Thursday, July 31, 2003

Odds Are 3-1 He Wrote "Bring Them On ... Yours Truly, GWB"

It's been a week and I have yet to see any outcry from the various groups of flag worshipers about President Bush's disrespect for the American flag.

Then again, the flag worshipers have never made much sense to me. On one hand, they tend to be "God and country" folk, but they also go ahead and push for mandatory reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools. And such a law seems to go against both the First Amendment and the First Commandment.

As for the president - my guess is that he was thinking that like a quarterback who signs footballs after games, he signs flags after public appearances. But he was still in violation of U.S. code.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

White Hats …

This afternoon I walked into Twin Town Guitars to do my annual purchasing of new strings for my acoustic guitar. From previous experience, I know that Twin Town is easily the friendliest, most non-threatening guitar store I've ever been in; but after years of being in guitar stores, the usual trepidation stuck with me. Those of you who have done time in guitar stores know what I mean: If you dare strum a few chords on a display model to see how it sounds, you get some Steve Vai wannabe across the room from you wowing you with the latest, greatest flash guitar moves or Tasty Licks. (Back in my early days as aspiring guitarist, guitar-shop standards were Van Halen’s “Eruption” or Kansas’s “Dust in the Wind” – yes, sadly the “No Stairway” bit in Wayne’s World is true.) Then you have to deal with a smarmy, often mustachioed fret-master trying to sell you a guitar … most times you swear you’d rather spend your time on a used-car parking lot.

Twin Town is a completely different experience. For instance, a few years back I was buying strings and said “the cheaper the better” to the guy behind the counter thinking I’d get a dirty look; he just smiled a knowing grin and said “of course!” I can never remember which exactly which strings my acoustic uses (I only play the thing occasionally – usually as relaxation while in front of the tube) except that they are “lights.” This year I remembered previously buying GHS Lights, so I strolled into the store and asked for those. But they were out. No problem – the dude asked me a few questions about my guitar and what kind of sound I liked. He asked what brand of guitar mine was and I had to think about if for a few seconds. I was about to say “Martin” and then remembered that those are the Cadillac of acoustic guitars. (I tell guitar-playing friends that “I own a Martin guitar … coffee mug.”) “Um, Mitchell,” I said, finally recalling my little scrappy gem of a Korean-made guitar I bought back in ’89 for $135. (Note: No Mitchell guitar site to link to that I can find – and no, I don’t own a Bil Mitchell.) Still expecting to get laughed out of the store, the guy just nodded and asked a few more questions. I ‘fessed up that I didn’t know much about my own guitar and he seemed cool with it. At some point I said: “'Uh, it's closer to the color of this one here rather than that one up on the wall ... I'm pretty sure ... yeah." He nodded and guided me along.

So I proceeded to buy a pack of D’Addario Lights that only cost six dollars and am amazed that the man spent that amount of time with me for six bucks. He looked me in the eye as we completed the transaction, tapped the strings packet on the counter, and said: “These are great strings – have a nice day.” Sweet! Twin Town, you’re the tops – see ya next year.

… And Black Ones

While crossing Lyndale on the way home from Twin Town, I nearly got run over by some crew-cut psychopath driving a Minneapolis Park Police truck. He was in a big hurry – I’m guessing to:

1) See a re-run of Cops on cable, or
2) Check out the hot bikini action at Lake Calhoun, or
3) Get to AnnaMarie’s bakery before they closed.

I’m still not sure what the Park Police does – I’ve always assumed they were somewhere between rent-a-cops and real ones – or if they are strapped with guns or billy clubs, so I called him “DICK!” but hedged my bet by yelling it a little too late.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Oh Yeah, I Have A Zine Also...

Exiled on Main Street #36 is now complete and has been mailed to print-version subscribers and the various members of the media that I'm kissing up to. You can find out how to order a copy by going to this webpage. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

When You Choke, You Turn Blue ... Then Purple

There's a new commercial on TV these days for Gatorade. (To see it, go to, click on the logo, then click on "The Gatorade Story" then on "The Legend Continues.") Narrated by the great Keith Jackson, it details how the University of Florida's coach passed on Gatorade (Florida Gators, get it?) to the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs in the 1969 season. As Jackson says, in the inflection that only he has:

Against the heavily-favored Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV, the Chiefs emerged victorious and the rest is history.

Neat little anecdote, but the commercial also flashes the final score of Super Bowl IV, which is: Chiefs 23, Vikings 7. Though in retrospect the commercial only implies that Gatorade led the Chiefs over the Vikings, all logical heads would realize that a sport drink is not responsible for a 16-point beating of a favored team. Remember, this is back in the NFL vs. AFL days - just a year after the New York Jets shocked the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl. It was up to the Vikings to restore the dignity of the mighty NFL in Super Bowl IV, but they failed - getting trounced by more than two touchdowns. (Leaving the Green Bay Packers as the only NFL team capable of winning - handily, in their case - NFL vs. AFL Super Bowls.)

Yep, the Gatorade commercial is ultimately just another reminder that the Minnesota Vikings are a decades-long, franchise-history team of chokers that cannot win the big one. Can't wait to see it again!

Monday, July 21, 2003

The New Man
Thank God I'm Old School

Page one of today's Pioneer Press's Express section was as baffling as it was chuckle-worthy.

Communications group Euro RSCG conducted a study that detected a segment of men who have been dubbed "metrosexuals": "Somewhere between a man who never clips his nose hairs and one who is so fastidious that his pedicures are booked a year in advance sits the metrosexual male. Sports section in hand, golf clubs/basketball/soccer ball at the ready, he can cook up a blow-your-socks-off pasta feast while discussing the merits of wines and wrenches with equal intensity."

Says advertising sales rep Randall Cross: "(They) probably use more exfoliating products than the guys 50 years ago." What in the world is an exfoliating product?

Says Marian Salzman of Euro RSCG: "Advertising right now treats men like buffoons." Help - we're being repressed! The ones who bother me are those buffoons in the Bud Light commercial who jump through hoops to take other people's Bud Light. Most beer drinkers run to the liquor store and stock up when their beer supply is running low, but the guys in these commercials scheme and plot and damn near die just to get one bottle of Bud Light.

Salzman continues: "It doesn't treat them like caring, sensitive co-parents and partners." Huh? What is a CO-parent? Is that like how "regardless" and "irregardless" mean the same thing?

Says the study's authors: "They're knowledgeable about clothes and - unlike the stereotype of the American male - they enjoy shopping for them." Who are these guys? Are they the ones who can wear vests and can get away with it?

The study also says: "38 percent consider themselves 'foodies.'" What is a "foodie"? And do they use exfoliating products to work their wonders in the kitchen?

Salzman again: "They wanted to partner with one lover and raise happy and healthy children as their key priorities." Partner with a lover? How romantic - I hope you share many core competencies and are able to successfully pull off your co-parenting duties.

The article concludes with the Salzman quote: "We heard the guys say, 'I want to be the best friend, the best lover and best shopping partner of my partner.'" One word to describe the metrosexual ... clingy. Or ... liar.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Robbie Says So...

Yes, while in Grand Forks last weekend I did touch 'em all. One man's holy trinity plus one:

- Engelstad Arena: Classsssy. Omigod this place is gorgeous. I could have spent an afternoon wondering the hallways, as this place doubles as a Sioux hockey museum with mucho photos on the walls complete with portraits and bios of all the Sioux All-Americans. The rink looks much cozier than on TV, plus it has leather seats with cupholders. In typical North Dakota fashion, the doors were wide open and I had my run of the place (plus there was summer hockey camp going on.) I was only there 30 minutes or so as I had to skedaddle to a high school reunion picnic. That night, I talked to classmates Paul and Bob, who had walked into the arena in the afternoon. Did you talk to the cop? They asked. No, I said, I ducked him. Yeah, we thought he was going to kick us out when he asked us what we were doing there; but he ended up giving us a tour of the lockerroom, weight room, Engelstad's box, etc.

- Space Cruise: Okay, a space cruise (as I learned from the Grafton Boys) is driving around in the country whilst drinking beer. Simple and silly yes, but relaxing as hell. Saturday afternoon I drove west and south of Grand Forks with Schlitz and my favorite Creedence record. Mock the flat farmland of North Dakota all you want, but nothing bothers you when you're under that big sky and can see over to the next county. Sigh.

- Whitey's: Not the same bar as the old days (the Flood of '97 took care of that), but pints of Premos were only $1.85 and the service was as always top-notch. I would have bought a teeshirt but the one I got at the El Roco hit the spot!

- The Red Pepper: I hate myself. I walked into this place after a couple of beers at Whitey's knowing I should order a ham grinder with taco meat, just like my college days (except it would have been after about five or six Schmidt/City bottles at Whitey's.) But my 37-year old self stepped in and ordered a half grinder. Half what? It was tasty as hell but went by way too fast. Never ever order a half grinder again, EVER. Who knows when you'll be back in the Forks again? As classmate Jens said about the Pepper: "Three stops there in twenty-four hours."

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Hey Pat Robertson:

FDR couldn't change the makeup of the Supreme Court, so what chance does God have?

You and Falwell should take your comedy routine on the road ... but who'd be the straight man?

Does Your Favorite Plainspoken President Have The Buck?

"The buck stops here." - Harry S. Truman.

"An American U-2 spy plane was shot down in the U.S.S.R. in May 1960. The Soviet Union captured the pilot, Francis Gary Powers, who confessed he was a spy. Eisenhower accepted personal responsibility for the flight. He admitted that U-2 planes had been flying over the U.S.S.R. taking photographs for four years." - The World Book Encylopedia on Ike.

"Mistakes were made." - Ronald Reagan on the Iran-Contra scandal.

"I can't recall." - The Great Communicator again on the same subject.

"I gave a speech to the nation that was cleared by the intelligence services." - George W. Bush.

Monday, July 14, 2003

... But The Little Boys Understand

The Basilica of St. Mary bumped Bob Schneider from their Block Party because his songs with his other band, the Scabs, contain profanity and references to oral and anal sex, abortion, and incest. Hmmmm. I was surprised the Basilica didn't handle this one in typical Catholic Church fashion: Keep the whole thing hush-hush and transfer Schneider to another parish.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Heading Out To The Highway

Friday morning I'm off to the homeland for my 20-year high school reunion. (Ten years ago everyone said "Bill - you look exactly the same!" but I got stiffed on winning the Least Changed award. Here's hoping I get some make-up votes this time around.) I'm playing the rock card heavy in the car in hopes that it gives the interstate a little pizzaz. The soundtrack:

AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Metallica - St. Anger
The White Stripes - Elephant
Sleater-Kinney - All Hands On The Bad One
Steve Earle - Transcendental Blues
Lifter Puller - Fiestas + Fiascos
The Electric Six - Fire
The Verve - Urban Hymns
Golden Smog - Down By The Old Mainstream
Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Cosmo's Factory
Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home

The Donnas Spend The Night and Rod Stewart's Gasoline Alley are handy in case I make a line-up change before heading out the door in the a.m.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Fast Times Selecting In-Your-Face Candidates

The Presidential Candidate Selector site (link sent to me via Chris at Incoming Signals) gave me the following results:

1. Kucinich, Cong. Dennis, OH - Democrat (100%)   
2. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (92%)   
3. Gephardt, Cong. Dick, MO - Democrat (86%)   
4. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat (85%)   
5. Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat (82%)   
6. Lieberman Senator Joe, CT - Democrat (79%)   
7. Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol, IL - Democrat (79%)   
8. Graham, Senator Bob, FL - Democrat (74%)   
9. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (69%)   
10. Libertarian Candidate (29%)   
11. Bush, George W. - US President (10%)   
12.  Phillips, Howard - Constitution (-2%)   
13.  LaRouche, Lyndon H. Jr. - Democrat (-7%)   

I took the test real quick-like, pretending I was answering questions over the phone with a pollster. I should manually adjust the results to demote Gephardt for his disdain for the Constitution. Plus, I'd bump Dean upward, mainly because the Strib described him as having an "in-your-face speaking style."

Those of you who know me have the misfortune of hearing me declare "in your face" at least a dozen times a day. I first learned the phrase from a classic episode of Hill Street Blues featuring Forest Whitaker as Floyd Green, who when asked why he had killed someone simply stated: "He was in my face." Whitaker, of course, also played Charles Jefferson in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, who prompted Mike Damone to utter another fave of mine: "Is that your little brother? He's a good-lookin' kid!"

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Carew Over Rose? Bet On It!

ESPN came up with their Ten Most Overrated Athletes Of All Time, and having Pete Rose at #8 brought me back to the days of yore (i.e. the early eighties when both players were active - they also played in the same era so head-to-head arguments can't be discounted) when I argued that Rod Carew was better than Rose. ESPN throws out stats that argue that Rose couldn't compare to Ty Cobb at the plate; I present to you these stats that show that Rose wasn't as splendid as Carew:

Rose: BA: .303, OBP: .375, SLG: .409, career high of 82 RBI, 198 SB

Carew: BA: .328, OBP: .393, SLG: .429, career high of 100 RBI, 353 SB
"Bring Them On" Said A Voice From Way, Way In the Back

The president challenged Iraqi miliants to attack U.S. troops:

"There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there," Bush told reporters at the White House. "My answer is 'bring them on'. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation."

Easy for someone who has never seen combat (and apparently couldn't finish his own duty) to say when he's halfway across the world in a secure, air-conditioned room.

(thanks to email acquitance Brent for pointing this one out.)