Friday, November 25

Moved

Check out a newer, better-looking blog at http://tom.ifoundbob.com. It's a new home; hopefully it inspires some new writing!!

Monday, September 12

Play Calls

I was very upset while watching the Lions-Packers game last night (yes, it was last NIGHT... I had to tape it because they played the game while I was in church. Need to get a memo to the NFL concerning these scheduling shenanigans). The Lions won, and there were a lot of good things to take away from it, but I was quite incensed by some of the play-calling. I don't know if it was Mooch, or the new O-Coordinator Ted Tollner, but some of these 3rd-down calls... MAN!! There was one 2nd-down-and-12 play that Joey Harrington just missed. He had Roy Williams wide open, he (Joey) was on the run, and he just missed him with the pass. It was a bad play, but as soon as the ball hit the ground, I knew the next play-call would be to Kevin Jones. Mooch doesn't like Harrington, it's become very evident, and he was going to be frustrated by that 2nd down play. So with a 3rd-and-12, he calls a draw. A DRAW!! And part of me couldn't help but feel that it was nothing but spite, a way to send Harrington the message that they didn't think he could get the job done.

I might be reading in too much, but after that, I was watching the play calls, and there were just some STUPID calls made on 3rd down, and in the red zone. Taking the ball away from Joey (and thereby his receivers), when the run play really wasn't needed. I was ticked. Anyone else see these things that I saw?

Oh, and how awesome is this picture?

On another note, for those of you that could care less about my football analysis, I made another great play call myself yesterday. I went over to my neighbor's house after the football game, and they were playing Bang. Again. Even though I am technically to blame for getting my friends started on this game, I have HAD IT!! When will it die? I am so SICK of this card game! It's actually a great, innovative, interactive and fun game to play, but twice a week for about eight months will eventually get to you. Well, to me, anyway. So I instead went over to Andy & Rachel's house and played Mario Golf. Beat Andy by two strokes. Now THAT was a good play-call.

Friday, August 12

Conned

I got to work a full 17 minutes early today, enough time to share some thoughts on my weekend experience at the WizardWorld Comic Convention in Chicago. I was hoping to have some pictures, still waiting on some of my fellow attendees to email me those. Perhaps soon you will share in the experience with me, through those photos. Perhaps not.



I came to a stunning realization after about a day at the Convention - I am not a comic Geek. I'm not even necessarily what you could a Comic Enthusiast. I'm probably more of a Respecter of Comics, which is still more than I can say for most of you, my audience. No matter. You'll grow up someday.

I came to this realization because I discovered that I did not get anywhere near as much out of the Convention experience as my cohorts did. And I certainly didn't get as much out of it as the participants who dressed up in Jedi garb, or as the Joker, or as Red Sonja, or as a hooker. Except I think the last group of people really were hookers. But, seriously, after about the first day of conventioning, I was done. I was even somewhat bored. I was thinking, "One more full day of this?" (two, as it turned out). My friends accused me of not getting into the spirit of things. I'm sure they were right - I couldn't.

There is a lot to see there - even if you are only a Respecter of Comics, you can fill up a day or two easily. All the publisher booths, hundreds of artists with tables (some well-known, some not as much), hundreds of dealers looking to unload their excess or rare stock. Just a quick walk-through, without stopping anywhere at all, would take you two or three hours.

My biggest problem was that I wasn't really interested in getting autographs. Half the thrills at these ComicCons are getting autographs from writers and artists that you've been reading for years, but never met. Folks bring their books, stand in long lines, and get a few minutes to chat with their favorite creators. I wasn't interested in doing that, really, so I ran out of stuff to do pretty fast. Eventually, I actually did start collecting autographs - I woke up on Saturday and decided to just collect as many as I could on behalf of my customers, then just give them away as gifts. And the more I did it, the more fun it was - it was cool to spend a few minutes talking to these guys, 99% of them are very intelligent, friendly, and happy to advance the hobby by talking to fans.

I have more to share, but I have to open up the store, so you can anxiously await part Two - Life On The Streets Of Chicago (or Suburban Chicago) soon.

Tuesday, July 26

Codes

You, dear readers, have two reasons to celebrate. The first reason is what you are reading right now - a return to my blog, a follow-up performance, a fabulous comeback with lights and red carpets and such. Though I have no idea what sort of regularity to expect here, I have never been happy with the "unfinished" work that I began here, and I want to give it another whirl. Like many before me (and after me), I hit the blogging wall and just flat-out quit for awhile, and although my return won't be quite as regular as I was out of the gate, it is still a return. So give me at least a little credit for that.

Looking over the 10 comments on my last post, it appears I have some people to answer. Sorry to stonewall you for so long...

"I actually pay for my bandwidth...".... ah, whatever. Come and get me.

" three weeks, no posts. time to turn in your blog card."... three weeks? I'll do you one better. I'll go over four months!

" PULL THIS BLOG, its so stale!!! Get a life Flammer!"... I thought my absence from my blog would be more of an indicator that I had actually found one. As opposed to my visitor, who repeatedly visited despite a lack of anything new to read.

" Ok, so why not bring all of us baseball 'inadequates' up to speed on the Tigers brilliant trade with the Phillies?"... Polanco is hitting .324 since signing with us, and will probably sign a multi-year deal to stay here in the winter. Urbina has a 4.82 ERA with one (1) save since he went to Philadelphia. I'd say we made out OK.

I have another reason for you to celebrate. I am inviting all of you to share with me in the joys that come with entering contests. That's right, I am a proud participant in the Pepsi "Go Pro" promotion. All those codes you've been finding under your bottle caps and throwing away? I've been hoarding them like a madman, rallying others to join me, and slowly building up a pool that will eventually score me up to 8 free T-Shirts from major league baseball (I've got 5 so far). If there's anyone left out there who still checks this page, and you have codes you'd like to share instead of tossing away, hurry and send them to me! I only have until August 30th to milk this promotion for all it's worth!

Friday, February 18

Rummy

A quick post today, as I was struck by a few things while reading the newspaper.

John Negroponte has been tapped by Bush to be the new National Intelligence Director, the position created by the 9/11 Commission to play arbiter/babystitter to the 15 different intelligence agencies. I find it fascinating that Negroponte has scarcely a whiff of experience in intelligence, outside of his time as an ambassador to Baghdad. Instead, his primary qualification seems to be his gift of diplomacy (the UN, in addition to Iraq). Which tells you all you need to know about the state of relations between the FBI, CIA, NSA, and the other 12 squabbling glee clubs who trust each other about as much as you can possibly trust a corporation whose job it is to keep secrets.

But the winning quote of the day comes from Donald Rumsfeld, who was asked by Hillary Clinton at a committee hearing if it would be worthwhile to install our missile defense system, even though we've never had a successful test with it. Rumsfeld replied, "If you didn't do anything until you could do everything, you probably wouldn't do anything".

Everybody follow that? I was just thinking today that I would like to finish everything, but since I have so far done nothing, and that leaves just about anything (and everything), I might not bother with anything and be content to finish with nothing. Donald is most certainly right.

Monday, February 14

Popcorn

Valentine's Day is very important to me. I have annually marked this day on the calendar, first and foremost. It is worthy of celebration, and I don't understand those who think of it as a commercially-manufactured holiday. It is, after all, the day that pitchers and catchers first report to spring training in Florida.

This year things are a little screwed up. The first players actually report tomorrow, and the Tigers aren't getting there until Thursday. But still, it's roughly about this time every year.


In related holiday chit-chat, I came across the actual movie "Valentine" while flipping channels last night. Whatever happened to Denise Richards? She was getting plenty of good roles playing a general boy-toy, and then she tried to get all Bond on us. Since then, it's been a downward spiral, stupid comedies and horror movies. Poor, sweet, Denise Richards with her furry eyebrows and her famous lesbian scene.

I am currently scheduled to go see the movie "Hitch" tonight, my secretary put it on the agenda and now I can't get out of it. Actually, I volunteered to go. I like Wil Smith, and I like Deb (my movie-going partner), so it will be a pleasure. But I will not purchase popcorn. If anybody reading this actually purchases popcorn, you are a dope. You are a free-spending, snack-addicted, gullible dope. You are so insistent that the "theatre experience" includes popcorn that you will pay the $6 asked of you. Six dollars is a meal, my friends. A supporting view.

For anyone who wants to know what's going on with me, the comic book store I run is moving back into Lansing, and opening downtown on March 1st. The next month or so will be busy for me. Ash and Kelly had their baby. Tim and Samira are still waiting on theirs. Mom's on her way to Philly. Church retreat went well. And there's your semiannual report. I just felt like I needed to blog today, so this random pattern of thoughts is what you get!

Saturday, February 5

Super

We Got 'Im: If it's on CNN, it's gotta be true. The Tigers officially landed Magglio Ordonez, but damn, it was expensive. Dave Dombrowski (GM) has been very careful about getting good deals on his free agents, making sure he gets contracts that protect against any persistent injuries, and pulling out of the market if he feels the player is not worth his demands (Derek Lowe, Matt Clement).

Is Mags really a $15-million a year guy? Over 7 years? At the age of 31? I read all the contract specifics, there are a lot of protections, but it still seems a little risky. Oh, well. No less stupid than paying Bobby Higginson $8 million to platoon this year.

Fred asked me today if the Tigers can finish over .500. You kidding me? They won 72 games last year. Troy Percival and a refurbished Fernando Rodney are added to a bullpen that blew 28 saves last year. If they can cut that number in half, they've now won 86 games. Add a few win shares for Ordonez, and play Brandon Inge at third base over the dropped weight called Eric Munson, and we're talking 90 games. Anyone think that 90 wins can't take the AL Central Division this year?

11 Days, 13 Hours until pitchers and catchers report to Lakeland, Florida.

Prayers and Baby Names


My friend Ash is due to have his first child on Superbowl Sunday. He and Kelly are expecting that the baby may be late, but just in case he comes on time, how about some Superbowl-themed baby names for this blessed boy? Donovan Brady Harris? Super Harris? How about Ash Harris XXXIX? Or perhaps Ty Law Harris sponsored by Pepsi?

Any ideas for the pregame? Even if you don't know Ash & Kelly, your ideas may be useful to them.

Wednesday, February 2

Candy

I've sort of had a "falling out" from Christian music over the last few years. It's probably because of a multitude of factors: inital cost of Christian music vs. secular music, a slew of new incoming Christian artists which has led to (in my opinion) a lot less overall talent. But mostly I think it's just that Christian music doesn't really speak to me the way it used to. Recent friendships spurred me back to radio listening, and I've found that I identify with a lot more of the music there than I thought I did.

All of this is an elaborate lead-in to say that I still respect the concept of Christian music, reinforcing themes and beliefs in my life that Green Day has not yet embraced. And it so happens that I was listening to a Steven Curtis Chapman song today (talk about my diversity of taste!) when these lyrics struck me:

Sometimes it's like
I'm playing Gameboy standing in the middle of the Grand Canyon
I'm eating candy sitting at a gourmet feast
I'm wading in a puddle when I could be sitting in the ocean
Tell me what's the deal with me
Wake up and see the glory

Allow me to wax poetic for just one post. Someone somewhere hypothesized that life is in the details. I think it's important to sweat the details, but only when you're doing it while looking at the big picture. It's so easy to get stuck thinking about my business, my car, my family, my hobbies, even my church.... all important things to varying degrees, but all are meant to drive toward a greater purpose. God has set a will and a path for my life. I might not always know the path, but I do know the will, and I need to remember that in all of my daily activities. I need to stop playing Gameboy in the middle of the Grand Canyon.

(Note: the above statements are not intended to begin a Calvinistic discussion on the nature of pre-destination.)

Mags


Everyone else saw the Sammy Sosa trade last weekend and either applauded or tongue-lashed the Cubs for letting him go. My only thought was: "Crap. Mags?"

You see, the Tigers have been talking at great length with former Chicago White Sox outfielder Magglio Ordonez the last few weeks, and we're actually making some serious headway. They got an offer back from his agent, the evil Scott Boras, which was good news, since he was the agent who helped us sign up Pudge Rodriguez last winter. A counter-offer also shows that Mags had some genuine interest in coming to Detroit, which has been difficult to muster this off-season from other players. Not to discount the very valuable signing of Troy Percival, but the Tigers had serious offers on the table to many worthy position players (and one pitcher), and have just completely come away empty.

So now this great-hitting outfielder is interested in D-Town, and just when things are looking good, the Cubs trade away Sosa. Now they've got an opening in right field, where Ordonez has been playing for the White Sox for the last eight years. In Chicago.

This had better not turn out the way I think it might.

Thursday, January 27

Diesel

I know, two days in a row!! Just enjoy the game, my readers, and do not fool yourselves into thinking that I will remain this consistent.

We're always hearing funny radio commentary about the Dumbest Criminals on Earth. I submit a nomination for one of the Wittiest Criminals on Earth, at least among those who were caught. After all, if they got caught, they can't be that bright.

This Dutch robber, after being sentenced to four years in prison, was able to deduct the cost of his pistol from his court fines as a business expense. Yessiree. The robber had been arrested after stealing a significant amount of money from the Dutch town of Chaam. However, the gun being a necessary tool of the trade, the judge allowed him to claim it as an allowable reimbursement.

Makes me wonder what kind of deductions I've never even considered on my own tax returns.

Problem Solving


This will be a fun little spot for anyone who appreciates sports - box score analysis. Can anyone else spot the weird anomoly with these final game numbers from Monday night's Heat-76ers game?

MIAMI (98)
fg ft rb
min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp
E Jones 38 3-12 5-5 0-6 2 3 14
U Haslem 27 5-13 3-4 2-9 4 6 13
S O'Neal 35 9-12 6-17 3-5 0 3 24
D Jones 26 2-6 0-0 0-5 4 2 5
D Wade 43 3-13 11-11 1-6 11 4 17
S Anderson 13 4-4 0-0 1-4 0 3 8
K Dooling 22 3-5 0-0 0-1 1 4 6
M Doleac 19 1-4 0-0 0-4 1 2 2
R Butler 17 3-7 0-0 0-0 2 1 9
W Person DNP - COACH'S DECISION
C Laettner DNP - COACH'S DECISION
Wang DNP - COACH'S DECISION

_____________________________________________________
TOTALS 240 33-76 25-37 7-40 25 28 98
_____________________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.434, FT-.676. 3-Point Goals:
7-20, .350 (E Jones 3-7, D Jones 1-5, D Wade
0-1, K Dooling 0-1, R Butler 3-6). Team
Rebounds: 11. Blocked Shots:7 (S O'Neal 2, E
Jones 2, D Jones, D Wade, U Haslem).
Turnovers:16 (D Wade 6, S O'Neal 2, E Jones
2, K Dooling 2, S Anderson, D Jones, R
Butler, U Haslem). Steals: 7 (S Anderson 3, R
Butler 2, D Wade, U Haslem).

PHILADELPHIA (106)
fg ft rb
min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp
K Korver 34 4-11 4-4 0-6 6 3 14
K Thomas 26 4-10 1-1 0-3 1 6 9
S Dalembert 32 6-11 4-6 3-11 1 3 16
A Iverson 44 13-30 18-19 0-2 11 1 45
A Iguodala 31 1-3 0-0 2-9 1 3 2
A McKie 18 1-3 0-0 0-7 0 2 2
K Brown 11 0-1 1-2 0-2 1 2 1
M Jackson 16 2-4 1-2 1-5 0 1 5
C Williamson 22 4-9 4-5 2-3 0 3 12
W Green 6 0-2 0-0 0-1 0 2 0
J Davis DNP - COACH'S DECISION
J Salmons DNP - COACH'S DECISION
___________________________________________________
TOTALS 240 35-84 33-39 8-49 21 26 106
_____________________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.417, FT-.846. 3-Point Goals:
3-11, .273 (K Korver 2-7, A Iverson 1-3, W
Green 0-1). Team Rebounds: 10. Blocked
Shots:4 (S Dalembert 3, A Iguodala).
Turnovers:9 (M Jackson 3, C Williamson, A
Iverson, W Green, K Korver, K Brown, K
Thomas). Steals: 11 (A Iverson 4, K Korver 3,
A McKie, A Iguodala, K Thomas, K Brown).

-------------------------------------------
MIAMI 27 28 21 22 - 98
PHILADELPHIA 32 25 20 29 - 106
-------------------------------------------

Technical fouls: Miami - 2 (S O'Neal, 2:55
1st; Defensive Three, 3:10 1st). Philadelphia
- 2 (Defensive Three, 9:46 2nd; COACH
O'Brien, 3:41 3rd).
Flagrant fouls: None. A: 19,172. T: 2:24.
Officials: Leon Wood, Mike Callahan, Phil
Robinson.


I know it's a long box score, but I wanted to make the mystery especially difficult for those of you who fancy yourselves to be basketball gurus.

Did you find it? Shaquille O'Neal had five (5) rebounds in 35 minutes of play. Five. He was out-rebounded by 3 other players on his team, and 4 Philadelphia opponents. The man is listed at 7'1", 300 lbs. Five rebounds is usually ten minutes worth of work for this guy, at the most. Shaq could clean the glass five times in a game if he was wearing snow boots and a thick winter coat.

I'm not saying he took the night off - he did score 24 points. But geez, Diesel - get in there and mix it up. You probably outweight the 76ers' combined frontcourt, but they doubled your boards on Monday.

Wednesday, January 26

Basket Case

So I'm drifting away, watching Letterman last night as a precursor to sleepy time, when I am jolted awake by the strangest of things. It was not a new coffee, nor was it any sort of shock treatment. It was a guy on the TV. Green Day was performing on the Late Show, and I was mesmerized by the drummer, one Tre Cool. This guy was bizarre. A fantastic drummer to be sure, but I was laughing out loud just watching him perform. The guy is a complete show-stealer. In a lot of the camera shots you could see him over the shoulder of the lead singer, and he's just spacing out, rolling his head around, eyes rolling around looking at everything while he's playing, all the while with this huge goofy I'm-insane smile on his face.

After the song wrapped up, he fipped his drumsticks over his shoulders and dove over his drums, which were elevated on a platform by about three or four feet, and sprawled on the floor in front of the band. Letterman trotted over to make sure he hadn't hurt his head (would we be able to tell?) and the commercials ran. I guess the point of this whole post is - if you need a good laugh or just want to gawk at one of nature's anomolies, make a point to see Green Day live some day, or just download the music video for "Basket Case".

Horton


Illinois is good, but they won't go undefeated.

I was really impressed watching them beat Wisconsin last night, it was my first Illinois sighting this year. They hit clutch shots, they stretch the floor by turning almost every possession into a fast break, and they can play in-and-out to get the matchups they want (even the backup center, Ingram, hit a couple 3-pointers last night).

But they're also streaky, and sooner or later they're going to be down 8 points with 10 minutes to go, like they were last night, and they're not going to be able to go on a run. But all I'm saying is that they won't go undefeated. They'll still be in the Final Four. And they certainly won't get beaten by Michigan since...

Michigan point guard Horton suspended after domestic violence charge. Thanks a lot, Horton!!! Our NCAA tournament hopes this year? Buh-bye. Your chances of being selected in next year's NBA Draft? Buh-bye. I'm sure the squabble with your girlfriend was worth it.




Friday, January 21

Asinine

I'm sitting in the middle of a birthday party, but I was surfing the web while some of my friends are playing an increasingly annoying card game. And when coming across this notion, I couldn't help but add a quick entry to my blog.



What sense does it make to torpedo our economy, in order to send a message to the political seat about our economy (among many issues, like Iraq, that these extreme-left-wing idiots have a problem with)? I'm not saying boycotts are bad, although they are very usually ineffective, or that trying to make your voice heard is not your right as an American. But enacting a stratagem that will hurt retailers, waitresses, and many other people around the country who had nothing to do with Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, is completely asinine.

Wednesday, January 19

Gametime

The legal downloading of music singles is apparently getting a boost, according to BBC. Looks like there were 200 million track downloads in the last 12 months, even though there are still roughly 870 million illegal tracks available for people through the "pirating" services.

According to this article, half of the respondents questioned were able to name several legal music downloading sites. I personally don't know any. What are they? I tried to do the legal download thing once. The idea was, I'll use my friend's computer to buy a couple tracks (since I don't have internet at my house), burn them to a CD, take them back to my house and then burn them along with some other mp3 files I had, all onto one master compilation.

Good idea. Except that the mp3 files I burned and took back to my house wouldn't play. Seems you can only listen to them on the computer on which they were purchased. I went back to my friend's house and tried saving them in a different formt, like wmv. Still wouldn't work. So I had paid for these tracks that I couldn't really do anything with. Eventually I had to burn the files to an actual audio CD, take the audio CD back to my house, rip them back into files on my hard drive, after which I could finally make my master disc.

All of which is to say that I am through with purchasing tracks. At least until they loosen up the restrictions. I understand that they want to prevent these tracks from being freely distributed by those who purchase them, but check online, fellas - that's already happening despite your best efforts. Why are you making it so troublesome for me to do the right thing?

Gametime



I didn't see it, but I'm told that the Wake Forest player who stood at the free throw line last night against Florida State, was a little too arrogant for his own good. Wake had just made an amazing comeback to tie the game, and if Taron Downey made the free throw, would complete a come-from-behind win to save their national #3 ranking. Wake Forest had also just set a college record for making 50 free throws in a row, as a team. Add to all that, Downey was the best free-throw shooter on the team.

So he steps up to the line, mouths the words "Game Over" to the Florida State players standing close by - and bricks the shot. FSU goes on to smoke Wake in overtime, 91-83. I love it when players are forced to eat their Nikes.







Wednesday, January 12

Honorable

Everyone's hopping mad at Mike Vanderjagt this week, the embattled placekicker for the Indianapolis Colts. When asked about the New England Patriots, the Colts' opponent in this weekend's NFL playoff matchups, it seems Vanderjagt made this comment to a local TV station: "I think they're ripe for the picking".

Now all hell has broken loose. How dare he? We always talk about how we wish athletes would show more candor in their interviews, would give honest answers to honest questions instead of the formulaic double-speak that even the listeners have memorized by now. When it comes to being honest, in my mind, this comment is really nothing at all, not really all that insulting, just one man's genuine assessment of his team's opponent. If this comment came from a defensive lineman or even the quarterback, it probably wouldn't be that big of a deal. I've been hearing it from analysts on ESPN all week.

So why is this such a firestorm. Because Vanderjagt is a kicker. Kickers, apparently, do not deserve to talk smack, give interviews, or offer opinions. Kickers are like children, they should be seen and not heard, silently doing their job. Why such lack of respect? Because they don't tackle? But they do! How many times have you seen the punter or kicker, the last man who can save a touchdown on a kick return, make the play? Kickers have the heart of a football player - it's not their fault they happen to excel at placekicking. Do you know who the top 3 scorers in NFL history are? Gary Anderson, Morten Andersen, and George Blanda - all kickers.

"The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!' On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. ~~1 Corinthans 12: 21-23

Kickers are a very important piece of a football team. I'd like to see Peyton Manning or Warren Sapp ply their trade booting field goals. That would be laughable. If Vanderjagt's comments were stupid, let them be stupid in and of themselves, and not simply "because he's a kicker".

Friday, January 7

Backing In

It cracked me up when I saw Herm Edwards' press conference from Tuesday. Addressing the media who were accusing the battered Jets of "backing" into the playoffs, Edwards held up his official letter inviting the Jets to the playoffs from the commissioner's office.

"They only send out 12 of these", he said... "After listening to you guys, I wasn't sure, but I got my letter, they invited us, so I guess we're going."

This guy is going to be remembered as one of the great press conference coaches of all time.





Landlord

I read this article in Time magazine last night, and thought I'd throw it out there for comment, after adding a few of my own. It's about violent video games, and whether "Mature-rated" video games should be sold to minors, without any legal danger to the retailer. A governor from Illinois is pushing for new legislature that would punish anyone who sells an "M-Game" to a minor, up to $5k in fines and a year in jail.

Most of the video game retailing community is against this, of course, but I'm actually for it. What really annoys me is this part:

Nevertheless, three previous attempts to block the distribution of violent games to minors--initially approved in Indianapolis, Ind.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Seattle--have been overturned in federal courts on the grounds that video games are protected "speech" under the First Amendment.

How is violence and pornography freely available to minors under the First Amendment? We have rules about selling pornographic magazines to them, or letting them into R-rated movies, but I am currently legally allowed to sell a 10-year old a copy of "Leisure Suit Larry" for the X-Box, in which the protragonist Larry is basically given a roster of women he has to get into the sack in order to beat the game. And the video game graphics leave absolutely nothing to the imagination.

At the very least, we have a precedent for shielding kids from porn, the "obscenity for minors" portion of the law, even if we don't have a very solid one for violence. According to the article, 69% of kids ages 13 to 16 who tried to purchase M-rated games were able to do so, versus 36% who were able to get into R-rated movies. Does anyone else find this bizarre?

Finally, I loved this quote from a parent at the end of the article, who lets her 9-year old play Grand Theft Auto San Andreas:

"I hate that the games are violent and so over the top, but this is the world we live in," she says. "I want to raise my kids with a sense that I trust them to be good and to know how to set their own limits."

I like this theory. In fact, if my 7-year old kid comes home one day with a beer, a doobie, a hooker, and swearing like a sailor, I'm going to let him know that I even though I don't personally enjoy hookers, I trust him enough to be good and know how to set his own limits. I'm not there to raise him or try and instill any sense of values, I'm really just his landlord.

Monday, January 3

Doomed

We've all had great ideas that sounded good on paper. Businesses understand that not all new product lines, not all marketing ploys, not all of their promotional ideas, will work. Crystal Pepsi. Euro Disney. Hulk the Movie. Every corporation is bound to experience the Idea That Didn't Work.

With that in mind, I submit to you that Blockbuster's new "No More Late Fees" policy will be extinct within six months. I've considered the pros and the cons of this program, and I cannot fathom how Blockbuster's bottom line could be improved under this new approach.

I imagine that it was dreamed up to generate new business. Blockbuster may have a lot of the glizz, glamour, and overhead that other video rental businesses do not, but their prices are no longer competitive, and even their rental lengths don't stack up. Family "Porn" Video rents a movie for a week, for a buck, that would cost you $3, five days, at Blockbuster. So I'm sure the suits decided that the "No More Late Fees" would attract back those who have migrated to the cheapo rentals over the past few years. It's also an attraction to customers who have started using Pay-Per-View more often at home. Pay-Per-View's biggest marketing pitch is that you don't have to deal with video store late fees.

However, as I see it, they're going to lose a ton of money, not just one way, but two:

First, movies will be out-of-stock longer. What is supposed to be a two-day rental could more easily be out for four. This means that the movie is not back on the shelf in the store, and cannot be re-rented. Lost rentals. To try and make up for this, Blockbuters will have to spend even more money on having additional copies in stock. But they'll basically be spending more money, to generate the same amount in rental revenue, that they had coming in before. (Side note: with all these extra copies being purchased, you can count on getting used DVD's even CHEAPER at Blockbuster in the future, as they'll be looking to move these things out after the rental interest in a title has waned)

Second, late fees. Nobody likes late fees. Everyone argues about late fees. I'm sure it was a big hassle for Blockbuster employees to handle late fees. Let's face it, you get up there to rent a movie and find out you had a late fee, the clerk who was ringing you up is no longer your friend. And the video store itself has taken on a bit of a negative psychological image with you. But late fees were, realistically, a huge source of income, AND an incentive for people to get movies back so that they could be re-rented. We're talking about a LOT of money.

The new Blockbuster policy is fundametally faulty in this respect: it assumes that most people are respectful, responsible, and considerate of others. But they are not. If this policy works for Blockbuster, a great vote of confidence in human nature will have been struck. But for the moment, call me pessimistic.

(For more on this development, and how it has already been forecast to drop Blockbuster's earnings in 2005 by .08 cents a share, click here)

Thursday, December 30

To The Letter

Don't usually blog on Thursday, but I wanted to link to this movie trailer because it looks like another landmark for the comic industry.

I'm excited for this movie, because this is the kind of story and setting that makes people realize that not all comic books are Superman and Spider-Man. The film looks like it's going to follow Frank Miller's Sin City work to the letter, and I think it will drive more people into the comic book / graphic novel industry as a result.

This trailer just looks fantastic. Had to share it. Also, here is the IMDB page with more details.

This movie includes a Michael Clarke Duncan sighting. Whatever happened to this guy since The Green Mile? TV voiceovers and movies called "George And The Dragon"??


Tuesday, December 28

Dismayed

Random observations from the day thus far:

A new snack that could easiy become addictive is the pepperoni cheese sticks from Little Caesar's. While in no way part of the recommended diet for Any Human Being Alive, they taste good, and let's face it folks, it's all about the here and now. If it feels good, do it, that's my philosophy. Don't worry about tomorrow, indulge your sins and worry about the consequences some other time.

Staying with those same thoughts, I bought a new pair of jeans this morning. Up until then, I had only owned one pair of jeans that were useful. By useful, I mean that they didn't have any of the typical rips and tears, in unmentionable places, like the jeans that are often worn by, say, Ryan Bunce. So I thought it was time to double my "useful jeans" stock. I was dismayed to find that I did not fit into a 32 waist. I had to settle on the 34. To remedy this alarming problem, here is my plan:

- Start playing basketball / soccer twice a week
- Stop drinking soda

You read that last one right. My dear mother, bless her heart, is going on a strict organic diet, an undertaking that I would never be able to pull off myself. I told her that if she can do it, I'll quit pop. So starting on January 2nd, we're off on the Weird Wild Larry Martin Get Your Damn Self In Shape dietary plan. My friend Rhonda is also joining us, although she's just giving up desserts, since she's already off the soda. I don't even think my mom knows Rhonda.

For Those Who Know Me: What's everyone doing for New Year's? If you don't have plans, we're meeting at the Bunces, around 7. Call me if you need more info. We're usually at Shannon and Cindie Caroland's this time of year, but apparently having a baby trumps our New Year's party, so we hastily made other arrangements. I say hastily, because I didn't even realize until a few weeks ago that Caroland Junior was due around this time. Everyone keep them in your prayers over the next week or two. And encourage them to think long-term when planning their next conception.

Here's why I'm not concerned about the Pistons currently holding the #6 seed in the East: yeah, their record stinks for a reigning champ, but it's early. Their new bench is going to get better with more minutes. Importantly, they're beating good teams. The big games, the showcase games, they're winning those. So far in December, they've won home games against Cleveland and the new-look Nets, and road games against Dallas, New York, and Indiana. And they lost to the Spurs by a 3-pointer.

That tells me that they're just not getting up for the lower-profile games, the Bulls, the Hawks. When the time comes, when they need to play a good game, they can. So the second half will be a different story from the first. If Larry Brown is telling these guys not to burn themselves out in the first two months of the season, I trust his judgment.

Monday, December 20

Records

This week, maybe, feels a little like Christmas. Whatever Christmas is supposed to feel like, anyway. There's a different feel to everything, with so many people done with work and school for a week or so. Trying to make sure I see some people one last time "before Christmas", which is silly, since they will still be there after Christmas.

Maybe I'm just excited for my friend Jeremy Kissling, who marrys tonight. He will be married at my nominee for the most Unoriginal Church of Christ Building Ever, the West Lansing Church of Christ. The people that I know from this church are great, it's just that the building itself is so boring. So drab. It's the cookie-cutter example of exactly what you'd expect a church of 200 40-somethings, to look like. Even the name is uninspiring. Anyway, Jeremy is marrying Erica Vance, and it will be a joyous occasion.

Another joyous occasion will be Wednesday night at 9:30ish, when a bunch of us are getting together to play cards. I'm looking forward to taking home some extra Christmas money that evening. If you're interested in joining us, call me.

I was impressed with the Colts last night. Not because they played a solid football game against the Ravens, but because of what they did with less than a minute left. With Peyton Manning one touchdown pass away from tying one of the NFL's most hallowed records (48 TD passes in one season, set by Dan Marino), a Colts defender intercepted a Baltimore pass and ran the ball back, stepping out of bounds just short of the end zone. This set up Manning, already winning the game 20-10, with one last chance for a touchdown pass. So under the watchful eyes of most of the football fans around the country, probably Marino, and indeed, even history itself, what did coach Tony Dungy call in for a play?

They kneeled on the ball and ran out the clock, knowing, as all good sportsmen do, that you don't run up the score when you already have the game won. You also don't set or tie NFL records by fraud, like Michael Strahan did several years ago in setting the single-season sack record. If Manning is going to have that record, he needs to earn it in real, hard competition, and I think he knows that. So it will be all the more sweeter when he gets it against San Diego next week.

Tuesday, December 14

Yuletide

Somehow the major insiders (read: Peter Gammons) are still predicting that Adrian Beltre is going to sign with the Tigers, even though I have not seen one account in Detroit or LA newspapers that they have even been talking. It would be fantastic if they did, because since signing Troy Percival, they have not been able to land any other big names that they've been associated with: Carl Pavano, Troy Glaus, Steve Finley, Corey Koskie. They still have some big holes to fill at 3B, CF, and in the rotation, and if they don't get another good free agent on the line, I don't know how much better we can expect to improve next year.

If you have any interest at all in their postseason wheelings, use the link down on the right side for The Cutoff Man... it's the best Tigers day-to-day coverage I can find, he finds links in every major newspaper in the country, if there's a Tiger rumor to be had.



Now then - I'm not a big Christmas person anymore. It's honestly just another month that comes and goes. It's not a bad thing, I appreciate the general spirit of the holidays, it's just not something I look forward too all year or anything. It's just not a big deal to me.

Nonetheless, I'm not above some occasional festive writing, and with that in mind, I present to you this enjoyable account of "The Night Before Christmas" that just came across my e-mail. I apologize if you've seen this already.


'Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual
yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic
activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential,
including that species of domestic rodent known as Mus Musculus.
Hosiery was meticulously suspended from the forward edge of the
wood-burning caloric apparatus, pursuant to our anticipatory pleasure
regarding an imminent visitation from an eccentric philanthropist
among whose folkloric appellations is the honorific title of St.
Nicholas.

The prepubescent siblings, comfortably ensconced in their respective
accommodations of repose, were experiencing subconscious visual
hallucinations of variegated fruit confections moving rhythmically
through their cerebra. My conjugal partner and I, attired in our
nocturnal cranial coverings, were about to take slumberous advantage
of the hibernal darkness when upon the avenaceous exterior portion of
the grounds there ascended such a cacophony of dissonance that I felt
compelled to arise with alacrity from my place of repose for the
purpose of ascertaining the precise source thereof. Hastening to the
casement, I forthwith opened the barriers sealing the fenestration,
noting thereupon that the lunar brilliance without, reflected as it
was on the surface of a recent crystalline precipitation, might be
said to rival that of the solar meridian itself -- thus permitting my
incredulous optical sensor to perceive a miniature airborne runnered
conveyance drawn by eight diminutive specimens of the genus Rangifer,
piloted by a minuscule, aged chauffeur so ebullient and nimble that it
became instantly apparent to me that he was indeed our anticipated
caller. With his undulate motive power traveling at what may possibly
have been more vertiginous velocity than patriotic alar predators, he
vociferated loudly, expelled breath musically through contracted
labia, and addressed each of the octet by his or her respective
cognomen...

"Now Dasher, now Dancer..." et al -- guiding them to the uppermost
exterior level of our abode, through which structure I could readily
distinguish the concatenations of each of the 32 cloven pedal
extremities.

As I retracted my cranium from its erstwhile location, and was
performing a 180-degree pivot, our distinguished visitant achieved --
with utmost celerity and via a downward leap -- entry by way of the
smoke passage. He was clad entirely in animal pelts soiled by the ebon
residue from the oxidations of carboniferous fuels which had
accumulated on the walls thereof. His resemblance to a street vendor I
attributed largely to the plethora of assorted playthings which he
bore dorsally in a commodious cloth receptacle.

His orbs were scintillant with reflected luminosity, while his
submaxillary dermal indentations gave every evidence of engaging
amiability. The capillaries of his molar regions and nasal
appurtenance were engorged with blood which suffused the subcutaneous
layers, the former approximating the coloration of Albion's floral
emblem, the latter that of the Prunus avium, or sweet cherry. His
amusing sub- and supralabials resembled nothing so much as a common
loop knot, and their ambient hirsute facial adornment appeared like
small, tabular and columnar crystals of frozen water.

Clenched firmly between his incisors was a smoking piece whose gray
fumes, forming a tenuous ellipse about his occiput, were suggestive of
a decorative seasonal circlet of holly. His visage was wider than it
was high, and when he waxed audibly mirthful, his corpulent abdominal
region undulated in the manner of impectinated fruit syrup in a
hemispherical container.

Without utterance and with dispatch, he commenced filling the
aforementioned hosiery with articles of merchandise extracted from his
aforementioned previously dorsally transported cloth receptacle. Upon
completion of this task, he executed an abrupt about-face, placed a
single manual digit in lateral juxtaposition to his olfactory organ,
inclined his cranium forward in a gesture of leave-taking, and
forthwith affected his egress by renegotiating (in reverse) the smoke
passage. He then propelled himself in a short vector onto his
conveyance, directed a musical expulsion of air through his contracted
oral sphincter to the antlered quadrupeds of burden, and proceeded to
soar aloft in a movement hitherto observable chiefly among the
seed-bearing portions of a common weed. But I overheard his parting
exclamation, audible immediately prior to his vehiculation beyond the
limits of visibility:

"Ecstatic yuletides to the planetary constituency, and to that
self-same assemblage my sincerest wishes for a salubriously beneficial
and gratifyingly pleasurable period between sunset and dawn."

Friday, December 10

Francis

So I got a comment on my Wal-Mart from some wacky goofball named Francis. He was arguing in favor of the Wal-Mart juggernaut, so at first I wrote him off as some overly-conservative CEO muckety-muck. But then I investigated further and I discovered my good friend John Datema!!! My long-lost friend from college, whom I only get to see about once a year, and even then he always ditches me to go to a football game!! But nonetheless, I was pleased even further to find that he also keeps a blog, and updates it regularly, far better than I do. So please add to your bookmarks, or at least your regular internet routine, the musings of Francis.

ESPN is airing another new original movie this weekend, "3", the life of Dale Earnhardt. It's on Saturday, at 9pm. But if you miss it, I wouldn't sweat it, since it will undoubtedly get endless reruns for a solid month on the Deuce. What intrigues me, really, is the previews. Barry Pepper plays the part of Dale, and I couldn't believe how much like the real deal he looked, in the TV spots. I'm not a huge NASCAR fan, although I do keep an eye on it, and I'm in favor of the playoff system they've implemented. Most of the NASCAR-type of customers that I've seen come through the store actually serve as a vote against it, but nonetheless, I like it, and I would like to see this movie.

ESPN has actually put together some pretty good original movies recently. "Hustle", on the Pete Rose controversy, that Bobby Knight movie, some others that I can't recall right now. There is no shortage of entertainment in this country when even the sports that I watch must be immortalized in film, and essentially watched again.

What I'm really waiting for is for the sports industry to put out DVD boxed sets of full games, postseason series, or even seasons (16 football games could fit nicely on a 6-disc set, including postgame press conferences and coach interviews!). I'm every bit the sucker, and if they ever got around to doing this, here would be the first items on my shopping list:

1984 World Series (Tigers/Padres)
1990 NBA Finals (Pistons/Lakers)
1993 Final Four (Webber timeout in the final)
1997 Michigan Wolverines season (co-champs w/ Nebraska)
2000 Tennessee Titans Postseason (Music City Miracle; 1-yard Superbowl)
2003 World Series (Marlins/Yankees)

What I suspect is the holdup is that the earnings potential of ESPN Classic and other such sports-nostalgia stations would lose their shine. Each of the leagues probably have exclusive contracts with the Giant, especially NFL Films.

What would you like to see?

Friday, December 3

Wassail

Things I noticed this morning while going for a walk (no, I'm NOT joking, unbelievers!):

Somehow I never noticed this before, but as I walked down one street, I could see the backstop and dugouts from GLCC's baseball field, right behind a couple of the houses that faced me. A foul pop-up could easily drop onto their back porch or take out the family dog. I can't believe this sort of thing hasn't happened more often. Or maybe it does, and I just never heard about it. After all, I only played on the team for one year (the only winning season we've had in the last two decades, although I'm not suggesting that I contributed to that success). Aside of that, what motivation did I have to attend a GLCC ballgame? They haven't even had a team on the field for most of these years . The one game I did attend last year, we gave up seven earned runs in the first inning.

One house I walked by had a Notre Dame flag flying out front, but what momentarily puzzled me was that it was at half-mast. This perplexed me for all of about five seconds, until I remembered that Ty Willingham had been fired as head coach this week, and most of the fans, players, and sports broadcast networks are not happy about it. He was one of only a few black head coaches, for you who are uninformed, and it's being spun as a racial issue in many circles. They only gave him 3 years to turn things around, which was the real crime in my opinion. It was an unjust firing, but not for the stupid prejudiced reasons that many are claiming.

I can almost understand the win-now mentality in the NFL, in which 3 years with the record Notre Dame had, would be far too long for a head coach to keep his job. But in college, 3 years is not even enough team for you to fully develop your first recruiting class. And it takes a few years for you to establish yourself, recruiting-wise, in the states in your area.

Went to Madrigals last night. It was a good show. They did a few new songs this year, or at least did them differently, and I really liked the new compositions. As to the story.... I didn't really follow it very well. But that could be the wassail. (J, did I spell it right?)

Monday, November 29

Service

Couldn't pass up the chance to share this article that I came across while surfing at work (hey, c'mon, it's a slow night). Some fellow comic retailers were speculating about the impact that the comic book industry might feel, if Wal-Mart were to get involved in the game. Someone in that forum pointed us to this article. Definitely take the time to read it. If you don't have time now, come back later and do it.

Now, I personally avoid shopping at Wal-Mart because of the lines, and just because of this spooky feeling I get, that this low-selling corporate giant could turn out to be the eventual undoing of retail America. But this article really opens the doors to the sort of "deal with the devil" a supplier has to make in order to sell on Wal-Mart's shelves. It scares the hell out of me, frankly... if WM's sales continue to grow exponentially, we the consumers will be purchasing ourselves right out of our own jobs.

Someone speculated to me, sometime in the last year, that the entire United States economony could one day be entirely service-driven: every person is employed to provice a service. A restaraunt, a mechanic, a store clerk, management, etc... but the point was, manufacturing and agriculture could disappear. We could actually import ALL the goods that we need, and everyone in America could make a perfectly good living by servicing everyone else. I would leave my job here selling comic books at the end of the day (service), and spend my paycheck on a restaraunt (service), at WalMart (service), and renting a movie (service). And the perpetual cycle would be sufficient to employ everyone.

I don't know if that's true, or possible. But if Wal-Mart's stranglehold on US suppliers continues to tighten, AND other companies take up the same business practices of bigger and cheaper (recent Sears-KMart merger?), AND we as consumers continue to support them, that "service" theory had better be true. That's all that will be left.

Saturday, November 13

Great Minds

I will make no excuses. And I shall not apologize. My life is what it is, and certain adjustments have kept me away from internet-accessible computers. At least for the half-hour or so of free time, that I require to compose a readable blog entry.

It's not neglect. I still contend that I would continue to be a dedicated blogger had I the resources of convenience or time. They have not been afforded me lately. But I don't think that I'm one of these quick-habit fad-starters who abandons his hobby within a month of picking it up. I just really can't do it right now.

It comes down to this - imagine that your only internet access was at work. You are one of two employees. The other fellow works 28 hours a week. Then, circumstances force you to slice the other guy's hours down to 13 a week. Any work that he might previously have done in those other 15 hours, you are now trying to squeeze in during the same amount of work hours you were already putting in before. Hey, now you feel like me! Get out of my body!

So that's where I've been. I have, however, taken the time to update my list of links to the right. Surprisingly, there were only three links that needed to be deleted. My only requirement to make the cut, was that you had posted sometime since my last post. Cause we all know that I haven't been holding down the fort here. Aubrey Malcolm and Steve Higgs had to be, regretfully, eliminated. And one of my favorite baseball blogs had been closed because intense political discussions had wound up ruining the relationships there. Oh, well - the guy was a flaming liberal - he must have had it coming!

But, added now to the list you will find blogs from Dan Harris, Shannon Caroland, Mike Fabian, and Jason Orton. Undoubtedly some of the greatest minds of our time. Plenty of reading to help you struggle through those days when you find nothing new here.

I have been thinking of starting a new, more public, blog focusing on Detroit area sports. Some in my life have called on me to keep my sports-writing "skills" sharpened. Just in case. But who am I kidding? WHEN would I do that?

Sunday, October 10

Craze

Well, gee whiz, it's only been about three weeks, what should I write about? My new home? The baseball playoffs? The Lions? The presidential debates? My church, my friends, how things are going at work?

I know I've done a horrible job keeping everyone in the loop lately, but here's my pat excuse - I have no internet at home. I only have internet at work now, and I try to do work stuff while I'm at work. And when I have the opportunity to leave work, I usually don't feel like hanging around and doing internet-related things, because I will only wind up working again. It's inevitable. Some customer needs me for something, some kids start causing Alec trouble, I get a phone call or an email that needs to be taken care of.

So that's why my blog sucks lately. Sorry. I feel somewhat responsible for starting the recent blog craze, and here I am letting you all down. Cursed be my name.

This weekend I am at the Fabian household in Bailey, Michigan. It seems like it's been months where I've had a weekend where I didn't go ANYWHERE besides Lansing. But I suppose that is what we single people do. Anyway, here is what I decided to write about, while driving here yesterday: Leaves.

Leaves are pretty. You, dear reader, are probably like me, in that you don't often really look at leaves. We're vaguely aware, in the bustle of our lives, that autumn is here, and that the leaves have changed color. But isn't it really something? Drive down the expressway like I did, and just take a wide-view look at the landscape. It's breathtaking. Blue, cloudless skies, framed by huge bundles of trees of all colors. It almost looks like something out of that Robin Williams movie, What Dreams May Come. It looks like the trees and foliage are not even of this earth.

It's beautiful. And you should really look at it. You won't get to for another year after this. Unless the phenomenon of autumn leaves is included in the "new earth" concept of Revelation. And how does that work? Who gets to live on the new earth, as opposed to maybe the cloud cities in heaven? Is there a draft?

Tuesday, September 21

barns

Anyone see John Kerry on Letterman last night? I have to admit, a pretty good performance. He did his best to put to bed the accusations of his "flip-flopping" on the Iraq war, and had a nice visualization of the difference in world attitude towards the U.S. on the day after 9/11, versus their attitude today.

The only beef I have with that is: of course everyone was going to be mourning with us on 9/12. Of course no one was happy about innocent lives taken. Of course other countries would be sympathetic. Why does a president's approval ratings always hit 90% shortly after an assassination attempt? Those numbers are completely soft, and I'm pretty sure that Pakistan didn't like us anymore on 9/10, than they do today.

I definitely think that W is headstrong, and that when he's got his mind set on what he thinks is right, that nobody is going to get in the way. That could easily offend other countries and their leadership, and it did. But those countries weren't exactly our best friends before that, and we certainly shouldn't pretend that all the international support we had after 9/11 was because we had built up so much good will on our own.

Can someone help the Vikings track down their offensive line? I think they must have got on the wrong train while traveling to Philadelphia.

How awesome is a church in which 80% of its members would travel two and a half hours to help someone's (mine) mom and dad paint their barns, fix their fences, fill in holes in their driveway, and eat their hamburgers? Well, I'll tell you... it's pretty.... well, it's awesome.

Thursday, September 16

Status

What have I been up to lately? Well, I've been working a lot more, getting home and doing some posting and maintenance work on the GLCC Alumni website, and trying to fit in meals. Mix in a four-day trip to Baltimore last weekend, and I haven't even been able to watch any TV lately! So you know my life is busy.

Thanks to the aforementioned trip, I missed the Michigan-Notre Dame game last Saturday, and the Lions' season opener on Sunday. So I'm not really able to comment on those games since I am talking without sufficient information. Sure, I can talk about what I read in the papers and saw in the highlights, but that would just be a form of regurgitation. I know that you have all come to expect quality sports analysis from me, and I would be doing you a disservice. I grudgingly include the shown photo, in deference to the team that was supposed to lose to us by a couple of touchdowns.

So, yeah, haven't practiced the guitar, haven't really read anything except for when I was in the van on the way to Maryland. Haven't played any video games, haven't played soccer or basketball in a while, haven't even done any laundry!! Tomorrow I will be out of work by 2pm, and will be "off" until we (my church) goes to my mom's house in New Baltimore to help get the house fixed up. I'm looking forward to the "downtime".

Meanwhile, I wanted to comment more on my housing situation that I mentioned on this blog last week. It will probably be lengthy, but it will be personal, so for those of you who really care, read on. At the end of the month, I am moving in with John and Beth Nugent, and their 3 kids. It is amazing. It symbolizes a complete transformation in the way I've come to feel about my "privacy" and "status", and it is also a no-doubter Godsend. I'll try to explain.

Rob and Damian (current roommates) expressed a need to move closer to South Lansing. They are moving into a house on Pennsylvania Ave, at the end of this month. I needed to find two new roommates, or find a new place to live. I was absolutely dedicated to staying near this side of town to be nearer to my church family, and I believe that God honored that, in the way this played out.

Before a year or two ago, I guess I have always looked at the place that I was living, as a symbol of "how far I had come" in my life. Bigger, nicer aparments or duplexes, own bathroom, bigger room, etc. The climax would be my own place, all to myself. Meanwhile, people in my church had begun to live with each other, because of circumstance, and at first it was odd to me. Then I started to get used to it, and even appreciate it.

So when this came up, at first I was thinking it was finally the time to get my own place. Pay a little bit more, but have complete independance. I went and looked at a couple possibilities... they were crappy housing, but still, on my own. Then after talking to people at church, I began to see that there really might be a better way to go. At first I cringed at the idea... this is John & Beth's first new house for their family, etc. The more I began to think about it, I saw that this might be exactly what I needed, and because I knew John & Beth so well from church and what they believed, I knew that they really cared even less about the "status" of their own private home than anybody else I knew. So I bit the bullet and asked. They thought and prayed - for one day. One night, really. And then they called and asked me to move in.

It's gonna be great. I'll help with the kids on occasion so they can get out. I'll help with rent, easing the burden of the mortgage that was really going to tighten things up for them. And the money I save - well, for the first time in my life, the student loans are going to start to get paid off. I figure that I can knock off close to 5k a year on these loans that I didn't ever think I'd be able to pay.

So for those who were wondering what in the world I am thinking, moving in with a whole family in their new house, there it is. Hope that helps explain it. Come visit sometime, and John will pull out all of his back-stabbing, manipulative tricks in beating you at Settlers.

Thursday, September 9

Denied

I spent an hour crafting a nice big blog entry last night, one that would make up for my extended vacation. Then Blogger, after repeated denials, told me that it would not post my entry, that I was a bad person, and that I could just go to hell. So I lost all my work. After an experience like that, would YOU re-type the whole thing? I should say not!!

So I'll try again tonight. And I'll also cut and paste the entire composition into another document before I try and submit it.

Now, of course, the challenge is to write the same things that I wrote last night, try and push myself to revisit the same thoughts that I had yesterday, even though I don't want to. I want to think (and write) new thoughts. I don't want to rehash the same crap I did yesterday. But then you, the deserving audience, would miss out on all the great things I had to say. It's a real quandry. I'm going to write more below, and you just won't know what's new, and what isn't. I'll be the only one. Besides the Lord. He's probably going to get bored with this exercise, also.

I golfed a 55 on Labor Day. I golfed it with my sister, who, bless her soul, would have made me feel good about my play even I had put up a 70. Let's just say it wasn't her day. It wasn't much mine, either, to begin with. After 4 holes I was probably 13 strokes over par, including a couple drop shots because I couldn't find my ball in the woods. Guys, have you ever been in that place where you just took a drop shot, your game is in the toilet, you're angry, you're sweating profusely, you can't hit anything right, and the bugs are flying around your head because they can sense the impending disaster, like vultures over a creature about to die? That's where I was - and I was really happy with my game that day, just because I was able to pull it together. I finished with four bogeys, and a double, on the last 5 holes. That's pretty good, for me.

I am happy to announce in this space, that I am moving in with the Nugents. John and Beth, not Ted or Eddie. There's this new house, see, that the Nugents have purchased, and they are graciously allowing me to stay with them on a somewhat permanent basis. I will help them with the very tight financial situation that they would have had with their new mortgage payment, but don't get me wrong, I am FAR getting the better of the deal. They will have to put up with my insolence, my bad guitar playing, my poor taste in movies, my backwards theological views, and my general presence. I figure that for every year I live there, I should be able to pay down about 5k on my student loan, which is currently well in excess of 30 grand. This is big news, a huge answer to years of prayer - how will I ever make a dent in these loans?

It occurs to me that I do more, and live more comfortably, on 26k a year than most people are able to manage on 75k. This is largely due to my church. I eat five home-cooked meals a week on ten bucks, and now I will find housing, rest and relaxation on very cheap rent. Hallelujah.

Much more to say; will have to say it later. I work all day tomorrow, after which I plan to watch the Patriots and Colts kick off the NFL season. The following day I plan to be quite busy preparing for, and participating in, GLCC's Alumni weekend. Then Saturday through Tuesday I will be in Baltimore, MD, participating in a retailer convention for other "people like me", comics and game shop managers and owners. Regan'll be there.

Thursday, September 2

nonsense

Are you weary, O Traveler, of wandering the internet today? Do you tire of long blogs dealing with theology, politics, and the meaning of life? Has posting on certain college alumni websites taken some of the spring out of your blogging steps? Do you long to feast your mind on nonsense, on nothing, to read the blogged equivalent of a silly Seinfeld episode?

Then let's keep things easy. Simply enjoy this fascinating commentary on this year's political conventions:



Oh, another note: I was saddened to see this news. Evidently some men in Venezuela kidnapped the mother of the Detroit Tiger's closer, Ugueth Urbina. They haven't made demands yet, but they'll most certainly be monetary, since Urbina is making big bucks in the bigs. Urbina left the team to go home, and the Tigers are trying to provide additional assistance to the police there.

Wednesday, September 1

Spoken For

Recently my online life has become ridiculous.

Since we started the GLCC Alumni site, I've easily been there about an hour or two a day, and I know that others are too. Blogging has taken a back seat. It won't always be like this, I'm just trying to do my part to keep the website moving until it has enough contributions from a variety of people. My goal is to post once or twice a day there and do light maintenance. Right now I'm post about ten to twelve times a day, reading about sixty posts.

I used to read blogs. My friends. My enemies. Baseball blogs. Political blogs. I used to know what was going on. glccalumni.com has taken away my leisure time this week. It has become the newest habit, as blogging was for a few months. I don't plan to quit on either. I'm enjoying the writing. I simply plan to better moderate my time.

My actual non-computer life is a little crazy right now too. Trying to come up with innovative ideas to push our store into profit mode, and the ideas have to be economical. I have 30 days to either find a new roommate or move into a new place, so I have to be looking for someone at the same time that I'm scouting new living places, never knowing which will pan out. All that and a few other, more personal things, has got me all tied up.

So it's nice to hear "Spoken For" by Mercy Me on the radio, and be reminded to keep my eye on the ball. Some people almost live vicarious spiritual lives though Christian music on the radio, a spiritual habit to replace having to do other ones, like go to church or pray. Thatsa no good!! But it still is an excellent ministry to people, and it hit its mark with me today.

And just so you don't think that I don't love ya, I found this important breaking news for you to look over. The dog-walking population loves W this November.

Monday, August 30

Precipitation

No pictures, no links, no politics or sports. Just a quick note, and then I've gotta turn in for today. We went camping this weekend, as you surely know since you read my post last week. For companionship, it was great. For actual camping conditions, it was miserable. Rain the first night, cloudy all day, then rain the second night. Add to this a leak in my tent SOMEWHERE (haven't been able to find it), and most of my blankets and clothing were wet after the first night. They couldn't dry, since we never saw the sun. So Night Two was just as impossible to sleep as Night One.

We did go to the dunes by Silver Lake. Soon I hope to have a really cool picture to show everyone, as soon as Bunce lifts it from his digital camera. That was a good time. And we did go to a very nice disc golf course nearby - this place had 3 different 18-hole courses. And after it was clear that maybe the term "camping" wasn't going to be our legalistic approach to the weekend given the conditions, I enjoyed going up into town on Saturday night, ordering a beer and wings with Ben and Crystal, and watching the first half of the first college football game of the year, USC vs. Virginia Tech.

Other than that, yikes. The overall weather this summer has just plain sucked, and this past weekend really drove that home. I was almost getting mad at God as I lay there last night, on my wet bed, freezing, and totally unable to even close my eyes. Don't I deserve a decent night's sleep? (Don't answer that, I know the answer, my emotions do not always present credible theological questions)

Wednesday, August 25

Nintendo

I'm pretty excited about Clem's this week, because we just set up a couple of 32" TV's in the back, along with X-Boxs, Playstation 2s, Gamecubes, Super Nintendos, etc. We're going to charge people (kids, mostly) $2 an hour to play whatever they want. We're also using the new video-games offering to start selling used video games for all systems from Nintendo on up. I think it's going to be a big boost for our store. Although we are one of 7 comic-and-game shops in the mid-Michigan Lansing area, we are the only one with this kind of diverse lineup.

Plus, as one retailer I was reading online wrote, "Video games really help me with the people who come in and look over all of our card games, board games, and miniatures games and then ask me, 'Where are all of your games'?"

So, anyhow, yesterday I built two of these TV stands, with only one major error (I was pretty proud of that), which I was able to fix. And the whole time I was doing it, I was giggling to myself because I remembered this story from Eric Vitz' blog. Blogs are great.

How about this great bit from Alan Keyes, Regan? Even if you think that this guy is the best moral character to happen to politics in our century, he's still going to lose Illinois by at least 20 points.

Monday, August 23

Alumni

This weekend I go "camping". It will be my second time "camping", last year was the first. I was a little concerned about it last summer, I wasn't much of an outdoorsman, and I didn't imagine that I would do very well roughing it. But as it turns out, "camping" isn't all that rough. We didn't take a trailer up there with a TV and Nintendo or anything like that; we did the tent thing and the firepit thing and the beach thing. But my worst fears were never realized: no bears came poking into my tent, I didn't have to shoot a squirrel and eat it. And thanks to the presence of a nearby community bathroom, I didn't have to wipe with a leaf.

So now that I have a better idea of what "camping" entails, I am much better prepared. This year I'm going to the Dunes, where Ryan Bunce will try to turn doughnuts in the sand with his Suburban. I will not ride along, as I believe he will upset his vehicle and go rolling down a hill. But I'm sure that the Suburban will wind up just sitting upright and ready for work after the tumble, much like the Ford F-150 commercial.

Jeremy Bonderman. Wow. This is pretty neat; first read this story from the Free Press, dated Monday morning, about how the Tigers are a little concerned that Jeremy Bonderman hasn't shown more progress in his two years in the majors, but that they're not giving up on him and just want to keep putting him out there and look for a little more progress. Now look at this box score, dated tonight, Monday night, in which Jeremy pitched his first complete game AND his first shutout of his career. Nine innings, no runs, ONE walk, FOURTEEN strikeouts!!!

If Carlos Pena can keep raising his average and being more selective at the plate, the Jeff Weaver trade of last year is going to go down as one that was a key transition point for the organization.

OK, lastly. Very important news here for all of my readers who attended Great Lakes Christian College. I'm really excited to announce that the Alumni Association has launched glccalumni.com, as a central place for alumni to be able to communicate, swap pictures, get news on the school, and catch up with each other. And as it happens, I'm in charge of the project. So visit there, and not just today, but often, and post some messages. I really want to get this site moving and shaking, so that there's always new stuff to read when you visit, from a variety of different people. I just went there tonight, not more than two hours after sending out an email about it, and things are already happening. It's gonna be great.

Omelettes

Another fantasy football weekend come and gone. It's always a good time to get together with friends that you might not otherwise see for the whole year, and it's an even better time when everyone is just making fun of everyone else for the whole evening. For me, I don't even think much about football until after the fantasy draft, and now that it's over, I can't wait for NFL Opening Weekend. And college football opening weekend. And the women's synchronized diving championships in Athens... er, wait...

Somewhere out there is Bald Omelette-Making Guy. Every year my immediate family, and some not so immediate, gets together for a big brunch at a hotel in Angola, Indiana. It's usually about 20 of us, and this is easily the biggest family-related gathering I will attend all year. Which is a little different from, say, other regular people who routinely attend family reunions of 300 people or more. But that's an item for another post.

Anyway, at this hotel, every year, is the main attraction, Bald Omelette-Making Guy. He's probably in his early 30's by now, like me, and he whips you up an omelette with ingredients of your choice, right in front of you, and cracking jokes as best he can while you watch it stew. Most of the jokes are recycled, that is, you get the feeling he's going to use the same material on the people right behind you. But regardless, he's an entertaining person and if he ever comes to work in a somber mood, I haven't been around for it. So lift a Budweiser for the Bald Omelette-Making Guy... without these steady Eddies in our life, where would we be?

Lastly, I have two more blogs to introduce to you. Isn't this nuts? I think in about 3 months, the stories will be about the blogs I'm taking OFF the list, because of a lack of attention by their authors, but for now, let's enjoy each other's lives through this little fad. Both of these guys are dedicated friends that I've known for many, many years, and are both pouring their hearts and souls into ministry. Welcome Sam Long and Wally Lowman to the blogosphere.

Friday, August 20

527

I found it mildly poetic yesterday when John Kerry publicly denounced the Swift Boat Veterans' group yesterday, but stopped short of denouncing the activities of all so-called "527" organizations. I knew it was a little hypocritcal, but I didn't have the numbers. Then I came across this post today.... look at the funding numbers and I think the reasons for Kerry's "stance" (besides the fact that he's getting roasted on this issue) become a little more clear.

Another reason to be happy today, besides the 7 or 8 people coming over to play poker tonight: new U2 album due out in November.

Gymnastics

It is currently quite, cold and peaceful in my little Grand Ledge store. But soon things will be hopping. For today Eric Vitz comes to town, laden with hopes of fantasy football immortality. Tomorrow is the crucial draft which will determine, in large part, his fortunes for 2004. Though many are missing, there shall be 9 of us together for this event, and the burgers and beer will flow like milk and honey.

See what grand bloggers shall gather for this tribute! See Jamie Wetzel, with his ability to stretch out the time limit for each of his selections to double the maximum allowable!! See Brandon Caroland, with his barbed and amazing wit equaled only by his inability to ever draft a competitive team! See Eric Vitz, with his many championship trophies from previous campaigns, and his many lists and spreadsheets prepared at the expense of his business and family!

It's gonna be great. And then I get a free brunch with my family in Indiana on Sunday morning, at some hotel that I can never properly pronounce the name for.

I found a quote from Bob Costas that I think gives some insight into many American's apathy toward Athens this year. It was in a magazine I was reading, in which he was asked "Now that the U.S. is an unrivaled superpower, do you think the Olympics matter less to Americans?", to which he replied "The automatic rivalry, the battle among warring equals, just isn't there anymore. Right now none of our perceived international enemies are great sports powers. It's not like al-Qaeda is fielding a gymnastics squad." Makes sense to me.

I also found this... a PC game that I'm excited to play. It's called "The Political Machine", and you get to basically run a presidential campaign and make all the decisions that go along with it. Seeking endorsements, taking campaign positions, spinning stories, managing the media and TV appearances... tell me this doesn't sound awesome. Plus, you get to matchup all sorts of potential candidates... like Hillary Clinton versus Arnold Schwartzenegger. Why hasn't our Sim City generation thought of this yet?

Tuesday, August 17

Mini-putting

If it weren't just twenty minutes after midnight, this would qualify as a three-post day!! Live it up, message-board breath. You never know when I'm gonna get busy again and wind up with a two-post week.

Went mini-golfing tonight, or as Crystal calls it, "mini-putt-putt". I tried to explain that it's not a miniature form of putting, it actually IS putting, but there's just no reasoning on such things. She is the loose, non-competitive one, and I am the win-at-all-costs jerk who has to correct everyone on their verbiage.

My putting sucks right now, by the way. I lost by one stroke to Ben Brown. Mark, if you're reading this, I need you to take me back to putting school.

I'm all into buying CD's online lately. Mostly just Christian ones. The "evil" CD's I can get at Best Buy for a reasonable price, but it costs an average of $16, and up, at the price-gouging Gift & Bible. They make the gasoline refineries look like Aldi's. So in order to stick to my new rule of not stealing (downloading & burning), I just have to price-shop a little better.

So for those who care, here are my two CD purchases online in the last week:

Jars of Clay - their original album. Got it for $6.50, total. Bob, I was reminded of how much I missed this album when you posted the lyrics to "Take My World Apart" on your blog. Very reflective stuff.

Various - In the Name Of Love. An album by Christian artists, all covering U2 songs, mostly from the early 80's to mid-90's. All the proceeds went to Bono's AIDS for Africa foundation, though I'm not sure how much profit they turned on the $8.41 total that this one cost me.

Monday, August 16

Elijah

Commercial showtimes for August 16th: 3:26pm and 6:15pm on WB. I am certain that we are going to clean up on new customers today, with these crucial spots airing during "Xiaolin Showdown" and "Elimidate".

I have a new blog to add to the blogroll, which is kinda nice, since we haven't had a new one for awhile. For a short stint there, it looked like everyone and their mother was going to start a blog, and I would have to find a new hobby, because I certainly can't appear to be a "fad" person. Anyway, the addition is none other than Aubrey Malcolm. She has a beautiful daughter, and spots all over her blog. Hopefully she does not also have a beautiful blog, and spots all over her daughter.

Breaking news... congrats to Scotty and Stephanie Johnson on another addition to the fam... Elijah Michael was born Sunday night. And he just got circumcised. Go team!

Pommel horse

Somebody's gotta blog about the Olympics, it might as well be me.

So far, through two days of competition, I've seen snippets of women's swimming, men's gymnastics, men's beach volleyball, women's synchronized diving, women's court volleyball, and (sadly) men's basketball. I know that sounds like a lot, but it actually all adds up to about an hour of viewing.

For the most part, I've tuned in to the Olympics because I almost feel some sort of patriotic responsibility to do so. They said on the telecast the other day that the Romanian gymnasts are national heroes in their country. They're seen in commercials and on billboards. Does anyone even know who the American gymnasts are? But I could tell you who the backup quarterback is, for at least half the NFL teams.

Like soccer, Olympic-type sports just don't compete for the dollars in our country, despite having a legion of followers in other nations. I wouldn't say that they are necessarily lesser sports than the Big 4. On the whole, the participants are probably even better athletes. You know what really sets the Big 4 apart from everything else? They're more television-friendly. They're easier to watch on the tube. Jim Lampley doesn't help the Olympic cause.

Here is the current medal count. This page constitutes most of my Olympic-related surfing each day. If you think the Olympics are the greatest thing since the electric razor, make your voice known. Otherwise I will assume that everyone is, like me, watching bits of the Olympics only when Seinfeld reruns on TBS are at a commercial break.

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