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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Thought Of An Old Joke

Look What I Almost Just Stepped InBack when it was cool to tell Polish jokes, one my dad liked to tell went like this:

Did you hear how the Polish guy greeted his buddies when he met them at the bar a few minutes after almost stepping in a pile of horse shit?

"Hey guys, look what I almost just stepped in on the walk over here?"

Monday, October 30, 2006

Found An Old Picture

Spring BreakClose your eyes, Mom.

For the rest of you, this picture shows that spring break in Florida isn't always about library visits and doubles tennis. We had a couple of beers on this night. Here I am at age 21, moments before passing out on the toilet.

Thank goodness I had that last beer that you can see is in my right hand. I really needed another one.

Latest News Rant

You've heard me several times rant on the news media, also known as the hand that feeds me. Check this one out.

A friend at a TV station back in the midwest told me that a fellow reporter there was getting jerked around by station management as his contract was up. It's funny how young reporters, in their effort to get to the top of the industry -- a job in a city like New York, Los Angeles, Washington, etc. -- have to eat so much shit in the small markets. Every network correspondent started in a shitty little town, and most likely worked for a jackass or two along the way. But in their younger years, it seems like once they see the light at the end of the tunnel that's also known as the end of the three-year contract, it's time to get the resume tape together. Few and far between are the occasions when I've heard a reporter say, "Wow, I can't wait until my contract comes up so I can quickly re-up for a 3 percent raise and stay here for three more years. That's gonna be awesome."

Anyway, this midwest reporter is no exception. He had a job offer in a nearby state -- bigger market = better job -- and when he took that message to the dickheads who were screwing with him about whether they were going to want to renew him, they suddenly started to lay on the guilt trip, about how the November book is just days away and how dare he turn in his two weeks in October.

It's unbelievable how the business exploits the shit out of about 85 percent of those who work in it. Pretty much all departments outside of sales are chronically understaffed and equipment is shoddy. Local stations are like retail stores; there are directives coming down from corporate all the time, none sounding like, "Attn: Management -- Let's really take care of our people this quarter, and be as flexible as possible when considering holiday and vacation requests."

In actuality, every memo reflects a decision that was made by a 50-year-old white man in a suit who will never meet the people such a decision aversely affects, with only how-many-more-dimes-can-we-squeeze in mind for Media Giant X. Yet when the individual takes the same step to try to further his own career and perhaps his own bottom line, he's the dickhead?

Drug Talk 101

"A friend" once was introduced by telephone to a guy named Mark, who had a weed connection. Stuart told this friend -- we'll call him Jackass -- to call Mark at such-n-such phone number, as Mark was expecting the call.

Mark and Jackass talked briefly on a Friday, and both indicated they'd be at the same social gathering on a Saturday. Mark suggested his contact might have "the stuff" before Mark was going to go to the social gathering, in which case Mark would sponsor the illegal transaction up front and settle up with Jackass later.

When the pair met the next day, Mark said the falcon was far from landing. He told Jackass he'd left his cell phone in the taxi on the way over. So he borrowed Stuart's phone on arriving at the social gathering and called his phone. A gal answered and Mark directed her to turn the phone off immediately and not even think about answering it until Mark picks it up from her.

I, too, was at this social gathering, and perhaps if I talk to Jackass again soon, I'll have an update for you on whether the shit goes down.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tiresome Trash

I once played basketball with ESPN correspondent Bob Holtzman, who seemed like quite a nice guy, especially when I took his ass baseline a time or two. No offense to him, but the subject matter of his Bengals-Falcons tease at 10:30 a.m. Sunday was exactly what is so devastatingly tiresome about sports media in today's SportsCenter era.

Bengals star wideout Chad Johnson has spent this week running some smack about Atlanta cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who will mark him in today's NFL game at Cincinnati. The two are friends and the smack talk is fairly standard for diva wideouts and those who cover them, not just in the moments leading up to kickoff. Johnson and Hall apparently talk regularly on the telephone during the week.

But Holtzman played the angle up as seriously as if it was a Cory Lidle aircraft flying into a building. It went something like this: "Chad Johnson keeps a dry-erase board in his locker, and on it he lists the opposing team's corner who is scheduled to cover him on Sundays during the season. All the names are in a plain bold font, except one -- DeAngelo Hall's, which is in big red letters."

Are sports really that gay that we're talking about to-do lists and Crayola colors? Sheesh, just play the fucking game and shut up already. Not only is trash-talking quite tired, but now we have abundant coverage of it by the sports media, which crowds around postgame lockers of great athletes, those holding the mikes wanting so badly to be liked by these millionaire bitch boys. I'm embarrassed to say I was one of those slaps.

I can't bang on trash talk, however, without a couple of nods. Giants cornerback R.W. McQuarters told Sports Illustrated recently that he routinely asks receivers "What did you buy at the mall this week?" And the once notoriously talkative wideout Cris Carter once recommended the NFL's dental plan to an unattractive DB between plays. "You should take advantage of it," he said. Good stuff.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Aaron Fink

My good friend John, from back in Cincinnati, lost his brother Friday. Aaron Fink battled cancer for I think as long as I knew him, which was about three years. I probably only spent time with him on three or four occasions, but he was always positive despite having plenty he could have complained about. He usually had a pretty good smartass remark or two whenever I was with him. John, your brother will be missed.

Congrats to Batavia Bureau

The Batavia Bureau is an old friend from back in Louisville. He's a die-hard fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, who won the World Series Friday night. Congratulations, Matt!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Midnight Smack

I seldom wax smack about politics here, but 'tis the season, so let's let 'er rip.

Is there seriously not just one measly Republican who is brave enough to stand up to the leaders of his party and not just offer up a short soundbite for the cameras on how the war isn't going well, but rather have some balls and name names and call people out for this abomination in the Middle East? Risk your job and be unmerciful, I demand.

Most of why I don't go political here is because I don't follow the process enough to sound fully informed. There are so many states and seats and offices and races and candidates and issues and attack ads and counter ads and statistics and the twisting of statistics and denials. If you're career isn't in politics, and I hope it isn't, then it's like a full-time job just following politics.

But nowadays, I do think I know enough to know that war is based on big business and denials, and it disgusts me that there isn't one man or woman -- not one -- currently working in Washington who's willing to take a risk and shake things up. War is a lucrative industry, and business is booming for Company USA.

Seriously, are we really trying to be liberators? We're the most self-absorbed country in the world. Since when do we care so much about helping a country that "had weapons of mass destruction" find freedom?

And did you know that the first 70 contracts -- maybe more -- given out to American companies when the rebuilding began were distributed to firms whose high-level suits were once Washington politicians?

We're running out of room here within our own borders, so it's time to start building America West. Our companies need to keep advancing that bottom line, and we've milked our own countrymen for all they have, so we now need to exploit the hell out of many other countries.

"What's that, Ahmed, you don't like Starbucks? Too bad. But your English is getting much better."

(Side Note: I didn't know if there was an apostrophe in Starbucks. Know how I quenched that curiosity? I stood up from my chair and looked out the window, diagonally across the street, where a Starbucks just went up a month ago. Disgusting. And true.)

What I think a lot of Americans do -- and I'm sometimes guilty of this -- is wonder in how many months when our military is going to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan and really lots of places and come home. Months? We don't think about the long term. We think in chunks no longer than six and 12 months, and we're perpetually driven by instant gratification. We think even just half a year is so far away that the Bush administration has convinced us that major troop withdrawals will begin in midyear 2007, signaling the beginning of the end of the war.

"That sounds great. And yes, I'd like to supersize that, please."

But this war will stretch well beyond 2007. And the longer it goes, the easier it gets for the extremists to recruit believers. It took hundreds of years of struggle for Christians and Jews to spread their religion. And as fucked up as their religion seems to us, we're witnessing what could be the early stages of a much larger, more modern Islam.

And as the war continues, governments will weaken in countries other than the ones currently making headlines. Regimes in Syria and Jordan, perhaps even Egypt and Saudi Arabia, could be toppled in such a way that a gigantic Islamic army is organized in 20 years. And don't think al-Qaida doesn't have a strong presence in South America either. Are we slowly being surrounded? Sure it sounds paranoid, but don't be surprised if Alaska is a smart place to live in 2020. I just hope they have Starbucks.

Word From The Wise

New column out today.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hate Patrol

At the end of the day, we should all stop saying, "At the end of the day."

This cliche is so tiresome.

What cliche(s) do you hate?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Holy Shirt

I bought a pretty nice shirt in Malaysia in 2003. I liked it so much that I pretty much wore it out by last winter, but I continued to wear it still.

And since I've been in New York, I've stumbled twice past this store in Midtown called, appropriately enough, The Shirt Store.

The brand is Provenzale, and under normal circumstances, I'd look up the make and buy another shirt or maybe several of them online. But I can't find Provenzale anywhere.

So I took my shirt down there today, and, keep in mind, I probably paid between U.S. $15-$20 three years ago, a great deal on a great shirt. Pale blue with white pinstripes, great soft fabric and quite a firm collar. The ladies love the shirt.

"My, that's quite a firm collar you've got there, Mister!"

Anyway, three workers at The Shirt Store looked through these books full of hundreds and hundreds of samples, and after a couple minutes of searching, they found the closest match to my shirt.

I noticed in the margin of this book that there was a price of $220, which the gal confirmed. She also said there would be a $100 fee for the duplication process, as well as a $25 charge if I was going to order less then four shirts. That's right -- $345 for one nice dress shirt. Welcome to New York, asshole.

My New Nickname

I don't think I'm necessarily losing touch, but I will concede that I haven't heard of every semi-new musician or hot actress out there on the scene. And I'll never claim to understand rap culture.

These two facts became simultaneously quite evident when I edited a story about a rapper named C-Murder. Are you fucking kidding me? I realize it's really cool to go by anything other than your real name, and use a 'Z' where an 'S' is part of the correct spelling. Stomping all over the English language has been the norm for nearly 20 yearz now, ya feel me dawg?

But seriously, how does that work at parties? When he's introduced, does he say, "Hello, LeBron, my name is C-Murder. It's a pleasure to meet you." And how will his lawyer get any favorable rulings in his murder re-trial next spring when his argument will have to sound something like, "My client, C-Murder, did not have anything to do with this heinous crime."

When I envisioned these parties where star athletes and entertainers seem to cross paths with greater frequency these days, I wondered what I'd call myself if I put out a rap record. And I think I like Johnny Rapes-A-Lot, but I still welcome your suggestions.

Suggest A New Nickname

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Weekend Recap

johnjensubwaynoheadroomSpeaking of the Baton, here's the picture from below, but cropped. This is how you should frame it up when you shoot it in the first place. Nice and tight.

Anyway, she came up for the weekend and we had a great time. But not until after her flight arrived several hours late, of course. I don't know what it is about flying into or out of New York, but it sucks.

Now if you've ever walked around the 70s on 2nd Avenue, perhaps a restaurant draped in orange on the west side of the block has caught your eye. It's called Baraonda, and it's awesome.

It was quite the charming Italian place, small and intimate, very dark but quite lively with upbeat music and impressive art adorning the walls. The crowd ranged from 22-year-old grad students (OK, that was Jennifer) to well-dressed 30s and even a few veteran couples in search of a late Friday table. And despite its small capacity and bustling atmosphere, we lucked into a table without much of a wait.

Jennifer had the gnocchi and I had something called Maccheroncini with sliced Italian sausage and red sauce. The predinner vodka drink was perfectly poured before we each had a glass of wine. I typically only order red when I'm having steak, but I went with it this time and wasn't disappointed with how it paired splendidly with the pasta.

Every employee we talked to had Italian accents, including one of the bussers who described the oil that came with the bread quite elegantly. "Everybody loves it," he inisted.

Baraonda is presumably an authentic family-owned joint that I think anyone would enjoy. I paid for the two vodka drinks at the bar, but two glasses of wine, a salad and two wonderful entrees only came to about $66, so that was pleasing as well.


Got up early and hit the philosophy class as the Baton did some homework at a nearby coffee shop. Was pleasantly surprised at Jennifer's eagerness to go to a sports bar and watch the final three quarters of the Ohio State game. I'm not typically a sports-bar guy, but in a city to which I'm not native, watching the Bucks with dozens of fellow Ohioans is a nice change. Steve and his people were up there as usual, and Jennifer I'm sure charmed the hell out of them.

Was hoping to go down to SoHo, but the early afternoon draft beer made us a little tired. So after a brief nap, we rolled down to H&M at 59th Street and some other places.

Later, our friend Madeline was excited that Jennifer was in town, so she invited us to a birthday party for a friend at a bar called Botanica in the West Village. It's one of those too-cool-to-have-a-sign joints that made us walk past it three times before the third person I asked said, "It's right here, dude." This is another area where I'm the girl in the relationship and Jennifer is the guy. I have no problem at all looking lost and asking for directions. Perhaps Jennifer gets more pride solving problems; I just wanted some damn vodka. Was nice ordering two liquor drinks and hearing the bartender say only, "Twelve bucks please." Stuff is cheaper in the village, I presume.

Finally, if you're ever planning to visit me here, and you see a flight for $40 cheaper landing at JFK, go to LaGuardia anyway. Taking Jennifer to the airport early-ish on Sunday was miserable, and I've bored you enough with the previous 10 paragraphs, so I'll spare you the details. Just suck it up and pay a little more for the convenience of LGA.

Max Headroom

johnjensubwayheadroomCertainly I know enough of the basics of PhotoShop that I can crop the image to the left here, but today's note is to teach a lesson on how to take pictures of people.

There are cameras all over the place nowadays, from the yellow CVS disposables to the 8-or-more megapixel consumer toys that fit nicely in the smallest of gal's handbags or guys' jeans pockets. Cell phones are turning out decent pictures too, except the ones taken by morons who think the ad above a couple's head on a subway -- hypothetically speaking, of course -- is important to the image. So let me offer up a quick tip for you.

If the camera you're using has any kind of zoom function, USE IT! Some have a dial with a 'W' and 'T,' which allows shooters to pull out Wide or go in Tight. Obviously, if you're on the ground in front of the Empire State Building looking skyward, you'll want to go as wide as your camera allows. (And turn the camera vertical, you dumbass tourist!)

But for perhaps the most common of pictures, those taken of friends out at the bar at night, you MUST go in tight. Zoom on in there. Space above someone's head is so unnecessary. If you get your prints back and you're showing them to friends, the last thing you want to hear is, "That's not Gary Coleman."

If your camera doesn't have the W and T dial, there's probably a tiny knob on or near the shutter button that might let you make adjustments with the same finger with which you're pressing the shutter. It's all about convenience.

A year ago or so, when we'd ask friends to take pictures of us, the Baton would give me a hard time for always telling them, "You can zoom in tight. We don't need all that space above our heads." But until people start giving me pictures that I can frame or do something with, you'll continue to hear my snobbery.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Dirty Laundry

Inspired by Tony's Big Time Labor Fun Noodle entry -- he's back with a new post today after a bizarre hiatus -- I thought I'd go ahead and write about something with a little bit of a Chinese twist myself.

I think I've blogged about Pong here before. She's the Chinese woman whose laundry service is conveniently located in the basement of my apartment building. Basically, she does my laundry.

Her English is a work in progress, so we have some interesting conversations no doubt. My interest in learning her language -- I'm up to six words now -- I think has caused her to harbor thoughts of a torrid affair with this patron. But sometimes some seemingly harmless miscommunication leads to bigger misunderstandings. And I think one might be brewing at this moment.

Tired of not getting along over the telephone, I asked the Baton on Wednesday if she'd like to come up for the weekend. So we spent a little money and got her a last-minute plane ticket. An hour or so later, I was downstairs dropping off my laundry, and Pong told me "You come," to a fashion show for which she's a designer on Saturday evening.

My intent was to tell her the reason I likely won't be available is because "Filipino girlfriend" is going to be in town. That's how Pong remembers Jennifer from when she was up here with me during the summer. Pong was excited to hear that "Filipino girlfriend" was going to visit, but apparently for a reason far different than why I'm excited.

"Girlfriend model," Pong barked, as she gestured in a way that tells me she's expecting Jennifer to model for her in Saturday's fashion show. So Jennifer and I are going to stop in at Pong's later today when she gets in town, and we'll see what happens. This could get interesting.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Word From The Wise

New column out today.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

From The "You've Got To Be Kidding Me" File

I'm fairly certain I've never had a child, but now that I'm seeing how cool it is to jet on over to Africa and buy one, I might just go ahead and grab one up.

That's not actually true, but one thing's for sure -- I've once again changed my tune about having a family. For years, I thought I had to find a wife and have kids. But if I was still pretty devoted to that ideal, I probably wouldn't be dating a 22-year-old girl right now.

In the year-plus that I've been seeing The Baton, we've had a few conversations about the future -- not ours, of course, just the future in general. She’s opened my eyes a little bit about whether we'll even be here long enough to see our kids turn into adults. (When I say "we" and "our," again, I'm speaking very generally here.) At first I thought she had a paranoid and pessimistic future outlook, but do you see world affairs getting better? If kids born five years from now only barely make it to adulthood, what's the point?

Sure that might seem fatalistic and all, but it's a viewpoint that I've thought about a few times this year and I think it holds some validity. I used to worry about being the last chance to carry on the Wise name, and that, I thought, was enough reason alone to try to impregnate somebody at some point.

But I've since become worrisome about any children I might have and their ability to get along with others once they begin school. Kids can be cruel, and if mine get their father's heart, there will be a lot of mending going on in the Wise household.

Something changed my mind a little bit today, however. A school in Massachusetts announced it has banned the game of Tag during recess. It's a game during which "accidents can happen," a school official said. The decision reminded many in the town of Attleboro of an effort to ban dodgeball there a few years ago, citing the game is exclusionary and dangerous.

So this is good news for me. I can rest easy now, knowing that if I do have children, they'll be safe from the perils of exercise. I seriously wouldn't want them to learn team skills as they would in dodgeball, as well as how to interact with their peers. Or in a more individual game like tag, I'd hate for them to be exposed to some friendly competition. And isn't there some running involved in Tag? Not my child!

Do you know what else is dangerous? Eliminating a staple of childhood like Tag. I'm capitalizing the game because it's such a big deal. But seriously, what's next for kids? No vegetables?

Taking away yet another activity that could help our fat-ass American kids keep in shape is ridiculous. It is not exclusionary. It is not dangerous. It is not offensive. But I do see the logic here. Perhaps we can start luring our kids to stay inside during recess so they can play the same video games they'll play for five hours when they go home after school.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Word From The Wise

New column out today.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Unsolicited News Rant

Katie Couric’s ratings have dropped in each of her five weeks on the job at CBS, according to newly released Nielsen data.

I don’t know if I’m surprised at this news or not, and I didn’t care enough until I read the third graf, which was CBS’ reaction to this week’s data. It said the network was the only one of the three majors with more viewers last week than during the same week last year.

Wow. That’s huge. I think I have a boner.

Do you want to know why there are so many demographics and categories and sample periods? So suits can keep their jobs. “Yeah, boss, but we really showed considerable growth among 37 to 37 and a half year old retarded men who wear fanny packs and have dogs as pets.”

There’s so much research out there, yet there’s not enough, and it’s disgusting. No one makes a decision based on instinct or vision anymore. I once worked at a TV station whose brand new general manager – great with names and being cordial to underlings like me – but just as juvenile as the rest of us once you were in separate rooms. His organizational skills certainly were impressive, and he liked meetings and pep talks, many of which included sentences beginning with “Research shows . . . ” The research, I later learned, was many times made up of samples of less than 100 participants, but apparently it was enough (read: cheap enough) to inspire certain personnel decisions.

You can research all you want, fucko, until you see the result you want, but any media outlet that pursues managers whose three favorite words are “strategic planning meeting” is not a good one. People don’t study journalism in college because they’re looking forward to all the focus groups and conference calls. Sure those things come with age and experience, as your talents grow and your goals change, and there’s nothing wrong at all with wanting to go for better money. But don’t pretend for a second that once you choose the manager route that you’re not at least a little bit abandoning the principles you needed to get in in the first place. It’s either the integrity or the money. It’s seldom both.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Laziness Is Next To Godliness

Living RoomI'm the king of lists, or at least the prince or some member of some high list court somewhere. I make a lot of lists, then find them two weeks later with some dust, hair or lint, underneath a mass of other, hairer papers. I find what I need, when I need it, but I'm definitely on the high side of average of that wacky statistic about how much time Americans waste looking for their misplaced shit.

KitchenToday's list seemed a little different because it wasn't minor league bullshit like call so-and-so or transfer a balance. I've got deadlines less than a week away for two 700-word stories I'm freelancing, a few bills to pay and at least three or four other fairly significant matters to cover this week. I'd tell you what they are, but I can't find the list I made earlier today at work.

BathroomI'd also like to accomplish something I haven't been very good at since The Baton moved out. I'd like to see the nice, hardwood floor in the living room and I'd also like to walk barefoot on the marble kitchen floor without involuntarily picking up a stray piece of uncooked rice or other dust, hair or lint.

Which is why I've posted pictures of my apartment in this post. I want to open myself up to ridicule because I apparently can't rely on my own dedication to the issue. So enjoy the pictures, and please make fun of me. I'll post updated pictures of a much cleaner apartment on ... well, just keep an eye out.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Weekend Recap

Remember Miles, from Miles Drinkish back in June? He twisted my arm quite hard, so I obliged and met him out for a few beers Friday night after work.

It had been a while since we'd hung out, but it was nice to catch up. Getting there sucked, however. The 4/5/6 wasn't working, so I came back up to street level, where sidewalks were packed, buses were full and cabs were all taken. I arrived at Revival (say that five times fast), in the East Village, I think, about an hour late.

But we had a good time nonetheless. Miles' work apparently offers him some nice perks, including box access to Madison Square Garden events. So I might be going to Guns N Roses in November and perhaps even a Rangers game. That's fairly cool.

On Saturday, I hit my philosophy class in the morning and on the way back, there was a Czech Festival in my neighborhood. I ambled through the block and feigned interest in a "Travel Czech" brochure just to stand near some European gal speaking a cool foreign language, presumably Czech. I don't like typing the 'Z' because it's tucked on the keyboard underneath my left pinky, perhaps the least nimble finger of my entire collection. So I'm done writing the word Czech.

But Saturday afternoon was cool. You might remember Ohio State Guy, Steve, who organizes Ohio State watching parties at Blondie's on the Upper East Side. A gal from work, Dr. Sapna, who like me has some roots to Cincinnati, met me up there and it was a grand old time. Steve seems partly responsible for Blondie's business on what used to be much quieter Saturday afternoons in the fall before he came to town, so he and those with him get taken care of nicely. It was an enjoyable afternoon and evening, and the headache is just now starting to subside.

So as I get the new day started, I'm daring myself to be productive, something I struggle with on Sundays. Here goes nothing!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Surprising News From MySpace

Trix may be for kids, but MySpace necessarily doesn't have to be.

Contrary to popular opinion, the hip social networking site isn't only for late teenies and 20-somethings. I was very surprised to read that half -- that's 50 percent -- of MySpace users are 35 and older.

Interesting read.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Flags Of Our Fathers

A co-worker screens movies as part of her job, and she asked me to join her for "Flags Of Our Fathers" Tuesday night. Awesome movie.

I possess an embarrassingly small amount of knowledge of the two world wars, so this movie taught me plenty about Iwo Jima. The film's purpose, however, wasn't to teach about the battle on the island, but about the history behind the famous photograph. So I learned about both the battle and the picture. A World War II-fer, if you will.

Anyway, the movie itself was the appetizer, because the surprising main course came after the credits rolled when Anne and I had the privilege to meet a man who fought at Iwo Jima. An incredibly nice and charming man, whose name I didn't catch, told us that he thought the movie was quite realistic and even better than "The Sands Of Iwo Jima." He said Clint Eastwood left nothing out but added only little. The part where a Marine was sliced up by his Japanese enemies and hung on a wall inside a dark cavern, with his own penis stuffed in his mouth? That really happened, the veteran told us. Fortunately, Eastwood, unafraid to show us some up-close blood, used discretion on this part.

And how about Ryan Phillippe? I wasn't crazy about his 90s pretty-boy persona, but I liked him in "Crash" two years ago and he was excellent again as Marine John Bradley in "Flags." No wonder he's in three movies scheduled for 2007 releases, and will play Picasso in a 2008 biopic.

I haven't seen many movies since I've been up here, but this fall seems to be offering plenty of options, so hopefully I'll have something again soon.

Word From The Wise

New column out today.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Me And My Big Mouth

It's not uncommon for my mouth to get me in trouble, and such was the case -- in more than one way -- upon leaving Richmond Sunday.

Because I'm a cheapass, I like to buy some everyday items when I'm away from New York, things I can get at lower prices. Remember my story about Louisville two weeks ago? How I bought toothpaste and crammed it into my carry-on, only to have it confiscated?

Well, remember, I work in news, and I remember editing a story or two last week about relaxed TSA carry-on restrictions. So I figure I can buy two more tubes of toothpaste, as long as I pack them in a clear plastic bag, right?


The girl asked if I had any liquids, creams, gels, etc., as I'm adding my bag to the conveyer belt.

"Why yes, I do have some toothpaste in my bag," I said confidently, thinking I was playing by the rules and therefore immune to another confiscation.

The gal had me take it out, then run the bag through, and as it did, she took the clear plastic bag over to her supervisor, someone who clearly had been out of high school for at least three years, so I felt very comfortable, but of course, he thought it wasn't his place to improvise and took away my Crest with baking soda and whitening power. The tube of toothpaste was 8.2 ounces, far more than what was allowed in a carry-on bag.

Which brings me to this point: In case you don't already know this, our government knows there's no threat that an airline passenger will pack a bomb or a weapon in ChapStick, Carmex or even Astroglide. But the federal agencies who make the rules surmised that gullible Americans will feel safer if some new wrinkle, any new wrinkle, was added to the procedures at our fine airports.

I must say that I don't feel any less safe at airports or on airplanes since 9/11, but I don't feel more safe either, and stealing a $3 tube of toothpaste from me or the person in front of me is never going to change that.

Visiting The Baton

I visited the Baton in Richmond Saturday, and after I got done annoying her with behavior born out of the displeasure with the long-distance relationship, it turned out to be an excellent visit. That was a long sentence.

If you've ever been to Richmond, and I bet either you have or you haven't, then you need to hit the bank machine and roll down to The Hard Shell.

From the minute we arrived, it felt like Jennifer and I were in for a good time. The host, James, was entertaining a departing couple, and in that conversation I heard him reveal that he's also the manager or maybe a co-owner or some shit. He estimated a 30-minute wait, so we hit the bar and grabbed a drink. A pleasantly bejeweled and overall friendly bartender, also named Jennifer, served us a drink and before we were more than a few sips in, James came over to tell us a table was ready earlier than he'd anticipated.

Sure we were at a nice seafood joint, but we each grabbed a big fat steak and split a glass of red wine. Actually I had a couple of sips and Jennifer finished the rest.

Our server was working only her third night, but she was solid and outgoing, as was her trainer, who was as sharp as my dude Barry but kept any shit-his-pants stories to himself.

We went back to the Baton's house, where it didn't take long to find the Buckeyes ahead comfortably over Iowa.