Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Road is Ripe for Hitting

Next time I post, it'll be on location in beautiful Fruitport/Spring Lake, Michigan. I'm planning visits with the Fabulous Slattery Women and old chum Joy Sarnacke (nee Chastain). I'll be sure to do some cultural snooping and report everything blogworthy.

A few notes:

1. Best of luck to Bill "B-Train" Joyce as he leaves the verdant pastures of GLP and starts another job doing some design thing. Bill, who invented the term "Gainesing," also uttered the words that would become my motto: "Never feel." A hairy chested Rocket Fever HUZZAH to Bill Joyce!

2. "Yeah, I went to Michigan State, which loser school did you go to?"

3. Another RF HUZZAH to my arse-kickin' cousin D.K. Slattery, who's going to graduate as the valedictorian of Kendall College of Art and Design!

4. Super-cool friend Kate Cosgrove is having an opening reception for her monthlong show from 7 p.m. to midnight on Monday, April 4, at the Temple Club (500 E. Grand River Ave. in Lansing). It's free. You should go. It'd be cool if you did.

Here I go! More to follow.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

It Was a Fine Day in Rocket Fever Land

The sun was out, the sky was blue, and my shirt was tucked in. Tuesday was a good day.

1. I started with an interview for a story I'm doing for an insert that goes out with The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.

2. Then I met up with Amy's dad, brother, and brother's friend to serve as an unofficial (and unqualified) MSU tour guide. We ate Coney Dogs at Frandor and then crisscrossed campus, with me droning on the whole way about what building housed what stuff. Fascinating. We ended the day with ice cream at the MSU Dairy. In the end, I'm not sure if I persuaded A.J. to come to State; all the jogging girls in short shorts may have done the job, but I don't know if I did.

3. I then continued the Tuesday tradition at Dagwood's with Beth. We spent a whopping $6 on two pitchers of Miller Lite. Sweet. While polishing off our brews, we took time out to cheer on the Spartan ladies to the Final Four. MSU is at an all-time high!

4. Blogger tip: Copy your text before posting it. I had to completely rewrite one a couple days ago after some damn error wiped everything out. It was maddening trying to recreate the post.

5. Rocket Fever blasts off tomorrow to Fruitport, Mich., home of Chris and Sarah Kirby, some dogs, fish, and birds. I've never taken care of birds. Wish me (and the birds) luck.

6. By the way, someone asked me recently if I cared if people forward Rocket Fever to others. Of course! RF welcomes all to its family! Spread the good word!

6. Take time for this interesting column by everyone's fav, Bill Bradley.

Monday, March 28, 2005

I Have Become a Ray of (Green) Light*

I've discovered that there are two ways to become one with the Great Universal Thing: a lifetime of meditation and asceticism, or watching your alma mater beat the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in the NCAA tournament. After this weekend, I've decided I prefer the latter.

How to describe this weekend? No way, really. It isn't overstatement for me to say that watching MSU beat Duke and Kentucky is forcing me to reexamine how I view the universe. I simply did not think this team could achieve this kind of success under these conditions. I'm proud to say that I was wrong.

That Kentucky game -- a nerve-crushing affair featuring boku guts, some amazing sequences, and molecular-level calls by the refs -- is an instant classic. They'll talk about the stupid Duke-Laettner game and this game in the same sentence. And in the end, in the gut-tearing end, who was on top? Who had the stones to get past that three-pointer, which took the refs six minutes to call (a nice detail only reported by one J. Rexrode)? Who came back from four down in overtime? The MSU Goddamn Spartans, that's who.

A hearty Rocket Fever HUZZAH to the Sparties!
*Thanks to Mike Zawacki for partial inspiration for this post.

In other news:

1. Spent Saturday (greatest day in tourney history?) watching the action with Pop and Sister at 211 Custer. Dad, a devout vegetarian, made his famous fried chicken. Yum in my tum, indeed.

2. I just bought one of those USB external drives so I can take some files with me when I house-sit for my stepbrother next week. I'm such a techie!

3. Who else besides Kara is excited for the CBS Sunday Movie "Locusts"?

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Happy Easter

I guess I'd go to this church service.

Splendid

I bet Joe Rexrode never thought one of his game stories would bring me close to tears.

As you could tell, I was really nervous about this game. So nervous, in fact, that I almost bailed on watching it with good friends at Amy and Shane's. Thankfully shame talked me into coming, and it turned out to be one of the better nights of my life. I ended up getting there a bit early, while they were eating dinner, and they were good enough to make me a plate as well. What generosity! What squash! Delish!

The game: I don't think I've ever had such an intense viewing experience in my life. Every minute was meaningful, but it seemed State was in it at all times. I never got the feeling they were playing with doubt or a loss of control. Neitzel did a splendid job protecting the ball, Davis was unbelievable, and the defense was superb. I think keeping Redick in check won us that game. Huzzah for defense!

I was once again reminded how important environment is to watching a good game. More important that the immense HDTV we were watching were the good folks watching the game with me. It's so much more fun to cheer with friends -- Amy, shame, Jake, Bridget, Chris, Kara, Sal, Brent, Mandy, Norm. It was nice to not be the only one yelling at Neitzel for a bad pass or screaming at an Ager dunk. Very good times, indeed.

A shoutout goes to the Hudsons, who calmed me down during halftime. Mike, as always, gave me some great perspective on the game and set me up to enjoy the second half. Good man.

After the game (and couldn't you tell how much Izzo LOVED beating Coach K? I think he secretly hates those guys as much as I do!), the crowd had a good old time hanging out and shooting the shiznast. The best conversation was about shaving -- shaving is always a good conversation topic -- with the men agreeing that the Mach 3 is the heroin of razor blades.

All for now. I'm going to watch highlights from the game.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Bad Logo! Bad!

Further proof that a good graphic designer is worth keeping.

I Think I Might Hurl

Someone calm me down. I'm really nervous about the MSU game tonight. I'm getting the feeling I used to get before swim meets in high school: Tight stomach, jittery nerves.

It's just a game ... it's just a game.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

More Hootie

Now "Boondocks" has gotten in on the action.

Ah, Unintended Consequences

Beautiful.

Two Minutes Later: The Limpest Quote of the Day

"Well I don't know what being Duke means," Krzyzewski said. "Hopefully it means you're given a chance to win. That's the main thing it means, that we're going to play hard."

I can almost hear him sniffling that quote right through his nose.

It's 8:19 a.m., And We Already Have the Quote of the Day

Courtesy of the hardest-workin' man in sports journalism, Joe Rexrode: "I don't know," Anderson said of the so-called Duke mystique. "It ain't working on us if they do. That Spartan money green looks pretty good, though."

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Job Opening

Anyone interested in this?

Bumstead!!!

Tuesday will from now on be known as Dagwood's Day With Beth, as old chum Beth Maier and I do our part to support one of Lansing's institutional bars. This means that Beth will have to make arrangements to record "The Great Race," but I think we have the technology to make that happen.

Dagwood's is your straightforward Lansing neighborhood bar, which is the best kind. Classic rock, cheapish beer, smoke-heavy air. That's how we do it in the Midwest, biznatch!

Beth (who, along with the Rexrodes and Hudsons, was kind enough to donate to Mom's breast cancer walk [hint, hint]) and I discussed such matters as why some people have to suck sometimes, what we're going to do with the remainder of our Earthly years, and the rippingly successful bridal shower she threw for superbride Tisha Costilla. Good beer, better times, best folks.

In other news:

1. My mom is going to the eye doctor to see if she's a candidate to have laser beams shot into her eyes so she won't have to wear glasses ever again. Next week it's on to bullet-proof skin and mind-reading powers.

2. I need a white board. Anyone have a spare?

3. As expected, the Christopher Buckley book is fantastic. Total laughs!

4. If you haven't yet, head over to Hudsy's blog for some way-fresh news on former S'newser Mandy Clapp.

Thanks for keeping up. More to follow.

Class Is In Session

More required reading.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Dirty!

These are the lyrics for the BK-Hootie commercial via Population Statistic. Read these and tell me they're not the most sexual commercial song lyrics ever.

When my belly starts a-rumblin’
And I’m jonesin’ for a treat
I close my eyes for a big surprise
The Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch

I love the Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch
The breasts they grow on trees
And streams of bacon ranch dressing
Flow right up to your knees
There’s tumbleweeds of bacon
And cheddar paves the streets
Folks don’t diss you ‘cause you got the juice
There’s a train of ladies comin’ with a nice caboose
Never get in trouble, never need an excuse
The Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch

I love the Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch
No one tells you to behave
Your wildest fantasies come true
Dallas cheerleaders give you shaves
Red onions make you laugh instead
And french fries grow like weeds
You get to veg all day
All the lotto tickets pay
There’s a king who wants you to have it your way
That’s the Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch

Required Reading

Here, here, here, and here (I guess to be fair, but what a nice sidestep job around the whole federalism argument. I love it when people treat principles like Silly Putty.)

Monday, March 21, 2005

So Has Anyone Heard of This TV Show Called "24"?

Yeah, I just watched about 40 minutes of "24" and now I have to go watch all the DVDs. That's why I've never started watching it. Now I have another obsession to deal with for the next week or so. I hope you're all happy. I'm going to be talking about this now for days.

I got a library card today. I'm going to start a Don Delillo project, but I have to go in chronological, so until I get "Americana" I'm going to be reading a Christopher Buckley novel about the Middle East. His "Thank You for Smoking" is one of the funniest books I've ever read.

What's everyone else reading right now?

One last thing: Has anyone noticed this new strategy they seem to be employing with commercials? It seems they first broadcast a shorter one, then unveil a longer version. Or am I nuts?

They're also doing this thing where they'll either show the same commercial back to back (which I hate) or they'll run two similar shorts back to back (slightly less annoying, but only slightly).

Anyone feel me on this?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

"Spring Break Shark Attack": A Meditation

The CBS Sunday Movie "Spring Break Shark Attack" had a lesson for everyone in the audience. I just hope that all the messages got to the right people:

1. If you're a hot, virginal, down-to-earth college girl, lying to your parents about going to Seagull Beach for spring break isn't the best way to assert your independence or find out who you REALLY are.

1A. If said college girl has been roofied, calling your dad late at night isn't the best way to break the news that you're in Florida and not on a Habitat for Humanity trip.

2. If you're a rich, vain college stud muffin and you slip girls roofies, you will eventually be eaten by a chum-crazed tiger shark.

3. If you're a tiger shark, your sole aim of existence is the destruction of the human race. This is why man and tiger shark can never be friends and must engage in a generations-long battle for aquatic supremacy. But we must never forget that Neptune is the only True Ruler of all the oceans and all the seas. Let us never forget Neptune.

Whatta Weekend!

A few notes from a weekend of b-ball:

1. While there were a good number of upsets and good games, I'd say that only the Wake Forest-West Virginia game was great. Syracuse-Vermont was good (and may have sunk my bracket), but not legendary. I hope next week has a few more heart-attackers.

2. What is up with that Darius Rucker Burger King commercial? Can anyone help me on this?

3. Geico has had some funny commercials lately.

4. Gus Johnson is the best CBS play-by-play man.

5. At the end of the tournament, I'll unveil the Rocket Fever All-Tournament Team.

6. I'm feeling pretty good about State right now. If Neitzel can smooth out some of those stupid sequences he has and if they can keep Shelden Williams under control (and maybe break Shav Randolph's leg? Just a suggestion), they have an excellent chance at beating Duke. I'll post more later on how supremely sweet it would be to beat those guys.

7. A special hello to my great friend Beth Jones, a respected movie critic and wonderful representative of our former enemies in the War of Northern Aggression.

8. I can't wait for "Spring Break Shark Attack"! A review will follow.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

I'm Moving to Milwaukee

Not really. I just love that damn basketball team, no matter what it does to my bracket. I was never a big BC fan anyway.

I have to admit I'm getting a TAD stir crazy with all the sitting and watching b-ball and not having to get up and go somewhere and ... NO! BAD CRAIG! VERY BAD!

Sorry ... I ... don't know what came over me there for a second. I think I was actually complaining about being able to watch all the Tournament basketball I want. I'm sorry. That will never happen again. In fact, to make up for it, I'm going to take a dip in the hot tub before the games start tomorrow to remind myself how good I have it. Then maybe I'll have a bowl of cereal.

Just got back from watching a TREMENDOUS Wake Forest-West Virginia game with Katie and Jackie, who has quite a pair of lungs when he doesn't want to be put down for the night. The Three Tenors have nothing on the Little Man.

The cat just puked on the treadmill. Gotta go.

Friday, March 18, 2005

We Should All Screw Like Bunnies!

Perfect.

Go State

Hudson just sent me this story. Great stuff.

This Is Too Damn Much

When I heard about this story on CNN today, I thought I had misheard for a second. Congress had subpoenaed Terri Schiavo, the brain-dead woman in Florida?

Had to be wrong.

Nope. Republicans, who used to make a big deal of keeping government OUT of people's lives, issued both House and Senate subpoenas to in effect make her hospice continue to feed her and keep her alive.

I think both sides on this argument have very valid claims, but Congress has taken this circus to the next level. Rarely do those guy do something that actually disturbs me, but this is so macabre and bizarre (I understand no one ever really intended Schiavo to appear before Congress, but the image is there) that I can't get over this.

You want to talk about conservative over-reach ...

Sexy Schmidt

Craig Schmidt's band, Charlie Don't Shake, was awesome at Mac's Bar last night. Despite its quarter-mile proximity to my house, this was my first time to Mac's. It has a perfect dive-bar, cool-band vibe, but without any snobbiness since it's in Lansing.

Schmidty was a road warrior, getting into town from Chicago just an hour before the gig and leaving again not an hour after. He can't be feeling too peachy today.

Woodhams was there, saucy as always, as were Sister and other good folks. Sister and I wrapped up the night with some late-night munchies at Theio's.

In b-ball news, I'm doing well in my brackets and will post my standings later today. I know you all can't wait.

Finally, if Jay Bilas can only do a stupid Bill Raftery impersonation as a color commentator, he should be fired.

Sexy Schmidt

Craig Schmidt's band, Charlie Don't Shake, was awesome last night at Mac's, a bar that, despite it being only a quarter-mile from my house, I've never been to.

Craiggy played the road warrior, trucking to Lansing from Chicago and then leaving less than an hour after the set ended. He can't be feeling too well today.

Woodhams was there, saucy as always, as was Sister and some other good folks.

I'm doing well in my brackets so far and will post my standings later today. (By the way, if Jay Bilas can only do Bill Raftery impersonations as a color commentator, he should be fired immediately.)

Donate!

Don't forget to throw a few shekels toward my mom's breast cancer walk.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

This is Why I Hate Duke

From Slate:

Led by sore-losing, ref-haranguing coach Mike Krzyzewski, Duke has long been a hotbed of whininess, but junior J.J. Redick is the first Blue Devil to publicly elevate it to an art form. In recent profiles in Sports Illustrated, on ESPN, and probably in Cat Fancy, the whey-faced shooting guard revealed that when abuse from opposing fans becomes too heavy, he escapes by composing verse. "No bandage can cover my scars/ It's hard living a life behind invisible bars," he writes in one tear-stained stanza.

Gaines Don't Shake

Schmidt's band plays at Mac's tonight!

In other news:

1. I want to have Ed McCants' baby.

2. How many times is Vitale going to say that Redick is his player of the year? How many?

"... as our menu options have recently changed."

Have the menu options really recently changed? Or is every corporation in the world listening to some behavioral psychologist who tells them this phrase will get us to pay closer attention to the menu options when we call in?

I smell a commie plot.

Anyone Have an Orange T-shirt I Can Borrow?

Happy St. Patrick's Day, ever'body!

Have fun getting silly today, all you Catholic Irish knuckleheads (and wannabes). While you all get soused, my Protestant Irish bretheren and I will continue to quietly rule the Emerald Isle from our seat right next to Her Majesty's Throne!

God Save the Queen!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Few Things

1. I love Charlie Rose.

2. There should be an HBO show about the NBA.

3. I have this nagging fear that State is going to beat Syracuse.

Red, Centrist, and Blue

Here's another example of what I was talking about the other day. Is it OK for the Dems to go soft on some social aspects to deal with a changing electorate?

I guess if you throw them a bone by studying media's impact on children, as Hillary is doing, that's OK. But where is there a middle ground on abortion? Gay marriage? Is it simply allowing the states to decide?

At least some folks in the party are making efforts at these things. I'm firmly in the camp that '60s-era liberalism is electorally dead.

Pyramid Schemes in Russia

Is this really a good idea?

I Don't Get It

So what was the big deal about "Lost in Translation"?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Bracket

So far, I think the Detroit Free Press has the best printable bracket. Anyone else find a good one?

I'm Back

All right, all right. I'm right here. See, baby? I'm just fine. Dry your tears.

What a great weekend in Southeast Michigan, seeing friends old and new:

1. First I watched some more great basketball Saturday. While the weekend didn't go exactly as I wanted, I'm feeling good going into the tournament. UNC will have a healthy, warmed-up Rashad McCants back. They're still my team.

2. After that, I zipped over to Fashionable Ferndale for a night of digital pleasure. No, not that kind! Shane hosted a bit of a video game tournament at his house that night. On the world's giganticist TV ever. The thing is the blue whale of TVs. Freakin' huge. I mostly watched, because I haven't played video games since the first "Zelda" was cool, but I did play a bit of this fighting game where all you have to do is mash buttons. On one of my first times playing, I beat the really hard guy at the highest level! The room erupted in cheers ... my heart was racing so fast I thought it would explode ... I asked the cutest cheerleader to the prom ... I was voted president of the United States. What a feeling!

As always with a trip to the home of Amy-Shane, I was offered only the best hospitality and had a great time. If there was a Host of the Year challenge, the Shamys would win every time.

3. Next was a day with old boyo Jamie Cook in Allen Park. I met up with Jamie -- who was recovering from quite a night (ask him sometime) -- in the early afternoon. After the Hooters girls left (you really have to ask him), we went to Coney Island for some catching up. JC is doing pretty well for himself as a sports copy editor in Oakland. Then it was back to his pad (and another HDTV!) for some b-ball and Selection Sunday. We were both shocked by Washington at No. 1 and were sweating to see the State seed, which we thought was fair.

After that, we met up with Cook's girlfriend, Jen, her friend Julia, Cook's brother and sister-in-law, and another person named Jamie at a neighborhood bar. After some wheat beer and burgers and good conversation, we retired to John Cook's house for some "Family Guy" box 2. Best show ever. The one where they all beat the snot out of each other is maybe the most intense TV episode I've ever seen. After making ample use of the Cook brother's hospitality, we ended the night at Jamie's, flipping back and forth between "Flash Dance" (I want Kevin Bacon's hair) and "Say Anything," which is much better than I ever thought it was.

A couple notes: Cook is one of the best all-around guys. You can always shoot the breeze with him about anything: sports, movies, books, life. Also, his girlfriend, Jen, is a great girl, sort of a quieter, better looking version of Cook. Great sense of humor. Finally, I love meeting friends' siblings. John and Jamie have THE SAME joke delivery: both sort of lean in with sly grins on their face, delivering the joke with what's the beginning of a huge laugh. Crazy.

4. Now it's Bracket Time. I have at least two to win, so this is going to take some time.

Happy now, everybody? More to follow.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

At Least Carolina Won

1. @&#$!

2. Even though UNC played with fire yesterday, you can't expect any college team to dominate every game it plays, especially in the post-season. I think the team's performance yesterday proved that it's a winner.

3. Don't know if they qualify as a sleeper, but I love Syracuse.

4. Don't forget to do your part in the fight against breast cancer. (RF LOVE to Beth Maier for her contribution!)

Friday, March 11, 2005

Healthful Joes

My stepdad, Joe Kirby, made some bomb-ass veggie burgers last night. They look like either falafel or birdseed, depending on whom you ask, but they taste de-frickin-lish. Here's the recipe:

(Serves 4)
4 oz. mushrooms, finely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 oz. unsalted peanuts or cashews
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp yeast extract
salt and black pepper
fine oatmeal or flour, for shaping

Cook mushrooms in a nonstick pan without oil, stirring, for 8-10 minutes to remove all the moisture.

Process the onion, zucchini, carrot, and nuts in a food processor until beginning to bind together.

Stir in the muchrooms, breadcrumbs, parsley, yeast extract, and seasoning to taste. With the oatmeal or flour, shape into four burgers. Chill (till the next episizode).

Cook the burgers in a nonstick frying pan with very little oil or under a hot broiler for 8-10 minutes, turning once, until the burgers are cooked and golden brown.

This is from "Low Cholesterol Low Fat Cooking" by Christine France (Lorenz Books).

Yum in my tum!

The Shock and Disappointment That Comes From a Bad Pot of Coffee

I just made some janky coffee, and I'd like to apologize to everyone out there in coffeeland.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A Short Etymology of the Word "Zazz"

It's only fair that I give credit where it's due. This from Amy:

"I stole zazz from Bryan, which kind of became Aaron's exaggerated impression of Bryan saying dad, which you're more than welcome to steal. It's already been stolen several times over as you can see, read, feel."

Oof!

Today was deadline day for the newsletter project I'm working on for my former boss. As my typical luck would have it, my third and final source crapped out on me this morning. So I had to call my boss and tell him that I was blowing my first deadline on this project. I then spent the next six hours calling around 30 companies with the same freaking pitch, same freaking voicemail ("Hello, this is Craig Gaines with the Manufacturing Perfomance Institute based out of Cleveland, Ohio. We produce a monthly ...") again and again.

I was about to call my boss and tell him the jig was up when -- out of the mist -- I got a call back. Interview at 9 tomorrow morning. Zazz!

(Annoying, worrying trend: I'm starting to like talking on the headset I bought for my cell.)

In other news, I had a great goddamn time with the singular Kate Cosgrove last night. We met at the old-school Beaner's (the one on Grand River that used to be a Hardy's), talked our asses off, then had dinner at something called the Fleetwood Diner on South Larch in Lansing. I owe Kate big for her patience with an annoying little detour I had to take, but that's what the great friends are for.

I met Kate on my study-abroad trip to England, and we eventually became fantastic friends, having tons of fun with a little nutball named Katie Mahalak. I know everyone repeats this cliche, but the close friends I made on that trip and the memories I have will stay with me forever. No one's lucky all the time, but everyone catches a big, fat break a couple times in life. Meeting those folks on my England trip was one of mine.

Be good everyone. More to follow.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Beinart Doctrine Continued?

Bull Moose, who I'm generally a fan of, says this story is the domestic equivalent to TNR's Beinart foreign policy wakeup call to the Dems. Beinart's manifesto was one of the best pieces of political writing I'd ever read.

I'm not so sure The Weekly Standard piece is as good. How can the Dems worm into exurbia without giving up on progressive social stances? I haven't been able to figure it out yet.

Any ideas?

This is Why I Love Becky Amos

Go to her blog. Read "My Lasting Impression on The Big Apple." Laugh. Cry. Repeat.

Tidbits 'n' Junk

1. To more fully explain, I watched Fellini's "City of Women" last night with Sister and our friend Sarah Gold. Gold was badass enough to bring us brownies after we called and begged her to sate our sweet tooth. After Gold got here, we entered 138 minutes of cinematic trippy time. I'm not going to describe the movie, because I'm not that abstract. Suffice to say that lots of stuff happened.

2. I walked to the Capitol yesterday and sat in on a House session for a few minutes. I spotted S'news classic Zach Gorchow on the floor.

3. A trip to Detroit this weekend will include fun times with Shane O'Dell et al and the unmatchable Jamie Cook. A full report will follow next week.

4. I'm having coffee this evening with old friend Kate Cosgrove, artist, humorist, and self-proclaimed "princess." Can't wait!

5. I haven't showered yet today. Bam!

More to follow.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Smieck Smack Smieck Smack

I will never watch another Fellini movie.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Amendments to the Below Post

1. Katie Rexrode, newly obsessed by the blog craze, forwarded me this story from The Times. I haven't completely settled on this issue, but I don't see how bloggers can't be awarded the same freedoms as institutional journalists. While I'm no fan of the blogger-as-savior-of-journalism theory -- there is something to be said for the vetting process in place at traditional media outlets -- it would seem that bloggers deserve all the protections under the First Amendment that reporters get. And what's the difference between protecting bloggers and various laws that protect corporate or government whistleblowers? There's always the risk -- much greater, in my mind, than with traditional journalists -- that bloggers could act with malice toward a subject. But that just means that they're as open to libel suits as traditional journalists are. Any thoughts?
2. Repeat after me: Rock 'n' roll stars aren't international bankers. Rock 'n' roll stars aren't international bankers.
3. RF HUZZAH to Mike Hudson, who ran a 4:39:48 in the Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday! Mikey used the event to raise money to fight Alzheimer's. Way to go, Hud!

In Which I Rhapsodize Over the Amazon, Go Hunting for the Perfect Suit, Walk Through the Landscape of My Memory, and Watch UNC Hold Off Duke

Notes from the weekend:

ODE TO THE AMAZON
O, Nikki, my former hair stylist from Zen Salon in Cleveland!
I'll never speak ill of your hair-styling talents so long as I lumber over this mortal tundra!
For I have met your lesser, and her name is Samantha, and she cuts hair in downtown Lansing.
And she is bad.
Where you sculpted my bangs with the care of Michelangelo,
She tore at me with rusty shears.
Where you created poetry on the sides and back,
She merely drew straight lines with a clipper.
Where you summoned a storm of stylish muss on top,
She only cut to uniform length.
O, Nikki! O, Nikki!
How I miss your eye-popping physique!
How I tremble for the split-second when your boob would brush against my shoulder!
How I weep for our conversations about the weather and rude foreign telemarketers and horses -- yes, even the horses!
Nikki! Nikki! My amazonian artisan! If I can't have you creating masterpieces with my wig, I shall allow no other stylist near it!
As my mane grows heavy and kinky,
So
Shall
My
Heart.

++++

TWO GUYS IN SEARCH OF A SUIT

After having my dome hacked at by the monstrous Samantha on Saturday morning, I somehow summoned the courage to go suit shopping with my dad. Pop recently got a promotion, so he now has to look presentable as he goes out to sell group health insurance.

Now, my father and I shopping for clothes is akin to a pair of fish shopping for oxygen tanks. We can't stand shopping, abhor malls, despise clothing salespeople, and have little to no fashion sense (sorry, Pop). Let's just say our expectations were low.

You can understand, then, the pleasantness of our surprise at what a satisfying experience this was. After bopping around Meridian Mall for a few minutes, we came upon the newly opened S& K Menswear. I think we were the first customers at the new location, and the sales staff sprang upon us like a pack of hungry wolves. But these were some of the most pleasant and helpful wolves I've ever encountered.

After a battle over my dad for a few minutes, the striking Stephanie Erickson came out the victor. Stephanie, a 5-foot-10 brunette who vaguely reminds me of Becky Hudson (nee Baird), just so happens to be a junior at MSU's J-school, so we had TONS to chitchat about. It wasn't too long before Pop and I decided on two suits: a tan spring-and-summer suit with subtle blue pinstripes and an all-year navy blue number of the identical cut.

The prices were reasonable, and the service was splendid. I'd recommend the Meridian S&K to anyone in the business of buying suits.

++++

A STROLL THROUGH THE AVENUES OF MY YOUTH*
*Warning: Indulgent post below. Some readers may want to skip to the next section.

Sunday was just too damn beautiful to stay inside all day, so Mom, Sister, and I took a little walk around the neighborhood. In the process we passed by some of the landmarks of my memory.

We started out going straight down Fernwood, passing by what used to be the cornerstore (it's oddly now just a house), and turning left onto Fairview. We stopped a minute to see how old 504 wass holding up. There was a Caddy in the driveway, which means either an old man or a pimp lives there. Either would be fitting.

We were dismayed to see the state of ruin that Grandma Jean's house (right next door) had fallen into. A big four-by-four held up one corner of the sagging roof. The paint was peeling, and the house's interior looked colder than the balmy weather we were enjoying outside.

We moved on down Fairview, past the Wiktorskis, past the Lechlightners. We crossed Saginaw, noted that the old elementary school looked great, even though another memorial pine was planted next to Chris Denning's. Chris died when I was at Fairview, from cancer, I think. My only memory of him was that he threw an apple at me after I tripped him while playing soccer. I deserved it.

We continued down Fairview, noticing how much nicer the townhouse at Fairview and Marguerite looks about 10 years after Dad moved to Custer. We looped back through the neighborhood, where I returned home for a day of basketball.

++++

GOD, I LOVE COLLEGE BASKETBALL SO MUCH

Quickly:

1. I almost didn't watch the second half of the OSU-Illinois game. Easily ranks in my Top 100 sports events of all time.
2. Actually skipped the UK-Florida game because I didn't want to completely zone out in the front of the tube and because I hate the damn SEC. But I regret my decision.
3. Watched -- loved -- the UNC game. ROCKET FEVER PREDICTION: Carolina will win the tournament. Sean May is close to unstoppable in the post.
4. For fun, I watched the last few minutes of the N.C. State-Wake game. What a treat.

++++

RF LOVE to the Huddies and the Rexies for donating to my mom's breast cancer walk. You guys are the best!

Phew! Thanks to those of you who made it this far. More to follow.

In Bay City, It's OK For Cujo to Have Fun With Mr. Belvedere

I love real life.

More to follow soon, including two guys shopping for a suit, the worst haircut ever, and a reaffirmation that college basketball is the best sport on the planet.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Support a Good Cause

As I've mentioned, my mom is taking part in a walk to raise funds to fight breast cancer. In June, she's going to walk a marathon and a half in Chicago -- 26 miles the first day and 13 miles the second. While I don't think it's physically possible for humans to walk this far in their lifetimes let alone over two days, I commend my mom for trying.

If you want to help her reach her funding goal, go to her personal page and make a donation. I know she'll appreciate it.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Journeys With Jack

After spending about three and a half hours with Jackie Rexrode, I am now convinced that Joe and Katie possess superhuman stamina. After just one morning with this little bundle that was completely dependent on me, I'm pooped (no pun intended -- really, no poos this morning)!

Jack woke up around 8:30, and after changing him (much better than yesterday, but still imperfect) and feeding him, I then had to entertain him. Jackie gave me mixed reviews. Peek-a-boo was fun for awhile, the Hokey Pokey Elmo was fun until Jack started picking him up by his eyeballs, the bouncy chair was a hoot until he got tired. After that, we just sort of sat on the couch and stared at each other for awhile. Jack is way into looking at the mirror, which seems to me to be a sign of superior intelligence.

Then the craziest thing happened. He started to get real fussy, and as I walked around the apartment with him, he just BAM fell asleep. Like a narcoleptic! It was an amazing act of physiological nimbleness. His brain told him to sleep and, snap, he was asleep. I wish I had that power.

Shortly after Baby Rexrode awoke (that first look a baby gives you after waking up -- "Hey, I think I remember you! Now give me some damn food!" -- is the best), veteran Jackiesitter Oscar arrived to relieve me. The difference in our experience levels is obvious: I handle Jack like a rookie, constantly trying to keep up with his squirming. Oscar has Magic Johnsonesque control over him; he could probably execute a pretty behind-the-back pass with Jackie if he wanted.

In other news:

1. I bought a cell phone recorder thingy and headset for when I do interviews. I absolutely CANNOT take notes during interviews; it was a big reason why I got into copy editing. Maybe this little baby is my ticket back into the world of bylines.
2. I've taken to hitting the treadmill for 30 minutes each day. I know I swore I'd never do this, but I can see myself actually RUNNING on it before too long. But I'll never jog outside. That's for the barbarians.
3. Sister just called and asked me if I wanted to go with her to the Y. I said yes, but it'll feel sort of weird, because I just showered. I feel too clean to get sweaty and then take another shower. Does anyone else have this issue?

Clean behind the ears. More to follow.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Adventures in Babysitting

So I'm picking up the morning shift to supervise one Jackson Rexrode tomorrow, and I'm facing this responsibility with steely determination. I did a test diaper-change run last night, and it wasn't encouraging. This is harder than the first time you try to unhook a girl's bra. Jackie is a squirmy little guy, and getting his PJs with footies on and off was like trying to thread a greased pig through a needle. By the time I was done, I wasn't sure the diaper seal was strong enough, my arms were tired, and Jack was thinking, "Who is this amateur? This guy just manhandled me!" Well, Jackie, these are the facts: You pee and poo, and it'll be my job to change you when that happens. So we'd both better get used to this.

It does help that Jackie is, in fact, the Best Baby Ever. Not just Cutest, but Best. Hands down. Personality, chubby cheeks, a winning smile, and the cutest damn drool you've ever seen!

In other news:

1. I might venture down to the Lansing Library to get a nerd card.
2. The Hudsons have just junked cable. I've gone through this, so if you encounter them in the next few weeks be aware that they're going to be a bit more jumpy and grouchy than normal. Don't take it personally; it just takes awhile to break the dependency that develops from such an addiction. Mike and Becky, in support of your grand experiment, I'm going to ... watch tons and tons of television, enough for the three of us!
3. Speaking of the Buttsons, I should start looking into plane tickets for L.A. In April I'm headed for fun, sun, the ACES conference, and a couple wedgies courtesy of Mike!
4. Everyone should check out Amos' new blog. We need to keep the pressure on her so she'll keep updating this thing.

Hug a loved one. More to follow.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Hot!

I just saw a trailer for "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" movie, due out in May. If you've never read these books, by late British author Douglas Adams, and are in any way nerdy, READ them and then go see the movie. My mom introduced these to me when I was a kid, and, oddly, her dad introduced them to her. It's a fairly absurd "trilogy" (there are more than three in the series) about the adventures one baffled Brit faces after Earth is blown up.

Doubly exciting is that the lead character, Arthur Dent, is played by Martin Freeman, who was Tim in "The Office." Mos Def plays Ford Prefect, his friend who turns out to be an alien.

Anyway, I usually don't get excited about movies just from trailers, but this one got me going. I hope the movie lives up to the books, which so rarely happens.

Natalie Portman is Hot

Had a great dinner with old friend Beth Maier (a new aunt!) at Emil's, a Lansing institution, last night. Beth, who I've known since high school and calls me Chuck, is doing great as always.

Just a few random notes to round out the post:

1. Thoughts on "Garden State":
A. Natalie Portman is hot.
B. Natalie Portman is hot.
C. Great soundtrack.
D. Peter Sarsgaard is a great actor. I've never disliked a movie he's been in.
E. I wish Natalie Portman would give me some sugar.
F. Retarded quarterbacks and knights at Medieval Times are funny. By the way, I went to a Medieval Times once in Florida, and it was maybe the greatest amusement-type activity I've ever been involved with. For starters, our server was called a "wench," which is great for all sorts of reasons. Then, as we watched these guys joust (I've now learned the fights are fixed), we ate these little Cornish hens that were out of this freaking world. I usually don't remember specific dishes, but I remember this one.
G. The DVD skipped a few minutes of the movie, which has me really pissed off. I guess there was some fight about Sarsgaard's character stealing Zach Braff's mom's jewelry, but I missed it. This is becoming a problem with DVDs. That never happened with VHS tapes.
H. Natalie Portman is really hot. Not only that, she had the best child-actor performance ever in one of my Top 10's: "The Professional."

2. It's snowing like a crazy monkey up here!

3. Anyone out there ever work at a neighborhood economic development corporation? I'm thinking about interning at one to see if it'd interest me. Anyone?

Thanks for reading. More to follow.