Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mentally speaking, I'm a third grader. (Sweetie's Hunk of the Week, 35)

If you know me, or if you've read this blog for any length of time, you will know exactly what I spent the week calling Hunk of the Week 35, who is Matthew Bomer.

Matt Bomer... what could I possibly
say about that name?

You Don't Know Him Without You Have: Here's the thing: I'm doing this in the afternoon, instead of the morning, because we went to visit Middle in college today, and I spent the morning battling the Babies! about whether they could, or could not, have cookies for breakfast (I said they could not, while Sweetie decided at one point they could have a few), and because I'm doing this in the afternoon, Sweetie is upstairs taking a nap instead of over sitting at the table like she usually is.

I'm sure Sweetie told me how she knows who he is, and what he was in, and why our Google search history is full of searches about him, but I can't remember because the moment I heard his name, I stopped paying attention to whatever it was Sweetie was telling me about him.
Bomer. Hmmm. Matt Bojer.
No. Matt Boker. No...Matt Boler... No....

So I'm going to have to try to reconstruct, through my giggling to myself, how it is that Sweetie, or you, or I, are supposed to know Matt (snort!) Bomer. I reviewed his IMDB website, but that was no help. It said he was on Chuck, which nobody has ever watched, and on some show called Tru Calling, which you know is stupid because the first word isn't spelled right. "Tru Calling" looks like the kind of name they'd come up with for a fake television show in another movie or show, like if you made a movie about a guy in a TV show and had to come up with the name for the TV show the guy was in, you'd call it Tru Calling, and hope for the best.

So the bottom line is, I don't know how you're supposed to know this guy, unless you're a fan of people's last names being almost funny.

Thing That Makes You Go Hmmmm About Him: Other than his name, of course... (chuckle.)

Seriously, how did he ever make it through
Junior High without having a nervous breakdown?
I was called Pagel Bagel every day of
6th-8th grade. Have kids changed that much?

If you can get past his name... and I clearly can't... you might also want to know that Matt was going to be the new Superman in Superman Returns, until the original director left the project and Brandon Roush replaced Matt (notice I'm not using his last name). Don't feel too bad for him, though: He's apparently been cast as a god, and not just in Sweetie's daydreams -- in a real movie, too!

Reason I Tell Myself Sweetie Likes Him: Let's take another look at him, so I can stop thinking about his last name (tee- hee!) for a moment:

I won't laugh, I won't laugh, I won't laugh...

Let's see, cool hair, blue eyes, nice face... obviously, it's the jean jacket. That's what Sweetie's into, I'm sure. Jean jacket. She likes her some denim.

Actual Reason Sweetie Likes Him: Again, Sweetie's upstairs and sleeping as I write this, and if I go wake her up she's going to say things like why haven't you put your laundry away yet or when are you going to take down the air conditioner, so I have to recreate this on my own. I tried checking the search history, but all I got was a list that went from Matt Bomer to math games to matisyahu, which I've never heard of, so I went to see what that was, and it turns out it's a singer who blends traditional Jewish themes with reggae, rock, and hip-hop.

So now, I'm left thinking What does Sweetie do all day? Is she living some kind of secret life as a Jewish-hip-hop-reggae loving mathematician? While I'm at my office, theoretically working, is she here jamming around the living room while doing algebraic functions?

We never really know the people around us, do we?

Point I'd Like To Make About Sweetie's Actual Reason For Liking Him: Then again, maybe we do know some of the people around us. When Sweetie told me Matt Bomer's name, I started laughing and she said "I knew you'd do that."

As usual, we finish up with what the ladies really like:

P.S.: That Matiyahu guy is actually pretty good. I listened to this and imagined Sweetie, plugging away at her math games while dancing around:

Friday, October 09, 2009

life parachutes into my home (Friday's Sunday's Poem, 35)

As we here in Wisconsin are getting weather predictions of the first snowfall of the season over the weekend, I keep thinking back to the summer and the time spent walking and jogging and swimming and looking at the dandelions that grew in my yard, untouched and unharassed, because I like them, and because I liked Mr Bunches to pick them and bring them to me and ask me to blow the white downy seeds away, pursing his own lips and making the blowing sound but never blowing them himself; he reserved that for me.

And because I'm lazy, but laziness in the summer is no vice.

Today's poem was chosen because of those thoughts:


Julie Lechevsky

My science teacher said
there are no monographs
on the dandelion.

Unlike the Venus fly-trap
or Calopogon pulchellus,
it is not a plant worthy of scrutiny.

It goes on television
between the poison squirt bottles,
during commercial breakaways from Ricki Lake.

But that's how life
to my home.

where they make you do
what you don't want to do.

Moms with Uzis of reproach,
dads with their silencers.
(My parents watch me closely because I am their jewel.)

So no one knows how strong
a dandelion is inside,
how its parts stick together,
bract, involucre, pappus,
how it clings to its fragile self.

There are 188 florets in a bloom,
which might seem a peculiar number,
but there are 188,000 square feet
in the perfectly proportioned Wal-Mart,
which allows for circulation
without getting lost.

I wish I could grow like a dandelion,
from gold to thin white hair,
and be carried on a breeze
to the next yard.

Want to know WHAT KIND of dancing she learned? (3 Good Things From 10/8/09)

Last night was the final dance class for Sweetie, so my Thursday nights in the future will no longer feature taking the Babies! grocery shopping while she's at class. To celebrate/mourn that, I'm presenting 3 Good Things about driving Sweetie to dance class last night:

1. Sweetie and I had a very good discussion of why people might sign up for the class, and then come to only 1 or 2 of the six classes, and not come anymore. We couldn't figure out the answer, but I enjoyed the chat.

2. Sweetie listened to my stories of crazy things the Babies! did at the grocery store and laughed at them, even when they're gross, like Mr F licking the metal edge of the cash register display. And not just licking it, either, but running his tongue down about 3 feet of it.

3. Sweetie promised to show me the dances she learned. And I'm holding her to it.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Forty-Four.

44. Stop teaching any math past algebra and geometry to almost everybody, and instead just provide a general theory of math to high schoolers.

The list of subjects that schools shouldn't bother teaching is endless, and the list of subjects they should teach is endless, too. The former begins with any math more advanced than algebra and geometry -- and I mean basic algebra and geometry, which should be taught until about 8th or 9th grade. Then, in 9th or 10th grade, there should be a general "Theory of Math" class that provides no equations, and in 11th and 12th grade kids could ignore pointless math classes that have no bearing on the real world for 99.99% of people, and could learn helpful things.

I began this Way by thinking to myself: I'm tired of trying to explain to my kids why it's important that they learn calculus. It's hard to explain that, and here's why: they don't need to know calculus.

Or trigonometry.

Or most other -onometries or -culuses or anything like that.

They won't need them and they shouldn't have to learn them.

I used to justify those classes by saying Well, math is kind of like learning a different language, but it's the language of the universe and of logic and it's important to know that kind of thing because it teaches you how to think and understand the world.

Yeah, I'm the kind of parent who actually says those things.

But why, I think now, is it important for anyone to understand this equation:

If they're not going to use it? The answer is, it's not important.

What is important, as far as math goes, is some of the thinking behind it. I've read, since graduating college, a lot of books that are about math or are tangentially related to math or which have a lot of math in them -- everything from Zero to The Man Who Loved Only Numbers to Hyperspace -- and I enjoyed them, but I enjoyed them by skipping the math and focusing on the theory.

The theory, the way numbers describe our universe and its rules, is what's important about math for regular people. Knowing how to do that stupid equation isn't, and it's turning kids off of math, and school, and thinking, and also it's wasting their time and our money.

Prior entries:

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

I got the Cardinals and the Red Sox and then two teams with no chance to win. (3 Good Things From 10/7/09)

1. Mr Bunches sleeping on my shoulder while The Boy and I picked our baseball teams for the playoffs. Mr Bunches was trying to watch TV after dinner but dozed off, leaving me to try to wake him up so he didn't ruin his sleep. I picked him up and carried him back downstairs, where he snoozed while The Boy and I selected our teams for our annual World Series bet.

2. The return of new episodes of South Park. It seems like forever since they showed a new South Park, and while I wasn't crazy about the semi-Sixth Sense parody, a mediocre South Park is still better than 90% of television. But I've said it before and I'll say it again: Why are cartoon shows limited to just parodying other movies and shows?

3. Our mail started coming on time again. For about a week there, we were getting mail late, and our Netflix movies were coming late and having already been opened, making us think the mail carrier was up to something. Which can happen, you know. And, while I'm on the subject, check out a McSweeney's short story about a mail carrier realizing that a customer (?) has not returned their Netflix. It's pretty good.

One Percenters: Day Two.

What's a One Percenter? Click here for more information.

Time to check in again on the elected officials who'd rather pocket insurance company money than make sure your children can see a doctor. Today's duo are Alabama "Representative" Spencer Bachus, a Republican, and Tennessee "Senator" Lamar Alexander, a Republican also.

"Representative" Spencer Bachus has a pull-down menu of "issues" on his website. Here's a look at that:

See anything missing from those "issues?" Where's health care, Spencer? Spencer Bachus lives in and represents a state in which an estimated 12 people per week die because they don't have insurance. Those 12 dead people per week aren't worried about Internet gambling, "Representative Bachus."

Maybe representative Bachus doesn't think health care is a big deal because over the course of his career, he's taken in $701,850 from insurance companies -- they're his second-biggest campaign donor. He's taken another quarter-million from health professionals. So Spencer Bachus is a health-insurance, bought-and-paid-for millionaire.

Don't put up with it. Call Spencer at 202-225-4921 and tell him I'm willing to pay an extra one percent of my gross income if it means universal health care. Or email him by clicking this link, and tell Bachus to quit taking insurance company money while letting children die. I did just that:
Note: when you click through those links, it'll ask you for your zip code. Use the zip code for Bachus' Alabama office: 35243.

Then there's Lamar Alexander. Lamar thinks his "Little Plaid Book," whatever that stupid idea is, provides rules for dealing with things like health care, and he proposes "No More 1,000 page bills." (Maybe Lamar doesn't like to read the bills the insurance companies pay him to vote against?)

Lamar says we need simple, step-by-step fixes, so he'll no doubt welcome mine: (1) Require all insurers to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, but let them charge whatever they want to do so, and (2) pass a law that anyone can buy the same coverage members of Congress get, with the premiums based on income and ability to pay.

Simple. Step-by-step. Not anywhere near 1,000 pages. (I counted.) Will Lamar vote for it? We'll see -- Lamar's taken nearly $1,000,000 in contributions from health care professionals, another half-million from hospitals, and yet another half-million from the insurance companies. But assuming there's a piece of his soul he hasn't sold yet, you can contact Lamar at (202) 224-4944 and tell him Vote for this plan: (1) Require all insurers to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, but let them charge whatever they want to do so, and (2) pass a law that anyone can buy the same coverage members of Congress get, with the premiums based on income and ability to pay. Or email him by clicking this link. (Use the zip code 37402.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Sweetie and I go to a midnight movie (Thinking The Lions/Essays About Stuff)

In any given day, you don't know what life will ask of you.

Maybe life will require that you fry pork chops while fending off Mr Bunches, who has suddenly developed a desire to stick his hand into the hot oil where the pork chops are sizzling.

Maybe life will ask that you try to get over a gate in your hallway and then, when you fail miserably at that and bang your knee into the wall so hard it makes your head spin, life will ask that you not get too crabby while you limp out to move your car out of the way. And life will ask that you take Mr Bunches with you to move the car, because he likes to do that. (And you'll probably be too crabby about it, after all.)

Or life might ask that you drive home through the city of Madison past drunken college kids at bartime while holding together the gear shift of the car that broke just before you saw the movie that you almost didn't see on Saturday night because life seemed like it was conspiring to keep you out of the movie.

All of those things have have happened to me, and all of them will happen again. But this time, they happened to me this past weekend, when Sweetie and I went on a hastily-planned, and poorly-executed, date on Saturday night.

We went to see a midnight showing of Paranormal Activity, a movie that I'd been dying to see since I read about it in Entertainment Weekly. I only read about the movie two, or maybe three, weeks ago, but it's been driving me crazy since I read about it, making it another of those those not-so-rare occasions on which I could, like Ford Prefect, easily go from Not knowing something exists to wanting that thing with my entire being. That happens to me all the time, with songs and books and movies and anything that I learn can be deep fried, and, especially, with leftover pizza. If I find out there might be leftover pizza, I need that more than anything, which is hard, because sometimes, I find out that there might be leftover pizza and then immediately I find out that there is no leftover pizza left over, which causes me to suffer a crushing disappointment that's hard to get over.

You wouldn't think that not having something which, until a few seconds before, you didn't think you had, would be so terrible, but it is. People who say it's better to have loved than lost never came home from work one day to find The Boy eating some pizza, causing them to ask The Boy "Where'd you get that pizza?", to which The Boy responds "I cooked it for lunch," which then causes the salivary glands to kick in and causes them to rush to the kitchen and check the refrigerator to see if they, too, might have a slice of leftover pizza, only to realize that The Boy is eating the last of the leftover pizza, which realization is followed, quickly, by a sinking sense of despairing about the meaninglessness of life, which sinking sense is then replaced by optimism because there were a couple of Junior Mints in a box on the counter.

So everything worked out well, but, still, it'd be better if The Boy hadn't taunted me with the prospect of leftover pizza.

Our hastily arranged date was caused by my overwhelming need to see the movie Paranormal Activity, a need that boiled over when Sweetie said that her friend Chris had gotten tickets to a midnight showing of the movie that night.

Sweetie said that in all innocence: "Chris got tickets to a midnight showing of Paranormal Activity tonight," she told me on Saturday as we sat amidst the jumble of crayons, trucks, activity pads, and tiny plastic animals that used to be our living room. Sweetie didn't realize what reactions that would set off in me, or she'd have never told me about the fact that there was a possibility we could go see the movie that night.

My immediate first reaction was, of course, "Who's Chris?" While Sweetie and I have friends, we don't interact with them often enough for me to remember who they are automatically. I have trouble remembering who anyone is if I don't see them daily and the less frequently I see someone, the less likely I am to know who she's talking about. We have easily as many conversations about celebrities, movie characters, and "people I can't stand," (a large category) as we do about our friends, so when Sweetie says "Chris" did something, like get tickets to my movie, I have to think: Who's Chris? Mentally I sort through all the Chrises I know:

Chris the lawyer who used to have an office next to mine? Not likely, since we haven't seen him in 10 years.

Chris, the guy from the school district who was going to come and talk with the Babies! about learning to talk more and destroy things less? Not likely, since his name is Brent, not Chris.

Chris Gaines, Garth Brooks' alter ego? Not likely, but it would be cool to have an alter ego. I wish I had an alter ego. Maybe I should have an alter ego. But what would I use it for? Holding my place in line, possibly. Or would I need a clone for that? If I had a clone, I could have it be my alter ego, too. But that's kind of creepy, like that Ray Bradbury short story about the guy who had a robot that looked just like him and he'd have the robot spend time with his wife while the guy went out and did other stuff, but then one day the robot decided that he didn't want to go back in the box, and that the robot and the wife were in love, and so the robot took the guy and put him in the box. That was spooky. I'd better not.

So then my second reaction to Sweetie is: "What were we talking about again?" at which point I remember both what we were talking about and who "Chris" is, which leads to my third reaction, that of...

Paranoia, which isn't as crazy as it sounds, because I so badly wanted to see the movie that I registered on a website to be notified if it came to my city, and I hadn't gotten a notification that the movie was coming, which obviously proves that the movie makers are out to get me, or Hollywood is out to get me, or someone is out to get me, which leads me into my fourth reaction, which is...

...Who can I sue for this? I didn't go to law school for my health, you know, but that reaction is quickly replaced by (a) getting Mr Bunches down off the counter where he's trying to play with the water faucet innocently only Sweetie doesn't want him to because he gets water all over himself and the kitchen and also that water faucet has the garbage disposal underneath it and she worries he'll get hurt, and (b) my deciding that I have to get tickets to the movie, so I am going to go online and get my own tickets for the movie, just as soon as I get Mr Bunches down from the counter, and then just as soon as I distract him from being upset by putting him on the other counter, where he can happily play with the telephone and answering machine instead of the garbage disposal.

While I did that, Sweetie went online to verify that yes, the movie was showing (verifying that yes, the movie makers had deliberately screwed me over by not telling me even though I'd registered to be told about this) and then I was able to go online and order the tickets, except that I only got as far as the ordering screen before I had to stop and have Sweetie add some money to my bank account so that I could use it to order the tickets. The tickets were $22, and I had, at the time I was going to order the tickets, a balance of approximately negative eleven dollars, a negative balance that wasn't in any way my fault unless you consider it "my" fault that I pay no attention to what my balance is on my debit card, and just assume that there will be enough money on there to do what I need to do when I need to do it.

In this case, though, it wasn't, actually, my fault that I was overdrawn, because when Sweetie investigated, she realized that she'd used my debit card to order a book for herself.

It doesn't bother me that Sweetie used my debit card, and I don't have a leg to stand on, anyway, given that I delegate all the financial issues to Sweetie. She's in charge of knowing what and when I get paid (I frequently ask her "Do I get paid this week?" and hope she'll tell me the truth) and she's in charge of knowing what bills we need to pay and when. In exchange, I'm in charge of:

1. Periodically telling Sweetie that I need money,
2. Periodically telling Sweetie that I need more money,
3. Periodically explaining to Sweetie how I got $120 overdrawn on my (obviously-misnamed) savings account, and
4. Periodically telling Sweetie that we're going to the "Friends Of The Library" book sale.

I'm also the person who gets to make the decisions about just how many times I'm going to put Mr F's pants back on before I just let him run around half-naked. He'd run around all-naked, but he has trouble getting his shirt off if the top button is buttoned and usually gives up in frustration. Half a loaf is better than none, and half-a-clothed three-year-old is what you'll usually see if you come over to our house.

Once Sweetie sorted out that she'd used my card, and did her Bank Wizardry to get it all fixed up and put $22 on my card, I was able to complete buying the ticket and print out the movie ticket, the latter of which I delegated to Middle, telling her to get the printer ready and put in paper even though I was sitting right next to the printer cabinet and could have easily gotten up and opened up the little doors and put the paper in myself.

I asked Middle to do that because in every endeavor, it's nice to have someone else help out just a little. That's a lesson The Boy instinctively understands; The Boy is a master at getting people to help out just a little, even though it's absolutely unnecessary to help him. If I ask The Boy to get the milk out, he'll ask Sweetie to open the refrigerator door for him. If The Boy is taking garbage out to the garage, he'll ask me to carry one of the bags.

He's a pro at the "just one little help" thing. Last night, we were getting ready to go to the health club to swim for our Septathlon challenge this week and he was standing in the kitchen with his towel in his hand -- in his right hand, needing only one hand to hold it. His left hand was empty. Keep that in mind.

We decided that we'd take his car instead of mine, and he had to go upstairs to get his keys. So he turned to me and said "I'll go get them. Here, hold my towel."

Why, I wondered, was it necessary for me to hold his towel while he went up five stairs, into his open room, to get keys? Answer: It wasn't, but it would make his life a little easier to not carry 14 ounces of towel upstairs.

(I put the towel on the front-hall cabinet, and when The Boy asked where it was, I said "On top of the cabinet -- you know, the thing that exists solely for the purpose of holding things up for you?")

I'm just as guilty, though, because I, like everyone else, want someone else to share my pain when I have to do something like buy movie tickets online, and so I got Middle to help print the tickets. I then carefully took the ticket and put it on the chalkboard, held up by a magnet, so that it wouldn't get wet or wrecked or torn up or eaten by three-year-olds or asked to help The Boy do something.

That's important, too: I hung the preprinted ticket up for safekeeping. Keep that in mind, and, in fact, since you know exactly what's going to happen, I'll just say it: 12 hours later, I would forget that ticket was on the bulletin board and leave for the movie, and a half-hour after that, I would remember that the ticket was on the bulletin board... as we pulled up in front of the movie theater which is a half-hour from our house.

Having bought our ticket, that left the rest of the day free for my usual activities of "not doing anything much," and also going jogging. I have a list of things that I could do on the weekends, a list of chores I've delegated to myself, chores ranging from "Frame and hang up remainder of post card collection" to "Get posters for Babies! room" to "Organize videos & photos/burn to DVD" to the cryptically-written entry that reads, only, "Toybox."

We don't have a toy box, and haven't since the Babies! broke their old one climbing in and out of it. I don't, anymore, recall if toybox means fix the toybox or get a new toybox or, maybe, think about toyboxes, but it doesn't matter because that list has been hanging on our kitchen cabinet for years and the only thing I've accomplished on the list is to half-finish this entry:

Re-hang birdfeeder.

Oldest got me a birdfeeder a while back, one that hangs on windows via suction cups. I first put it up on our big front window on the theory that I could sit in the living room and see all the birds that came to eat at it, but no birds ever came. So I decided that I'd move it to the back window, where birds actually come to eat the scraps of cereal I sometimes throw out the back door for the purpose of attracting birds and squirrels. I decided that at the beginning of summer, 2008.

In the middle of summer, 2009, I moved the birdfeeder. On one of the rare days I had enough gumption to do yardwork, I was digging around in the mud that is our backyard, and getting very dirty and tired and sweaty, and I decided to go in and track some mud on the floor to get a soda. In doing that, I saw the bird feeder and decided I would at that point rehang it. So I tracked mud further through the house, went out the front door, got the birdfeeder and took it to the back porch, where I was going to hang it from the window, but I ran into a problem: The suction cups that held it to the window were dirty, and I wasn't about to lick a dirty, outside suction cup.

Ordinarily, I'd just lick my fingers, wet the suction cup and get on with my life, but, as I said, I was muddy, so that wasn't an option. I also didn't want to go back inside and wash up because Sweetie might see me and blame me for tracking mud all over the house.

Baffled, I set the birdfeeder on our patio table until I could come up with a solution for the problem, and there the birdfeeder sits to this day, lying on its back -- and not attracting any birds, either, I should note.

I didn't, on Saturday, kill the 12 hours before we had to leave for the movie by doing chores or anything stupid like that. Instead, I went jogging, and I read, and I read comics on the Internet, and I took the Babies! for a drive to the other side of town to get fried cheese curds from the A&W as a surprise for Sweetie, and I cooked dinner, and I watched more TV, and I drank four cups of coffee between 9 and 10 p.m. because the movie started at midnight, and we were going to leave for the movie at 11 p.m. The problem with that is that I never stay awake until 11 p.m. anymore. Most nights, I can't make it to 9 p.m., and 11 is out of the question, so I had to really fight and fight to stay awake.

Sweetie didn't even try; she took a nap from about 10:15 to 11. But, then, Sweetie wasn't as excited about this movie as I was. She wasn't excited at all; she hates horror movies and only agreed to go with me because it was a date and she's a nice person. All day long, though, she'd mentioned that she'd rather not go because this movie looked scary and she hates scary movies.

We made it to eleven, and handed the baby monitor over to Middle, who was tasked with listening to the Babies! while we were gone, and we emphasized that if she heard any noises that sounded like fighting, wrecking stuff in their room, or climbing out their windows, she was to go investigate. Other than that, let them sleep, is our rule, or, if they're not sleeping but not actively destroying things, leave them alone.

We set out for the theater, which was on the other side of town, a half-hour away, and drove along talking about how exciting it was to be going to see this movie (me), how exciting it was to simply be awake near midnight (me) and how important it was that one keeps one's eyes on the road while one is driving along dark country roads near midnight. (Sweetie). We arrived at the theater, where I realized I'd missed the entrance and had to do a u-turn to get back to it, which I did at the next intersection.

"I hope U-turns are legal here, because there's a cop right over there," said Sweetie.

"What? No way. He's not going to be a jerk about this, is he?" I asked, looking in the mirror to see if the cop would, in a jerk-ish way, enforce traffic laws, or if instead he would pick up on how excited I was to see Paranormal Activity at long last.

We made it into the movie theater parking lot, and pulled right up in front of the theater, which is the exact moment that I remembered I'd put the ticket on the chalk board for safekeeping. It had worked, too: the ticket was safe at home, not in any danger of being lost or actually used to get us entry to the movie.

I reviewed my options, mentally: we had 21 minutes before the show started. Could I get home and back in that time? I wondered. It seemed, at that moment, to me, possible, to do a 60-minute round trip in 20 minutes. If I hit all green lights, I thought, maybe.

I nixed that plan, because Sweetie probably would not like me trying to bend the laws of physics while driving. Instead, I opted to go inside and see if the manager could do something. Maybe we could verify online that I'd bought a ticket? Maybe I could threaten to sue? Something. So I hopped out of the car, instructing Sweetie to sit right there and wait for me.

"I know you hate doing this," I told her, because she does hate that, "But this is important."

With that, I went in and found a teenager who worked at the theater, who found a manager, who assured me that he could check and verify my tickets, if I had my debit card on me, and I did. While he went into the office to do stuff, I congratulated myself on my ingenuity in taking advantage of a backup system that I hadn't known existed and shouldn't have had to use, and then, when he came back out with my tickets, I thanked him and ran outside to Sweetie.

I opened up the driver's side door and told her we had tickets and she should hop back over to the passenger's side.

"The car's broken," she said.

"What?!?" I responded, and I'm pretty sure there were more exclamation points than that coming through in my voice.

Sweetie explained that the gearshift no longer worked, and wobbled it around to emphasize her point. She was right: It just jiggled and fell and completely failed to shift the gears or even stand in one place.

"What happened?" I asked, and then added "I'm not mad at you, but I'm mad, so I'm going to sound mad."

I've learned to explain that in advance to Sweetie, who otherwise assumes I'm mad at her, even though I'm just mad at the situation. She told me how she'd tried to move the car a little to get out of someone's way and the gear shift had just broken off for no reason.

Then she added "So we can't see the movie now," which made me suspicious, for a second, that Sweetie had planned this, that she so badly didn't want to see the movie that when I'd left the car she'd ripped the gear shift out and then reinstalled it defectively.

While Sweetie is smart enough to do that, she's not anywhere near mean enough. That's more a trick I'd pull, but I'd save it to get out of going to church or something.

We managed to coast the car, in neutral, over to the parking spaces, where I did the only things I could do in that situation.

I turned the car off, and then back on. That didn't help.

I jiggled the gear shift, repeatedly. That, surprisingly, didn't help, either.

I asked Sweetie, roughly 53 times, "What did you do?" That, surprisingly, didn't help either, and not surprisingly got me into hot water with Sweetie, who insisted that she'd done nothing, and maybe she hadn't, but weird car breakdowns follow Sweetie around, going back to the time that she'd had her car stop running when she'd stopped to vacuum it out. When I and the towing guy got there, he announced that a wire had come loose behind the glove box. To this day, Sweetie swears she doesn't know how it got loose, and I can't explain that incident.

Having exhausted all reasonable options, I then took apart the gear shift and peered inside, as though I would be able to understand what I was looking at. My knowledge of car mechanics is so limited that, had there been two little birds in there whose job it was to switch the car into gear, a la "The Flintstones," I wouldn't have been surprised.

I was surprised, though, because I was able to see exactly what the problem was and where things had gotten broken, and how it could be fixed, and the fact that I could get us home. I explained it to Sweetie and finished up with "So we can go see the movie," to which Sweetie responded "Are you sure?", probably because Sweetie quite correctly assumed that even if the car had been on the verge of complete disintegration, I'd have gone to see the movie.

I was sure, though, and we went to see the movie, getting in and getting pretty good seats and getting popcorn and a soda (me) and cotton candy (Sweetie, although she didn't order it and didn't eat it, but I had a little the next day) and watching a great movie.

One of us watched a great movie, that is. I watched it. Sweetie did not; she watched mostly my shoulder, turning her head to my shoulder at any part that threatened to be scary, and then asking me "What's happening?". I tried to tell her, quietly, what was happening: "He's walking. He's standing. There's a light... HOLY CRAP!" at which she'd bury her head farther. I'm pretty sure Sweetie thinks most of the movie is just a guy walking and standing.

Then we had to get home, using a gear shift that I tried to hold together first with a rubber band (but I couldn't get that to work) then with masking tape that I keep in the car to help hold up the part of the car that the deer broke when it ran into us, and then, when that didn't work, either, holding up the gear shift with my right hand while Sweetie shifted and I said "Careful, don't break my hand."

We crept through the city, praying that we wouldn't hit red lights (and running two of them), nervously driving in third gear past drunken college students on campus, and trying to talk about the movie she hadn't seen while also trying to convince ourselves that the car was fine and wouldn't be that expensive to repair.

It wasn't, in the end; it didn't cost all that much to fix up the gear shift, which works fine now, and we did get to see a midnight movie on a not-romantic-at-all date. And there was leftover cotton candy to take home and sneak a little bit of the next day, making sure that it gets eaten before it goes bad.

That's a tough job, too, having to eat leftover cotton candy on a Sunday morning while you're waiting for your Ramen noodles to cook for lunch, but I managed to get that done, too, and I did it because whatever it is life asks of me, I just try to do it.

So long as it's not lick a dirty outside suction cup. No way I'm doing that.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Everything comes full circle, here. (3 Good Things From 10/6/09)

I'm back to telling the Good Things about the wife & kids, to0... so here's my 3 from yesterday...

1. I got to a really good (but really sad) part of Corelli's Mandolin, which I'm still reading (slowly). I don't want to spoil it if you haven't read it, so I'll just say it's the part where the war breaks out and Corelli and his men decide to fight against the Germans on the island and they run out of ammunition and get captured, and Gunter is ordered to execute them or he'll be killed, himself.

What? It's not like I told everything. I didn't tell what Carlo did.

2. I got driven to work by Sweetie and Mr F and Mr Bunches, because my car had to go into the shop to get the broken gear shift fixed, and The Boy wanted to have a car to get home from school, so I decided I'd be nice and not take his car again, leaving Sweetie and The Babies! to drive me to work, with Mr F narrating the drive in his own language most of the way. (He still makes more sense than most talk radio!)

3. The car repairs cost only $132, which was nice -- especially since they just went ahead and fixed it without giving me an estimate-- and I also got to ride the bus home and read Corelli's Mandolin during the commute.

Some things are corn dogs (3 Good Things From 10/5/09)

Yesterday started off crummy but finished up great, but even if it hadn't I'd still be able to find 3 Good Things from the day to brighten up my outlook today.

1. Brett Favre played great last night. I don't usually get too up or down about football games -- it's just a game, for God's sake -- but I like to see Brett Favre do great because he's one of my sports heroes.

2. I was able to stay awake and watch the entire game, which was made even harder because we watched it on tape delay, so I didn't finish up the game until about 10:30. True, I did start dozing off in the 3rd quarter, but when The Boy said "If you're going to sleep, give me the remote," I pulled it together and soldiered on through.

3. Corn dogs for lunch. Not everything's football, you know. Some things are "driving back from court on a sunny October day listening to the radio, eating a corn dog and enjoying life."

Monday, October 05, 2009

Also, I jogged over 4 miles including up some big hills, but I didn't remember that until too late. (3 Good Things From 10/2, 10/3, and 10/4)

I'll keep on picking out things that aren't kids/family for a while to show it can be done: 3 Good Things from the weekend that weren't my kids or family...

1. We saw a midnight showing of the movie Paranormal Activity, which I'm going to keep talking up, because it is seriously the scariest movie I've ever seen, and also instantly made my top 10 movies ever list.

2. I got new windshield wiper blades, which may not seem like such a good thing, but keep in mind that I've needed them for about 3 years, and that also, when it rained, I couldn't see the road at all and had to steer by instinct. So if you're on any roads I regularly drive, this is a good thing for you, too.

3. I got to eat Ramen noodles again beginning Saturday. I was off Ramen noodles for the entire month of September (because of this, which I actually do), and then, even though October started on Thursday, events conspired to keep me from Ramen noodles until Saturday... when I had them twice.

My thing that I'm giving up for October is music I've played on my iPod before. I have over 3,000 songs that have never been played on my iPod, according to my iTunes. So I put them all on a playlist and I'm going to only listen to those for the entire month.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Female Golfers & Softball Players: Send your angry comments to "Senator John Ensign." I'm sure he'll check you out. (Nonsportsmanlike Conduct!)

It's the time of year you've been anxiously awaiting, even if you didn't know you were anxiously awaiting it -- and you probably didn't, because the "time of year" I'm referring to has to do with "baseball," and who pays any attention to baseball anymore? When I think of "baseball fans" I imagine stands filled with 75-year-old guys marking up their scorecards with obscure abbreviations like "K" (which stands for strikeout) and "HBP," (which stands for Hit By Pitch)(which is what I'd be hoping would happen to me if I was forced to sit in the stands for an entire baseball game.)

Interestingly-- or the exact opposite of interestingly -- there are not one, but two abbreviations for Hit By Pitch. There's HBP and HP -- the latter seemingly meant to make the scoring quicker, but, really, it's baseball; why are you hurrying? In between pitches, you'll have enough time to mark down your backward-letter-K (for a batter who struck out looking) and SH (for "Sacrifice Hit Bunt") and still take your cholesterol medication, check to see if your AARP membership card has arrived at home yet, and plan to watch every show on CBS that night, if you can figure out how to work the remote your granddaughter reprogrammed.

(Hint: She didn't reprogram it; you're trying to control your television with a banana.)

Anyway, the "time of year" I'm talking about is the start of the baseball playoffs, which means two things to sports fans: (1) With the lengthof the playoffs, it's only 4-and-a-half more months until baseball ends! and (2) The Return of the NonSportsmanlike Conduct 100% Accurate, Never-Fail, Always-Right, Sure-Fire System For Picking The Playoff Winner.

That's right: The NC100%ANF,AR,SFSFPTPW returns this year to help you pick the playoff winner of the National League, and the American League, and any other leagues baseball may have out there -- I think Major League Soccer gets a wildcard berth now, as does 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea-- through the sanest, wisest, most practical and most accurate method of all. The 100% System has, I will remind you, never failed to accurately predict the winner of a sport's playoffs (although I will also remind you that there is a margin of error of +/- 4 teams.)

People who've read this system before -- Mom, and George Will -- know how it works, but for the newcomers (Sweetie, and the other person who reads this blog) I'll briefly explain: Sportscasters and other "experts" look at things like starting pitching and batting averages and fielding percentages and regular-season records to tell you who they think will win the playoffs. Booooooooooring! And iiiiiiiiiiinaccurate!

I don't waste my time with that stuff, because (a) it's not reliable, like my system is, and (b) I don't know any of that stuff and would have to look it up, and while we know that even "scientists" agree with me that Googling things proves your point every time, if I'm going to be pretending to work while googling stuff, it's not going to be batting averages, it's going to be cool things like asking google Who was that one girl in that one movie that I liked, and seeing who comes up number one in response to that.

The response to that, for some reason, is Demi Lovato. If you google that phrase, the number one site in response is a link to a Demi Lovato video. Although I'm not sure it's an official Demi Lovato video, since I imagine that Disney has slightly higher production values which they express in the form of movies that are not just collections of still photos.

If you know who this is, you probably also say things
like OMG and LOL and WDYMISI?
(Which stands for What Do You Mean, I Sound Idiotic?)

Having established, though, that Demi Lovato was that one girl in that one movie that I liked, it's time to get on to the NonSportsmanlike Conduct 100% Accurate, Never-Fail, Always-Right, Sure-Fire System For Picking The Playoff Winner, which, as I said, doesn't mess around with irrelevancies like "Which team can score more runs," but instead measures intangibles and decides which team has the better intangibles in four critical categories of sports: Best Mascot/Nickname, Craziest Fans, Politician's Bets, and Weirdest Item in Their Team Store. Examining those categories has never failed to predict the winner of a major-league sporting event.

Up this week is the National League Playoffs, which I've chosen to do first because the American League playoffs aren't set yet; apparently American League baseball fans haven't gotten sick of the season yet, so Bud Selig is letting that league continue playing a little longer.

In the National League, there are four teams ready to square off for the right to face the American League's best in the World Series, and ready for you and I not to care until it comes down to the last inning of game 7 of the World Series. (Game 7 of this year's World Series is tentatively scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., November 3, 2017). The teams are (I'm told) the Colorado Rockies, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, and Los Angeles Dodgers. How it works is the Dodgers and Cardinals will each play a seemingly endless series of games, as will the Rockies and Phillies, and you'll hear a lot about them in the news and won't care. Then the winners of those two godawfully long series will play each other in what appears to be a best-of-37 series for the right to go to the World Series, which will take place so long from today that by then you will have forgotten I ever wrote this post and they will have come up with all-new abbreviations for baseball scorecards. (Like &. That's an under-utilized symbol.)

But I'm not predicting who will win just individual series; I'm telling you right now, right up front, which NL team will be in the World Series. Here we go:

1. Best Mascot/Nickname: Rockies, Phillies, Cardinals, and Dodgers... do any of those really say Winner? Not Dodgers, which can be eliminated first, the Chicago 2016 of this bunch. In all of sports, there are few team nicknames so uninspiring as Dodgers. People who dodge aren't winners. Unless the game is dodgeball, I suppose, but people who play dodgeball aren't winners... ever... either.

There is a reason this movie was a comedy:
Because anyone who thinks this is a sport is hilariously dumb.

Also not sports? Kickball, anything played
on ice, anything where you can't use your hands.

Rockies, too, can be eliminated. They're mountains. That was the best you could do, Rockies? Crib your entire name from the only geographic feature people can associate with Colorado in the first place? Thank god other teams don't follow this trend: The Kansas Plains. The Florida Swamps. The North Dakota God-Let's-Just-Move-The-Heck-Somewhere-Elses.

That leaves Phillies and Cardinals, and "Phillies" is out because it's a ph- version of Fillies, which means they're a bunch of girl horses trying to be all hip-hop. Cardinals win by default.

The Philadelphia Fillies have as their mascot the "Phanatic, an overgrown muppet that is known for shooting hot dogs into the stands using something called a "Hatfield Hot Dog Launcher."

That compares to the Rockies' Dinger The Dinosaur, whose only claim to fame is that he is more real than the "Velociraptor" and the "Minature T.Rex" combined. I fully expect "paleontologists" to announce, any day now, that they have discovered the complete remains of a triceratops that walked upright and used to do a prehistoric Home Run dance, and, sadly, I fully expect the public to buy it.

The Cardinals put up Fredbird, and, realizing that to be pretty uncool, then threw a bunch of women in with him, calling them Team Fredbird.

From mediocre chicken wings to MTV reality shows
to sports invented over a century ago which have long outlived
the public's attention span for them, there is nothing
that cannot be made better by surrounding it
with twentysomething girls in tight clothing.

The Dodgers don't even try -- their last mascot was Emmett Kelly The Clown. In 1956.

As much as I'd like to reward the "creativity" shown by Team Fredbird, the Phanatic wins this one for his ingenuity in discovering a way to rocket launch hot dogs.

Score: 1 for the Cardinals, 1 for the Phillies.

2. Craziest Fans: I choose this category by going to Youtube and searching for the team name with the words "Crazy Fan" associated with it. When you do that for the Phillies, the result appearing almost at the top is "Crazy fan almost drops his kid at Phillies Parade."

I thought he would not be the craziest Phillies fan, because I also saw that there was "Guy jumps off 3rd Floor parking garage for Phillies Parade," which sounded promising... until I watched it:

What a gyp. When you call a video "Guy jumps off 3rd Floor parking garage for Phillies Parade," and have that lead-up where he's undoing the safety wires, I as an Internet viewer am ENTITLED to see that guy fall down, and while he may land safely, he's got to fall. As a result of that false advertising, I'm declaring the Phillies out of the running for Craziest Fan.

Then there's what passes for a Crazy Fan in Colorado:

That's crazy? It's an old guy dancing to Cotton Eyed Joe (and, coincidentally, dancing to that song the exact way I dance to I See You Baby (Shakin' That Thing). The only thing crazy about that video is how eerily accurate it shows my imagination of a typical baseball fan to be.

Then there's crazy Dodger fan:

You know what's great about that? Every single person around him is totally ignoring him. That guy thought to himself "I'll put on my Dodgers furry hat and funny gloves and cape and I am gonna impress some people here today," and then not one person even raised an eyebrow at him. It's like they made a pact not to pay attention to him. "Hey, you know that guy that's always sitting next to us, the one that smells like old pretzels? Let's just ignore him entirely today and maybe he'll stop coming to games." I'm sure it didn't work: Guys like that never stop coming to things, whether those things be baseball games, weddings, parole board hearings -- but it's nice to see him fail at the one thing that wearing a cape in public usually can do, which is get you attention.

We finish up with Crazy Cardinals fan: A 2-year-old that watched his first game in August or September, 2009, and who expressed an appropriate reaction upon realizing he was being raised by parents who intended to take him to baseball games:

Did you see at the end? He picked up a scorecard. 2 years old, and already lame enough to want to mark the result of that play. Sorry about your life, kid -- but at least you helped give a point to your team.

Score: 1 for the Cardinals.

3. Politicians' Bets: I love to see our elected officials doing what's really important, whether "really important" be defined as "Spending Time With Oprah in Europe Instead of Attending To Health Care Reform," or whether it be defined as "Betting a case of something vaguely associated with our state against another politician." The strength of a team can be measured, very accurately, in how willing that team's mayor, governor, or even, sometimes, "Senator" is to back up that team and put his money -- or his locally-grown okra -- where his mouth it. (The strength of a government, on the other hand, is inversely proportionate to how many political sports bets there are. Just keep that in mind as you wait to see if Congress is going to pass a health care bill that actually helps, or if instead you're going to have to sell your blood to pay for your kidney dialysis treatment again.)(It's the Circle Of Life. Just keep telling yourself that.)

In Dodgers vs. Cardinals, I couldn't find a current bet, but I did see that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa LAST YEAR bet Chicago Mayor Richard Daley on the Cubs-Dodgers playoff series -- wagering the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid against rights to LA Times owner Sam Zell. That is more pathetic than Shrek 3, and I'm going to deduct a point from the Dodgers for it. I'd deduct a point from Chicago, too, but they didn't make the playoffs. Or the Olympics. Which weren't going to be held in Chicago, anyway. If "Chicago 2016" won, a bunch of events were going to be held in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin -- a tiny city which is now reeling, since losing out on hosting the 2016 Olympics came in the same year that the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum officially moved to Middleton, Wisconsin.

Suck it, Timmy!

Little-known fact: Middleton, Wisconsin, made it to the third round of balloting for the 2012 Winter Games. The final vote came in at Moscow, 5, Middleton, 3, Who Cares/Nobody Will Watch The Winter Games Anyway, Unless We Somehow Get Those Beach Volleyball Girls Who Are Always Making Out With Each Other To Come There, 89.

In the Rockies-Fillies matchup, we have a similar result: I searched for Phillies Rockies bet on Google and came across a 2007 article in which Colorado Governor Bill Ritter proclaimed the month of October to be "Rocktober." (In that same proclamation, he also announced that from now on, he would like to be referred to as "Governor Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine The Hulk And The Flash Combined," only to later realize that the name was already taken, but by then the new state letterhead had already been ordered.)

Declaring things to be Rocktober is a joke that went out with The Flintstones. So, Colorado, I am going to deduct a point from you, too.

Score: Rockies, -1, Dodgers, -1.

4. Weirdest Item In Their Team Store: We'll begin in the west and move east, just like the sun does. (What's that? You claim the sun moves east to west? That just shows me that you believe that propaganda the Mainstream Media feeds you about the direction of the sun? What a sucker you are. I read on HuffPo how it's all a big Trilateral Commission agenda item to keep solar power down. Even Dan Brown's in on it. The so-called "Lost Symbol" is nothing more than a compass with the real directions on it.)

Dodgers: Ordinarily, I head right for the cheap section of the store to find out what kind of lame junk the team is trying to foist off on people like me, people who, when they have to buy something, inevitably look for the clearance sign or that little orange price tag over the regular one. People like me don't care what we get -- we care that we get it cheaper than someone else.

But in Dodgerville, I got distracted on my way to the sale bin by the "Highland Mint Los Angeles Dodgers Manny Ramirez 24KT Gold and Infield Dirt Coin SPECIAL EDITION Photo Mint."

Yes, "Mint" is in the official description twice, and yes, "SPECIAL EDITION" was capitalized in the original (raising the question: Is there a regular edition of this:)

That Mint SPECIAL EDITION Mint features not just one, but two of something called an "Infield Dirt Coin," along with 3 24-kt gold (or gold-plated) coins.

But the important thing is: You're buying a coin made of dirt. For $294.99.

Oh, well, at least it's a SPECIAL EDITION. That'll make you feel better when your wife divorces you and exhibit one at the trial is "Husband's Money Made Out Of Soil."

Rockies: As usual, with Colorodoers, it doesn't take long to find something lame. I went to their team store and clicked on "Top Sellers" and was rewarded by seeing, as a top seller, the "Ultra Pro UV Protecting Baseball Square:"

That's a real thing, apparently, and not just a real thing, but a "top seller" for Rockies' fans, who apparently are unaware of a little thing the rest of us call "the third dimension." Rockies fans... it's not a square, it's a cube.

More importantly, before you shell out $3.99 to "protect[] Baseballs from harmful Ultra Violet rays keeping the Autographs clear and sharp," let me introduce you to another, totally free thing that will achieve the same results: Keep your baseballs indoors.

Cardinals: From the Cardinals, we have the St. Louis Cardinals MLB Authentic Collection Titanium Bracelet S-Type. Retailing at $26.99, your first instinct, like mine, was probably "Why would I pay 27 bucks for a dog collar?"

Your instincts are only HALF-wrong, though. It's not a dog collar. It's, instead, a 7.5" length bracelet made of something called Aqua-Titanium, and it's for you to wear. Still not sold? What if I told you -- as the Cardinals' website claims -- that the bracelet "has the ability to regulate the body's natural electric currents through cell ionization." In fact -- again, according to the St. Louis Cardinals' website, if you're wondering who to file the class-action deceptive marketing lawsuit against -- this bracelet can prevent injury.

Which should be helpful when you give this to your girlfriend for your anniversary and she immediately wonders why you got her a dog collar. One thing it can't prevent? Hurt feelings when people laugh at you on the street for wearing it.

And so we come to the Phillies shop, which I imagined would be filled with Philly Cheeseteak-related memorabilia, since every freaking time anyone in the sports world goes within 200 miles of Philadelphia, we have to hear about that stupid Philly cheesesteak, which looks gross on the sandwich and even grosser being eaten by idiotic drunken Philadelphians wearing retro Eagles' jerseys.

Instead of cheesesteak, though, I immediately came across something that you could use to CARRY your cheesesteak... and still leave extra room to pack along your shame and embarrassment: The Philadelphia Phillies Game Day Purse:

For just $29.99, you can send the message that not only are you sad enough to spend your time rooting for a baseball team, but also that you have the (complete lack of) fashion savvy to advertise it via a shoulder bag.

The ad copy notes that the "Front of the bag" has been "woven by hand with grosgrain ribbon," which is, I'm certain, one of the reasons why the rest of the world hates us and voted against Chicago/Mount Horeb 2016: "They sit around eating Munchos potato chips while we have to slave away 16 hours a day hand-weaving what is clearly a fanny-pack for the 21st century? Screw them, I'm voting for Rio."

Also, don't plan on carrying much in your haute couture purse. The dimensions are 8" x 7" x 1". It's one inch in width. Which means that whatever you plan to put in that purse would fit comfortably in your front pocket. But where's the humiliation/team spirit in that?

Even with so many worthy contenders, the obvious winner has to be the Cardinals' bracelet. While coins made of dirt, hideous purses, and ludicrously unnecessary "UV squares" are weird, and hilarious, and make me weep for humanity because someone somewhere is buying those things, the Aqua-Titanium of the bracelet won me over: It's not just titanium, the strongest element known to mankind! It's AQUA-Titanium, which sounds even better in a world where scientific education has been bypassed for almost-weekly teachers' in-services.

Cardinals: 1. And one pity point for the Rockies, to make their fans feel better while they sniffle and think "What if my house caught fire in the middle of the night and I had to get my baseballs out of the house and then had to stand in the street holding them for hours until the sun came up, thereby inadvertently exposing them to sunlight?"

To which I say: Have you considered getting an attractive team purse to carry them in?

Final Results:
Let's see here... carry the one... the final scores are:

Cardinals: 3
Phillies: 1.
Rockies: 0
Dodgers: -1.

Your National League World Series entrant will be the Cardinals!

With that out of the way, let's quickly wrap up the week by posting the The NC! Incredibly Accurate (But Arbitrary) NFL Picks! for week 3.

Last week, I finished 7-9 with my arbitrary picks, picks which resulted in my declaring that 3 games would end in a tie. (Who could've seen that not happening?) Mark Sclereth of the ESPN "Brain Trust," using all his football acumen... finished 10-6, or 3 games better than I did. And yet he gets the big bucks while I'm stuck slaving away nearly 15 hours a week at my job.

Note: I'm in the office 50 hours a week, but 35 hours per week are devoted to looking up old songs I just remembered from the 1980s, songs like "Dance Hall Days" by Wang Chung:

I'll continue to match "wits" with the Brain Trust, and this week will pick Mike Golic, another football-player-turned-analyst. Golic, whose sole job is to know about sports, has a record for the year of 34-13, or 72.3% right. My record is 28-19, or 59.5% accurate. That may look bad, but how much time do you think Golic spends looking up other songs with "Dance Hall" in the title, songs like Dance Hall by Modest Mouse:

See? It's a whole genre!

For this week, my Arbitrary Criterion is: The team whose starting quarterback has a shorter first name. Here's my picks. (Click here for Golic's. I'm too lazy to type them.)

Lions @ Bears: Jay Cutler, assuming your name isn't actually "Jayorella" or something, you get the win. Bears.

Seahawks @ Colts: I'm not sure if Matt Hasselbeck or Seneca Wallace will be starting for the Seahawks -- so it's either a win for the Seahawks, or a tie. I'll go with Matt and say Seahawks.

Titans at Jaguars: Kerry "Kerry" Collins or David "David" Garrard? You know what that means: Tie.

And, in honor of that tie, here's "Dance Hall Drug" by Boys Like Girls:

I told you: It's a genre!

Giants @ Chiefs: Eli! Giants.

Buccaneers @ Redskins: Everytime I think of Tampa Bay, I think that there must be some kind of pun-joke to make out of the last name. Something with a punchline of Well, that there corn costs a buck-an-ear. For a chance to host the 2020 Olympics, submit your own jokes to set up that punch line to Mayor Villaraigosa at Oh, and the game? The Redskins' quarterback is Jason, and the Bucs QB is Byron. Ordinarily, that would be a tie, but I'm going to arbitrarily say Byron outranks Jason and go Bucs.

Ravens @ Patriots* Everyone I know is upset that around here, this game is being shown on TV instead of some other game. Everyone except Mr F, who's upset because we won't let him eat his blanket. Sorry, Mr F! Rules are rules. Also, Joe (Flacco) and Tom (Brady) are equal in length, but Tom Brady's a cheater, so Ravens.

Raiders @ Texans: Al Davis should've taken my advice and drafted a horse. Texans. (Golic:

Bengals @ Browns: 2 second rule. Browns.

Time for "King of the Dancehall," by Beenie Man:

I rule.

Bills @ Dolphins: Chad Benchington is out again, making the Dolphins start ... Chad Henne. And that, sports fans, is also the only time in sports history that a team has had both its starting QB and its backup QB named Chad. Chads aren't supposed to be starting football games. They're supposed to be the night manager at the Hardee's down the road, the one that you always think I should go there sometime, but then you think Then again, I don't know what Hardee's even serves anymore, and then you realize that you left your wallet sitting on the counter at the gas station. Stupid Chad. Dolphins.

Jets @ Saints: Mark Sanchez vs. Drew Brees! 4 letters vs 4 letters! Do you suppose that Drew was always a real name, or did it evolve from Andrew, which itself evolved from Andrewth, the first name of fifteen consecutive Popes (Pope Andrewth I through XV)? Just makin' conversation here. Tie.

Cowboys @ Broncos: Apropos of nothing, I think that someone, somewhere, should sell Kyle Orton action figures. With real hand-off motion! And I'm getting sick of all these names being the same length. This was a stupid arbitrary criterion. Since I don't like Tony Romo, I'm going Broncos.

Rams @ 49ers: I just realized, I have no idea who the quarterback is for either of these teams -- and the Rams played the Packers last week, and I watched that game. (Having looked it up, I see it's Kyle Boller for the Rams, and I don't care for the 49ers, because there's two Kyles playing in the NFL and I'm going to give the win to this Kyle, too: Rams.

Chargers @ Steelers: Good thing I arbitrarily chose first names for these games (and then arbitrarily ignored my own rules whenever I wanted to). Ben beats Philip, so Steelers.

Packers @ Vikings:
Brett vs. Aaron? Again with the same length? You can tell I don't think these through before I decide on the arbitrary criteria. Since I will be wearing a Favre Vikings Jersey while I watch this game, Vikings

And, to play us out, here's Dancehall Places by Mint Royale:

This week's good luck charms are:

Katie Featherstone: Currently appearing in Paranormal Activity, the scariest movie I have ever seen. We saw it last night at a midnight showing, and I'm still a little scared, today, and it's 9:30 a.m. and light out.


Ryn Neethling, who won a gold medal swimming in the 2004 Olympics -- which were held in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. Ryk was awarded the Arizona Athlete of the Century award, too, which is a pretty good accomplishment, I guess, except that his competition was female golfers and softball players, and they can't really be called athletes, right?