Evil Twin of William Jennings Bryan

But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Beckham Incident

I know its a topic that has been widely covered in the press, but as a fan who was at the game who needs to completely vent himself of his feelings on the issue and the sole editor/contributor to this blog, I am going to tackle the already well-documented incident from my point of view.

First of all, here are a series of articles that discuss various parts of "the incident" that I thought were particularly interesting.

AP Story (on CNNSI) that is one of the first to include Beckham's post-game comments.
Reuters: Boo Him Like Beckham, the American Dream is Over
Paul Oberjuerge: SB Sun writer has a take I agree with
Michael Ventre: doesn't seem to get it
Josh Peters: knew where to find "the jumper" - in a bar
New York Times: a good short history of past criticism of Beckham
LA Times: featuring yours truly
John Ireland gets it

On to the reading. Let me start by getting a few things out of the way. First, I am writing this as someone who sits with the Riot Squad. Despite what journalists have written, there is no such thing as a "member" of the Riot Squad. People sit with the Riot Squad or they don't. Having said that, I clearly do not speak for the Riot Squad or anyone in the Riot Squad even when I use the terms "we" and "us" and "our". In fact, despite the image that has been promoted in the press, the Riot Squad has become somewhat boring to me in the last year and I will likely be sitting with a different group frequently during the remainder of the season.

So how did we get here? Well. as you know, way back in 2007 the Galaxy signed GoldenBalls for what was then being called a 5-year/$250 million deal (most of the dough coming from endorsements). I said from day one that I would be happy to have him as long as he contributed more than a circus. Besides the motivation of the almighty dollar, back in 2007 Beckham was not seeing eye-to-eye with the manager at his current club, Real Madrid, and was out of the pool more-or-less in the eyes of then England coach Steve McClaren. So why not take the money, come to Hollywood with your starlet wife, and "save American soccer"? Despite the circus, it seemed like a good deal for all.

It went bad almost from the start. Based on the news stories and excerpts that I read about Grant Wahl's book The Beckham Experiment, it was clear from the start that Beckham and his handlers, 19 Entertainment, wanted more control over team operations than is standard in any sport. Wahl wrote about one conversation over dinner between Beckham, Landon Donovan and then coach Frank Yallop in which Donovan said "On successive days [Donovan] had met with Yallop and Galaxy president and general manager Alexi Lalas, and each had told him that "people above me" -- meaning Tim Leiweke, CEO of AEG, which owned the Galaxy -- thought Beckham should be the team captain." I want to make sure you get that. The management of the team was promoting the idea that Beckham should become captain from day one - no earning it, no player vote, not even the coach's decision outright. It gets worse. Wahl went on to say that "after a lunch at Beckham's house, the host stayed inside as Byrne [Beckham's best friend, manager and employee of 19 Entertainment] walked Lalas and Yallop onto the porch. 'What are you doing about the captaincy?' asked Byrne, who felt that Beckham should wear the armband as soon as he joined the team." According to this account, the plan to make Beckham captain came from his own people, not Galaxy management. It also became clear that they had their eyes on picking their own coach. Byrne was given a paid position with the Galaxy and their choice for coach, Ruud Gullit, was hired. Who made the announcement? You would guess general manager Alexi Lalas. Nope. Beckham's man Byrne, without himself being introduced to the team, told the players that this was their new coach.

To say that Ruud Gullit was a failure as a coach is like saying saying Barry Bonds was a failure at natural muscle development - a bit of an understatement. The Galaxy had a record of 6-8-5 under Gullit while allowing a league-worst forty goals in those nineteen games. In Wahl's book, he tells the story of Peter Vagenas going to Gullit with a complaint that all they did in training was 11v11 scrimmaging, no training on things like set pieces. Wahl points out that this was the point where Pete began to ride the bench. Come August, Gullit "resigned" and Lalas was fired along with Beckham's buddy Byrne. It was also at this point that Beckham seemed to stop giving his all to the team.

Let's skip to this year. The Galaxy had made the playoffs in the first ten years of their existence, but have failed to do so in the last three. Meanwhile, as I mentioned previously, Beckham is back in the mix for England's squad going to World Cup 2010 and it has been made clear to him by England Coach Fabio Cappello that he expected Beckham to be "playing in a far better standard of football than in Major League Soccer" and he was off too AC Milan on a loan deal to play for them during the Galaxy's off-season.

Here's where I began to lose him. Shortly after joining the Rossoneri Beckham made it clear that he wanted to stay. I made it clear that I was OK with that. The Galaxy made a deal for Beckham to stay in Milan on loan until the end of their season. That, of course, went about halfway into the Galaxy's season. This is why the Riot Squad went after Beckham on Sunday. It had very little, if anything at all, to do with the quality of play that he brought to the team.

So what happened Sunday night? I'm assuming you've heard several versions of this, but I am giving you my view of what happened. From the moment Beckham stepped onto the pitch for warm-ups, the Riot Squad made t clear what they felt about him. The most common criticism came in the form of the song "Who the fuck is David Beckham?" to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. I joined a little at first, but I have no interest in chanting against anyone wearing the Galaxy colors. Some people in the front of the section were "giving him the business" especially hard. Its these people, two in particular, that drew Beckham's attention just before halftime. When Ronaldinho (who will be playing for the Galaxy in the next two years) went to retrieve the ball Beckham smiled and rolled it to him, possibly making a comment. Now, I thought nothing of it, but clearly these two did and made comments about playing the game and not being friendly to the opposition - especially since Beckham had just finished a stint with this same team and had made it clear that he wanted to go back. After Ronaldinho took the corner and halftime was called, Beckham approached the stands pointing at these two and yelled something. Nobody that was further from Beckham by more than 20 feet could hear what he actually said. In any case, words were exchanged and Josh jumped onto the dirt at field level and went to confront Beckham. He was, of course, tackled by security and pinned down while Beckham left the field.

At this point we have different stories. Beckham claims that he was simply trying to shake hands. As I stated in my e-mail to the LA Times, that is nothing short of a complete lie. He clearly came with angry intentions. If you watch the video you will not see a handshake offered until Josh was already pinned to the ground.

Here's what I think happened. Becks wanted the Riot Squad to shut up and thought that if he challenged someone to "man up" and that person did not then he could call us cowards (more like pussies I assume) and he would win the battle. I'm sure he was stunned to see someone accept his invitation and thought of the handshake as a way to show that he was innocent. As you can also see in this video, his language was far from innocent and his intention was never a handshake.

The fallout is this: The fan, Josh, was banned for life from the Home Depot Center. However, since I started this long post, the ban has been lifted at the request of the Galaxy. Beckham refused to apologize for his actions and went as far to say that its the "other people that have to change" and not him. He also said that his concern was about his sons hearing that type of thing. from the luxury box next to Tom Cruise his kids would only have heard the boos, which they have to be used to by now. MLS fined Beckham $1,000, which I think would be like fining me about a buck and a quarter. Kind of bullshit, but the symbolism is more important than the amount. Also, Beckham has another confrontation with a fan in Kansas City after which he called that fan and the Riot Squad a "disgrace".

In the end, I imagine most fans around the US and certainly a large number around the world really see Beckham as the disgrace. A professional athlete needs to expect that he will be boo'd and heckled at some point in their career. Beckham has seen himself hung in effigy, has had people wish cancer on his sons, and even had a bullet sent to him with his son's name engraved. Maybe he expected it from English fans who are used to seeing the world's best players and don't consider him special, but thought that his magic Goldenballs would make us forgive him instantly. Although the teenage girls and soccer moms would gladly offer their first born to get him to sign their brand-new jersey, the real fans know better.

For my part, I am done wasting my breath on this guy. I wanted to vent, and I've done it. It is my policy to not cheer against someone wearing my team's colors. I feel that although David Beckham brings a lot of talent to the Galaxy, he does not care about the success of this team. He will likely be gone by the end of the season. If he helps us win the cup you will not find a happier fan than I (outside of the money that I will need to spend on adding a new tattoo for this title). Wherever he goes, however, I hope he and that team fail miserably.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

After a long hiatus

I have a few things to say that have been building up in my brain over the last 3 months without a post.

First, I blame Facebook for taking me away from blogging. Its easier, more interactive, and more trendy I guess. However, I've set up my phone so that I can now mobile blog. Of course, I can also mobile Facebook, so who knows.

David Beckham. Douche. Now, I looked at two bookstores last night trying to get the new book about him, but had no luck. I did, however, read some longer excerpts online. What's my conclusion based on those excerpts? He's a douche. He clearly came to the Galaxy and MLS looking for a paycheck since his chances at playing for England were down to slim and none. Once those chances came back with a new English coach, all of a sudden he's not as interested in making MLS big. Also, it became very clear to me that "Brand Beckham" became his top priority. His manager became a "consultant" for the Galaxy, they basically hand-picked a new coach, and more-or-less demanded that Beckham be handed the captain's armband from the outset. Once the team began to suck even with GoldenBalls, his hand-picked manager was sent away along with the "consultant". From there Fuckhim was no longer interested in playing for the Galaxy. His first season was a disaster. Season #2 was just as bad. For eleven seasons the Galaxy made the playoffs and won two MLS Cups. Since Beckham's arrival? No playoffs and no cups. He's clearly still a strong player. The team should be better with his than without him. They certainly looked good on Thursday. However, that was win #4 in a row, the three previous without him, and it was against the worst team in the league. So, I think he's a douche. If he helps us win a cup this year - awesome. Otherwise, he clearly wants out after this season so as far as I'm concerned I'll be happy when the circus is over.

There are a lot of good things that I have bought lately that I highly recommend. Most of them are at Trader Joe's. The edamame in the blue bag is one of the best healthy snacks ever. Lightly salted, flavorful, delicious. I also highly recommend the "Old Moon" Zinfandel. Its not a knock-your-socks-off wine, but its a great every day drinker at $6. We also dig the Shredded Oats cereal. Not sugary, but still slightly sweet. It'll also keep you full for a while. Amanda also loves the quick-cook steel cut oats. She throws some blueberries in there along with some agave syrup. Amanda has also become a big fan of caffeine-free Diet Dr. Pepper. Finally, Trader Joe's soy chorizo is really good with eggs and not as greasy as real chorizo.

What else? We are going camping at the end of August. What's the best camping meal ever? I think it would have to be something easy to put together with limited dishes, filling, easy to serve, and made with ingredients that don't require special care (i.e. can be stuffed into a cooler). I know that there are a lot of obvious ones like spaghetti and BBQ. I'm looking for that unique idea. I went camping with a friend's family back in the day and we made something called "hobo packs". You took some kind of meat (chicken, hamburger patty) and put in on a piece of foil. Add some seasoning and veggies. Throw them in the campfire for 10 minutes and you have cooked food. I thought it was awesome. I also want to know what the best camping alcoholic drink is. I usually go with a light mass-produced American beer in large amounts throughout the day and maybe some kind of red wine at night. However, I have also gone the gin-and-tonic route as well.

Books. The last book I finished was "King Leopold's Ghost" which is about Belgian King Leopold and his quest for a colony in the Congo. It was one of the best written non-fiction books that I have read since "Theodore Rex". Its not a happy story in case you were wondering. I also just started Barack Obama's first book "Dreams of My Father". Um, he's way too smart to want to be president. Its really well written and has given me a new insight into how this guy works. I like that he wrote it before his rise to the presidency. I am also going to start "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies". I never read the original Pride and Prejudice, but I still expect to enjoy this book. I like these sort of satirical novels. I really liked "Lamb" and "Fool" by Christopher Moore. They were full of dirty jokes that play to the humor of a thirteen year-old boy, which my wife says is my type of humor. As I look to my bookshelf there are about 25 more books that I own that I never read. OK, its more than 25, but I don't want to admit to more than that.

I'm sure that there were more things that I wanted to talk about, but I forget. Maybe I'll do some mobile blogging next week. Also, I'm done with summer school after this week. That's a whole other subject. Summer school is the best and worst way to make extra money as a teacher.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I wrote about this a few years back, but today marks the 20th anniversary of the tragedy at Hillsborough where 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives. I will re-post what I wrote last time.

"On April 15th, 1989, Liverpool FC were set to play Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup Semi-final at Hillsborough, the stadium normally home to Sheffield Wednesday. As was custom during that decade, Liverpool fans were separated from Forest fans by fences, especially on the terraces (the cheapest section where there were no actual seats, just concrete floors and some rails). As gametime appraoched, more than 5000 Liverpool fans were still trying to enter the grounds. Instead of delaying the start of the game, police opened another gate, allowing a flood of fans to enter the terraces, crushing many of the fans that had already entered. The game was postponed, and after more than 10 minutes, a gate was opened allowing fans to escape onto the pitch (field). Once the section was emptied, there was a total of 95 Liverpool fans that had been crushed or trampled to death, and one fan died several years later after being in a persistent vegetative state.

Since the Hillsborough tragedy, stadiums have gotten rid of the terraces in favor of actual seating."

As I said before, I am a season ticket holder for the LA Galaxy and have attended around 150 professional and international games in the last 10 years or so. I get so much pleasure out of watching the beautiful game, the camaraderie that I share with my fellow fans, and just the time outdoors having food and drink (mostly drink). Its hard for me to imagine a game that I have come to love so much bringing so much pain to so many.

In their honor, I post the names of those that lost their lives that day:

You'll Never Walk Alone
John Alfred Anderson (62) Thomas Howard (39)
Colin Mark Ashcroft (19) Thomas Anthony Howard (14)
James Gary Aspinall (18) Eric George Hughes (42)
Kester Roger Marcus Ball (16) Alan Johnston (29)
Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron (67) Christine Anne Jones (27)
Simon Bell (17) Gary Philip Jones (18)
Barry Sidney Bennett (26) Richard Jones (25)
David John Benson (22) Nicholas Peter Joynes (27)
David William Birtle (22) Anthony Peter Kelly (29)
Tony Bland (22) Michael David Kelly (38)
Paul David Brady (21) Carl David Lewis (18)
Andrew Mark Brookes (26) David William Mather (19)
Carl Brown (18) Brian Christopher Mathews (38)
David Steven Brown (25) Francis Joseph McAllister (27)
Henry Thomas Burke (47) John McBrien (18)
Peter Andrew Burkett (24) Marion Hazel McCabe (21)
Paul William Carlile (19) Joseph Daniel McCarthy (21)
Raymond Thomas Chapman (50) Peter McDonnell (21)
Gary Christopher Church (19) Alan McGlone (28)
Joseph Clark (29) Keith McGrath (17)
Paul Clark (18) Paul Brian Murray (14)
Gary Collins (22) Lee Nicol (14)
Stephen Paul Copoc (20) Stephen Francis O'Neill (17)
Tracey Elizabeth Cox (23) Jonathon Owens (18)
James Philip Delaney (19) William Roy Pemberton (23)
Christopher Barry Devonside (18) Carl William Rimmer (21)
Christopher Edwards (29) David George Rimmer (38)
Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons (34) Graham John Roberts (24)
Thomas Steven Fox (21) Steven Joseph Robinson (17)
Jon-Paul Gilhooley (10) Henry Charles Rogers (17)
Barry Glover (27) Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton (23)
Ian Thomas Glover (20) Inger Shah (38)
Derrick George Godwin (24) Paula Ann Smith (26)
Roy Harry Hamilton (34) Adam Edward Spearritt (14)
Philip Hammond (14) Philip John Steele (15)
Eric Hankin (33) David Leonard Thomas (23)
Gary Harrison (27) Patrik John Thompson (35)
Stephen Francis Harrison (31) Peter Reuben Thompson (30)
Peter Andrew Harrison (15) Stuart Paul William Thompson (17)
David Hawley (39) Peter Francis Tootle (21)
James Robert Hennessy (29) Christopher James Traynor (26)
Paul Anthony Hewitson (26) Martin Kevin Traynor (16)
Carl Darren Hewitt (17) Kevin Tyrrell (15)
Nicholas Michael Hewitt (16) Colin Wafer (19)
Sarah Louise Hicks (19) Ian David Whelan (19)
Victoria Jane Hicks (15) Martin Kenneth Wild (29)
Gordon Rodney Horn (20) Kevin Daniel Williams (15)
Arthur Horrocks (41) Graham John Wright (17)

As my annual tribute to those 96 fans who lost their lives, I will post their names and ages here:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Where I ask for money

OK, here's the deal. As most of you know, I am a teacher. As most of you also know, I am a teacher in Los Angeles. As I'm guessing most of you know, LAUSD is going broke. Therefore, I have turned to an alternate source trying to get some resources for my classroom.

There is a website called "Donors Choose" where teachers can submit needs for school supplies and let donors from wherever donate towards the cause. Its a safe way to help out schools because you know exactly where your money is going.

Editor's note: I was given a matching grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for this request. If you give now, they will match your donation.

In any case, I am looking to get a class set of Thomas Friedman's book "Hot, Flat, and Crowded" to use for my Economics class. Not only is it a really good book, but it also gives outstanding examples of Economic concepts such as incentives, tradeoffs, costs/benefits, markets, demand & supply, etc. AND it talks a lot about globalization and the environment. If you follow this link, you can donate to the cause. Right now I only have $100 of the $978 I need to cover the cost of the books, shipping, etc. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. If I don't get all of the money by July 16th then you can give your money to someone else. (I know, its a kind of crappy system, but maybe I can get another smaller request up to donate towards).

Don't be afraid to e-mail me if you have a question. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Green beer and gangrene

OK, so I'm not going to write about gangrene, but it fits the day better and you'll find that its not far off the actual topic.

First, Happy St. Patrick's Day. I will be enjoying a pint or two of Murphy's at home tonight waiting for my wife to come home from her final. And, yes, I prefer Murphy's to Guinness. I know that sounds blasphemous, but whatever.

Here's the green White House fountain:

Second, I read a really interesting article today about universal health care. The key quote is "No one should face financial ruin because of a mishap with a fork and an avocado" and it makes great sense to me.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

addendum to previous post

Three things I wanted to add. First,

Best New (to me) restaurant experience: Fatty's. Its a vegetarian restaurant in Eagle Rock. We both had really good filling dinners that were reasonably priced along with the most ridiculous chocolate cake ever called the "fudgie." They also have a really cool and wallet friendly wine-list. Half-glasses, half bottles, full bottles, lots of organic and biodynamic wines. Highly recommended.

Overrated movie. The Reader. Intriguing story, good acting. However, it didn't leave me with that "wow" feeling that I expect from on Oscar movie. Slumdog did that. Kate Winslett was good, but not great in my view. Maybe the Oscar was more of a "you've been so good in so many films that you deserve this" type of thing. I'm not saying that she was bad, but just not mind-blowing. She did, however, spend a large part of the movie naked.

Craziest shit I ever saw: The guys in this video. I am afraid of some very lame things. They jump off of cliffs and fly around in wingsuits. I suck.

wingsuit base jumping from Ali on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Best/Worst of February

Worst over-exaggerating right-wing website: Drudge Report. There is sometimes worth new items on this site, but for the most part Matt Drudge or his staff post items that are way overblown or completely false. As I write, the headline is "Is it Something He Said?" underneath a chart showing the declining value of the Dow Jones average. (Ed. Note: after writing this I found another reference to Drudge's trend here) It couldn't possibly have anything to do with the general policy of de-regulation under the last administration. It must be a speech that outlines the plan of recovery that surveys have shown are generally approved by the public. Also featured are articles about how Joe Biden forgot the name of the recovery website and how Keith Olbermann said "Oh God" just before Jindal's response to Obama's speech. Check the video on that to see what you really think.

Worst GOP response to a presidential address: Bobby Jindal. It felt like Sesame Street. I hope his policies are better than his speaking ability or this guy's presidential hopes are not looking good.

Worst? Best? surprise package: My Something Store Purchase. So I got a wire stripper/cutter. Its actually pretty useful and way better than a pouch made of zippers, which seems to be the most common gift.

Best TV Show new to me. Flight of the Choncords. I briefly checked it out early in its run, but maybe caught a bad two minutes. I freakin' love this show - specifically the songs.

Worst Movie News: Ghostbusters 3. I'm going with no on this one.

Best Podcast of the Month: BBC's 5 Live Football Daily. Daily soccer news quick and to the point. Really enjoyable.

Best Podcast change: Sections of TotN. NPR's Talk of the Nation Podcast is now broken up into sections, one for each topic. It lets you decide which ones you want to hear. Brilliant.

Worst radio show to disappear: Tom Leykis. I sort of liked his show back when it was on AM. Once it was on FM it turned into the same thing everyday: Tom talking about how to get laid and callers bragging about getting laid. Lame. Good riddance.

Worst news: Radio is dying. Indie 103.1 is gone. 97.1 Talk is now Disney-pop. What's next. Not satellite. Their subscriptions are also down. And I'm not paying for radio.

Best Sports Tournament: UEFA Champions League. You take the top teams from all of the European leagues and have them compete against each other. Sure, there are pitfalls, but it never fails to produce excitement. Usually it comes down to mostly English, Spanish, and Italian teams, but Germany and even Portugal sneak in once in a while. My Mighty Reds Liverpool FC beat superstar central Real Madrid yesterday with a goal by Israeli international Yossi Benayoun in the 82nd minute.

Best news for me, Worst news for him: Landon Donovan's stay at Bayern Munich in Germany doesn't seem to be working out. He wasn't even on the bench yesterday for their 5-0 thrashing of Sporting Lisbon. Sucks for him, awesome for the Galaxy.

Worst Lose-Lose situation: David Beckham. He wants to stay in Italy. I want him to stay in Italy. It looks increasingly unlikely that it will happen. Nothing like having $250 million worth of a player who would rather be somewhere else. Fact is he contributed little to the Galaxy outside of shirt and ticket sales.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


So there is an internet store called the Something Store. You send them $10 and they send you something. What you get is new and may be worth a dollar or a lot more than $10. You just don't know.

Well, I had about $12 sitting in my PayPal account and no idea what else I would do with it, so I ordered "something" and I am excited about what I might get. However, I am likely to be disappointed. The one thing I dread is a pouch covered in zippers that seems to be the most common gift.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Real American Art

Best/Worst of January

I just want to talk about some of the things I liked and disliked in January.

Best Food. We went to dinner at Red, White and Bluezz in Pasadena. It was super good. Had venison with a sour cherry reduction sauce. Really good wine list. Pricey, but recommended.

Best new President. Barack Obama. Yeah, I sound like a dork saying it again and he had very little competition in this category, but I am pretty amped about the possibilities.

Worst website that I check out almost every day. Drudge Report. I just can't get over how ridiculous this guy is. If you go there right now I am willing to guess that at least one headline is completely blown out of proportion. And he loves pointing out when its really cold in places despite our claims of global warming, which only points out that he doesn't know the difference between weather and climate.

Worst state. California. Money is withheld from my paycheck so I can pay taxes at the end of the year. California spent it and will be sending me in IOU. Will they pay penalties and interest like I would have to if I didn't pay? Not likely. At least we have the highest paid state legislature in the country.

Best new (to me) bar. The York. White people are sometimes scared to enter Highland Park. Yeah, I said it. Well, it is not only home to possibly the best Taco Truck in Los Angeles, but also hosts The York. Good beer. Good food. Attractive and very nice bartenders. Best jukebox selections in history. And most important - not a scene.

Worst weather. Southern California. I know the East coasters will get all pissy about this, but I have a bit of a problem with 80+ in January. OK, its not that big of a problem and I know this is why my house cost so much, but still. A little cold would be nice.

Best book. I read 2.5 books in January and they were actually all good. Pasadena's One City One Story book this year is Luis Alberto Urrea's The Hummingbird's Daughter. Interesting story, really well written. Also read The Watchmen. Too much naked blue guy, but excited about the movie. Still working on Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat and Crowded. I've been marking interesting or great ideas with little post-it flags. I have around 40 things marked so far. Great read.

Best Tax Software. Dude, I love Turbo Tax. It makes my life sooooooo easy. Got the whole thing done in like an hour.

Best TV. If you haven't gone flatscreen HD yet you really need to. The picture is so much better and it just takes up less space. Don't feel the pressure to go all out and get the monster 60"+ model, you don't need it to appreciate the clarity. I went with the 32" Toshiba and its perfect. Everyone said that no matter what I bought I would wish I had got one a little bigger, but I'm just not feeling that. (However, if you have the $$$, by all means get a big-ass TV)

Best Christmas gift. This counts for January because I started using it in January. Amanda got me a new Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle. Its awesome. Holds 40 ounces and doesn't get all musty and gross like the nalgene bottle. Stop wasting plastic and get one.

Ed. Note: I edited a part of this post after publishing it since there was some offense taken at one remark. That's why it looks different. I apologize if offense was taken, none was intended.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Super Bowl gluttony

For those of you looking for the perfect Super Bowl snack, I offer these two options courtesy of an e-mail that my dad sent me.

First, the Snack Stadium. Nearly 25,000 calories of food that should not go together. Bacon, twinkies, and guacamole? Questionable.

Second, I present to you the bacon explosion. Its a very simple recipe that only involves bacon, Italian sausage, BBQ sauce, and seasoning - which I guess gives you a clue to its pure meatiness. You really need to go to the link to see all of the pictures to really appreciate this one.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

my love for America continually diminishes

I thought that after the Wal-Mart shopping death, the frequent occurrences of fights at Chuck E. Cheese, and the PlayMobil Airport Security Check toy I had reached an all-time low in my respect for my fellow Americans. Well, I was wrong. On Kevin and Bean the other morning they talked to the guy who originally came up with the idea for UFC Ultimate Fighting. After selling his idea for practically nothing before it became a billion-dollar industry, he needed to come up with something new. X-Arm. Basically, its arm-wrestling, but you can kick and punch each other. You win by accumulating pins or by knocking the other guy out. Its just as bad as it sounds.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A new toy for a new generation

I have a couple of cousins who used to collect Playmobil toys back in the day. You know what I am talking about - the little plastic characters with C-shaped hands and interchangeable hairpieces? (Basically the upper-end version of lego I think). Well, those two have grown up now and will lose out on the opportunity to own this:

The Playmobil Security Checkpoint. This alone is not terribly funny and I know that. Click on the link and read the reviews and you'll see why I posted this.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Something I came across

I was reading a soccer message board this morning and people were posting pics of their first cars (its a Galaxy message board and we're in the off-season so we talk about other random stuff. So, here is a picture of something very close to my first car - a '77 Dodge Van.

The only differences between the van in these pictures and the van that my brother and I shared are that our van had a ladder on the back and large windows on the side. Ours was the same devastatingly awesome red-orange paint, had the same wood paneling on the inside of the doors, same brown/yellow shag carpet, and you could set up a bed in the back.

We had a lot of fun in that van. We had it off the ground a few times, got pulled over by the Border Patrol once, dragged 10+ people to Del Taco at lunch during high school, slept in it many times, took it camping, amongst other things.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last post of the year

2008 has come and gone and we still don't have flying cars. However, 2009 looks promising. Not for flying cars, but at least for some positive change: New president, World Cup Qualifying matches, Liverpool leading the EPL, lower gas prices, large hadron collider, etc.

I also need to make some positive changes. Less weight, less TV, more reading, more vegetables, more cleaning (the same promises I make every year), but I feel a renewed sense of motivation to meet my goals. A new house will force me off the couch to make repairs and improvements. Although I just bought a new TV, I am growing weary of reality TV and most sitcoms blow. In the moving process I also realized just how many unread books I have. Got to get on that.

My predictions for 2009:
1. The U.S. will easily qualify for World Cup 2010 - in the process beating Mexico in Mexico City for the first time.
2. 20% less Jeff.
3. economic recovery starting around October
4. Gas prices back up to at least $2.75
5. the fall of one major authoritarian government (Russia, Iran, Venezuela, or some other oil-based authoritarian rule). Yes, I know that calling these leaders authoritarian is a stretch, but its the best we got.
6. Famous/celebrity deaths: O.J., Hugh Hefner, Amy Winehouse, Ernest Borgnine, Ted Stevens
7. A record number of species go extinct, including one major (tiger, polar bear, Asian elephant)
8. One of the country's major newspapers will shut down (L.A. Times, Washington Post, etc.)

I know that some of these are pretty general, but I'm not pulling some Nostradamus bullshit and being all cryptic so I can claim that my prediction came true no matter what happens. Plus, some of my predictions are more like things that I fear are coming true.

In any case, enjoy the new year. Do something good this year.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Americans are assholes

I have hated Wal-Mart for a very long time. Although the number one issue fueling this hatred has always been their treatment of employees, the annoying people who shop there come in a close second.

They may have switched places yesterday.

In case you haven't read this yet, a man was killed yesterday at a Wal-Mart in the Long Island area. No, he wasn't robbed and killed in the parking lot, or crushed by a collapsing roof panel, but he was trampled to death by the people rushing in at 5am to do their Christmas shopping. Apparently they could not wait long enough for him to get the doors open and broke through the partially open doors. According to the story, they also trampled other Wal-Mart employees trying to help the dying man. Along with the death, one pregnant woman was trampled, causing her to miscarry.

What for? A cheap TV? A discount XBox? A $9 Hulk DVD? Well, if this video has anything to say about it, people have clearly let their material possessions become more important than the people around them.

Who is to blame for this? Certainly Wal-Mart at some level. They, along with every other store hype the super deals on Black Friday, only to offer a few products at that price. This definitely contributes to the frenzy. The news gets a little piece as well, as they add to the hype of Black Friday shopping. And I guess you have to blame the 2000 idiots lined up at Wal-Mart at 5am.

How do we stop it? Maybe we can't. I guarantee Wal-Mart will get sued a few times for this. The first article says that police are looking to identify the people that trampled the man and 4 other injured customers. Maybe $100 million from Wal-Mart and a couple of 20-year sentences will get people to think a little differently.

Although I highly doubt it. That's why we are assholes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The numbers of moving

8 incompetent Sears employees that I dealt with.
2 things that the plumber broke while trying to fix something else
4 times paying more than the original estimate
1 new home that I love
1 mortgage that is way more than rent
0 more months throwing money away to rent
12 gallons of paint
2 wax rings for the toilet (one that was the wrong size)
3 times laughing silently when I said the word "caulk"
6 hours letting other people move our stuff for us
29 days of anticipation from closing escrow to moving in
55 things I will do differently next time that I buy
8 people who we will ever be thankful to for helping us paint
4000 dollars worth of new wood flooring
1 patio that will be awesome in the spring
923 times being called "boss" by someone in the service industry
1 father-in-law who bravely climbed onto a jerry-rigged scaffold to paint one foot of wall
10 hours spent trying to take up tile (worst job ever - worse than jizz-mopper)
17 trips to various hardware stores (Home Depot, Ace, Lowe's, OSH)
97 cents in change found in the couch cushions
1 previous owner who clearly took no pride in ownership (which helped our price)
2 great views
countless hours of labor
zero regrets

Friday, November 14, 2008

A couple of things

Two things I want to mention:

First, if you are an opponent to the recently passed California Proposition 8 then I suggest that you tune in tonight to the Fox"News" program Hannity and Colmes. The rector of my church, Ed Bacon, will be on tonight to talk about Prop 8.

Second, I want to congratulate a good friend of mine, Jose Navarro, on being named one of five California State Teachers of the Year. He deserves that award more than anyone I know. He works tirelessly for our students and I've certainly learned a lot from him. It also highlights the impossibility of my job. Every 11th grade student he has moves on to my class in the 12th grade. I have to follow after the state teacher of the year. No pressure there.

Ben Affleck does a pretty good Keith Olbermann:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


In December 2006 I was traveling to an economics conference in Wichita, Kansas. During my travels, I read Barack Obama's Audacity of Hope. Having read it, I found myself completely sold on ideas that seemed fair, just, and just plain common sense. It was then that I knew that I could support his run for the presidency.

Words can't describe how proud I am to be American today. I can't wait for inauguration day.

"And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand."

My pride in California, however, has taken a huge hit. Let's hope the numbers on Prop 8 change in the next few hours.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

funny cartoons

During this last year I have had the pleasure of working with a really fun art teacher at my school. Although she is now a high school art teacher, she was formerly an animator for the Simpsons amongst other well-known cartoons. Her husband continues to direct episodes of Family Guy.

In any case, she turned me on to this really cool animator named Don Hertzfeldt. Below is the first Hertzfeldt cartoon that she showed me. Its simple but awesome.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Notes on the Race #7

I was talking with my wife last weekend about why I like Obama's tax plan a lot better than McCain's. In my explanation, I mentioned how often people in the upper tax brackets forget that, although maybe their hard work got them the success that they well deserve, that they need the people below them to fuel that success. In last night's debate, the two candidates got bogged down forever talking about Joe the plumber (who, by the way, is not a licensed plumber). Joe and McCain insisted that Obama's tax plan was going to punish average guys like Joe for being successful. In the actual conversation that Obama had with Joe the (not) Plumber, he said this:

"For folks like me who have worked hard, but frankly also been lucky, I don't mind paying just a little bit more than the waitress that I just met over there who's -- things are slow and she can barely make the rent.

My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody. If you've got a plumbing business, you're going to be better off if you've got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you, and right now everybody's so pinched that business is bad for everybody, and I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

What a novel fucking idea. Look out for the other guy - not just yourself. In the current "What's in it for me" era, we often forget that there are other people around who need help. PEOPLE. HUMANS. Some need help because they never got it from their parents or family. Why not help them a bit? Some got their by making a few mistakes. Why not give them a second chance? That seems like a big teaching of Christianity. What might come of this help for the other guy? Maybe, just maybe, you'll benefit in turn.

As McCain continues to push for privatization of everything and rails against any kind of government help, let's remember that there are some who don't have the knowledge or experience to handle their own retirement. Let's remember that the government saved our economy in the 1930s (and 2008), which is not a bad thing. Maybe we should look into solving our problems together instead of always going it on our own.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Notes on the Race #6

OK, so it has been a while since I said that I would write more after the debates. Here's my less-than-five-sentence review of the VP debates and the TownHall debate with Obama and McCain: Sarah Palin would be a good debater if she knew what she was talking about. Joe Biden did a good job not looking like a sexist while still showing that he knows way more than her. The TownHall debate, my friends, was boring. I hope Wednesday is better.

On to other matters.

1. A bipartisan legislative panel found that Sarah Palin indeed abused her power as governor when she fired the Alaska Public Safety Commissioner. If you haven't read about it before, she pressured the commissioner to fire a trooper that was her former brother-in-law. She not only violated ethics rules, but she also lied about violating ethics rules.

2. The poll numbers really don't look good for McCain. (Note: I still think that national poll numbers don't really show what will happen on election night.) The numbers that I prefer deal with electoral predictions. Those numbers look worse.

3. How does the saying go? You reap what you sew. McCain is finding out what happens when you fan the flames of fear and hate.

Here are some videos of McCain supporters in line to get into one of his rallies:

And one from a rally where the supporter scolds McCain:

Yesterday McCain finally had to deal with the monster he created:

I give McCain some credit for finally telling his own supporters that they are wrong, but this was only after a week of pushing these ideas on them. Once you decide to turn to fear over issues, you have a problem in your campaign. When the Secret Service has to investigate death threats directed towards your opponent coming from your supporters at one of your rallies - you have a really big problem.

4. Finally, in the scariest story of the day, sharks are reproducing asexually. I was sure that the big animal takeover would be led by monkeys, but my fears may have been misdirected. However, an even bigger fear would be a monkey-shark alliance.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Notes on the Race #5

Just a quick on tonight. More after the debates.

1. McCain suspends (but not actually suspends, just says that he does) his campaign to deal with the economic crisis. Two things about this: 1. Nobody's buying this. The poll numbers were down and he needed something to give him a boost. Palin is losing her popularity so he needs a new "hail mary" to get him back in the news. I don' think that worked out for him. 2. Really? Do presidents get to call time out when there are too many crisis to deal with?

2. I am done telling people to vote for Obama. You heard me right. There's nothing more I can say about Obama that the undecided voters don't know. My new focus is to get people to not vote for McCain. My number one argument? Sarah Palin.

Here's my favorite clip from her interview with Katie Couric (who is well known for hard-hitting interviews...right?)

And here's Jack Cafferty's take on Palin (with another clip from the interview)

It should be easy to tell why Jack Cafferty is a hero in the Austin/Kimball household.

How can you watch those clips and honestly vote for McCain knowing that: (a) he chose her, (b) she could easily become president, and (b) she's even too dangerous as vice-president? I really, really, really need to talk to a full-on Republican that can tell me why McCain is still the best choice.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Great dancers

You need to stick around for this one, but I feel that its worth it.

This one, however, is short and to the point. And funny.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Notes on the Race #4

1. How is it possible that people still consider McCain a good candidate while we are facing this tremendous economic crisis? People - he admitted not knowing much about economics!

2. Weird article about Sarah Palin's husband Todd. No, its not about his personal life, but how he more or less inserted himself into the Alaska state government through his wife.

3. The news keeps showing us national presidential polls despite the fact that the national vote doesn't matter. Its called the electoral college. Look it up.

4. Want to know more legitimate election numbers? This is a good site.

5. Michigan Republicans may look to block many people from voting because they lost their homes to foreclosure, thus ending their residency at those addresses. Nice.

6. Sarah Palin bought a tanning bed with her own money to use in the Alaskan Governor's mansion. How is that news?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin

We all knew it would be awesome. Check it out.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Notes on the Race #3

First, I enjoyed these Obama pics. Amanda actually had the idea for the first one early in the primaries. Yes, they are corny, but I like them.

Second, in case you wanted some real numbers on comparing the Obama tax plan with the McCain tax plan, then check out this article. It has this easy-to-read graph. The short version is rich people aren't going to benefit from Obama, but how many of them were going to vote Democrat anyways?

Finally, I can't believe the hub-bub over the pig/lipstick comment. How often does McCain want to show his desperation?

Remember to vote.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Notes on the Race #2

OK, so Amanda and I were watching McCain give his acceptance/attack/no details speech the other night and she asked what the building in the picture behind him was. I said that I thought it was one of his seven giant houses. Here's the picture:

They did a similar thing with Giuliani having the New York skyline behind him. I thought that it was weird that they would put this giant mansion behind him when they have been trying to paint Obama as the elitist. However, once again I was wrong. It was supposed to be Walter Reed Medical Center. I say "supposed to be" because it was actually Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood. Good job.

Numbers. I also saw an article that talks about voter registration numbers in the last 3-8 months. In all but one of the states that he could find information for, the Democrats got more new registrants than the Republicans. In some cases, it was WAY more. The only state with more new Republicans? Alaska. The New York Times confirms this trend going back a few years.

John McCain likes women enough to marry one and to choose one as his running mate, but not enough to vote for equal-pay legislation. Let me explain. I was outraged earlier this year by the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Ledbetter vs. Goodyear in which 5 of the 9 justices ruled against Lilly Ledbetter. She was suing Goodyear Tire Company because she found out that for 19 years they had paid her significantly less then every other person in her position - she was the only female. Although she was awarded $3 million in the original lawsuit, Goodyear won on appeal because she sued after the 180-day waiting period. Here's the deal: you have to sue within 180 days of the specific act of discrimination. According to the law, she could have sued within 180 days of every paycheck. However, she didn't find out within that 180-day period. So the bastards at Goodyear win. And McCain doesn't want to fix it. He didn't even show up to vote. The bill passed the House, but Republicans in the Senate vowed to filibuster and the Democrats didn't have enough votes to stop them. McCain has stated that he would have voted against the bill.

What do Franki Valli, Orleans, Heart, Jackson Browne, and Van Halen all have in common? John McCain is illegally using their music during campaign events and has been asked to stop.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Notes on the race #1

I feel like I've had a lot of thoughts about the presidential race lately, so I'm going to regularly post them. Here are some for tonight:

- 134 U.S. troops stationed abroad have donated a total of $60, 642 to the Obama campaign. 26 have donated a total of $10,665 to McCain. Not huge numbers considering the $50 million plus Obama has pulled in each of the last couple of months, but those are some huge differences. Oh, and Ron Paul got over $45,000 from just short of 100 troops.

- 2,380 delegates at the RNC. 36 African-Americans (1.5%) The Democrats had 24.5% African-American delegates. How can they still keep a straight face when they call themselves the "Party of Lincoln"?

- I was so (pardon the language) mother-fucking angry last night watching the parade of attacks.

- I take back the mean things I've said about Cindy "dead behind the eyes" McCain. She seems OK. However, estimates say that her outfit last night at the RNC cost over $300,000 - including 3 carat diamond earrings. Obama's the elitist?

- I you haven't seen Jon Stewart talking about Sarah Palin you need to. Its about the funniest thing I've seen all week. Here it is:

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


I got more than a little angry tonight listening to Republicans. Mostly Giuliani. However, I want to throw two quotes out there for you to think about in light of recent hot topics in the presidential race.

"Drill baby drill" - Rudy Giuliani, prompted by chants at the RNC convention tonight.

"Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because Janet Reno is her father." John McCain in 1998 about a then 17 year-old Chelsea Clinton.

Do I need to say anything else?