7-0 down in the game and from 8.5 games back in early September.

I had no rooting interest in any of the games (though truth be told, I’m partial to the Rays after reading Jonah Keri’s The Extra 2 Percent” about how the Rays are able to compete on a shoestring budget) and I was so excited by the night’s events that I didn’t even try to go to bed when the games ended shortly after midnight.

It was one of those nights that you remember why you’re a sports fan. Sure, 98 percent of the time, the games play out like you think they will. The great players will do great things, the average players will make you curse your fantasy lineups for not getting a great player in that position. The teams that are supposed to win usually do. But every so often, the stars align and you get a night that will be hard to forget and impossible to recreate.

Wow. Just wow.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reelin' in the years

Prologue: When I was a junior in college, a group of us spent our Spring Break in Memphis (Tennessee, not Egypt) working on homes of low-income families. We reshingled a roof and cleared a lot of debris from a home that was in disrepair. This was also near the height of NSYNC's popularity with their smash hit "Bye Bye Bye" ruling the airwaves.  For reasons that to this day remain unclear, it became the unofficial song of our group to the point that five of us from the group learned the dance moves and voluntarily performed it in public. 

When your associate pastor calls you for one thing and then asks if you're going to be at rehearsal for your church's 50th anniversary musical review, it pays to have a handy excuse prepared. Otherwise, you get this.

As an added bonus, I got roped into doing Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, (it didn't take much convincing)  but alas, no Bye Bye Bye.

 Despite my performances, the show was very well received and was really enjoyable. And yes, I'm fully aware I lack any musical or dancing talent, thanks for noticing.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Disco Inferno

They (you know, "they," the people you quote when you don't know who said the random piece of wisdom you're about to dispense or who you quote when you want to say something that likely isn't true but you want to avoid saying it so you can't get called on it) say that comedy is tragedy plus time. Unfortunately, 'Time' seems to be a variable that is inconsistent from person to person. One person's "too soon" is another person's "Abe Lincoln wouldn't have been shot if he'd taken off his hat during Our American Cousin so Booth could see." (Too soon?)

So at the risk of straddling that line, I'm going to write about a fire that took place roughly 50 feet from my apartment building roughly seven hours from when I sat down to write this. (Two firefighters were injured by falling embers. They've been treated and released from the hospital.)

It was a normal Friday. I'd solved the country's energy crisis as I usually do, only to destroy the file as is my traditional Friday activity. (Sometimes I solve AIDS, world hunger, or more recently, getting serious about finally finding out who let the dogs out as well as what the undefined "this" is that MC Hammer continues to insist I can't touch.) The Little Guy was down for his nap and I was watching a documentary about the World Air Guitar Championships.

Cool for a Two-Year Old, not so cool
for the residents of the compelx
I hear a fire truck outside my door, but figure it's one of the nearby homes on the surrounding streets. Then I hear another one. And another one. And I think to myself, "What a wonderful world." Wait, no, that's not right at all. I think "wow, those sound really close, I should probably go see what's going on (not Marvin Gaye or even the oft mistaken 4 Non-Blondes song, which is actually What's Up, but either way it's stuck in your head now.) I step outside and see three fire trucks pulling up next to my apartment, which spurs the obvious question, what the hell is going on? Had I taken a second, I would have smelled the smoke that would soon permeate my clothes.

Because I'm in the digital age, I get my camera before walking outside to see to the extent of what's happening (hey hey hey). I see firefighters rushing (they never meander, they're always rushing, probably a good thing) to extinguish the fire. It takes a little while and soon smoke is billowing (the only way smoke travels) out from the attic space throughout the building. It's not a good sight. Fortunately, no one was hurt, all the dogs and cats were rescued, so the "only" loss is the possessions consumed by the fire. (Yes, I say only in the sense that no loss of life happened.)

After a lot of the smoke subsided, I went back inside to get the Little Guy and show him all the fire trucks and ambulance and police cars that were in the complex. He might not understand why they were there, but he liked seeing them. As one of the trucks was getting ready to leave, they stopped to give him a plastic firefighter's hat, which everyone else thought was cool but he, in one of his idiosyncratic traits, refuses to wear. Well, he refuses to wear any hat.

A news report said a faulty air conditioning unit caused the fire and the staff at the complex were trying to relocate those affected to empty units elsewhere in the campus. If one of them gets into the secret Bones and Skull units, I'm going to be upset.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Reflections of the way life used to be (or really, just reflections on college football, week 1)

I look forward to few things as much as I do the beginning of a new college football season. The excitement, the expectations, the knowledge that I'll be tailgating in my apartment complex's parking lot all year is matched only by my enthusiasm for a new episode of "Sid The Science Kid" showing up on Netflix's instant streaming service.

My kid LOVES that show and Netflix only has 13 episodes, which I've subconsciously committed to memory. I fear it's payback for making my parents watch the awful Dinosaurs show on ABC that inexplicably lasted for three years in the early 90s. Karma is, indeed, a b*tch.

So with a new season kicking off (a phrase writers and would-be writers are legally required to use to signify the beginning of any football season or face banishment to writing stories on Dancing With The Stars (Your definition of "Star" may vary), or The Real Housewives of Burgaw, North Carolina) I figured now is as good a time as any to give my thoughts on Week 1 of the season. Actually, it's probably the best time. Doing it after Week 8 would be practically pointless. This will not be a weekly thing. Don't worry, non-sports fans, this won't be turning into a sports-focused blog. Granted, with the sporadic writing output I do now, calling this a blog at all is insulting to those who actually write regularly.

The Good: 
Victory was theirs.
Georgia Southern - My alma mater opened the 2011 season with a 31-17 win over Samford (Alabama) Saturday night. As you might imagine, this game was not televised, leading me to follow the game on Twitter. My wife still refuses to join the revolution. So on one hand, I felt like I shouldn't give her updates I'd received from Twitter. On the other hand, I really didn't want to do anything that may diminish the excitement she showed for college football beginning, which was at an all-time high.

Baylor/TCU - If you missed this game Friday night, you missed one of the most fun games that'll be played all season. Baylor, a school best known for not being good at football, had a 47-23 lead before TCU, a team riding a 25-game regular season winning streak and defending Rose Bowl champions, staged a furious come back to take a 48-47 lead. Baylor, in what can only be described as an unBaylor-like response, drove down the field in the closing minutes to kick a game-winning field goal. If there's a better football game this year, it'll be a fantastic season. And I can confidently say there will not be an NFL game that will come close to matching that game in terms of entertainment, excitement and some other "E" word I need to complete the "Words Starting With E" trifecta in that sentence. I'm not sure I'm prepared to live in a world in which Baylor football doesn't suck. If we let that happen, the terrorists have won.

The Bad:
Because we need
all the information
LSU/Oregon - As exciting as Baylor/TCU was, the marquee match-up of the weekend was almost as boring. Granted, the expectations for a game featuring teams ranked three and four were high, but the game failed to come close to living up to what I'd hoped for.

Part of the problem with the game is the rankings themselves. The fact that people can vote on which team is the best without any games being played seems like a flawed system. It's like voting for Miss America before the swimsuit competition, you can do it, but you don't have all the relevant information. And if you are cynical enough to believe the only reason I used that analogy was as an excuse to post a Miss America contestant in a swimsuit, your cynicism will be rewarded.

University of Georgia Fans - Not all of them, just the vocal ones already calling for the firing of the entire coaching staff, the band director, the equipment manager, the guy in the Hairy Dog mascot suit and the euthanizing of UGA because the Bulldogs lost to Boise State. Look, if you want the coach fired after one game, then you likely wanted him fired before the season started. That's fine. But if you believe your coach was a bad one before the season started, then you probably had low expectations for the season to begin with, so a loss to a top-five (albeit flawed ranking system) team shouldn't come as much of a surprise to you. Also, if you're posting on facebook or twitter for a coach or assistant to be fired, you should be required to also offer a suggestion as to who should be hired to replace them. It's easy to say "fire the coach, he sucks." It's a bit more difficult to say "we should replace Coach X with Coach Y." My brother wanted Georgia's Mark Richt fired last season. Every time I asked him who would be better, he couldn't come up with a viable name that might legitimately come to Athens.

The Ugly: 
All the blowouts - Week one is often a chance for the Big Schools to beat up on Little Sisters of the Poor Tech (Go Fightin' Barbies). For every Appalachian State upset over Michigan, there are dozens of Appalachian State getting absolutely destroyed by Virginia Tech. I know Little Sisters of the Poor Tech gets a nice chunk of change from the Big Schools to be a sacrificial lamb while the Big Schools get a win and the alumni get to feel good starting the season on a winning note (I think that note is a B-major chord).

Sorry visitors from planet Zygofrom
your Dezelbob's weren't fast enough
Georgia's Uniforms - The only good thing I can say about them is those uniforms will confuse the first aliens to arrive here into thinking another alien race already beat them to Earth.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The definitive account of Hurricane Irene (your experiences may vary)

Wow, I've been really bad about writing recently. My bad everyone.
After what seemed like endless buildup, Hurricane Irene finally arrived Friday night, battering the coast of North Carolina before working its way up the East Coast, fizzing out like a Coke left open too long before reaching The Most Important Area In The World where apparently water levels were a foot above normal (oh noes, everybody panic.) Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook got a running account of the storm from me. Those of you who aren’t friends with me on Facebook, your life is worse off for that fact.

In an effort to give the definitive account of Hurricane Irene (your experiences may vary), I’m posting this blog entry to try to convey to you the joy, the fear, the laughter, the loitering (that joke will make sense later) and the full gamut of emotions experienced by myself, The Wife, Co-workers of The Wife (COTW) and Friends of Co-workers of The Wife (FCOTW).

Sparing you the intricate details (because, as I said, this is the definitive account, and those types of accounts always spare you intricate details), The Wife and I were unsure if we were evacuating until around 2  p.m. on Friday. Had the Official Kid of this blog been with us, we’d have skipped town, but he was visiting my parents on a pre-arranged trip. (If you’re a conspiracy theorist, this is where you credit my soon-to-be three-year-old with having either supernatural foresight to get out of town, or supernatural powers to control the weather.) As it was, due to work issues, we decided to live out The Doors “Riders on the Storm” and, ummm, ride out the storm.

Since we were staying, I drove out to the beach to get some pre-storm photos. This was not the brightest thing I’ve ever done, mostly because I did so wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Normally, this is entirely appropriate beach wear. But not when the wind is gusting up to 30 mph and it’s raining. This will not come as a surprise to you, but rain hurts, especially when being blown into you. Nevertheless, I took a few photos, smiled at the other people who were out doing the same thing (presumably vacationers who had their trip ruined) and then headed back to my apartment to prepare.

After getting the essentials in the event of a power outage (flashlights, beer and snacks) we picked up one of the COTW and headed on to the home of the other two COTW where we were going to hunker down. Four of us had been through a hurricane before (with me being the least experienced due to most of the major storms of my youth not giving me a direct hit.) The fifth member of the group was from Oregon and, as best I can tell, thought hurricanes were something that flaunted NCAA rules.  This resulted in great fun for us as she … freaked out is too strong a phrase, so let’s say she was on edge for a good portion of the evening.

Kure Beach Pier around noon.
Power at my apartment went out around 8 p.m. Friday night, but being at a friend’s house, I wasn’t too concerned.  Soon FCOTW came over with their small child, meaning there were a couple of episodes of Thomas The Tank Engine in store for us while the rain and wind picked up outside. It was around this time that our hurricane newbie asked when the hurricane was going to arrive. The hurricane that was bring the rain and wind outside. That hurricane. She wanted to know when it was going to arrive. She also had an interesting way of pronouncing the world "looting" so that is sounded a lot like "loitering." So we told her the chainsaws that people were getting chainsaws to protect against loiterers.

After the young one went to sleep, we turned back to the weather, which was showing the same radar showing the same rain bands coming ashore. Eventually we discovered that the Lingerie Football League had a game on MTV2 that we flipped over to. I can assure you, after diligent research, the idea of Lingerie Football is far better than the implementation of it.

Sometime during the evening, our Hurricane Newbie started asking about this Gayle Force character and what her winds were all about. I think she was joking. Maybe. Who’s to say, really? Any time a gust of wind could be heard outside, someone would say Gayle Force is back. We ran that joke into the ground, threw it under the bus, ran it over, backed over it and ran it over again before getting out of the bus and shooting it. But, at some point during the carnage, the Hurricane Newbie found a Gayle Force on Facebook and sent a friend request. As of this posting, Ms. Force has not replied to the friend request, much to everyone’s disappointment.

It was also during this time that I found my favorite tweet of the night, courtesy of Seth Fried (I don’t know who he is, but you can follow him at @seth_fried on twitter should you so choose). He tweeted, “If your apartment is hit by a dolphin, DO NOT GO OUT TO SEE IF THE DOLPHIN IS OKAY. That's how the hurricane tricks you into coming outside.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Sometime around midnight, we all decided that going to bed was the best option and we awoke to find some limbs down, lots of leaves and pine straw strewn about as though the killer rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail had attacked a tree farm. Still drunk with power (electricity), we checked on the storm, made breakfast and then headed back to our apartment.  We took some pictures around the complex (the parking lot was flooded, but it does that on a hard rain anyway. A tree or two were knocked over, but none hit any of the buildings. A rather large pine tree across the street fell, but again, it didn’t hit anything of importance.

The flooding is normal, the downed tree is not.
We then set out to drive around town and peruse the effects of the storm. Much like our complex, there were a lot of trees down, lots of leaves and limbs down but there didn’t seem to be anything severe, at least in the places we looked. Around this time, The Wife got a call from work, saying the curfew on campus was lifted and she would be needed to help get things ready for the fitness center to open. So she went to work and I sat outside my powerless apartment with 200 pages of a good book left to go. This was around 3ish. Four hours later, I made a sandwich. Two hours (and with the help of a flashlight) I finally finished the book and my Sports Illustrated, leaving me watching X-Files with no lights on, only without the X-Files part and without the Barenaked Ladies.  Around 10ish, The Wife gets home, exhausted from work, and we go to sleep.

The next day (still powerless, both in terms of electricity and in ability to render myself invisible), I set out for South Carolina to pick up the little guy, who no doubt will have no memory of the hurricane he didn’t ride out. I got home around 4 p.m. to a porch light on, leading to much rejoicing, especially among Sir Robin’s minstrels, which did not have to be eaten.

So that’s it, the hurricane is over. The Weather Channel’s ratings have plummeted back to slightly above that of a test pattern, life for the southeastern North Carolina coast is back to normal. But the next hurricane fun is just a tropical wave off the African coast away.

Random Note: My brother lives in Maryland and lost power sometime Saturday as a result of the storm. By Sunday he'd contacted his Federal legislators seeking the resolution to the issue. (He says it's because their power has gone out four times in four months, but picked the time it went out due to a hurricane to contact federal officials.) I'm not sure what he expected two Maryland senators and a representative to do. I assume he thought they were trained in electrical engineering or something else related to how power companies work and, as public servants, would come out to his home, diagnose the problem and repair it. The rest of us just said "Hey, power goes out in a hurricane. It happens," and didn't make a federal case out of it. As my brother in Georgia pointed out, the government can't fix anything, what makes him think they could fix his power.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A close-up view of the vast wasteland

Monday night was the finale of “The Bachelorette.” To commemorate such a momentous night in television history, I kept a running diary to forever remember my thoughts. As a gift to you, I’m sharing it here.

8:00 – It’s the final night, we’re here to see Ashley pick  between Ben and J.P., two guys who are so nondescript that despite watching the entire season I couldn’t pick them out of a lineup if my life depended on it.

This is the best picture of Ashley
on the internet.
8:04 – Ashley has her family with her to help her decide among the final two, because if there’s one thing people are good at, it’s giving advice on who to marry based on one day of spending time with those people.  I’m shocked more of these Bachelor/Bachelorette couples have worked out.

8:07 – First up for Ashley is J.P. a construction manager. She says she’s not nervous. She’s also laughing nervously.

8:10 – A toast to Ashley and J.P., who the mom welcomes to the family. I’m willing to bet she gives the exact same toast when Ben comes for his interrogation.

8:11 – Ashley’s sister seems skeptical. Her mom says J.P.’s “ok.” A ringing endorsement if I’ve ever seen one.

8:12 – We have crying for the first time tonight. I’m taking the over at 5.5 separate instances of crying throughout the episode.

8:14 – The sister doesn’t think J.P. is right for her.  This four-minute conversation is more time then I spent talking to my brothers about whether The Wife was right for me. Then again, ABC wasn’t paying for everything. Maybe if they were, I’d have had that conversation. Or at least staged it for the approval of the guys with the money.

8:15 – I’ve vastly underestimated the number of crying episodes. We’re now at the beach with her brother and she’s crying again. We’ve got potential for a record-breaking performance.

8:17 – The Sister tells J.P. she doesn’t see them together, and then we go to commercial.

8:18 – There’s a commercial for a new show called “The Chew” which I wasn’t paying close attention to and thought was called “The Jew.” Seemed like an odd name for a show. Actually, both of those seem like odd names for a show.

8:20 – The Sister is really hung up on the fact that Ashely didn’t immediately say J.P. makes her laugh. I’m starting to think The Sister wants Ashley to be dating Jon Stewart.

8:22 – The Sister is the best thing to happen to this show all season. Now she’s grilling him about not being married already at 34. My future sister-in-law once asked me if I knew what time it was. I didn’t have a watch or phone with me, so it was equally challenging for me to answer questions too.

8:24 – J.P. is upset The Sister doesn’t like him. In an unrelated observation, the music in the background seems straight out of a Richard Marx song.

Not Photoshopped
8:30 – A commercial for the CMA music festival, in which Taylor Swift will be performing. I don’t have a joke, I just like to brag that I had my picture taken with her.

8:34 – Back with Ashley and The Sister. Apparently they’re fighting. I missed a lot of it to take care of The Kid. Whatever happened, Ashley is “devastated.” Now the sister’s crying to her mom after the discussion. Can’t we settle this like adults and change into bikinis and find a vat of jello? (That’s how sisters settle arguments, right?) (The Wife didn’t find that funny.)

8:42 – Ben meets the family. The Sister is adamant that Ashley “be herself” around the guy, which apparently include “dog talk,” which makes me believe the family finds Jeff Foxworthy funny 15 years after the height of his popularity.

8:44 – Ben has his interrogation time with The Sister. So far she seems to approve of him. Ben tells The Sister he’s “in love” with Ashely, which surprises The Sister. She didn’t get the memo that “dog talk” is the universal symbol of love.

8:47 – If The Sister had a vote, it’d be for Ben. If I had a vote, it’d be to change the channel.

8:48 – Dramatic change in music, attempting to make us believe Ashley doesn’t know what she wants.

8:53 – Now seems like as good a time as any to say that this episode is brought to us by the Fiji Tourism Board as every time we go to or come back from commercial, we’re reminded we’re in Fiji.

8:55 – Ashley and Ben have their final date before he has to decide if he’ll propose or not. And what better date than a helicopter ride in which you need to talk into a microphone attached to headphones to communicate.

8:56  - The chopper took them to a “healing mud bath” where they strip down to a bathing suit and proceed to cover each other in mud. “when you’re lubing each other with mud, it’s really erotic,” says captain obvious.

8:57 – Ashley wishes she could “reach lower” with the mud. I assume she wanted to cover his leg in mud, but my wife’s dirty mind assumed Ashley wanted something else.

9:01 – Ben invites Ashley into his hotel room with the champagne on ice. We’re apparently recreating the “Fantasy Suite” date from the previous episode, only this time Ben’s going to tell her he loves her.

We Suck
9:05 – Nothing’s really happening, so to kill some space, I’ll let you know my Fantasy Teams are doing poorly this year. Some players underperformed, other gambles didn’t pay off and basically my teams suck. Even my team that was, until Monday, in second place, was still 23 games behind the first place team. Fortunately, football season starts soon. (My wife, upon me reading that back to her . . . “my God, what a horrible blog. Who would want to read that?” My wife thinks poorly of you if you’re reading this right now.)

9:10 – Now it’s J.P.’s turn. Ashely waits for him on the beach in her bikini in a way to try to make up for her sister not liking him. He seems ok with it, despite the fact it was a mismatched bikini.

9:11 – J.P. is still hung up on The Sister’s comments about him, and that’s exactly how you’d want to spend the last date with someone who is choosing between the two of you. Grownup relationship talk is boring. Fiji can’t be happy that this is how their promotional dollars* are being spent.

*I don’t know the currency of Fiji. However, now that you’re interested, Google it and find out. Expecting The Spanish Inquisition, an educational blog.

9:15 – Despite having clothes on, J.P. claims to be “totally exposed.” It’s possible he meant metaphorically. Or it’s possible he’s a liar.

9:18 – According to J.P.’s note to Ashley, this is the first chapter of the “greatest love story ever told.” It’s now been confirmed that J.P. is a liar. (For what it’s worth, my wife is on Team J.P. I’m on Team I Can’t Believe People Watch This Crap)

9:32 – I had to take the dog out. While I was gone, both guys bought rings (thanks ABC) and Ashley put on a dress. The Wife said the editing made it appear J.P. might not propose. I wish the dog spent more time outside.

9:40 – Two guys, one rose. It all comes down to this. And by “all” I mean a manufactured situation in which arbitrary rules are in place. Ben’s the first one here. And Ashley doesn’t look like she’s going to pick him. Life must be hard when you have two guys willing to propose to you on the same day. Poor Ashley.

9:43 – Ben proposes.
9:43 – Ashley declines. Ben “I didn’t see this one coming.” All that’s missing is Chris Harrison coming out to say “Ben, I’m sorry. Take a minute, and say your good-byes.”

Here's to you, Ben
9:45 – Ben “You can’t leave something like this on good terms.” But you can drown your sorrows at the local Fiji bar just up the road.

9:47 – As punishment, Ben must walk seven miles on a dirt road to a small boat that I assume will take him back to the United States. Even better, he has to ride by Ashley standing on the beach waiting for J.P. to show up. I wonder what the guy driving the boat says to Ben. “Sorry man, but thanks for giving me 20 seconds on television.”

Do people who go on this show not realize how it works. Ashley hates that she had to send Ben away. Perhaps she should have seen if Ben and J.P. were open to the idea of an open, swinging relationship. She didn’t explore all the possible options and could have avoided the whole ‘breaking up with Ben on national tv and humiliating him" thing she went through.

9:54 – J.P.’s airplane door said no exit, so even if Ashely wanted to pick him, he’s trapped in the airplane. Well played, ABC, well played indeed.

9:56 – The Sister won’t be happy about this. Can we get a show where Ashley, J.P. and The Sister all live in a one-bedroom apartment?

9:57 – J.P.’s speech is quite underwhelming. He’s working up to maybe thinking about possibly proposing.

9:58 – Ashley: “Today is why I went through all the good times and all the bad times.” She was really looking forward to breaking up with Ben.

And a proposal and acceptance. Given the track record of proposals on the Bachelorette, take the under on the length of the marriage.

9:59 – “I can’t fight this feeling any longer” is playing as men everywhere continue to fight the urge to start destroying their televisions.

10:00 – It’s over, it’s all over. Well, except for the hour-long “After The Final Rose” show where see what happened. I’m not keeping a running diary of this, but I'll add a closing paragraph to update you on what you missed. (Short answer – nothing. Long answer – see below.)

 Here's the long answer... nothing really happened. I was bored out of my mind and wish I had the hour of my life back. On the plus side, I think I banked some goodwill with football season approaching.