December 31, 2003

Praise Be And Pass The Bean Pies

CNN.com has brought me wonderful news this morning. Shortly after Michael Jackson crushed the dreams of stand-up comedians and hack comedy writers everywhere by denying that the Nation of Islam was taking an active role in his legal defense, "sources" close to the situation are saying that the NoI is actively involved in managing Jackson's day-to-day affairs. This news comes one day after Jackson's personal spokesman resigned, siting "strategic differences."

I can't tell you how pleased this development makes me. Michael Jackson is comedy gold. Louis Farrakhan is comedy gold. Together, they are going to be comedy dynamite. Strap yourself in and hold on for the laughs...

Posted by Dan at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2003

With Apologies To Percy Bysshe Shelley

  I met a traveler from an antique land
  Who said: A vast and swolen head full of rocks
  Stands on the sideline.

Steve Spurrier, a coach whose accomplishments at the collegiate level are reminiscent of Dennis Erickson and Rick Pitino, appears to be putting the kibosh on rumors that he may bolt the D.C. Metro Area for South Florida.

  There, the clueless visage stands, whose frown,
  And pursed lips, and sneer of disdain for a solid running game,
  Tell that the cameraman well those passions read,
  Which yet survive, stamped on this lifeless offense,
  The hand that signaled the go route, and the heart that fed

This is a bad thing for Redskins fans. We know this because ESPN Sunday Night Football commentators Joe Theisman and Paul McGuire just said that Spurrier staying in Washington would be a good thing for the franchise.

  And above the stadium entrance these words appear:
  "I am Daniel Snyder, owner of owners:
  look upon my works, ye Redskins fans, and despair."

  Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
  Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
  The lone and level off-season stretches far away.

Posted by Dan at 10:09 PM | Comments (2)

December 25, 2003

From Travel Hell To Luggage Limbo

Merry Christmas to all. As you've probably noticed, my ambitious holiday publishing schedule hasn't exactly panned out. This is due, in large part, to a series of unfortunate travel mishaps that have befallen your humble scribe over the past could of days. It began with US Airways cancelling the last leg of my flight to Virginia, leaving me standing in a line at New York's LaGuardia Airport. If you've ever sought a deeper understanding of imagery surrounding Purgatory in Dante's Divine Comedy, try standing in a line full of angry travelers in a New York City airport two days before Christmas, wondering whether and when you're going to make it to where you're going. Four and a half hours and two flights later, the closest I was able to get was Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport, about two and a half hours away. Would I be telling you anything you hadn't guessed already if I told you that my checked bag didn't make it to Charlottesville?

So now it's Christmas morning. Apparently, the courier service dropped my bag off sometime after midnight last night, because my dad found it on the carport this morning. It's certainly nice to have clean pants again.

I don't want to suggest that there were no high points to the trip. Joe Lieberman was on my flight from Manchester to New York. He was sitting a few rows up. I got to talk to him for a minute as we walked from the plane to the stairway into the terminal. I wanted to snag a picture of the two of us with the crappy camera in my cell phone, but the Secret Service agent wouldn't permit it. He seems like a pretty nice fellow. Unfortunately, nobody really wants to discuss U.S. Middle East policy when they're half-deaf after spending an hour on a Saab turbo-prop, so I couldn't really engage him in a meaningful discussion.

I'll try to whip out a little more content over the next couple of days, so stay tuned.

Posted by Dan at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2003

So Michael Jackson And Darryl Strawberry Walk Into A Bar...

I couldn't make stuff like this up if I tried...

It's the Touchy-Feely counseled by the Snorty-Snorty in a veritable Geneva Summit of self-destructive stupidity.

Posted by Dan at 07:11 AM | Comments (0)

Dazed And Disarmed

CNN.com's lead story this morning is on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's decision to dismantle his country's weapons of mass destruction program.

Selected quotes from the man who played the role of "crazed Arab terrorist bogeyman" during the Reagan Administration:

  • "We have not these weapons," he said, adding that the programs he is prepared to dismantle "would have been for peaceful purposes -- but nevertheless we decided to get rid of them completely."

  • Gadhafi questioned why people think Iraq had something to do with his decision. "So many countries have a nuclear program and actually some of them have weapons of mass destruction and such countries actually dismantle these programs in a transparent way, in a legal way."

  • "Dude, I am, like, so high right now. Do you know how hard it is to score good hash -- you know, the Lebanese stuff -- when your country is under UN sanctions? Just don't ever go there, man."

    Posted by Dan at 07:06 AM | Comments (1)
  • December 21, 2003

    Clubber Lang And Santa Claus Suck, Too

    Watching Fox's coverage of the Eagles-Niners game this evening, I was amazed at how the Philly fans still manage to find time between fighting, throwing things, and getting arrested to get a rousing "Aikman sucks!" chant going within earshot of the press box. The fact that they still feel such animosity towards Aikman three years after his retirement is striking.

    Oh, wait, I'm sorry. Did I misspell sad?

    Posted by Dan at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

    Doesn't This Guy Have Friends?

    It was a big weekend for working on my casino chip collection. I scanned and entered a bunch of new chips, bringing the total to over 400.

    Over the holiday, I'm going to try to add the ability for users to leave comments about the casinos. Thanks to Visco for the idea.

    Posted by Dan at 07:28 PM | Comments (0)

    December 18, 2003

    Best IM Exchange Of The Day

    This was electronically exchanged between myself and Mike (not our real IM handles) this afternoon over AIM:

    [12/18 15:27:41] Me: I just read a commodities report from one of our brokers and the author
    claimed to like that new Tom Cruise PoS.
    [12/18 15:28:20] Mike: well apparently it's "beautifully filmed," so if you have a hard-on for Dances
    With Wolves
    you'll love this thing.

    Posted by Dan at 03:37 PM | Comments (0)

    December 17, 2003

    Like It's 1999...

    It's starting to feel like 1999 all over again. The Dow is over 10,000. Companies are testing the waters of the IPO market. And some bunch of fools think that they can make money by giving away computers to people who say that they're willing to watch ads. Time to dust off those razor scooters and Nerf guns, boys and girls.

    Posted by Dan at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

    December 16, 2003

    Musical Dysfunction

    Having sent show-boating headcase Antoine Walker away to "think about what he'd done" with Western Conference contender Dallas, the Celtics have now traded with Cleveland for show-boating über-head-case and all-around technical foul machine Ricky Davis.

    "He's a young man that has grown up, I believe, in the last little while and has some things to prove in his career," Celtics GM Danny Ainge was quoted as saying about Davis.

    Uh huh. Such as, for instance, he needs to prove that he can pass the ball on occasion, or that he can keep the league's better defenders from getting into his head and blowing his game to smithereens. Sound like anyone else you know?

    Posted by Dan at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)

    December 15, 2003

    No Story Too Obvious

    Media Reports That Media Coverage of Flu Epidemic Causing Panic

    Never underestimate the media's capacity for self-important, painfully obvious introspection. Especially when it fills column-inches or airtime without requiring any real work.

    Posted by Dan at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

    Happy Fun Knowledge

    I learned something this morning that I felt compelled to share. Remember the age-old packaging directive "do not fold, spindle or mutilate"? Well, fold is straightforward enough, as is mutilate, but I confess that I had no idea what it meant to "spindle" something. My best guess would have been rolling something up into a tube; such as you might do with a poster. It turns out that "spindle" refers to the pre-computer revolution practice of chronologically ordering documents by impaling them on a spike. Office workers would all have these "spindles" on their desks, and when they were finished with a document, they would add it to the pile stuck on the spindle. When the time came to archive old documents, or the spindle was full, a string was threaded through the hole and used to bind up the documents for archiving.

    So now you know. Here on this blog, we're all about reader value.

    Posted by Dan at 09:06 AM | Comments (0)

    December 13, 2003

    Hot New Bumper Stickers

    Presenting the hot new bumper stickers of 2004: (Remember, you saw them here first!)

  • Blame Me, I Voted For Nader
  • Rick Salomon For Best Supporting Actor In A Comedy!
  • I Have A Small Penis... AND I VOTE!
  • Honk If You're Sick Of Jennifer Lopez

    If you think yan can do better, the comments are open.

    Posted by Dan at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)
  • December 11, 2003

    Sad News From Portland

    In a column written for the December 22, 2003 edition of ESPN The Magazine, long-time Sports Guy and soon-to-be Jimmy Kimmel Live refugee Bill Simmons mourns the impending end of the Jailblazers era in Portland. Already gone is team captain Bonzi Wells, and rumors are that Rasheed Wallace won't be far behind. (And if you think that linking their names to their rap sheets on CrackSmoker.com rather than their NBA.com profiles was deliberate, you're correct!)

    Offering up sad commentaries on the Blazers is definitely among the easy picking of writing about sports in this day and age, but I'll offer one more observation. Consider how much more this team struggled after losing the "stability" and "veteran leadership" provided by Scottie Pippen, the man widely known as the whiniest second banana in the history of fruit-based sports metaphors.

    Posted by Dan at 07:30 AM | Comments (2)

    December 10, 2003

    Helpful Business Tips For Corporate Crooks

    I recently finished reading The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron. I heartily recommend the book. Much better than Power Failure, the book written by noted Enron whistle-blower Sherron Watkins. Watkins's book tends to have a very dark, conspiratorial tone when describing the events that led to Enron's downfall. Smartest Guys, on the other hand, combines a very thorough treatment of the inner workings of Enron's shady dealings with some hilarious anecdotes about the major players.

    To celebrate this great literary find, I give you:

    Dan's Helpful Tips For Being The CEO Of A Public Company That's Engaged In Massive Accounting Fraud

  • Pay as little attention as possible to the things going on around you. Once you've reached the executive suite, out of public view, arrange to be outfitted with welding goggles and a seeing-eye dog.

  • To the greatest extent possible, avoid coming into the office at all. Whenever you're in the office, your subordinates will seize upon the opportunity and try to trick you into attending "meetings" where "issues" that may later prove to be "litigable" are discussed. Offer yourself as a guest speaker at every conference, seminar, trade show, political rally and bar mitzvah you can find.

  • Place your secretary under standing orders to delete all business-related email before you have a chance to read it. If asked about this at a later time, offer the recollection that, as far as you knew, this was the company's records retention policy, which you also did not approve.

  • Numbers can easily be used to prove complicity on your part. Delegate all tasks that involve numbers to your CFO or to the Board Audit Committee, depending on the day of the week. Insist that data only be presented to you on two-color charts with a logarythmic scale.

  • Instruct your Chinese man-servant to attack you when you least expect it, just to keep you on your toes.

  • Make a habit of calling your broker every morning and instructing him to dump all of your stock in the company. If your broker informs you that you have no stock to dump or that your stock is locked up or otherwise restricted, thank him for his time and go on about your day. The pattern you establish will prove favorable to your defense.

  • To maximize the protection that your state's homestead exemption may provide against shareholder lawsuits, build a solid gold house.

  • One of a CEO's most important jobs is to keep employee morale high. Bringing all hands together for a good, old fashioned pep talk is a great way to boost morale during an accounting scandal. As a rule of thumb, try to hold at least one pep talk for every 20% of its value your company's stock loses.

  • Never forget: First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women. Getting the order wrong will make it far easier for Elliot Spitzer and his cronies to send you back to that stinkin' cage.

  • People who sit at desks that are cluttered and covered with stacks of documents generally do a lot of important work and know a lot about what's going on in a company. As CEO, there should be nothing on your desk except a picture of your (current) wife and children and a phone. Just to be safe, have your I.T. people unplug the phone.

    Posted by Dan at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)
  • December 09, 2003

    Our Streets Are Safe Again

    Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling remain at large, but at least the cops have taken George Clinton off of the streets. The grand master of funk was arrested for possession of cocaine and paraphernalia last night. Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk was reported relieved at the news of Clinton's apprehension.

    Posted by Dan at 11:01 AM | Comments (1)

    December 08, 2003

    The BCS Is All Messed Up, Doo-Dah, Doo-Dah

    My impression of what a conversation between me and a purist college football junkie would sound like:

    Purist College Football Junkie: "Man, the BCS is complete bulls*#t! How can it be that USC won their conference and was in first place in both polls, but they're going to the Rose Bowl and Oklahoma, who didn't even win their own conference championship, is playing in the Sugar Bowl?"

    Me: "Uh huh."

    PCFJ: "I mean, the whole point of the BCS was to make sure that the two best teams play for the national championship! They need to toss it out and start over!"

    M: "Mmm hmm."

    PCFJ: "Come on! This is football! Football is a game where real men go out and the toughest team wins! It's just wrong to have the national championship decided by a bunch of nerds and their damned computers."

    M: "Yeah, uh, sure. Hungry?"

    PCFJ: "Hungry?!?!? How the hell can you think about food when we're living through the worst travesty in the history of college football? This thing is gonna live in infamy, like Pearl Harbor and s*#t."

    M: "Because I was about to order pizza, and it's cheaper per person if you order a big one, you know."

    PCFJ: "Man, screw you! Pete Carroll's kids go out there and leave their hearts on the damn field only to get screwed out of a chance to play for the national title by some buncha god-damned computer geeks who think they know about football because they jerk off to the box score in their parents' god-damned basements and all you can talk about is a god-damned pizza? F&$ck off!"

    M: "Ummm, I think this place does halves, you can get whatever toppings you want on your half..."

    PCFJ: [Storms off.]

    M: "Guess he didn't want pizza."

    Posted by Dan at 08:10 AM | Comments (3)

    December 07, 2003

    Ghoul-Cam Goes Audio

    ESPN, the people who invented slow-motion, forward-and-back, multi-camera-angle coverage of gruesome, career-ending lower leg injuries, just blazed new territory. Every Sunday night, ESPN outfits a player with a wireless microphone to record footage for a segment that runs on the following week's pre-game show. Tonight, Carolina Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker was miked up when he went down with a knee injury as Falcons running back T.J. Duckett was being gang-tackled. Next dead ball, we're treated to the sounds of Rucker beseaching God as he lay on the turf in pain. This would have been an ideal time for ESPN Sunday Night Football color commentator Joe Theisman, who was on the business end of the original stomach-churning televised football injury, to choke the producer to death with his microphone cord.

    Posted by Dan at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

    Arrrghhhhh!!!

    Why is Dave Wannstedt so unbelievably dumb? The Dolphins have now had two possessions on the Patriot's side of the 50 yard line in the 4th quarter.

    A] Dolphins start with the ball on the New England 35.

  • 1st Down - Incomplete pass.
  • 2nd Down - Fielder drops back to pass and gets sacked for a 10 yard loss.
  • 3rd Down - Fielder drops back to pass and gets sacked for another 10 yard loss, fumbles, Dolphins recover, offsetting penalties negate the play.
  • 3rd Down - Fielder drops back to pass and gets sacked for another 7 yard loss.
  • 4th Down - Dolphins punt from their own 48 yard line.

    They're playing the game on a slick, snowy field. The wind chill is plummetting. And the Miami Dolphins have Ricky Williams, a back that came into the game with 1,013 rushing yards on the season. On to the next Dolphins possession:

    B] Dolphins start on the New England 43.

  • 1st Down - Ricky Williams runs for 4 yards.
  • 2nd Down - Ricky Williams runs for 3 yards.
    (Hey, I think we're onto something here!)
  • 3rd Down - Fiedler drops back and floats a quacker a yard over the outstretched arms of the tight end.
    (Guess not.)
  • 4th Down - Dolphins punt.

    Oh, goody, there's been another Miami possession as I've been writing this:

    C] Dolphins start on their own 4 yard line.

  • 1st Down - Fiedler's pass is intercepted by Tedy Bruschi, returned 5 yards for a touchdown.

    This hurts to watch. I don't like the Patriots and really don't care much for the Dolphins, either, but the coaching job Wannstedt is doing today is Mike-Martz-esque.

    Posted by Dan at 06:50 PM | Comments (0)
  • December 06, 2003

    Sharpton Wins! Sharpton Wins!

    The Match The Candidates poll is now officially history. The final results, along with a choice selection of the respondents' comments in support of their choices, are available here.

    Thanks to everyone who took the poll. I'll probably do another some time in January, after all of the holiday craziness subsides.

    Posted by Dan at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

    December 05, 2003

    Vest To Retire From MIT Presidency

    CAMBRIDGE, MA - At a meeting of the MIT Corporation, university president Charles Vest announced his intention to step down prior to the beginning of the 2004 fall semester.

    Vest has served longer as president, 13 years, than any of his predecessors other than legendary MIT president Karl Taylor Compton. During his tenure, he worked tirelessly to dismantle the undergraduate experience that produced some of the technology revolution's greatest minds. He brought a passion for instilling a bland, homogenous, corporate culture throughout MIT and he systematically undermined most of the institute's traditional undergraduate institutions to further that goal. Far from understanding the quirky, experimental ethos that made MIT a hotbed of technological innovation, he concentrated on running the university like a giant, for-profit research lab.

    Trustees were visibly panicked at the news of Vest's imminent departure. "Vest's flying the coop! Dump my options! Dump my options!" one board member shouted into his cell phone. He was then informed that he had no stock options, owing to the fact that MIT is, at least nominally, an institution of higher learning. "Not a public corporation?" he replied, incredulously, "That's ridiculous! Why did we spend eight hours last week listening to a plan to outsource the Computer Science department to India if this isn't a public corporation?"

    Undergraduate students interviewed around campus generally had no opinion on Vest's sudden announcement, having long ago realized that having an opinion on any topic concerning MIT was a waste of time.

    Posted by Dan at 02:56 PM | Comments (1)

    December 04, 2003

    A Blast From The Oh-So-Year-2000 Past

    I'm giving some serious throught to closing out the Presidential Primary Matchup Poll on Saturday morning. We're up to 9 responses as of the present time, four of which are actually pretty funny. I realize that presidential primary politics can be somewhat dry and inaccessible, so I appreciate those who've taken the time to respond. For my next poll, I'll be sure to do something like "80's hair metal bands vs. 00's nu-metal bands" or something pop-cultural like that.

    As we count down the hours, I invite everyone to enjoy some content from my past. Back in the day, before the 2000 presidential primaries, I used to write the occasional piece for a great little web site called The Daily Instigator. Like most small humor sites of that day, it was under-powered, under-funded and light on content, but we had big aspirations. Then Mike had, like, nine more kids or something like that and moved to Maine and the D.I. went the way of Bryan Adams's high school band in Summer of '69.

    We did some great work while it was working. Here's a piece I wrote suggesting some new campaign planks for then-candidate Steve Forbes.

    Posted by Dan at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

    December 03, 2003

    Time Is Running Out

    If you haven't taken the Presidential Primary Matchup Poll yet, time is running out. Make your opinions heard! Or read. Yeah, read.

    Posted by Dan at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

    December 02, 2003

    Bad Rock For The Ages

    The guys who write for Corporate Mofo.com often kill me. Their latest piece, on 25 Albums That Should Not Have Been Recorded is some of their best work in a while.

    In the meantime, reponses to the Presidential Primary Matchup Poll continue to trickle in. Come on, people, at least pretend that you care about the process of choosing the head of our country's government!

    Posted by Dan at 08:03 AM | Comments (3)