Wednesday, November 30, 2005

WTF Files - Arlen Specter

I do not often feel the urge to blog about politics and current events but every once in a while I stumble across a bit of news that gets me so spun up I have to say something about it. In this particular case I stumbled across the following news story:

ABC News: Specter of Antitrust: Senator says T.O. mistreated

Nov. 29 PHILADELPHIA — Sen. Arlen Specter has accused the NFL and the Philadelphia Eagles of treating Terrell Owens unfairly, and might refer the matter to the antitrust subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Specter, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said at a news conference Monday in Harrisburg it was "vindictive and inappropriate" for the league and the Eagles to forbid the star wide receiver from playing and prevent other teams from talking to him.

"It's a restraint of trade for them to do that, and the thought crosses my mind, it might be a violation of antitrust laws," Specter said.

The article ends with:

Specter emphasized that he was "not a supporter of Terrell Owens."

"I am madder than hell at what he has done in ruining the Eagles' season," the Pennsylvania Republican said. "I think he's in flagrant breach of his contract and I believe the Eagles would be within their rights in not paying him another dime or perhaps even suing him for damages."

But Specter said, "I do not believe, personally, that it is appropriate to punish him [by forcing him to sit out the rest of the season]. He's not committed a crime, he's committed a breach of contract. And what they're doing against him is vindictive."

Now for all four of you who don’t know what has been going on with T.O. and the Eagles let me sum it up for you in 12 letters:


He has always been flamboyant and egotistical in a very annoying manner, but it seemed to entertain people, and at the end of the day that is what he is paid to do. I do not mind athletes and the like being egotistical asses. If you have the game to back up the ego then more power to you. I also do not mind the obscene paychecks some of them collect. If they have the star power to put the meat in the seats, God bless ‘em and the owners who feed and care for them.

However over the past couple of years he has spiraled from amusing to irritating to down right rage inducing. Skip Bayless summed it up when he described T.O. as “having a history of creating often inexplicable feuds with executives, coaches and teammates…”

There are times I feel like modern sports is besieged by a ever-swelling number of self-centered morons who masquerade as players but in reality are whiney little titty-babies who have been sent to suck all the sportsmanship and joy out of modern sports. I think it was said best in Mr. Baseball, “Baseball is grown men getting paid to play a game. When you were a kid, I bet you didn’t pick up a bat and ball because you were dying to work. A player’s career is short enough. Let them enjoy it.”

Ultimately the problem with T.O. is that while he is perhaps the most dominating receiver to ever play in the NFL, he causes so many problems with the other coaches and players as to make the game not fun.

(It’s funny how I got distracted from my original point by some infantile need to bitch about T.O. Back to your regularly scheduled post.)

The point of all this is that T.O. is an asshat and epitomizes the very worst aspects of the modern athlete and Arlen Specter feels that the Senate is slow enough to go ahead and take a look at how he is being treated by the NFL. Huh? Did I trip down some rabbit hole and end up in Utopia where the elected representatives of the people have nothing better to do than make sure a spoiled millionaire is treated fairly? There are no more poor people to worry about? No Supreme Court justice hearings on the calendar? Why didn’t someone tell me we were living in Candy Land? I totally would have blown off work today.

Oh wait, no, we are still embroiled in nasty situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are still poor and down-trodden and disenfranchised people here in the good old U. S. of A. So what does Arlen do (yeah, I know, old A.S. and I are on a first name basis)? He backs down from his original position, which a couple of experts pointed out was AS-inine, and then refers the case to the Department of Justice:

FOX SPORTS: Specter backs off threat regarding T.O. saga

Sen. Arlen Specter backed off a threat to have a Senate subcommittee investigate whether the NFL and the Philadelphia Eagles violated antitrust laws in their handling of Terrell Owens.

Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday that he talked to lawyers in the Department of Justice about the issue.

"I think it's more a matter for them than us because we've got ... a lot of matters which take precedence over this for our own time," said Specter, R-Pa.

Now I have to wonder what caused this little about-face by the Honorable Gentleman from the state of not-quite New Jersey? Was it a great disturbance with millions of voices crying out or was it the realization that even with the reactivation of T.O. the Eagles are a long shot to make the Super Bowl? I am willing to bet this will got out with a whimper and the DoJ giving some lip-service to A.S. about looking into it and then nothing ever gets done (yay for breauracracy), but no matter how you slice it, T.O. has got to be happier than a pig in shit, as they say, since in disciplining him for his behavior (which would have gotten his ass fired from any other job) the NFL has turned the myopic gaze of government its way.

Thanks for adding fuel to that particular fire, A.S. It must baffle you as to why God designed you with two feet but only one mouth in which to stick them. Jeeze.

Week Five Report Card

I got yer Thanksgiving over-eating right here! I lost more weight this week and have managed to drop just over 10 pounds on this debacle I lovingly refer to as my diet. I am beginning to suspect that either I have a tape worm or those long empty spaces in my memory are times where my Tijuana crack whore personality takes over. Either way I am just happy to be losing the weight. Can you imagine what would happen if I went through with my oft repeated threat to join a gym and start working out?

Yeah, me neither. I mean James in a gym? Crazy talk.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Kiss My....

I'm just kidding. I just scanned this tonight while working on some other stuff and thought this would be a mildly amusing use for it. I might be wrong, but hey, if you didn't at least chuckle then you better pucker up buttercup cause I got more where that came from:

And Nikki thinks I don't have an ass. Silly rabbit.

El Fiera de Batata

There is a legend spoken in the quiet corners of the Earth of a man who knows what evil hearts burn inside his fellow man. He knows for once upon a time this very heart of evil beat in his chest. In his younger years he was dedicated to the cause of globalization. He believed in the goodness of trickle-down economics despite the evidence before his eyes. He even voted republican. But then something changed. He looked around the comfortable confines of his bourgeois life and realized the people were suffering. The people needed a champion.

How can one man make a difference, he asked? He decided to wander the world and seek the guidance of wise men from every corner of the Earth. Captains of industry. Politicians. The poor and downtrodden. Democrats. He sought insight from every angle, no matter how disillusioned or just plain wrong.

Eventually his winding path took him to the great wrestling rings of that jewel among cities, Mexico City. He had to learn how to fight for justice. He had to taste the struggle. His spirit was willing, but his flesh was chubby and pale. Evildoers would not flee at the sight of this man, no matter how furious his gaze. There was only one thing to do. Forge that weak flesh into the weapon Justice needed. He would endure the life of a luchador as he sought a true purpose and physical fitness.

He fought in the rings of Mexico City, becoming known simply as El Gringo. He toiled for years, always struggling against the rudos and seeking his place. Some say he lost his way, becoming consumed by his lust for the belt rather than concentrating on forging himself into the weapon he desired to be.

Then one night there was the climactic match, El Gringo versus his archnemesis Azul. It was an epic match, eclipsing all others before. A true clash of the titans. Exhausted he pinned Azul. The belt was finally going to be his. The referee’s hand rose and fell. Uno. And again. Dos. He could feel his grip loosening. The referee’s hand was falling in slow motion, it was like a scene from a made-for-TV movie. Too slow, he thought, too slow! Suddenly he felt a pair of hands about his legs and before he could do anything else he was jerked off balance. He lost his grip on Azul and in that moment he saw the ugly face of defeat once again.

Later, after the match, alone in his car he drove along the highway until he was overcome by despair. He stopped his car and stumbled out into the empty fields, like Achilles before the gates of Troy, he called out his despair to the heavens. He raged at the gods. Demanded they answer him. No answer came. He collapsed, nothing left in him at all, his body empty of everything.

Minutes turned into hours as he lay there, breathing, smelling the purity of the farmer’s earth. Then out of the darkness a young girl approached him and silently handed him a sweet potato. He started to lash out at the girl, to ask what the hell she thought a sweet potato would do for anyone but then he stopped. He took another second to breathe and in that moment it became clear to him. The sweet potato was mankind. Ugly and gnarled on the outside, but beautiful and sweet at its core.

From that moment on El Gringo was never heard from again and whenever people are oppressed or down-trodden he knows and dons his mask, becoming El Fiera de Batata.

The Wild Beast of the Sweet Potato.

Monday, November 28, 2005

So Here It Is...

... five days after Thanksgiving and I still haven’t gotten around to completing and posting my obligatory “What I am thankful for” post. There are times where I think a better title for this blog would be, “Procrastination, Its Not Just for Work Anymore,” or, “Sloth, My Second Favorite Sin.” Come to think of it, rating the seven deadly sins might be a fun post. Have to file that bad boy away for a rainy day, or you know, later tonight. In most cases when I have a time-sensitive post to do and I blow the deadline, I will just forget about it or write it and save it for next year (I can’t wait for Canada Day, eh), but I feel like this Thanksgiving post is something I need to get out there as soon as I can get it done.
Thanksgiving is supposed to be one of those times where we gather to celebrate and give thanks for, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “…the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” Over the years the religious overtones of the Thanksgiving feast have gone the way of the Dodo and have been replaced with orgiastic over-eating and watching such classic football match-ups as Dallas Cowboys versus the Denver Broncos.

(As a brief aside I remember this classic match-up being Dallas versus the Washington Redskins, however the Pro Football Hall of Fame Thanksgiving Day Game Results page shows my memory is faulty. Probably for the best since if the Redskins lose on Thanksgiving the Indian massacre jokes almost write themselves.)

Our one concession might be a particularly nice prayer before the Bacchanal begins, or at most we might go around the table and say something we are thankful for. This year we didn’t do any of that but rather prayed and then dove into the grub. I’m not complaining since the answers are always family or another cliché along those lines, but this year I was wondering what I might say. What could I be giving thanks for whilst I sacrifice my stomach to the culinary gods? This is the first year where I really felt like I had something to be grateful for that would be worthy of acknowledgement. I had a new job and what felt like a new lease on life. I was back in Houston where I could be close to some of my best friends. My circle of friends had been growing. It was clear that I would have to say my friends.

Now this struck me as a rather cliché answer and fancying myself a writer and part-time intellectual, I try to avoid being cliché at family functions. I like to think I have a certain mystique to uphold (I am sure I don’t, but then my grip on reality isn’t that tight, so it works out nicely.) The one factor that I could use to excuse this cliché answer is that, in one of those happy confluences of the desire to write and the need to write, I had been considering writing a piece on the nature of friendship for the blog. I have always been mystified by friendship.

What makes people be friends? What allows them to be? What is it about some people that allows you to not talk for years and then pick up with your friendship like no time has passed?

Throughout my life I have always been blessed with an almost shameful number of friends and lately I have been wondering why that is. It was first pointed out to me by this girl I had a crush on back in seventh grade or so. Jill Davis was one of the cheerleaders throughout our school years and thus a popular person, and a person with a lot of friends, or so my young mind believed. (I think it goes without saying that I was NOT one of the popular people throughout my school years.) We were talking one night and the conversation turned to friendships. I don’t remember specifically what was said, but I distinctly remember her pointing out that I had a lot of people I considered my friends and that I was very lucky.

I do not think of myself as a particularly friendly guy (not that I am unfriendly, just neutral) and I know there are friends in my life that I have treated VERY poorly and yet they still remain my friends. I am in awe of this as I tend to be very childish about a lot of things and see the world in very black-and-white terms when it comes to relationships.

The one thing I am sure about friendship is that if I think of you as my friend I will be fiercely loyal to you. A story I heard about Jim Bowie says it best. After being in a bar fight Bowie asked his friend who was present why he didn’t intervene. The friend replied, “But Jim, you were wrong.” Bowie’s reply was, “That’s why I needed a friend. Everyone will help you if you’re right.”

So that is it, really, that is all I know. I was hoping this would be much more epic and revealing, but in the end I continue to be mystified by friendship and yet it is the one thing that gets me through each day. Many of the friendships I have made over the years have allowed me to see that divine spark that resides in each person, the ability to look beyond someone’s obvious failings and see the person they can be. Perhaps that is what is is. Friendship is meant to illuminate the best parts of man.

Ultimately I am thankful for all of my friends. All of the people that see fit to share part of their lives with me and enhance and enrich my life. The people willing to put up with my prolonged adolescence. The people willing to challenge me to be a better person; willing to work with me to slowly make me into a better man. Initially as part of this post I wanted to name names as it were, go through and specifically tell the world what each friend means to me, but as I was working on the list I realized it was going to be so long as to be impossible to read, and doubtless I would have forgotten to list someone, and thus inadvertently offend, so I will leave it at this mass thank you.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


In March of 2003 Nikki and I went to Old Fort Parker and Fort Parker State Park for a day of hiking and picture taking. First we went to Old Fort Parker, which is the site of a settlement which was raided by the Comanche in 1836. One of the people taken captive in the raid was Cynthia Ann Parker, whose son Quanah Parker was the last great Comanche chief and took part in the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon. After that we went to Fort Parker State Park and wandered the hike trails through the woods around the edge of the lake. Below the damn we found this little spring. The combination of the bright green moss, the texture of the moss, and the way the sunlight happened to be falling on the spring at the time inspired me to shoot:

I tried a couple of different shots to get the timing down right and this ended up being the best one. I wanted to freeze the water as it splashed against the rocks rather than have a longer exposure which would have smoothed out the water into an abstract plane.

This picture was shot on Kodak 800 ISO film stock using my Vivitar 220SL camera with the Vivitar 135mm lens attached.

COMIC REVIEW: Strangeways

Strangeways #1

Writing & Letters: Matt Maxwell

Art & Effects: Luis Guaragna

Cover Art: Steve Lieber

Publisher: Speakeasy Comics

Release Date: November 30th

I have to admit, when I heard the basic story elements present in Strangeways (werewolves and westerns) I immediately thought to myself, “Been there, done that.” I honestly do not remember seeing a comic with this these story elements before, but as I was an avid player of Werewolf a couple of years back, I was aware of the Werewolf: Wild West milieu and therefore this felt a bit like old hat. When I heard Matt Maxwell was looking for reviewers I went ahead and shot him and email, thinking he would never send me a copy. Imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks ago I received the first issue of Strangeways in my mailbox. And what a pleasant surprise it was.

While all the usual suspects of the western and horror genres put in appearances; Indians fighting the encroaching whites; a small town on the frontier living in fear of some nameless terror; a quietly conflicted gunslinger. Maxwell and his partner in crime Luis Guaragna have taken these concepts and infused them with a moody energy that made them shiny and new again. The story is heavy on action and mood and light on story, clearly framing the events to come later in the series. Guaragna’s lines seem almost unfinished which imbues the story with an energy that tumbles from panel to panel and carries the reader along with the story and he brings a noir sensibility to his use of light and shadow which serves to push the darkness of the story.

Ultimately this comic succeeds in ways that very few of the books from the majors I currently read. After finishing the first issue I went back and reread it, and not just because I had this review looming on the horizon, but rather because I wanted to experience Maxwell’s story again. I am eagerly looking forward to picking up an actual paper copy of the first issue (my review copy is a PDF file) and even more eagerly looking forward to picking up the second issue to see what Maxwell and Guaragna have in store for us.

UPDATE - 11/28/05

Today I received an email from Matt and it seems that the release of the first issue has been pushed back to an unknown date because of Speakeasy playing musical printers. As soon as he has a new release date I will pass it along to you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Week Four Report Card

Well, despite my best efforts I keep shrinking. This past week I didn’t even engage in the panicked, “Holy crap! I have to eat nothing but salad for two days,” reaction. In fact I had pretty much decided to put the diet on hiatus through the end of the holidays, however since I managed to ditch a couple more tenths of a pound I am going to keep on keeping on, and one day join a gym.

Here are the stats through this morning:

(Sorry about the image quality. I will work on that for next week.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Little Known Fact

At one time in my life I had my scrotum pierced.

I will wait for a moment and let you digest that little tidbit of information that will either fall into the category of, “God, James, I didn’t need to know that!” or “Oh really? I am intrigued and wish to know more.”

Those of you in the second category are in luck. Those of you in the first category I suggest you check out this site while contemplating the immortal words of Dave the Lighting Guy who said, “I think unicorns are kick ass!”

This story, like many good stories involving youthful indiscretions takes place in a town not too far from the border with Mexico. I know it was either Mission or McAllen, my memory of the time being somewhat fuzzy. We had gone down to visit my uncle for a few days one summer and I was ecstatic about the trip because these were the days when the CAF’s main facility was located at the Harlingen Airport rather than way out in Midland plus I was going to get to go to Mexico. At this point I had never been out of the country so going to Mexico sounded like a trip to an exotic land and not the a visit to a place that looked just like some of the seedier parts of Houston with cars that were in slightly worse condition and incomprehensible signs. (This is not to say I do not want to go back to Mexico, but this time I want to go see ruins and stuff, not some crappy border town where the fancy restaurant is called The Cockroach.)

The day we were going to go to Mexico I woke up very excited and ready to go. Since adults can never get their crap together on time and there were several of us going, I had some free time. That was when it happened. For some reason, and to this day I cannot think why, I ended up tangling with the yucca bush outside my uncle’s front door. The yucca is a plant that evolved in (or was intelligently designed for, take your pick) an arid environment. This means they have little prickly bits for protecting themselves from animals seeking their water. In the case of the type of yucca I tangled with the prickly bits manifested as thorns on the tips of the leaves. When I say thorns I don’t mean the little dinky thorns you might find on a rose or the brambles that occur in the piney woods around here, I mean THORNS as in stab you and make you cry thorns. I mean the kind of thorns that can pierce blue jeans and a young mans scrotum thorns and that is exactly what they did to me. As I said, I have no idea why I was leaning into the yucca plant, heck it may have been an accident, all I know is that little veggie spear went right through my jeans and into my junk.

It hurt.

A lot.

I might have cried a little bit.

I went in to the bathroom to examine the damage the plant wrought upon my manhood and determine the next course of action. Clearly I had to tell someone. I didn’t think I pierced anything critical, but you couldn’t be too careful here. I had the future of mankind to think about, if you know what I mean. Eventually I decided to tell my mom about it, since she was a nurse and everything, however rather than just walk up to her and say that the yucca stabbed me in the boys, I went over to her (she was with some of the other adults on the trip) and whispered in her ear that I was not able to go to Mexico. I refused to elaborate more on the issue in public, being somewhat embarrassed about genitalia in general (I was young). Eventually she wormed the problem out of me and confirmed that I was going to be okay.

I ended up going to Mexico and eating in a restaurant called La Cucaracha (which is not getting gigged by MS Word’s spellchecker) and learning that border towns are note quite the exotic land I was anticipating, although upon reflection, now I might be able to appreciate the delights of the border town more than I could in the heady days of my youth.

Like many somewhat humiliating episodes of youth, this has become one of the family stories to be shared whenever the family is gathered and the conversation turns to the amusing tales from our misadventures, and now it has been shared with all of you.

Webshots Update for 11-21-05

Well, I finally got the last of the picture from Glaveston scanned and uploaded to my Webshots account. They can all be viewed in the Galveston (11-2005) and Galveston II (11-2005) albums. Here are some of my favorites:

I like how carefreee this statue is and I like the fact that I was able to shoot it against the pure blue sky. Ultimately I think I will crop this photo to remove the chain (if I can) and remove some of the blank space above the boys head, but as is it is still a pretty picture.

I love taking pictures of Nikki, particularly when I can catch her in unguarded moments. She gets annoyed with me for trying, but when I get away with it I think the results are stunning, like in the above picture.

In this photo I like how the interplay of the sunlight and the darkness makes the flower almost abstract.

In this picture I like how the macaws plumage is illuminated by the sun and almost all the other detail in the photograph is lost in darkness.

I like the juxtaposition of ultra-modern materials used in the construction of an ancient structure. The sun setting through the pyramid was just icing on the cake as far as I was concerned.

Today is a two-for-one special on photoblogging as I also scanned all of the pictures I took in September, including my journey to College Station in the face of Rita's wrath. These can be viewed in the September 2005 album and here are the highlights:

I shot this picture at Lake Harrison in The Woodlands. When I was a kid the shopping center on Lake Harrison was called the Wharf and the lake was open to the public. Now the lake has been closed off and is only open to the Woodlands Convention Center. I was really bummed when I discovered this as I have lots of fond childhood memories of the Wharf. Oh well, I went and shot a partial roll of film there one evening. The quality of the light was incredible but sadly 90% of the pictures I took were out of focus. This one turned out pretty well, though.

It's Animals Close-Up With A Wide-Angle Lens! Masses meet Bandit. Bandit belongs to my friend Nikki and is one of my most favorite dogs in the world. She is really friendly, even though she tries to pretend she is all tough. I think this picture captures her spirit.

This is a dutch angle-esque view of my building in Houston. I can't really put my finger on why I like this image except that it is my building and some times I like weird shots like this.

I love all the lines in a city-scape and how just tilting your head can completely change the way they interact. In thi case I really liked the quality of the light coupled with the way the lines on the building conflict with the lines in the reflections.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold

…with a side of tuna.

Early in my new career I made the mistake of responding to an order from my officemate by telling him I was not his monkey. It probably went down like this:

“F$&* you dude, I’m not your monkey.”
“What do I need to do?”

What can I say, I buckle like a belt.

The mistake here is that my officemate has clung to the monkey thing like the Pope to Powdered Toast Man’s buttocks. He calls me monkey all the time in the office, which I am usually able to ignore, but right around the time of the Iraqi constitutional referendum, the following sample ballot was sent out to several of my friends:

What could I do? Apparently my status as Wayne’s Monkey was being decided by the Iraqi people. I am all about democracy and therefore I was totally hosed as the constitution passed with James being designated as Wayne’s Monkey.

Well played, clerk, well played. All I could do was wait until the time was right.

Have I mentioned that when vengeance is the game I can be a patient man? (Or I really hang on to things for an inordinate amount of time? Its one of the two and I prefer the whole patience thing. It makes me sound more nefarious.) This past week Wayne finally made a critical mistake. He fell asleep at his desk while someone in the office had their digital camera. Thus the following picture was taken and sent to all of the same friends who received the Iraqi ballot:

I am sure Monster energy drink appreciates the ringing endorsement.

Now I need to take a moment for a brief aside. Sleeping in the office is probably considered and art form in some places and lord knows I have done it once or twice myself (but not since starting my new job). There are a couple of rules about sleeping in the office:

  1. Don’t do it with your door open.

  2. Don’t get caught by the boss.

  3. Don’t snore.

In this case Wayne managed to hit the trifecta. Our boss was the one who came over and pointed out Sleeping Beauty to me as I had my headphones in and was rocking out to some Bowling for Soup. He then went across the hall to the office where the other two guys in the department work and got one of them to shoot the picture. After the picture was taken we stood around in the hallway and giggled like schoolgirls until Wayne woke up.

Now this picture of Wayne sleeping got me thinking. How could I use this picture against Wayne? Clearly I could not use it as blackmail material since the boss was in on the reindeer games. I contemplated making a photocomicstrip a la Beaucoup Kevin but discarded that as derivative and I could not think of anything REALLY funny to do with the strip. ARGH! Here I had something with great revenge potential and I couldn’t think of anything to do!

I think I was driving home that night when inspiration struck. I knew how to strike back, but my plan hinged on my ability to track down a picture of a tuna can. I can see your faces now, “A tuna can?” Yes, a tuna can. We have a mutual friend who decided at some point it would be funny to try and convince everyone that rather than a regular penis, his was like a tuna can, which is to say not very long but with extra girth. He has hence been referred to as Mr. Tuna Can or Majestic Tuna Can. Do you see where this is going now? Good.

Fortunately when I got home tracking down a picture of a tuna can proved to be laughably easy. It actually took me more time to create the following image to share with the world:

Not the best photoshopping job, I know, but it is only just beginning my friends. Oh yes, this is only the beginning.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Taco Bell Commentary

Now, I like me some Taco Bell. From time to time I like to engage in what I call a Taco orgy which is an eating extravaganza in which I will consume eight regular tacos, two bean burritos, and an extra large Dr. Pepper. If I am feeling particularly frisky I will add a Mexican pizza and a caramel apple empanada to the mix. (And I wonder why I am what the kids call husky.) (Actually, I don’t, I know that it is my propensity to eat to excess. Why couldn’t I get one of the cool sins? Lust or Wrath or something like that? No, I get the Gluttony back monkey.)

Anyway, some time ago when eating my Taco Bell I came across the following sauce packets:

Thank you Taco Bell, while I am eating my poor man’s comfort food I really need the reminder that I am a charter member of Sex Without Partners. Fortunately I am apparently pretty good at it since the Border Sauce prognosticator foresees a “…great deal of pleasure…” in my future.



In the summer of 2002 I took a road trip to St. Louis with my friend Nikki so we could visit her family for the Fourth of July festivities. St. Louis is a pretty cool town and Nikki has a pretty cool family. For the actual Fourth of July we went to the festival at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, where I took the following:

I really don’t know what to say about this picture. I love the way the metal arch cuts through the blue-white sky. If you are looking at the picture thinking it is sideways, you are sorely mistaken. The seams in the arch run parallel to the ground at this point.

This picture was actually taken with one of those Kodak disposable cameras with ISO 800 film. To take this photo I placed the camera against the arch at a slight angle to the ground at about my eye-height (68”).

Friday, November 18, 2005

Superman Returns

So the Superman Returns teaser is out.

The pictures.

The music.

Marlon Brando’s voice.

"They could be a great people Kal-El.
They wish to be.

They only lack the light to show the way.
For this reason above all; this capacity for good. I have sent them you.
My only son.”


Let me say that again.


Its not like I was going to miss this movie, after what Bryan Singer was able to do in The Usual Suspects and with X-Men and X2, and he has Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor, but I had heard some rather worrisome rumors about how things were shaping up and I had my doubts about Brandon Routh.

I still do, but damn, this trailer hits all the right notes for me.

(For those of you who think Brandon Routh doesn't look the part.)

A brief side note, in the Newsarama thread about this some wisenheimer posted, “I especially like the part where Neo is way up in the clouds, and then shoots down…” The poster was clearly being funny, but it reminded me how I thought, “I especially like the part where Superman is way up in the clouds, and then shoots down…” when I saw the appropriate installment of The Matrix. I wonder how many kids will find some of the Superman mythos derivative from the Matrix. Although as I type that it occurred to me that if you have seen the Matrix films you are probably aware of Superman.

I am so ready for this movie.

Why for must you taunt me so Brothers Warner?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

My First

They say you never forget your first time. It is a memory that will always be with you, no matter how good it is or bad it is. I am here to tell you, they’re right, the gits. I can remember that night like it was just moments ago rather than several years.

Why am I thinking about this? Does it have something to do with my seasonal affective disorder acting up? Or is it because the first real cold front of the year has finally made it down (all the way from Canada, eh?) and there is hockey to be watched? Nah, it really has nothing to do with that. I was digging around in the garage the other night and I found what I refer to as my “box of stuff for framing and hanging.” There sitting in the top of the box was a red plastic reminder of that night.

I brought the puck up to my desk and have been fiddling with it the last couple of nights as I tried to find something to write about. I keep looking at the stack of books I have read and have yet to write reviews on, but I am feeling very ambivalent about getting that done. I have a response to my friend Jack’s post about sports formulating in the back of my head, but I have not been satisfied with any of the drafts I have done. I need to post something witty about my brother getting engaged to a girl who is not quite 17” shorter than me (do not fear, little villager, for I am not wrathful). I have a pile of movies to re-watch and review so I can submit some sample reviews to, but I suspect I have missed that particular boat. Not feeling very motivated about that. I have a couple of other surprises in store for you, including adding a weekly comics column to my blog and writing about my man-crush. I am just not motivated and I am concerned that I am coming dangerously close to posting the cat with all of the recent update entries. You guys are either here for the goddamn funny or here to see how James has embarrassed himself in the last 32 years. Nothing is working out on the writing front, but this bright red puck is just sitting on my desk. It taunts me. In the words of the immortal Ricardo Montalban, “He tasks me.

I stare at the puck.

He stares back.

I try to ignore the puck.

He just sits there, always sitting there, a presence in my mind, almost tangible.

“Fine!” I say, getting out of bed, “I’ll write about you. Will that make you feel better?”

He sits there, staring.

The only reason I scored that goal is because I was WAY out of position. I am usually a defensive defenseman who does not go much deeper into the offensive zone than say, the blue line. Upon reflection this is perhaps the worst position I could play, since I cannot make the transition between skating forwards and backwards, and I do not have a shot, at all, two basic skills a defenseman should have down pat. Somehow I manage to make it work. This was either the second or third season I played with Red Dog. Red Dog was my very first hockey team and I have some really fond memories of the team and the guys I played with. They were a really good group of guys that carried me for a couple of seasons until I was able to contribute. Our first season we SUCKED. We lost every game, but only by one goal, including a game where we scored four times in the last two minutes of the game to lose by one goal.

In this case I got caught on the rush and then once we lost control of the puck, several of the guys went for a line change. Rather than move back to our zone, like I should have, I decided to aggressively forecheck and attack the puck. The opposing defender and goalie had some sort of miscommunication which left the puck just sitting, absolutely still, in front of the goal and a little to the goaltenders left. A perfect opportunity. The defender had headed around the back of the net, so he was not going to be able to get back to me in time. Al I had to do was get it past the goalie who was out of position. I felt the puck on my stick, the familiar drag as it moved across the SportCourt. I pulled the puck a little forward and then flicked my wrists, trying to put a little stank on it and bury the biscuit before the goalie could recover. Time stood still for a second and then I was cruising around the back of the net, looking down at the puck as it bounced off the netting and clattered back to the blue surface. My arms shot up in celebration as Topher (the ref) blew the whistle and pointed to the net. I scored. I got a goal. I FUCKING SCORED!

I got back to the bench and endured the congratulations of my teammates and the Topher skated over and handed me the puck. “I’m not supposed to let you keep this, you know,” he said as he handed it over and skated away. Topher. What a guy. I think he let me keep the puck because we were cut from the same cloth when it came to hockey. We were both big guys. Defensemen who didn’t really have the skills for the position, but we made it work. He knew what that goal meant to me because he knew what his first goal meant to him.

I kept that puck in my hockey bag for years, and now it is sitting on my desk. Hopefully silent now that his tale has been shared.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Update Madness

A couple of little updates to keep you kids out there entertained while I work out the funny muscle (it’s located near the Islets of Lederhosen.)

  • Casual Soapbox. This is a blog by a friend’s brother (we are acquaintances, but I don’t know if we know each other well enough to actually be friends.) Abram is a good guy with a good head on his shoulders and Casual Soapbox has turned into one of the few sources I trust these days for political commentary. Check it out.

S’more Graeme Goodness
I have made no bones about the fact that I was a HUGE fan of Fanboy Rampage. Some of this comes from connection to a larger world of comic fandom that FBR opened up for me, but to a large degree I enjoyed the voice (what little voice, in his opinion) Graeme brought to the Rampage. I have found a couple of crumbs of pure Graeme out on the net I thought worthy of sharing.

(Sorry about the lame graham cracker jokes that never really worked out. C’est la vie, as they say.)

Finally I have uploaded the first roll of pictures I shot in Galveston this past weekend to my Webshots album. They are located in the Galveston (11/2005) album. I will have the rest of them up later in the week and will share a couple of favorites then.

Week Three Report Card

Well, the goddamn funny may still be missing from the Opiate, but to go hand in hand with that, there is exactly 0.60 pounds of James missing from the Opiate as well. That is all I managed to loose this past week. I have to admit that I am surprised I lost any weight this past week since I have yet to start a regular exercise program and this weekend was another bad weekend as far as healthy eating goes. I spent the weekend in Galveston celebrating a friend’s birthday, which means the only food consumed consisted of burgers and Waffle House (mmmm, Waffle House.) Hopefully this weekend will be a little better, although with the planned trip to the Ren Faire, I somehow doubt it will turn out well.

Oh yeah, depending on what time I get home tonight, I may have another Webshots update in the work (my pictures from Galveston) and I think I might feel the goddamn funny coming on (or at least something that does not involve pictures or my diet.)

Webshots Update for 11-15-05

I just got done scanning and uploading pictures from my recent expedition to Austin to my Webshots account. Initially the purpose of the trip was to see a KKK rally being held in support of Proposition 2 (which sadly passed by an overwhelming majority.) I did not want to support the KKK, but my friend and I thought this would provide a unique chance to shoot some pictures and is an interesting bit of Americana. Before the rally we walked around the neighborhood near my friend’s apartment and then rather than the KKK rally we ended up at the counter-rally. All in all it was an interesting experience, particularly since I have never been that politically active in my life.

Anyways here are a couple of my favorite pictures from the day:

This was a little white flower growing in the little patch of dirt at the edge of the curb. A little bit of beauty defiant in the face of neglect and urbanization. I am always amazed at Nature’s ability to overcome man’s depredations and the fact that many times it is something as fragile and beautiful as a white flower. Oddly enough I like the scan more than I do the actual photograph.
The scan seems to be a bit darker which allows the pure white of the flower to stand out more.

This tree had all the bark stripped off of it and the lightness of the trunk made a very interesting contrast with the darkness behind it. I kind of wish I had this picture in color, but I like the black and white because of the way the background detail is lost.

There was this house that had some weird wooden carvings of people peeking over their wall. Sadly I did not compose this shot very well in-camera and therefore I had to crop the picture once I scanned it. Here is the cropped version:

I like how I feel like I am the focus of the carving’s attention rather than they being the subject of my attention.

Finally the only intentional art shot of the trip. There is this house/palace that has this awesome fence running along the road, so I felt the need to shoot a close-up of the geometry of the fence.

All of these pictures were shot on Fortepan 100 B&W negative film with my Vivitar 220SL and various lenses (primarily my 135mm and 28mm lenses, if memory serves.)

You can see the rest of my pictures from that trip in the Austin (11/2005) album in my Webshots account.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Frozen Otter on a Stick

I love Google. Seriously, it really is the best thing since sliced bread (which I have a good authority was the best thing since bread itself.) It makes searching the Internet so much easier and it allows me, through the good services of my site meter, to see what sort of searches that are leading them to the Opiate. Take for example one Mr. Anonymouse whose ISP is AXA Technology Services Ltd, from Bristol, England who stumbled across the Opiate while searching for Frozen Otter on a Stick. That’s right, the Opiate ranked 7th on a search for Frozen Otter on a Stick. Huh? What in the world would you be searching for when you are looking up Frozen Otter on a Stick? Even I can’t get anything perverse out of that (okay, that’s not true but it takes me some work and is WAY beyond the pale of what even I consider indecent.) The only thing s that sprung to mind is some sort of foul English dish with a misleading name like Spotted Dick. I can hear it now, the youngster clamouring for the traditional Frozen Otter on a Stick before they go out to Bonfire.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Brief Update

(No, this has nothing to do with my underpants status, however if you must know I am currently at 0% underpants.)

I added a new section to the links (I typed linkies for some reason) on the right side of the page. This section is titled More Me! and will be links to where there is more of me out there in the vast wilds of this thing you like to call the internet (I call it George, but I think we have already established that my connection with your reality is not the strongest in existence.) Right now there are just two links there, but eventually there will be more. They are:

  • Profile. This is my profile on A friend of mine, Paulina, turned me on to, which is a social networking site along the lines of, but it has more of an alt or underground feel to me and thus is cooler. Also, all of my friends in the Burner community use this site.
  • Webshots Photo Gallery. This is my online photo gallery, which is hopelessly out of date. One of these days I hope to get my own site going and will then have a properly sorted and named gallery, till then this is what you get.

That does it for tonight kiddos. Have fun with these, and if you’re on shoot me an email so we can be friends.


Please pardon the lack of updates this past week. Recently I have been very blah interspersed with moments of busy. I have worked on a couple of pieces for posting, but none of them are turning out to be funny at all, so until I am able to find the funny again, I present the following for your consideration:

This is a picture of my cousin’s daughter Naomi I shot when we were at our grandparent’s house for Christmas in 2003. A couple of people have asked whether she is laughing or crying. While I appreciate that my face can strike terror into the hearts of many, please rest assured Naomi is laughing. She was playing a game of peek-a-boo with my sister, using the drapes from the big picture window in the dining room as a hiding place, when I was lucky enough to snap this picture. I love shooting kids. With them their either completely ignore the camera, as Naomi did here, or they play to the camera. Either way they are relaxed in a way that few adults seem to be. The result is that even when kids are behaving outrageously for the camera, it comes off as being very natural for them and it flows, whereas pictures of a lot of adults have a certain stiffness to them that creates an unnatural air.

This picture was shot on Fujichrome 800 film using my Vivitar 220SL camera with the Vivitar 135mm 1:2.8 lens using natural lighting.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Week Two Report Card

Well, I really wanted to have something spectacular for my 100th post. You know, something to keep people from going, “Where’s the goddamn funny?” Sadly I have been a slacker the last couple of days and have been wondering where the goddamn funny is myself, therefore my 100th post gets to be about the most banal of subjects, my gut.

I am happy to report that I managed to ditch another 3.2 pounds which means I am now down to a petit 298.6 pounds. I am VERY happy with the progress since my diet had to suffer the slings and arrows of Scott’s birthday party, which involved food, beer, beer, beer, beer, some more beer, and then food. Please note by beer I mean Guinness, so that night I probably consumed enough calories to keep an elephant up and running for a week. I also have not started working out, so once I get around to doing that, things should move along swimmingly. That’s right, I said swimmingly.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


So here I present the second Sunday picture post.

I am not sure when I took this picture or what speed film I shot it on (I imagine 800 again). The dog in the picture is my brother's Jack Russell Terrier named Bud. My brother got him after they moved from The Woodlands to Midlothian. Bud has a couple of "tricks" that he does, the funniest one being that he will smile at you. His smile is very fierce looking, and I have yet to capture it on film, but it is very cute in its own way. He lives up to the reputation Jack Russells have of being intelligent. All in all he is a very good dog.

I particularly like this photo of him because of how the background detail is lost in black, as if the only things that exist in this moment are Bud, the couch, and the sunlight. I imagine that is how he perceived the world at the moment.

I really enjoy shooting pictures of animals, almost as much as I do children, since animals quickly forget about the camera and return to being themselves. Of course this makes shooting portraits of them challenging, but it allows these candid moments of dog-ness to be recorded in all their relaxedness. (Is that even a word?)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Playing the Plame Game

Normally I don’t blog about current events. I feel that there are plenty of more informative and funnier blogs out there dealing with them, however I just have to say my piece on the whole Valerie Plame affair. However before I delve into my jackassitude about the issue I want you guys to understand where I am coming from. Not to put to fine a point on it I think the people that compromised her cover should be taken out on to the lawn of the White House and executed on live television. I don’t care who it was or what their motivations were; journalists and administration officials are equally culpable in this case.

I hold intelligence agents in very high regard (and its not just because spies are cool.) These people, particularly those with nonofficial cover (or NOCs), are out there putting their lives on the line in order to try and gather a little bit of information that will help protect us or promote our national interests, whatever they may be. We ask so much from these people and should they get caught, or even worse have to make the ultimate sacrifice, the best we can offer them is an anonymous star on the wall of CIA headquarters.

Now in a time where we are increasingly aware of the dangerous world we live in and the enemies of the U.S. have demonstrated their ability to coordinate a massive strike on our soil, we need these agents on the ground even more than ever. At this critical moment in our history someone decided to out an agent. All I can wonder is what damage has this done to recruiting efforts? Now when a recruiter says, “Hey, so you wanna be a NOC?”
I bet people don’t go, “Ohhhh, a NOC, that would be so freakin’ sweet." Now they’re all, “NOC? Are you nuts? I’ll go do all this secret shit that I can never acknowledge doing, probably not get to kill people in fun and interesting ways, and eventually be outed by some crap weasel named Scooter? Thank you, no.”

And don’t even get me started on journalists “protecting” their sources in this case.

Now I feel like I have sufficiently expressed my outrage. Here is the one picture I keep seeing of Valerie Plame:

Could she look any more like a spy? Seriously, it is either the exotic ethnic babe in leather/latex or the otherwise unassuming girl in headscarf and BIG sunglasses.

Street Cred

(Subtitle: How Russell Crowe Steals my Moves and Makes Them Uncool)

Oh yeah, I’ve got it beyotches. I’ve got it in spades. The primary source of my street cred (besides my awe inspiring presence and the fact that I roll with a phat posse) is my second trip to the pokey. The first one was for unpaid traffic tickets and was an adventure unto itself (I got picked up on a Sunday afternoon having just finished a nice big Mexican lunch and wearing my gear from the lacrosse game), however the reason for my second trip to the gray bar hotel was for assault with a telephone. That’s right, yours truly attacked a dude with a telephone. A payphone no less.

First let me set the scene for you. This took place in either 1997 or 1998 which is before my move to College Station. At the time I was living in a garage apartment across the Gulf Freeway (I-45 South) from the University of Houston central campus. I was down the street from what, in my years at UH, we referred to as the Kombat Kroger due to the rough nature of the neighborhood. (Upon reflection I wonder how rough the neighborhood actually was and how much of our wariness of the neighborhood stemmed from the fact that we were primarily upper-middle class white kids from suburbia.) During my time as a resident of the neighborhood, it consisted primarily of Hispanic families with a few older Caucasian couples who had lived there forever. All in all it was a very pleasant experience, and to be honest, if I could get that apartment again, I would in a heartbeat (except that the landlord was an ass.)

This is also the time period where I was involved in a long term long distance relationship (the end of which I have discussed here.) The most important ingredient in a long distance relationship is regular communication and by this I mean you need to keep in touch with each other. To this end I was spending a lot of time on the phone which was problematic as due to a dispute with the phone company, I did not have a phone in the casa. Fortunately for the health of my relationship, there was a pay phone less than a block from my house and MCI had their phone home for free plan, so as long as her number was the home number I was calling, the calls did not cost anything beyond the monthly service charge. Perfect. However this meant that I was spending a fair amount of time on the corner talking on the pay phone.

One night while I was on the phone, this couple came walking down the street. From their body language it was plain that they were arguing about something and soon I could smell the alcohol on them. I was hoping they would just go on past me, heading down the street to Kroger for some cigarettes or something. Sadly this was not to be, the girl apparently needed to call someone in Alaska and the guy with her did not want this to happen for some reason. I am not sure if her need to talk to Alaska was the source of their fight, or a result of an earlier fight, but suffice to say it was quickly becoming the focus of their evening. She would dial a number and maybe get a word or two in before he managed to hang-up the phone. As this was going on she was getting a little more hysterical about whatever it was and in my mind I was begging them to go the fuck away.

I told my partner what was going on as best I could in a whisper and told her that I might have to hang up all the sudden if things got ugly. They were still carrying on and I was thinking to myself, “Come on guys, get this crap out of here, please,” and then, “Just don’t hit her, just don’t hit her.” Almost the instant I thought that I heard that soft but crunchy sound that a fist makes when connecting with someone’s face followed immediately by a wail. He fucking hit her. I couldn’t believe it, my nice evening chat was devolving into an episode of Cops and fast. She grabbed on to my coat, which still has a little bit of blood on it, and was screaming about him hitting her. I hung up the phone, called 911 and told them what had happened and where we were. The operator asked if we needed an ambulance to which I responded, “Probably yes, if he doesn’t back off.” This whole time I was trying to maneuver my body to keep it between them, hoping that I could keep them apart long enough for the cops to show up and get the situation under control.

That was not to be. This jackass kept coming after the girl. I have mentioned once or twice on here that I am a large man (6’4” according to the government, although I think it is closer to 6’2”) and at this point I was in probably the best shape of my life (I was playing hockey at least three times a week and practicing lacrosse on Saturdays.) I was at least a head taller than this guy and he was thin and by thin I mean creepy junkie thin. I pushed him away and told him that the cops were on the way and it would be best for everyone if he just pissed off. He did not heed my advice and tried to get at her again. I was already on edge. In my worldview you don’t hit women. I may joke about women’s lib opening that door, but in reality YOU DO NOT HIT WOMEN. Ever. (This is why I will never be a good dome.) When he came after her again I lost it. I wish I could say this was the moment I bellowed my battle-cry, however since I still don’t have one, I just went to work. It was on like Donkey Kong. I managed to land two or three blows with the phone receiver before we stepped out of range and I had to go mano e mano on his scrawny ass.

By the time the police arrived I had him pinned to the ground and was threatening to bounce his head off the pavement if he didn’t calm down. Initially the police were going to let me go, however one of the older officers felt the need to take me to jail along with the scrawny dude. Thus I got to spend a couple of nights in the clink before everything was straightened out and I was once again a free man, but this time with street cred.

(Originally I wanted to get my mug shot to accompany this post, but I don’t feel like spending $100 to have some PI agency get it for me and I haven’t been motivated enough to get in touch with the City of Houston or Harris County to try and track it down, so you will have to endure the tale sans mugshot.)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Blogger Roll Call

Well, with the untimely demise of the Fanboy Rampage, I have been forced to forage across the frozen tundra of the internet for something to read (remember, as cool as my boss is, I still can’t look at porn at work (I started to type pr0n for some reason, even though I never use that little nugget of leet speak and it really kind of pisses me off, I mean come on kids, who the hell do you think you’re fooling?)) I have stumbled across the following gems that some of you might get a kick out of, therefore I am updating the ole blogroll and giving you a brief overview of the new specimens drug from the bowels of the internet.

Beaucoup Kevin

I think I found Kevin’s blog via comments posted on the aforementioned FBR. While his blog is primarily fan boy oriented, he posts these photocomicstrips which are consistently funny and sometimes downright hilarious. For example take the first appearance of Otter-Prime which you can view here. Comedy gold. Okay, I admit that I am a strange and sad little man, however Otter-Prime? It’s an otter. With a stick! How can you go wrong? See, just check out his second appearance. Okay, fine, but you’re laughing on the inside. Beaucoup Kevin manages to slip some comic news and fanboy snark in between the photocomicstrips and he was the source of this year’s Halloween costume (read t-shirt I wore while surfing the internet the evening of the 31st..)

Chris’s Invincible Super-Blog

I love the smell of fanboy angst in the morning! It smells like victory! Chris Sims is another comics fanboy who shares his deep moments of introspection and soul searching with us sandwiched between his analysis of the weekly take of comics. I have not been reading the ISB for long, so I was relieved to find out that Chris has kindly provided a visitor’s guide to get the newbies acquainted with his little corner of the world (this is something I am totally thinking of ripping off here in the near future, maybe for the first anniversary of the Opiate.) After you take a look at that, the Reasons I Might Be Gay and Personal Space entries are some of his more entertaining moments of fanboy self-loathing. Chris also engages in the occasional bit of rasterbation (playing with Photoshop) although not to the extent that BCK does.

Bad News Hughes

RF introduced me to this blog, and for that I owe him many props. Patrick Hughes is, without a doubt, one of the funniest men on the internet. Seriously. If you can get past his need to share his medical issues with his readers, he has some side-splittingly funny posts. Personal favorites include My Butterfly-Knife Romance in which he shares a story of adolescent heartbreak and wedding picture based self-gratification, and Keep Partying which involves a gentleman by the name of Frog, audio equipment, a bomb threat, and the best excuse ever. Go and read them. Right now. Seriously.

Bring Me My Virgins!

Per the anonymous request, here is a larger version of a picture from my days as a freedom fighter. You will note my partner Al-Pooh, more commonly refered to as The Bear (beacuse its scary and he's Russian) as well as my halo, since we all know good little jihadists go to Paradise. And speaking of Paradise, bring on the girlies!

(I am so going to Hell for this.)

Flight 1984

AKA. Watch as I get added to the terrorist watch lists!

Back in the heady days of the early ‘80s (1983 to 1984 to be exact), I was in the Fourth grade. This was the year where the girls got taken aside and educated about some secret that boys would be horrified to learn later in life. The year where I discovered math does in fact suck. My English teacher read “James and the Giant Peach” to the class. That year in school my homeroom teacher was Linda Moats (she was also our science and social studies teacher) and we were seating at tables of four kids each. My table mates were Matt, Connor, and Daniel. I do not know if I knew Daniel or Connor before this year, however I know we all quickly became friends and started hanging out, as much as kids that age can hang out when they don’t live on the same street. We complimented each other fairly well, with Matt and I acting as a break on Connor and Daniel’s enthusiasm for havoc. While we were not disruptive in class, in later years Mrs. Moats would describe our class to me as the most criminally creative class she ever had.

At some point during the year we were studying Switzerland and as part of this study we were going to take a “trip” to Switzerland. We were supposed to make a list of everything we were packing for the trip and then come the next day prepared for our flight. When we got in to class the next day, Connor, Daniel, Matt, and I got a few strange looks as we sat down at our table bedecked in tropical print shirts, sunglasses, and baseball caps. Everyone else had brought various heavy coats and the like, clearly prepared to spend some time in the Alps.

At the appointed time we moved stuff around the classroom so we could arrange the chairs in a couple of rows to represent an airplane. A couple of kids were appointed to be pilot and copilot. We all boarded the “airplane”, turning our packing lists in to the teacher as we went, and shortly we were headed to Switzerland. About ten minutes into the flight the four of us produced our cap guns and proceeded to hijack the flight, demanding that we be flown to Cuba. The teacher went along with this as we slowly decimated the lesson plan and scored a pretend tropical vacation rather than a pretend visit to Switzerland.

To this day I cannot remember who decided this was a good idea, however we were not subtle about it at all. Beyond our manner of dress, our packing lists were rife with clues as to what was going on. I believe Daniel was in charge of listing the bomb on his packing list (this was how terrorists did thing back in my day, before they realized all it took was a box cutter), however the rest of us listed swimsuits, more Hawaiian shirts, tanning oil, sandals, and SCUBA gear on our packing lists.

As I think about us doing this there are three things that come to mind. First, there was something clearly wrong with us. Who thinks of doing this to an imaginary trip? Second, what was Mrs. Moats thinking by letting us pull this stunt? Third, if some kids pulled this today they would be hell to pay, even in a pre-9/11 world. We had toy guns in school. We threatened people. Today we would be looking at expulsion or worse. Our parents would be called on to the carpet. Newspaper articles would be written. Pundits would be wringing their hands wondering what is wrong with the youth of today.

It saddens me that this is where we are as a society now. Barely 21 years (Holy Crap!) and what was a harmless joke and amusing anecdote back then, would become an incident of national importance today. Damn.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Week One Report Card

Well, I weighed in at a svelte 301.8 pounds this morning, which means I lost 3.8 pounds this past week. Considering I was not as disciplined as I could have been this past week, it is a really good and encouraging start.

Incidentally, I have decided that 250 pounds is going to be considered 100% James and I am currently at 120.72% James. Perhaps in the coming week I will think of a cool graphic that I can use to track my newly-shrinking self.

Also, while discussing my plan with RF via email today it occurred to me that I might, just might, be able to get down to 225. The first goal, however, is going to be 250 by the time Flipside rolls around (Memorial Day weekend.) After I hit the 250 mark, I can reevaluate how I feel and where I am physically. At that point I should be in better shape and my body will be in a better place for me to start doing higher impact workouts and the like. We shall see, but for now 250 is the goal.