Sunday, July 31, 2005


Subtitled: And I Ain't Talkin' 'Bout No Sausage!

I finally got around to updating some of the links on the left side of the page. I was planning on waiting until I put together everything that I wanted to include, but then I realized that, like many projects in my life, I would never get the list done if I waited. Therefore I decided to put up links to every blog I am currently reading so you, my fine digifriends, can get in on some of the best reading on the internet. In order, they are:
  • A Perfectly Cromulent Blog. Written by a gentleman named Pete out of the Houston area whom I have not had the pleasure of meeting, though a mutual friend keeps telling me that I have to meet this guy, this is the first thing I read every morning. Pete is always interesting and well-thought out, and now that I have learned he grew up in College Station, I feel closer to him than ever. I mean that in a purely non-homosexual, non-stalker kind of way.
  • The Fancy Catfish. I was alerted to the existance of this blog through the same gentleman who introduced me to A Perfectly Cromulent Blog, and I had the honor of meeting the miscreants behind The Fancy Catfish at this past Flipside. While the blog occasionally has moments of drunken mumbling (which is the point of the blog) there are also moments of comic genius on there. Some of the best entries on there include "Bobby Henderson is a Genius" posted by Casey on June 30th and "oh... my... god." posted by Derek on May 22nd.
  • Matt's World. As this blog is the forefather of my brother's blog, Just A Day Behind, Matt's World is the forefather of this blog. Written by one of my best friends in the world, this blog is his wry obeservations on the news of the day with occasional outbursts from yours truly via the peanut gallery (comments).
  • Just A Day Behind. This is my brother's blog. He has only updated it a few times since its creation, but his posts tend to be long and well thought out. I am really enjoying reading his blog and getting to know him in a way that I haven't before, since I feel like we are not particularly close (I am nine years older than he is). I particularly liked his post "Soundtrack to Life" (so much so that I totally ripped him off for my post "A Couple of Tracks from My Life") and his latest post, "Body Art Anyone?" is a very interesting and illuminating read.
  • Rambles and Brambles. This is written by a friend of mine who has had the good sense to get the heck out of College Station and it mainly deals with the minutae of life, which is always interesting to me, unless offered via reality TV, in which case it turns me into a homicidal maniac.
  • A Shakespeare Wench. This is written by a friend whom I met through another friend's involvement in the Shakespeare at Winedale program at the University of Texas. They are no engaged and we can't seem to get rid of her long enough to explain to Kyle how bad of an idea this is. Silly romatic git! Actually, I am kidding. I have not known Kyle that long, however he positively glows when he and Sara are together, and even though sometimes they are so cute it makes me sick, it does my inner romantic good to see someone making it.
Well, there you have it boys and girls, these are the blogs I currently read on a regular basis. I am not certain what is going to come up in the next episode of Links, but I will have something soon. Have fun!

The Legend of Dan Freedom

A friend of mine writes about what he calls recreational liars on his blog. Recreational liars are people who will tell a lie just to spread misinformation. There is nothing malicious in the lies they tell, just a desire to be mischievous and perhaps to see how far a lie can be pushed into the realm of blatant falsehoods before someone finally pulls your card on the story. I have to admit that I am one of these people. If someone asks a question and I am quick enough on my mental feet, I will make up an answer and then defend said answer for a few days. Every once in a while I have dropped one of these recreational lies that has endured and gains a life of its own. One of these cases concerns Dan Freedom, better known to the public as Dan French.

Since the late nineties (anyone else feel old?) I have worked with Dan French. He bounced around several different departments at my company as well as moving back and forth between Houston and College Station a couple of times. I don't know him real well, but he has become one of those constants in my work world. We say hello and occasionally chat back and forth about how much more time he has in school and what not. It is a very casual friendship.

One day during the build up to the current Iraq War I was sitting around with Philip, the office wit, discussing the rash of anti-France sentiment that was washing over parts of the nation. We were making fun of the name changes that accompanied this dislike of the French (whom I dislike on principle rather than for any one incident in their history of bad decisions and surrenders). In particular we were focusing on the change of french fries to freedom fries or, the best EVER, traitor tots. Dan went cruising through the area and I pointed out to him that we had to change his last name, otherwise he might be considered a traitor. We immediately agreed on the moniker of Dan Freedom. It allowed him to keep his first name and suited our purposes of making fun of what was going on in the real world.

A day or so later he went walking through the area again and I called him Dan Freedom. After he left, one of the girls turned to me and said that she thought his last name was French. Seeing an opportunity to have some fun, I immediately told her that Dan Freedom was his porn name. She looked at me like I was selling her a load of crap, which I was, but I turned away and said something to the effect of, "It's how he paid for his first few years of college." She bought it and that was all that was said at the time. When I saw Dan later, I told him what I had said. He laughed and we thought it was done. We were sadly mistaken.

A couple of days later one of the other girls in the department asked if I had heard that Dan used to be a porn star. I nodded, smiling on the inside, and told her that I had known about it and that I had seen one or two of his movies. She asked what I thought of his "acting." I told her it was okay, I mean it was porn acting. She asked if I thought it was weird working with a guy whom I had seen naked, and I told her no, I never really thought about it. She seemed to accept this and went on.

Now several months passed, we're talking some where between six and nine months, and the joke passed into whatever part of my brain these little lies go to die. I ran into Dan on the stairs (it didn't hurt, Matt) and he told me that he had been at a party this past weekend and a girl, who did not work at our office, asked what porn movies he had been in. He told me at first he was taken aback by the question and then he remembered the lie, so he threw a couple of movie titles out that he made up on the spot and then he rolled on with the party. When he was first telling me the story, I had forgotten about the lie, but by the end I had remembered and I was laughing so hard I was almost crying.

All I could think of was, "Mission Accomplished."

Saturday, July 30, 2005

BEHOLD! The Power of Blog!

Holy crap! I got fan mail! I'm giddy like a schoolboy and now I am going to share it with all of you!

"Your blogs have changed my life. Now all I can think about is Rachel doing a midget..."

Joe M., The Woodlands, TX

One, it is always cool to get a shout-out from your hometown. Go Highlanders!

Two, I changed somebody's life! How cool is that? I have changed diapers before, and a tire or two, and I changed underpants this morning before work, but I have never changed a life before. And all through the power of blogging. It is enough to bring a tear to my eye.

Three, the second sentence is a little freaky Joe. Thanks for sharing with the class, dragging one of the sacred cows of my young life down to earth, and sticking us all with the same image. As I suggested in my email to you, viewing the Italian version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves would replace any images of Rachel with a midget that are lurking in your head. There are seven midgets (I think they all may be dwarves, technically) and there is a girl. It's European. Are you getting the picture yet? All the dwarves are wearing little red hats. How 'bout now? There is nakedness involved.

Clearly Joe needs some help, and I am glad I am here to help him work though his midget issues. I never considered the therapeutic effect blogging could have on the readers. I am glad my insanity is helping the world become a better place.

(Seriously, thanks for dropping me the line, Joe. It is really nice to know that people outside my immediate sphere of influence are reading and enjoying what I do here. Thank you.)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Book Review: The Rule of Four

As I look over the last few book reviews I have done, I come to realize that I am not a good reviewer. I either get caught up in the cliches of reviewing books or I feel the need to pontificate about my reaction to the book. I suspect this review will stumble between my two standards. Oh well.

After a marathon reading session of just over a day I completed THE RULE OF FOUR by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. This does not mean it took me 24 hours of reading to complete the book, but rather that all of my leisure time during the day was occupied by reading the book. Much like SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL (you can read my review here), I was interested in this book when it first came out however I was too much of a cheapskate to go and buy it. Before I even knew it was out in paperback a friend had purchased it, read it, and, knowing I enjoy a good read, loaned it to me. I must admit that this is the first book he loaned me since THE ROMANOV PROPHECY, which I did not really enjoy and therefore I was a little cautious about his ringing endorsement of this book.

I am happy to report that THE RULE OF FOUR did indeed turn out to be a good read. About half way through I was beginning to think I would not be writing this review. At this point the book had begun to feel like a pale imitation of Eco's THE NAME OF THE ROSE. (As a brief aside, I have to admit that I have never managed to finish reading THE NAME OF THE ROSE. Eco's writing is so dense that inevitably the book wears me down before I can complete it, however I have read at least half of the book and I have seen the movie.) However about two-thirds of the way through the novel it swerves from being a straight up thriller and becomes a heartfelt, though somewhat clumsy, fusion of a thriller and a coming of age tale. From then on I was engaged by the coming of age tale and the thriller aspects of the novel actually became somewhat irritating.

One of my favorite things about this novel is the prose. Since the protagonist is also narrating the story, the authors did not shy away from the quips and one-liners that I suspect many of us have floating around in our heads. Most of these are delivered with a sarcastic panache that made me immediately like the protagonist. There are other moments in the book where the prose takes on a very poetic turn of phrase, welcome moments that change the flow and expose a deeper emotional connection between the authors and their protagonist.

Overall I found this novel to be a worthy first-effort. Yes, it was rough in places, and yes, I do not think it knows what it wants to be when it grows up, but it was a pleasant diversion and I do not feel as though I wasted my time reading the book. Not a ringing endorsement, I know, but as the Italian proverb goes, there is no worse thief than a bad book. I could not agree more (except for that butt monkey who stole my comics and coin collections when I was younger) and with that in mind I eagerly await Messrs. Caldwell and Thomason's sophomore effort.

If anyone can find a reasonable attribution for the Italitan proverb, please let me know. I thought some important classical figure said it, Virgil or the like, however I cannot find anything on it. Thanks!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Serendipitous Surfing

When I was in college I was very much into the MU* scene. For those of you who do not know what I am talking about, the MU*s (MUD, MUSH, MUCK, etc.) were the precursors to the spate of MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) we have been subject to over the past few years. The MU*'s were text-based games where people created a world and interacted in that world. In some cases, MUDs in particular, they followed the model of a Dungeons & Dragons game where your character wanders around, kills stuff and get loot. In other cases they would be purely role-playing environments. Some of these were based on novels, like Harper's Tale, which is based on Anne McCaffrey's Dragon Riders of Pern novels, or extant RPG worlds. Other provided a basic setting, like Image Castle (now called Castle d'Image), which was set in a late medieval fantasy castle and its environs. Still others were nothing more than a place for the socially awkward to gather and chat. I enjoyed playing on them, although my addiction to them is one of the reasons I never finished college (and the reason I refuse to play any MMORPG).

I had some pretty good friends on some of these MU*s and every now and then I get nostalgic and wonder what they are doing or what they have gotten up to over the past several years. One night I couldn't sleep and didn't feel like reading, so I started to try and track down some of the MU*s I used to play on and see what was going on. I found that most of them had been shut down, but in the process of looking for them I stumbled across a website maintained by the husband of the first girl I slept with. [I kept trying to use "to whom I lost my virginity" however it was a mouthful and makes it sound like I was taken advantage of.]

This was kind of weird. I don't have any fond memories of my first experience. There were performance issues on my side (I was NERVOUS!) which led to me feeling inadequate. Then I got all emotional and crap. We were at my parent's house with my father sleeping across the hall, so there was the fear of being caught. To top it all off, at this point in my life my family and I were not seeing eye to eye on a lot of things and I was very scared of my father, so getting caught would have been a disaster. All of this added together to turn it in to a pretty horrible experience. Even though she was staying at my house, we didn't speak very much after everything was said and done, and not too long after she left for parts unknown. I don't bear any ill will, or blame her for it being bad or anything, and I am not under the illusion that somehow, somewhere I was in love with her or things would have worked out differently or anything like that. Seeing her picture again after a decade just...I am not sure how it made me feel. She looked thinner in the pictures, and happy. I think the lack of any real feeling for her bothered me more then anything else. Deep down inside I am a romantic. I try to cover it up with foul language and bawdy humor, but I guess I still believe that sex is something to be shared with someone who is special to you. If not necessarily Ms. Right, then certainly not just Ms. Right Now.

At first I was surprised to find something about her on the internet, but after thinking about it for awhile it made perfect sense. I met her on one of the MU*s. The internet was really the basis for our entire, short lived, relationship. In the end we were on the cutting-edge of a paradigm shift in dating. Somehow me finding this website was right. We could never have that awkward meeting where we bump into each other while shopping, or see each other across a crowded restaurant, where she might recognize me and whisper something to her friends. There will be no moment at out ten-year reunion. That moment of voyeurism in the dark of my room, sometime in the nether-hours of the morning, was the only awkward moment our particular path had left for us.

[For those interested, the website is here.]

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Some of my poetry has been accepted for publication in the fourth issue of Brazos Gumbo. For those of you that don't know, Brazos Gumbo is a poetry journal put together by an acquaintance of mine who graduated from Texas A&M last year. For his senior self-directed study he decided to put together a journal of poetry featuring poets that live or have lived in the Brazos valley. He published his fist issue in 2004 and he has produced three issues so far.

Honestly I will not blatantly encourage you guys to buy too many things here, however Brazos Gumbo is one exception. Right now the poets are not getting paid for their work and the amount that Sam brings in is just enough to cover his costs, however I believe projects like this are vital to the growth of artistic communities, which is something sadly lacking in the Bryan-College Station area. We have the Brazos Writers however I feel this group is dominated by older people who have retired and are writing their memoirs. Don't get me wrong, this group serves an important purpose in the community, however I feel there is also a need for a young and dynamic group willing to experiment and push the boundaries of their arts. In looking at all of the writers whom I admire and seek to emulate, one thing is common, they all had social groups who encouraged their art. Many of these groups produced multiple talents, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis immediately spring to mind.

Anyway, I will be subjecting myself to the public humiliation that is reading my own writing at the Barnes & Noble in College Station on July 30th. I HATE speaking in front of people, so come out and enjoy my discomfort.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Soft Core Porn + Midget = RAGE!

The other night I was watching South Park when an advertisement for the latest entry in the Girls Gone Wild video series, Girls Gone Wild Games, came on. Apparently this entry in the reality-TV of soft-core voyuer-porn is hosted by none other than Verne Troyer (Mini-Me in the Austin Powers movies.) I find the Girls Gone Wild videos to be minorly annoying, but the ads for the videos are really irritating (particularly those hosted by Doug Stanhope, whose comedy has less humor value than 95% of the craps I have taken in my life). This most recent ad took the cake when they showed two girls going wild in a pool while Verne snorkeled and watched the not so hot action. He then pops his head out of the water and says something to the effect of, "That's nice!" I don't know why, but this broke me. I was instantly filled with a rage and I needed to share. As far as lame lines dropped in a Girls Gone Wild video this even tops Stanhope's, "Show us where babies feed! It's natural!" I mean, come on Verne, I suspect the action you are watching is at best OK, maybe nice in that I-am-getting-to-watch-two-girls-make-out-and-that-is-always-fun way, but it is not good action. Good action is the antithesis of the Girls Gone Wild videos. They are truly the lowest common denominator of exploitative bad porn. I considered why I was so angry about the ad, and here is what I found:

1. Do not mix midgets with sub-Skinemax porn. Just don't do it. The midget in Happy Gilmore bothered me enough, I don't need one of those little freaks running around distracting me from what small pleasure I derive from the soft-core stuff. If there is going to be some good, hardcore pounding, I don't mind the midget, but if all I am going to get is disorienting glimpses of one blonde idiot kissing on another blonde idiot then leave the frackin' midget at home.

2. Silence is golden! No one should speak, unless of course one of the girls wants to lay some dirty talk on me, but I certainly don't need commentary on the afore mentioned moron-on-moron action. Play some appropriate synthesizer music, perhaps some rock if the girls are appropriately extreme. Let me hear their giggles and other vocalizations. Don't give me a play by play or color commentary.

Funky Woodjam: The Secret Origin

A couple of people have asked me about the origins of the Funky Woodjam name. The easy answer is that WOODJAM1 is my user ID on the proprietary computer system at my office. This system requires each user to have a unique user ID made up of eight characters. Usually these user IDs are made up of the first six letters of your last name and the first two letters of your first name, however this has to be adjusted for those of us with shorter last names. The user ID for James Wood is WOODJAME, however when I started there was another James Wood who worked at the company. In order to create a consistent but unique user ID the E on the end was replaced with a 1. This formula sometimes leads to funny/tragic results with the user IDs DICKMELO and BETHEAPE being just two of the user IDs with puerile humor value, which believe you me, dear reader, I ran with, I have seen in my time.

A consequence of having this system of naming people is that some people get user IDs that will start being used in person-to-person contact. Since there was another James who worked in the Parts department when I started, it was natural for people to find another name to use when referring to me. Fortunately my user ID provided a name which easily flowed off the tongue, therefore around the office people started to refer to me as Woodjam, rather than James. (Lately some people have been referring to me as J.Wo, with the long O. I suspect it is because of my prodigious and quite sexy behind, and the fact that I will bust a cabbage patch anywhere, anytime.)

So I was stuck with the nom de emploi Woodjam. Then one day some of the people from the office were trying to convince me to go dancing with them. I abhor dance clubs. I can't dance AT ALL. I attribute 50% of this to the fact I am lily-white, and the other 50% to the fact that I am uncomfortable in my body and kind of awkward. They were trying to convince me to go and I was trying to convince them that James in a dance club has all the rhythm and lyrical motion of a beached whale suffering a full-body dry-heave. Basically not a pretty site. They did not believe me. Clearly more drastic action was needed.

I then proceeded to show them how bad of a dancer I was by mixing the cabbage patch with a semi-provocative hip-thrust (okay, if a girl was doing it, it would be hot, but with my tubby butt doing it, well, it was scary), a spin, and the white man overbite. This particular set of dance moves was quickly dubbed the Funky Wood Jam and is considered by some the most powerful dance known to man.

Monday, July 25, 2005

An Open Letter to Alex Pereira

Dear Alex,

I have to admit that I was one of the people who read the news of your cousin's shooting death and my heart leapt. In the complete blackout of information from the London police, I assumed they had done their job correctly and prevented another bombing attack. I was shocked when I found out they, and by extension I, was wrong, and to be honest, a little dismayed at my initial joy.

When anyone dies before their time, it is a moment for quiet reflection on what might have been and the times we had with the person who is now gone from our lives. It is a time to spend with family and friends. Time to raise a glass to memory and the good times. This is not the time to allow yourself to be baited into vitriolic statements like, "They had to kill someone to show the whole population they are working and make the country safe." This is not the time to threaten legal action.

The police force was well into an investigation that, to this point, had been praised for its thoroughness and restraint. I am not sure how things are done in Brazil, but the police in London did not need to prove anything to the public. They certainly did not need to kill anyone.

Let us carefully consider the facts, as reported by the AP:
  1. He emerged from an apartment block that was under surveillance.
  2. He was wearing an unseasonably heavy coat.
  3. He refused police orders to stop.

Now let us carefully reconsider these facts, keeping in mind that this incident too place the day after the second round of bombings to hit London in three weeks:

  1. He emerged from an apartment blokc that was under surveillance. This means the police already suspected the involvement of someone in that apartment block and would be hypersensitive to any odd behavior form anyone living in the building.
  2. He was wearing an unseasonably heavy coat. All the better to cover your explosive-laden vest with.
  3. He refused police orders to stop. He fled from the police. Again, I do not know how they do things in Brazil, however in most of the civilized world when a police officer orders you to stop, you stop. The only reason you could have for fleeing is if you are guilty of something (or you are in Mexico, which was clearly did not apply here.)

Jean Charles de Menezes is dead, and that is sad, but he was not killed by a police force known for their brutality. He was ordered to stop by the police. He ran. I cannot emphasize this enough. In a city which had just suffered the second round of bombings in three weeks. He was ordered to stop by the police. HE RAN. He put the officers pursuing him in the worst position one human can put another. They had to decide, right then, whether to take one human's life in order to protect others. Jean Charles is not dead because the police were in dire need to make a statement to the public. In the end, Jean Charles is dead because he made a bad decision. I am sorry for your loss, but feel no more pity for him than people that die from drug overdoses or people who get bit by sharks while surfing or fishing.

The true tragedy here is that the officers who shot Jean Charles have to live the rest of their lives knowing they took a life. They came to the only conclusion Jean Charles allowed them to make. He was a terrorist. In seeking to protect their fellow Londoners, they followed their orders. They shot to kill. Ultimately they took the wrong life. They have to live with that for the rest of their lives. I almost said innocent there, however Jean Charles is not innocent. J'accuse, Jean Charles. Your foolishness cost you your life. What price will those officers have to pay? Will it be sleepless nights? Will they hesitate the next time? Will this hesitation multiply the death toll due to your moment of stupidity? I hope not. My sincere prayers and condolences are with your family, the officers, and their families.

A Couple of Tracks from My Life

My brother wrote about his life having a soundtrack on his blog and that got me thinking about what songs would be on the soundtrack to my life? I was thinking about this as I went to the grocery store tonight and suffered through some truly banal crap on the radio. Only three songs immediately came to mind.

The first is “Barbara Ann” by The Beach Boys. For most of my teenage years, my mother kept a strict control on what kind of music we could own and listen too, therefore I grew up on a steady diet of pop from the 50s and 60s, some Neil Diamond (I still haven’t gotten over that, though my therapist told me we’re close to a breakthrough), lots of The Kingston Trio, Simon & Garfunkel, and Peter, Paul, and Mary, with some Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash thanks to my father, and classical music. Out of all of this music, my favorite at the time was "Barbara Ann". To this day I am not sure why, but it was on one of my tapes that I eventually played so much it wore through and had to be replaced.

The next song I thought of was “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams. I know, I know. This song is perhaps the worst sort of schmaltz pop out there, however it has a very deep emotional attachment for me. As almost everyone knows, it was the love song from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which came out in 1991. I associate this song with a girl, Rachel Cowart, who had moved in to town that year and was a couple of years behind me in school. From the moment I met Rachel, I had a crush on her. Things never worked out between us. At one point we were discussing why she couldn’t date me and her reasoning was that she liked me too much and could tell me anything. Clearly these are not qualities you look for in a person you are dating! My fondest memory of her was the night of my senior prom. I had taken Stephanie, who had been my on-again-off-again girlfriend for most of my senior year, and Rachel was taken by one of the crap weasels she had dated at one point or another. If I can close my eyes I can still see Rachel. She was wearing a white dress that did not come down past her knees. It had some sort of texture to it, I want to say lace, but time has blurred the details. She was wearing a white choker, and her shoes made her legs really stand out. Her hair was cut short, like it always was, but she had done something to make it a little curly. Stephanie and I were walking off the floor when this song came on, and Rachel grabbed my hand. We ended up dancing to this song. It was the only time we ever danced. Rachel was one of two or three women in my life that I would have married had they asked me. About three years after that night, I talked to Rachel for the last time. I had just been thrown out of the house for being an ass, and I decided to go to the Macaroni Grill for dinner. I was eating my solitary meal when she came over and said hello. We chatted a bit and then she told me that she was moving to Arizona with some guy she had met recently. It broke my heart. After all that time I still carried a flame for her. We never spoke again. Part of me wants to blow off the feelings I had for Rachel, to say they were just high school crap and that I should get over them, however as I was typing this tonight, I really thought about it. If I close my eyes and listen to that song I can almost feel her in my arms again, I can almost smell her scent. I open them back up and here I am, in front of my computer again, hammering away at this entry. I can’t discount the fact that after a decade I can still recall her touch and almost recall her presence. Of all the friendships I have lost over the years, hers is the one that I miss the most, and in the final analysis that has to count for more than all of the logical reasons my mind throws at me. I loved Rachel. She was my first love.

The final song I immediately thought of is “Say Anything” by Good Charlotte. Again, I think of this song because of a girl, however this is far more recent. For a long time a very good friend of mine have had a strange relationship. I love her very much, however there are some practical considerations that keep us from taking our relationship to the next level (which would be serious dating with an eye towards marriage, that is how much I love this girl). Anyway, a couple of years ago I started dating another girl, and I was not as upfront about it with girl #1 as I should have been. I ended up REALLY hurting her feelings. There was a period of several months where we were not talking. It was very fifth grade of me. I should have gotten over myself and apologized to her, but I wouldn’t. I had my pride, dammit, and I was clinging tenaciously to it. Sometimes I am so pathetic it is almost laughable. I bought The Young and the Hopeless during this communication blackout and this was the one song from the CD that reached out and slapped me around. You know how it gets, when you’re having problems there is always that one song on the radio, or in this case the CD, which really speaks to you? In this case, this was the song. I listened to it over and over again. There were times where I would lay in my room with this song on repeat and just listen to it over and over and over again. Eventually I got over myself and managed to patch things up with girl #1 and girl #2 gave me the, “I just want to be friends,” line. Now I can’t hear that song without thinking about how I hurt girl #1 and how lucky I am to have her in my life.

While writing this, I have been listening to music, seeking inspiration. So far I have listened to “The Green Fields of France” from the Dropkick Murphy’s album The Warrior’s Code, “The Humpty Dance” from the Digital Underground album Sex Packets, and “Maybe Won’t Do”, “Hell Yeah!”, and “The Geeks Get the Girls” from American Hi-Fi’s album Hearts on Parade.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Line of the Day IV

Said by one of my friends in the office while discussing an incident in France involving the uncomfortable intersection of semi-public gay sex and semi-public urination.

"The worst part was watching my artwork float away from me in a stream of my own urine."

Book Review: Shake Hands with the Devil

This post is going to go wrong from the very start. Initially I planned it as a review of Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire’s book SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL, which is his account of the time he spent as the Force Commander for UNAMIR (UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda), however I think you will find I wander fairly far afield from a mere book review in this post. Also, I did not plan on completing the book as quickly as I did, and therefore I had intended to put a couple of more humorous entries between my book reviews. However, as Von Moltke said, no plan survives contact with the enemy, especially if the enemy is a good book.
I was initially interested in this book when it first came out in hardback, less because I was getting involved in the spate of Rwanda band-wagoneering accompanying the release of HOTEL RWANDA, and more because I was interested to see what Lt. Gen. Dallaire had to say about his experiences there. I was also intrigued because the biographical blurb pointed out that he is the highest-ranking military office to ever openly suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and I was very interested to see why he might be suffering from this where other leaders of other UN operations that had failed did not. I was sure that some of it was due to the fact that they did a better job of covering up their problems, but I also wanted to know what was different about Rwanda. What had caused this man, whose entire life was defined by military and national service, to break down?
Once I was reading the book it did not take me long to understand what had happened to Dallaire. Through his writing it became clear to me that he is a deeply thoughtful and emotional man who wears his heart on his sleeve. Perhaps the worst sort of man to deal with the events that eventually over took him. I do not mean to belittle Gen. Dallaire by saying this, in fact I hold him in very high regard. What he was able to accomplish in Rwanda, despite having to deal with the entrenched UN bureaucracy and the obstructionist efforts of the United States and other nations on the Security Council, is nothing short of miraculous. That he was able to save anyone, particularly after Belgium abandoned their commitment to the UNAMIR mission and recalled their troops, is a testament to Gen. Dallaire’s ability as a leader of men.
He pulls no punches in this book, describing his slow descent into fatigue with the same blunt language that he describes the beauty of Rwanda and the horror that engulfs that small nation shortly after his arrival. Throughout the pages the reader is offered the rare chance to see the inside operations of a UN peace-keeping mission and through the book we begin to understand why so many of them fail in their objectives. While Gen. Dallaire states in his conclusion that we need to worry more about how to prevent events like this from happening rather than worry about assigning blame, you can certainly tell he feels the bulk of the blame for this tragedy sits squarely on the shoulders of the governments of the United States and other first-world nations who had the opportunity to fully support the UNAMIR, but rather chose to field a toothless force whose most advanced detachment was withdrawn the moment they were most needed.
I am very patriotic however some of my faith in this country has been shaken recently. I cannot help but conclude that Gen. Dallaire is right, we are willing to sacrifice upwards of 800,000 Rwandans because we fear the loss of one man. What is the worth of one life when compared to almost a million people? In America we are proud of our freedoms and we often viciously fight amongst ourselves to figure them out, but if we are so proud of our freedoms why are we so unwilling to share them with the world? So what if it costs us a few lives and a few million dollars. I can guarantee each one of you reading this that if there were more countries in the world that enjoyed our level of freedom we wouldn’t be engaged in our current war on terror. London would not have suffered the recent bomb attacks. There would not be the almost daily cycle of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Desperation and injustice breeds terrorists, not comfortable middle-class living.
In my government class in high school we read Machiavelli’s THE PRINCE and then asked if the tactics outlined in this treatise could co-exist with our democratic principals. I was the only one in the class who argued that they could since the government’s duty was to ensure our freedoms, and that to do so the government may have to violate those principals in its dealing with the rest of the world. This was the M.O. of the government during the Cold War. I believe this manner of dealing with the world worked where there were two or more major power blocks, however the past decades have seen a paradigm shift in the world while our fundamental way of dealing with the world has not changed. Now we should be striving to export liberty and justice for all to every corner of the world, and we should not be doing it under the flimsy guise of searching for weapons of mass destruction. All of the dictators of the world should be put on notice by the democracies of the world. We will no longer tolerate disenfranchised masses and one party systems. Ethnic and religious cleansing will be relegated to the history books. We intend to live in a prosperous, educated, free, and secure world and you can either stand with us or be relegated to the scrap heap of history.
I know doing this will cost us lives and money, however I ask you again, what is the worth of one American life? I am more worthy to live to old age than any other thirty-one year old in the world? I know my mom would say I am, however if by sacrificing my life I could prevent a death, I hope I would have the courage to do so. I believe that we, as humans, have an incredible capacity for caring for one another. If you doubt me look at the outpouring of aid that occurs after almost every natural disaster. I am frustrated by our inability to behave like adults and concentrate on problems we can fix. I am sure we could eliminate world hunger if we took a moment to think about it. Currently we have farmers who are paid to not farm. Why not buy their crops from them and distribute them to the hungry? Why not put the Ukraine and other nations that formed the breadbasket of the Soviet Union into full farming production? I believe we could change the world. We could be certain that no child was going to bed hungry.
The problem is that the majority of us are not willing to look beyond the walls of our own lives. The questions we are most likely to ask, even though it goes against our inherent goodness, are why should I care, or how much is this going to cost. You should care because all humans should care when one of us is not being treated with the basic human dignity we all expect. Cost is irrelevant. Look at the famous picture of the Chinese man stopping the tanks on their way to Tiananmen square. He did not consider the cost of his actions. He had the courage to realize he could make a difference in this world, if even only for a few hours, and he acted. True leadership takes courage. The courage to stand up for what you believe. The courage to say, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead! A courage which has been sadly lacking from American leadership for a long, long time.
Finally I come back to Gen. Dallaire’s conclusion:

Too many parties have focused on pointing the finger at others, beyond the perpetrators, as the scapegoats for our common failure in Rwanda. Some say that the example of Rwanda proves the UN is an irrelevant, corrupt, decadent institution that has outlived its usefulness or even its ability to conduct conflict resolution [which is what Gen. Dallaire believes the post-modern peace-keeping missions are]. Other have blamed the Permanent Five of the Security Council, especially the United States and France, for failing to see beyond their own national self-interest to lead or even support international intervention to stop the genocide. Some have blamed the media for not telling the story, the NGOs for not reacting quickly and effectively enough, the peacekeepers for not showing more resolve, and myself for failing in my mission. When I began this book, I was tempted to make it an anatomy of my person failures, which I was finally persuaded would be missing the point.

I have witnessed and also suffered my share of recriminations and accusations, politically motivated “investigations” and courts martial, Monday-morning quarterbacking, revisionism and outright lies since I got back to Canada in September 1994-none of that will bring back the dead or point the way forward to a peaceful future. Instead, we need to study how the genocide happened not from the perspective of assigning blame-there is too much to go around-but from the perspective of how we are going to take concrete steps to prevent such a thing from happening again. To properly mourn the dead and respect the potential of the living, we need accountability, not blame. We need to eliminate from this earth the impunity with which the genocidaires were able to act, and re-emphasizing the principle of justice for all, so that no one for even a moment will make the ethical and moral mistake of ranking some humans as more human than others, a mistake that the international community endorsed by its indifference in 1994.
A mistake we continue to endorse with our indifference to this day.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Book Review: The Historian

One of the reviews of THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova called this novel a more intellectual version of THE DA VINCI CODE, which to my mind was a very accurate and fair description of the novel. The protagonist is a teenage girl who finds a packet of documents in her father's study in 1972. The documents are a record of the research done by her father and his mentor into the provenience of books they had received under rather mysterious circumstances. In this excerpt the father relates how he received the book:

One spring night when I was still a graduate student, I was in my carrel at the university library, sitting alone very late among rows and rows of books. Looking up from my work, I suddenly realized that someone had left a book whose spine I had never seen before among my own textbooks, which sat on a shelf above my desk. The spine of this new book showed an elegant little dragon, green on pale leather.
I didn't remember ever having seen the book there or anywhere else, so I took it down and looked through it without really thinking. The binding was soft, faded leather, and the pages inside appeared to be quite old. It opened easily to the very center. Across those two pages I saw a great woodcut of a dragon with spread wings and a long looped tail, a beast unfurled and raging, claws outsretched. In the dragon's claws hung a banner on which ran a single word in Gothic lettering: DRAKULYA.

Thus we are off on a chase across five centuries, ranging from Amsterdam to Istanbul, Oxford to Perpignan in the Pyrenees-Orientales with stops in Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

At times Kostova's storytelling device of having the protagonist experiencing most of the story through the letters and notes left by her father and others can be disorienting. The reader is eventually dealing with letters from four or five different sources that were written anywhere between the 1930's through the 1970's. While the letters are presented in the order most appropriate to the story, there where times where I would forget who wrote the letter I was reading, therefore being a little jarred when the letter ended and the story reverted to a different era.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it very difficult to put down. The pacing was perfect and the "facts" of the story are presented in such a way as to be very believable. Kostova's evocative descriptions of the various settings intrigued me. She even managed to lend an air of mystery to settings I am familiar with in passing. Finally, she was able to work the vampire myths into something familiar to the modern reader but refreshingly distant from the Anne Rice or White Wolf vampire concepts that seem to have dominated the genre for the past fifteen years. All in all, I highly recommend this book.

Blonde Moment

I spent this morning waiting around for the cable guy to come by and get things fixed. He was scheduled to be here between 10 AM and Noon. Of course this means that at 11:55 I got a call telling me he was on his way. I am somewhat okay with this since it allowed me to skip out on half a day of work as well as get some stuff done around the casa. Fortunately my boss is fairly laid back about this sort of thing so I don't have to deal with a bunch of crap about it on Monday. Having said that, once the cable guy was done, I felt the need to get in to the office as quick as I could so I stopped by Jack in the Box to get a lunch I could eat on the way to the office. Once I arrived at the office, I was putting my change away in my wallet when I noticed the the receipt for my meal was longer than usual and it had WAY more writing than needed for my two Jumbo Jacks, fries, and a drink. I was intrigued so I read on and learned I had been invited to complete their Voice of the Customer survey for a chance to win $10,000! Huh. $10,000. You have my attention, good sirs of the Voice of the Customer survey, after all, I am nothing if not a simple man. I conitnued to read and found out I could complete this survey online at and I immediately thought to myself, "Isn't it ironic that the guy who owns the Jack in the Box franchises in Bryan is named Jack? And what kind of last name is Synovate, it sounds like some sort of medicine. I bet he spent a lot of time stuffed into things in school." No sooner had I thought these remarkable thoughts than it occurred to me that the name of the site was telljack as in Jack in the Box. I laughed at myself and went off to share my moment of idiocy with my coworkers and then the world.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Strangest Dream

This morning I had a really odd dream, and since it dealt with my blog, I thought I would share it with my loyal readers (and the casual drive-by reader who happens to read this post.)

I was sitting around with a friend of mine, Don, discussing my blog. He told me he liked it but that I wasn't a "real" blogger until I had fired the Hawaiian gag-writer and started doing my own stuff. I asked if Pete and Ray had fired their Hawaiians and Don told me that they had and once they did their readership exploded. He said something like, "Firing a Hawaiian is like chumming the water, the readers will be on you like sharks on vacationers in Florida."

That is pretty much all I remember from the dream. I have no idea what this means, and honestly I don't even want to guess. Although I am wondering when I will get my Hawaiian gag-writer since it appears everyone who has a blog gets a Hawaiian gag-writer.


We have a tile floor in my office and we pay an outside company to clean and buff this floor along with all of the other tile floors in our building, with the notable exception of the bathrooms. The floor guys come in at night to avoid disrupting the normal workday. Recently the decision was made to have the floors cleaned twice a month rather than once a month. In a normal office building this wouldn't be an issue, however at my place of employment it is. We are required to have one person from each area being cleaned here to watch the people doing the floors due to some issues we have had with them in the past. The issues I have heard about include:

  • A member of the floor cleaning crew was in our onsite workout facility (which is provided as a free service by the company to employees) and he got confrontational when some people were discussing the NBA playoffs and dissing the L.A. Lakers. This incident resulted in them having their access codes taken away, which means we now have to wait on the loading docks and let them in.
  • One employee had left his cell phone on his desk when he went home for the day. By the time he noticed he did not have it, the floor crew was hard at work. He came back up to the office and was not able to find his phone on his desk. He called his phone and he heard his cell phone ringing. IN ONE OF THE FLOOR CREWMEMBERS POCKET! The guy handed over the phone with the lame excuse that he was going to give it to someone as a lost and found item. Okay. Except that it was sitting on the employee's desk. It wasn't in some random place.
  • Periodically in my department we are in 24-hour production, however for most of the off-hours we only need one person here. One night while they were doing the floors we had one of our female employees here flying solo. She left the department to go to the bathroom or get a Coke or something and on her way back the floor crew tried to chat her up. While somewhat inappropriate, it wouldn't really be an issue, particularly for the person in question. However after she blew them off, they followed her down the hall and pounded on the door while yelling that they just wanted to talk. The employee locked herself in the department for the remainder of her shift.
  • More than once when I have been assigned to watch the floor crew they have come in reeking of pot smoke. I don't mind if you rock the ganj, however my company has a STRCIT no drug use policy, and you really shouldn't be smoking out before operating floor buffers and the like. They have also been seen smoking out in the parking lot AFTER they have completed the floors. I have discussed this with other people that have been assigned to do this and they have the same experiences.
  • About a month ago the digital camera kept in one of the departments went missing. It was used on Wednesday and put away, the floors were done on Wednesday night, and then Thursday morning when the camera was needed, it could not be found. The clear conclusion is that either someone on the floor crew lifted the camera, or someone used them as cover for lifting the camera. Personally I would discount the second option because anyone who is smart enough to plan that out would also be smart enough to realize it was an exceptionally low-end camera that would not be worth the risk.

You would think anyone of the incidents listed above would be enough to have the floor company put on notice. A second or third offense would have been enough for us to terminate their contract and either take care of this in house (like we do ALL other janitorial duties) or find a new company. However this is not how we do things here. We are continuing to use this same company and rather than punish them for their misbehaviors, we are rewarding them with a new contract and increasing the frequency with which we have the floors cleaned! We now have to be here twice a month to baby-sit these people.

Now, I am a big boy and I can handle myself when there is trouble. Also, I have lived in some not-to-nice neighborhoods in Houston where I was the ethnic diversity. I tell you this so you can understand I am not easily frightened (except by Jay Leno's chin and fundamentalists of any stripe), however I am not comfortable being in the building after hours with these guys. Particularly if I am expected to monitor their behavior and prevent any malfeasance on their part. I have discussed my concerns with some of my coworkers and I know I am not the only person to have these concerns. I have expressed this to my supervisor both in private conversations and via an email and nothing real has been said or done except to clarify that we are here to report if the floor crew misbehaves and not actually prevent anything from happening.

The one question I am stuck on here is why do we even hire an outside company at all? We have a full-time janitorial staff that takes care of everything else in the building, and we already have to keep people here to baby-sit the floor crew, so it is not a personnel issue. One of the buffers used by the floor crew is owned by my company, therefore it is not an issue of not having the proper equipment and not wanting to make the investment in capital. No one that I am willing to talk to about this issue seems to be able to answer this question, so my nice guess is that inertia is playing into these decisions more than actual logic. My not-nice guess is that someone is getting their back-scratched.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Line of the Day III

Said by one of the supervisors at my office while discussing his rage issues:

"The monkeys are jumping on my ball of hate."

Lesbian Spank Inferno Confession

Growing up did you have that friend of the opposite sex that you experimented with? Your first kiss? A little touching here and there? I did. There was this girl who lived down the street from me from second grade until we moved while I was in high school. In order to protect the guilty we will call her CH. She was the first girl I kissed. She had this awesome tree-fort in her backyard where we would make out. If it was raining there was this space under the stairs that we could access through the garage where we would fiddle around. We were boyfriend and girlfriend off and on as we were growing up, the seriousness of the relationship would change with our ages. I always thought that she would be the first girl I slept with. It was the natural progression of our shared history. Once we got in to high school things changed a little. She attended our school district's version of a magnet school in the morning, and she started dating a friend of mine and I had moved, so our antics slowed down a little. Then for the last two years of high school she went to a program based out of the University of North Texas where kids could get college level credit for their junior and senior years of high school. My senior year I had a fairly steady girlfriend, so it seemed as though our lives were growing apart. We wrote back and forth, though I have to admit, I was not the most consistent of correspondents, and we would see each other when she was in town for holidays. At times these meetings would devolve into make out sessions, but more often than not they were just pleasant conversations with a close friend. This changed the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college.

She had just graduated from the program she had been in and I was house-sitting for some friends of the family while they were on vacation. One day she came over and we spent the entire day hanging out. We went somewhere and had lunch, went swimming, we just enjoyed each other's company for the day. We talked about our plans for the future, she was going to Texas A&M to study biotechnology or something like that and I was still an electrical engineering major at University of Houston. We cooked dinner together that night and watched a couple of movies. As the evening wore on, we started to make out on the couch. This elevated and moved to the bedroom. We were at a fairly critical moment when she stopped me by saying, "James, there is something I have to tell you." Somehow, to this day I am unsure how, I knew exactly what she was going to say. She came out of the closet and told me that she was a lesbian and had been for some time. She then went on to tell me that a lot of her realization that she was a lesbian was my fault. She told me that it was my "inconsistency" in our various relationships that had led her to this decision.

I was STUNNED. I didn't know how to deal with the sudden shift in gears. Here I had gone from the brink gettin' it on with the girl I had ALWAYS thought would be my first and who was one of my closest and most intimate friends to finding out that said girl was gay and it was my fault. She went on to tell me that she had always thought I would be her first, and that if she was to sleep with a guy it would be me, but she had discovered her feelings once she was away from me. I couldn't process everything she was saying. One thing that stuck out in my mind is that she had talked to her girlfriend and found out that her girlfriend's friend like me turned out to be gay, too. With everything that was going on, I started to cry.

I think I need to break into the story here and let you know where I was at my life when this happened so you can better understand my reaction. This took place back in 1993, back when I was a fairly conservative and inexperienced kid. I had just recently gotten out of a disappointing relationship with my high school girlfriend, who had turned out to be PSYCHO, and I had yet to have a mature relationship. At this time I was VERY socially awkward outside of my small circle of friends, and especially so around women. My first year of college had been an eye-opening experience for me and I was still trying to process the past year as this incident took place.

Crying was probably not the reaction she had hoped for. I calmed down (initially I wrote clamed, I wonder what Dr. Freud would have to say about that) and put my pants back on. We talked for a little bit about it and then she took off. She called me the next day to ask if I wanted to go to a concert with her, and I said no. I was still processing the eighteen-wheeler that had run me down the night before. There was so much to think about. Was I gay? Was I really that bad at making out? I had TERRIBLE self-esteem at this point in my life before this revelation. This just fed that fire.

I only spoke to CH one time after she invited me to the concert. It was around Christmas, about a year-and-a-half after this incident took place. She wanted to chat like nothing had happened, and I couldn't so it. I would like to say I ripped into her and gave her a piece of my mind about what she had done to me, but I didn't. I was polite. We have not spoken since.

I was very angry at/about lesbians for years after this incident, and to a lesser extent at women in general. I was at a very vulnerable moment and got gut shot and made to doubt my own sexuality and my status as a man. I took me several years to get over this incident, and I feel that there are times when it comes back to haunt me. I know this has colored my interactions with women since that point in that I have some severe trust issues that manifest themselves as borderline creepy jealousy.

Only now, twelve years later, do I understand what happened that night. I was an excuse. That's all. She was not comfortable with her life decision and I served as her extenuating circumstance that allowed her to make this decision. This may be very egotistical of me, but I have finally come to the point where I can forgive her for all of the years of uncertainty her need to blame her issues on me saddled me with. I can also see how coming out of the closet to me would have been very difficult and how it took a lot of guts for her to do. Finally, in retrospect I can respect the huge amount of trust she placed in me in telling me, and I am sorry for my reaction. If she happens to read this and figures out I am talking about her, I would love to hear from her again.

For those of you that care, I ended up losing my virginity a couple of years later to some girl I had met on the internet and that turned out to be a HORRIBLE experience all around.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Now is the Winter of My Discontent

Initially when I started this blog, the title was "All Things James." I was trying to go for a play on the title of James Herriot's book ALL CREATURES GREAT & SMALL. Clearly there wasn't enough of a link between my blog and Herriot's work and the joke was only marginally funny to me for about five minutes and then it began to have this stench akin to fish funk. Therefore I embarked on a quest to choose a suitable name for my blog. Some of the candidates that I bothered to write down were:

  • El Gato Es En Bibliotecha - This is Spanish for The Cat is in the Library. It is one of the few Spanish phrases I know and it is pretty nonsensical, kind of like me.
  • Ninjas! Monkeys! Stoats! - These are just a few of my favorite things, and words that I feel are inherently funny words, regardless of context.
  • Alright, Turkey-boy! - This is an inside joke from my office. One of my coworkers attended high school in Cuero, TX, where the mascot is the gobbler.
  • Blog, Fat-ass, blog! - This is a deliberate misquotation of Jay from the Kevin Smith film "Mallrats", however I wasn't sure how well the word ass might go over. I want to keep this as PG as possible.

I finally decided on the current title "Opiate of the Masses" which I cribbed from the famous Karl Marx quote, "Religion is the opiate of the masses." Once I had decided on this name, I thought I should find the source of this quote so I could educate myself and my readers on the origins and meaning of the quote. Much to my dismay I found out it is actually a misquote. The whole, correct quote is, "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people." I like the correct quote MUCH better, as it is not the absolute condemnation of religion the misquote would seem to indicate.

In the course of researching this, I found the following webpages dealing with misquotes both helpful and interesting:

  • List of misquotations from Wikiquote. This includes such gems as "Beam me up, Scotty," and "The only tradions of the Royal Navy are Rum, sodomy, and the lash." Take a look through the article and find how many of these you have used. Turns out I have used seventeen of them at one time or another.
  • The Famous non-quotation article from Wikipedia. This page is divided into sections for real people and fictional characters as well as categorizing the misquote by whether it is a parody of another statement, a deliberate misquotation, an attribution to a famous person for propoganda, or an accidental mistranslation or corruption of the original.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Line of the Day II

Said while discussing my recent string of incidents where I have been the barfing guy at the party:

"I like to think of myself as the Jackson Pollock of getting trashed."

Slave to Cox

Over the next few days my internet access is going to intermittent at best since I am going to be moving. Of course I am going to be busy, but the primary reason I am going to be AFK is that Cox Communications sucks. All I need them to do is connect the cable. That's it and somehow they have all of their technicians busy until sometime next week. It infuriates me how these corporations are allowed to come in and have a virtual monopoly on certain services for an area and they seem to be able to behave with impunity. Within the past year or so, Cox's contract with the city was up and due to the number of complaints they (the city) had received there were serious discussions about not renewing their contract. Cox eventually won the city over with promises of increasing funds for public access type programming. Funds that end up coming from the increase in cable rates they then whipped on the consumer. Now that all of that has been resolved, Cox Communications wants to get out of the South Texas market all-together.

Anyhoo, I just wanted to let all three of you (thanks Mom, you make it a prime number!) out there in the world that are reading this that I have not lost steam, and should return on Wednesday with a couple of new posts, including my belated review of THE HISTORIAN, an explanation of how I came to name this blog, and perhaps I will even update the Edit-me links on the right side of the page.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Can you smell what the Reich is cookin'?

The other day at work I was discussing "Bowling for Columbine" with my supervisor and one of the other guys in the department. This quickly changed into a discussion about the right to own weapons, and this slowly mutated into a discussion about how brutal war would be if we couldn't use any weapons beyond our fists, etc. I maintained that war would be more like a WWE match and then I was struck by a mental image that had me giggling for the rest of the day. What if WWII was a WWE event? Before the match even starts Germany has stolen France's equipment bag and managed to take Czechoslovakia away from the UK. Meanwhile Japan and China have started fighting backstage. As soon as the bell rings to start the match Germany and Russia check Poland into the Smackdown hotel. Once Germany turns its attention to Norway and the Low Countries they are quickly tossed over the top rope. France, convinced that its new defensive style of wrestling will protect it is caught unawares by Germany and then spends the rest of the match putting itself in a headlock in the corner. Greece manages to wrestle Italy to a standstill until Germany interferes. Germany pounds the UK until Russia distracts them. The US is just standing around, occasionally passing weapons to the UK and China and then suddenly, off of the top rope here comes Japan with a flying body slam! The US is dazed for awhile by that dastardly attack, but eventually gets back in the fight, taking it to Germany and Japan at the same time. Can you imagine all of this action brought to us by Stacker II with commentary by Jerry "The King" Lawler, JR, and the Coach on pay-per-view? I can.

Self-Portrait Part Deux

After looking at the self-portrait I posted on the 13th, it occurred to me that I should explain some of the accessories I included in the image.

  1. In my right hand I am holding a beer. I like it. A lot.
  2. In my left hand I am holding a teddy bear. I still sleep with a teddy bear. My Pooh bear was one of the first gifts I ever received (Christmas 1973) and he has been through a lot with me. He is a little worse for wear, but he's still my Pooh.
  3. I am wearing a little walkman. I really like music. Fortunately my boss allows me to listen to music at work. This helps keep me sane and focused on my work. The CDs that are currently in heavy rotation with me are: