A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Monday, October 31, 2005


Works for me. From all accounts, a fairly strict constructionist, which is what the Court most definitely needs-- I'd much rather have someone who is concerned with the integrity of the Constitution than somebody who is concerned with what is liberal and what is conservative. He's also intelligent, well-regarded and has judicial experience.

Oh, and he's apparently Vulcan.


Remember when I bitched about the crap on TV a while back, only to be ridiculed for not having HBO or other cable channels? No? Well, regardless if you remember or not, such a thing did happen, and generally I stand by my contention that the krep foisted upon this fall by the networks is as vapid and uninteresting as any season in recent memory.

With one exception. Of all things, the show My Name is Earl is awesome! Irreverent, politically incorrect, original in a way that nothing since Seinfeld has been, and just flat out hilarious. And, here's the weird thing, oddly thought-provoking and even charming. Jason Lee is just perfect as Earl, the redneck deadbeat who is trying to redeem his life by making up for all the bad things he's ever done in his life, and Ethan Suplee is awesome as his dumb as a post, yet curiously wise brother, Randy.

If you are not watching this smart, and very funny, show, you really should start. It is well worth it. It airs on Tuesdays at 8 central time. And if you still need encouragement, remember that both Lee and Suplee have previously been seen in a variety of Kevin Smith movies. Not a bad pedigree for irreverent and amusing entertainment.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Fantasy Football Update, Week Seven

We've reached the halfway point, and my team seems to be in the dreaded death spiral I warned Tony about earlier in the year. Four straight losses, this week by nine yards. Ick. Sigh. Ah well. I am still undefeated in Gym Jim's league, so that's cool. Though I will say that, overall, the competition in that league is not as strong. Forward, then:

v. 11 #6


Star Trek Division
1. Vulcanian Alcoholics, 6-1, 342.8
2. McCoy's Metal Mayhem, 5-2, 329.7
3. James "Renaissance Man" Kirk, 4-3, 328.5
4. Tribbleballs, 3-4, 349.5
5. Dilitium Crystal Boys, 3-4, 328.2
6. NCC 1701-Cheeseheads, 3-4, 323.1
7. Knights Who Say Beam Me Up Scotty, 2-5, 318.1

Star Wars Division
1. Fearsome Sith, 6-1, 392.2
2. Stormtroopers, 5-2, 349.3
3. Jar Jar Binks Does Alderaan, 4-3, 317.7
4. ATAT Walkers, 3-4, 313.3
5. Jedi Cowboys, 2-5, 307.0
6. Barkeeps, 2-5, 268.8
7. C3PO [pretty much the biggest post in the series], 1-6, 317.3

If the playoffs were today…
1. Fearsome Sith, 6-1, 392.2
2. Vulcanian Alcoholics, 6-1, 342.8
3. Stormtroopers, 5-2, 349.3
4. McCoys' Metal Mayhem, 5-2, 329.7
5. James "Renaissance Man" Kirk, 4-3, 328.5
6. Tribbleballs, 349.5

On the outside looking in:
7. Jar Jar Binks Does Alderaan, 4-3, 317.7
7. Dilithium Crystal Boys, 328.1

If the Barrel Bowl were today…
11. Knights Who Say Beam Me Up Scotty, 2-5, 318.1
12. Jedi Cowboys, 2-5, 307.0
13. Barkeeps, 2-5, 268.8
14. C3POs, 1-6, 317.3

On the edge of ignominity...
10. ATAT Walkers, 3-4, 313.3

Stat of the Week I: During the draft, GM Frank of the Diamond Boys joked not once, not twice, but at least four times that GM Nick of the Hairballs had selected the third best Smith (Steve) earlier than two other, better, Smiths (Jimmy and Rod). After seven weeks: Steve Smith, 59.6 (7th best WR to date), Jimmy Smith, 40.4 (21st), and Rod Smith, 48.3 (12th). Given that all three are in or near the top 20, you can safely say that all three are very good. To date, GM Frank’s claim that Steve is the least of the three Smiths continues to look pretty silly. Thankfully, not everyone is employing the Packers' "ten guys cover Steve Smith" philosophy.

Stat of the Week II: Though I appear to have been right about my Smiths, Troy has correctly pointed out that I got the Mosses completely wrong. I drafted Randy in the 2nd round and he currently has 50.9 (10th) and a bum leg. Russ drafted Santana SEVEN rounds later (yes, in the 9th round) and he currently has 74.3 (1st) and is apparently completely uncoverable. Oops. Nice pick Russ.

Stat of the Week III: Over the last few updates I have ridiculed other coaches for starting several guys that got outplayed by players on the bench. Well, playing guys that score, as opposed to those that don't, continues to be good advice. I wish I had listened to myself in week six, when I played four guys that were outplayed by guys on the bench and lost by 7.4.

Stat of the Week IV: Since chastising Troy's Vulcanian Alcoholics for being 4-1 despite not scoring worth a damn, the Alcoholics have gone 2-0 and have averaged nearly 58 points a game. They are now scoring like a team that deserves to be leading the Star Trek Division. Should anybody else wish me to rip on their team, thereby inspiring them to great heights of achievement, let me know. Heavy irony alert-- if Troy and Scott continue to lead their respective divisions, the #1 seed may come down to the head to head matchup of the Vulcanian Alcoholics and the Fearsome Sith. A contest that, because of byes, finds Scotty's team, which is clearly superior, without four of its normal six starters.

PICKUP ALERT: There are weekly pickups. Pickups are in inverse order of record with points as the tie-breaker for teams with the same record. You can enter your choices on the web site, or email/call them into me. Please do so before Wednesday, 9:00 PM Central Time.

TRADES: Fearful of playing without a QB, Adam traded two of his stormtroopers, Deshaun Foster and Marcel Shipp, to Jim for a pair of Jar Jar Binks Does Alderaan quarterbacks, Trent Green and Todd Collins.
Fearful of the fact that he really did not have a second running back, GM Steve of McCoy's Metal Mayhem traded Anquon Boldin to GM Dave of the ATAT Walkers for Steven Jackson. Dave apparently finds Jackson expendable now that he has the mighty Tony Fisher starting for the ATATs.
Team Evaluations at the Half-way Point

Fearsome Sith, 6-1, 392.2
The starting six are terrific. Best sixsome in the league, hands down. The 56 points a game average and 6-1 record pretty well testify to that. But there isn't much depth on this team-- Kurt Warner has lost his job, Stephen Davis is, surprise, hurt and only Green Bay can make Michael Gaines look like a good tight end. T.J. Alphabet and Ashley Lelie do provide depth at WR. Barring injury, Scotty's team should steamroll into the playoffs and will most likely have a first round bye. But the lack of legitimate backup players at three of four positions could cost the Fearsome ones in the marathon that is an NFL season.

Vulcanian Alcoholics, 6-1, 342.8
They are riding a four game winning streak and have finally started producing some points to go with their victories. Depth is also an issue for the drunken ones, though I do feel they have a bit more in the tank than the Sith. Provided Favre doesn't get killed playing with the mishmash of whodats that currently make up the Packers, Coach Troy's team can continue to head up the division-- especially if his defense continues to hold opposing teams to less than 40 points a game. That's a remarkable feat. As to how non-emotional scientific types can become out of control drunken sots-- well, the devil juice can get anybody if you're not careful.

Stormtroopers, 5-2, 349.3
The vaunted military shock troops of the Empire have stumbled a little of late, suffering a humiliating loss to the drunken Vulcans in week six before holding off the Barkeeps in week seven. Perhaps of more concern to Emperor Palpatine were the 38.5 and 45.0 point totals-- significantly lower than the Stormtroopers scores in the first five weeks. Spokespeople for the Emperor deny reports that the recent drop in performance is due to Lord Vader's experimenting with the Force on Chris Brown and other members of the team. At 5-2 and the third highest scoring team in the league, the Stormtroopers seem to be in good shape heading into the backstretch of the season-- but if they see any chicks with cinnabun hair they may want to circle the star destroyers.

McCoy's Metal Mayhem, 5-2, 329.7
Maybe it's having had another person's mind inside your brain. Maybe it's the great drugs a 23rd century doctor would have at his disposal. Maybe it's just luck, but no matter what the reason, the Metal Mayhem keep on winning, and the late DeForest Kelley must be smiling from the great med lab in the sky. With newly acquired Steven Jackson to share carries with Kevin Jones and Larry Johnson, the Mayhem do not have a shortage of depth at running back, unlike many other playoff contenders. Of course, without Boldin, they now seem a bit thin at wide out unless Darrell Jackson makes a rapid and full recovery. I like the Mayhem's chances, but remember, Bones was a doctor, not a heavy metal pundit.

James "Renaissance Man" Kirk, 4-3, 328.5
No idea what to make of this group. Santana Moss is the stud wide receiver of the league so far, but Brian Westbrook is a Jekyl and Hyde running back, Ahman Green is done, Joe Horn is mysteriously broken, and Duce Staley apparently still isn't healthy. Which leaves some pretty big question marks for GM Russ' group as the second half of the season begins. Can Moss maintain his ridiculous 12+ points per game average? Seems impossible-- that corresponds to 2000 yards receiving and would crush Jerry Rice's 1995 record of 1848-- but so far nobody has been able to stop him.

Jar Jar Binks Does Alderaan, 4-3, 317.7
Binks' boys are 10th in scoring so far this year, but their defense is the second best in the league, and their winning record gives them a shot at the playoffs. The tricky bit for GM Gym Jim will be to guess right on who to play each week. But if he can get 85% or better production out of his starters, these guys can beat anybody and if they sneak into the playoffs, watch out. Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Bobby Engram, and De'Shaun Foster are all due back from injury in the next few weeks.

Tribbleballs, 3-4, 349.5
Hubris. It's a killer. Since the moment I crowed about my team's undefeated record we have lost every subsequent game. So, I hereby apologize for my arrogance and ask forgiveness of the Football Gods. Is my team any good? I don't know. They have the second highest point total in the league, but much of that came early on in the season. They also have bust boy Jamal Lewis at the #2 RB position and a banged up Randy Moss at the #1 WR position. So who knows. Any given week, we could score 30 or 70. Hopefully my sincere and heartfelt apology to the Football Gods will garner more of the latter than the former.

Dilithium Crystal Boys, 3-4, 328.2
No doubt Frank's group is struggling because he picked late in every odd numbered round during the draft-- did any of you know that? Well, he did. Of course, he could also be struggling because he started guys who were out (Julius Jones) while keeping starters who played well (Willie Parker) on the bench. Still, with Jones, Parker and Rudi Johnson on board, the Dilithium Crystal Boys are probably the deepest team in the league at running back, and strength at that pivotal position can translate directly into championships. The key things for Frank will be playing the right two RBs each week, and the health of that fine Irish lad, Donovan McNabb.

NCC 1701-Cheeseheads, 3-4, 323.1
The cheeesehead version of the Enterprise was a little known, and short-lived, version. Turns out, dairy products don't make good space faring vehicles. Go figure. GM Bill/Paul/Keith have a balanced squad here that is suffering from Colt malaise-- a disabling, though not always fatal, illness that has struck thousands of fantasy football owners throughout the country. If the Cheeseheads ever get Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison back to anywhere close to last year's level, this team could make a run to the playoffs. If not, they seem destined for the Mediocre Bowl.

ATAT Walkers, 3-4, 313.3
I respect GM Dave's confidence in Tony Fisher to carry the Walker's #2 running back responsibilities, but I must say, I don't share it. Ahman Green struggled behind the Packer's line this year-- why would Tony Fisher do any better? Regardless, former #2 Steven Jackson is gone and new #1 wide receiver Anquan Boldin has arrived. Whether the ATATs can make a rund to the playoffs in the second half of the season will almost certainly rest on the somewhat diminutive shoulders of Mr. Fisher. Good luck with that.

Knights Who Say Beam Me Up Scotty, 2-5, 318.1
Mike Vick did just barely enough Monday night to hold off the Tribbleballs, and the Knights got their second win. With Mewelde Moore rounding into a nice RB option and Travis Henry taking over for Chris "I'm broken... again" Brown, the Knights have depth at RB despite the loss of McAllister. I'm not sure the same can be said at WR, where, other than Terrell Owens, GM Rod's groups seems awfully thin. Todd Heap has rebounded nicely at TE, so whether the Knights poor start is too much for them to overcome may well depend on whether Mr. Vick can a) stay healthy and b) hit the broad side of a barn with one of his passes. If both a and b are achieved, the Knights still have a shot at the playoffs.

Jedi Cowboys, 2-5, 307.0
Ah, hubris. It seems like only yesterday that GM C.J. was 2-1, leading his division and spouting things like:
How can a team this had such a weak draft be leading in the power ranking. The only reason I lost the second game was because I listened to you idiots and didn't start Toomer. I figure if I keep scoring 55+ I will be hard to beat. Unless the injury bug hits. I will definately win more than 4 games Commish.
The Cowboys haven't won a game since, and instead of continuing a 55+ point per game pace, they've averaged less than 37 and have scored less in the past four weeks than they did in the first three. The Football Gods frown severely on hubris, C.J., as I have also learned. I suggest apologizing for your arrogance before you are securely locked into the Barrel Bowl.

Barkeeps, 2-5, 268.8
Why no new cognomen for GM Tony's group? Because Bartenders are universal and timeless. All societies need one, and they will exist in the future as they exist in the now and in the past. It is likely only by the slimmest of margins that they are not the world's oldest profession. Anyway, the Barkeeps found the answer at running back-- Priest Holmes and Thomas Jones-- only to have the QB and WR positions go haywire. If Tony can ever guess right on which QB and which two wideouts to start, however, this team can score with anybody. It is likely too late for the Barkeeps to escape the Barrel Bowl, but movement up to the Terribly Average Bowl is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

C3POs, 1-6, 317.3
Karma. All season I have been ripping GM John for having not yet paid me for last year. Well, he paid me. And his team won for the first time all year. Karma, as embodied by the excellent new TV show, My Name Is Earl. More on that in a later post. For now, suffice to say that John's group enjoyed their best point total and first win immediately after settling their debt to... well, not society... to me. Well done. With Lamont Jordan rounding into top 10 RB territory, Mike Anderson still getting the majority of carries in Denver and Corey Dillon in reserve (if he ever gets healthy), the C3POs will be a handful for teams down the stretch. At 1-6, it is likely too late for them to make the playoffs-- but they certainly aren't an easy W for anybody.


Irony Update

As some of you have noted, my blog has been getting spam comments quite a bit of late. The reason appears to be related to my Friday list of stupid advertising campaigns. That one entry has gotten at least ten spam comments.

So, there you have it-- I get spam ad "comments," which has to be one of the stupidest advertising ideas ever, because I posted an entry about stupid advertising ideas.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Throw the Bums OUT!

As near as I can discern, there are about 20 U.S. Senators that aren't complete dickheads. But there are a few, and Mojo makes a good point-- just knee-jerk voting out everybody may not be the best answer. Though I do think if every single incumbent lost, it would send an awfully powerful message to the politicos.

But Tom Coburn can definitely stay. The fact that his legislation, redirecting $453 million for bridges in Alaska that benefit about 20,000 people to rebuilding the Gulf Coast where the money would benefit hundreds of thousands, was shot down by a huge margin is a disgrace. An absolute disgrace. So, I give a pass to:

Coburn (R-OK), Allard (R-CO), Allen (R-VA), Bayh (D-IN), Burr (R-NC), Conrad (D-ND), DeMint (R-SC), DeWine (R-OH), Feingold (D-WI), Graham (R-SC), Kyl (R-AZ), Landrieu (D-LA), Sessions (R-AL), Sununu (R-NH), and Vitter (R-LA).

Plus these senators that voted in favor of Coburn's other anti-pork bill (also defeated): Ensign (R-NV), Hagel (R-NE), McCain (R-AZ), and Talent (R-MO).

That's 19. Out of 100. Less than 20% of our senators were willing to cut nearly a half billion dollars worth of pure pork spending and redirect that money to the hurrican ravaged gulf coast. Nineteen. They can stay, if you want them too-- hell, even though I disagree with Russ Feingold on many issues, I am proud to have he's from Wisconsin right now. He did the right thing. Wisconsin's other senator, multi-millonaire Herb Kohl, apparently believes that building bridges in Alaska is more important than rebuilding them in Louisiana. Kohl needs to go.

I am disappointed that Joe Lieberman did not support the amendment. I generally like Joe, and had he been the Democratic candidate in '04, I probably would've voted for him. But he must go. Clinton, Kennedy, Obama, Kerry, Frist, Lott, and Specter all voted in favor of pork and against aiding the devastated gulf coast.

They must go.

All of them. Without exception and regardless of whether you agree with them on their "principles." Clearly they have demonstrated they don't have any. I mean, Kos was behind this bill, and stated on his blog that "I fully expect no Democrat would vote against this sensible amendment." I count 38 democrats that voted against the bill.

Redstate.org was behind this bill and stated on their blog that "Friends, this is as easy a call as I've ever seen. If Republicans aren't willing to step back from this idiocy in Alaska to fund the needs in Louisiana - they don't deserve anything more than a snicker next time they try to describe themselves as the party of limited government." 44 Republicans did not support the bill.


Heck-- we don't even have to vote blowhard, piece of crap Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens out, just take him at his word next time. Before the vote, Stevens blustered and postured in favor of saving all of Alaska's huge lard haul and made the following statement:
"I don't kid people," Stevens roared. "If the Senate decides to discriminate against our state . . . I will resign from this body."
Which, to me, is a win-win. Redirect the money where it is actually NEEDED and get this overbearing, egotistical, selfish, bloated, bully out of the U.S. Senate.

What a jackass.

He must go. If no one else goes, Stevens must go.

If any of you know anyone, anyone at all, who lives in Alaska, you must urge them to vote Stevens out of office.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The New Math

In times gone by, sadly, the following equation was valid:

conservatism = smaller government + reduced spending + tax cuts

Ah, the glory days of Reagan and Buckley. The above equation I like. It is tenable, and it is wise. I believe that Adam Smith would have endorsed it heartily, and who are we to argue with the father of modern capitalism? Sadly, Bush and his cronies have taken the conserve out of conservatism. Which is very aggravating and unfortunate. The new Bush math is as follows:

neo-conservatism = bigger government + more spending + righteous indignation + tax cuts

This equation is fatally flawed, untenable long term and very foolish-- cutting taxes helps the economy, but that boost will quickly be eaten up by the massive debt and government spending that this administration is subjecting us to. Indeed, the inflation that we are now seeing was inevitable, given that the government is spending like a drunken sailor, but has slashed their income (ie, taxes). I believe that Adam Smith would look at it, squinch his eyes up, scratch his head and then ask, "What in the blazes are you ridiculous blokes thinking?" Well, maybe not quite that, but you get the idea.

On top of that, the President and his advisors have managed to make cronyism the new national pasttime, have badly botched the post-invasion progress in Iraq, have greatly reduced our moral standing throughout the world with both the shame of Abu Ghraib and government sanctioned torture, and the Republican Congress is giving 130% when it comes to pork barreling nearly EVERYTHING.

Ye gods, what a mess.

I believe in much, even most, of what George W. Bush says, and no matter what I will give him props for doing the right thing when push came to shove with Iraq. But. But. His actions have so often and so clearly failed to live up to his rhetoric that he can no longer be taken seriously when he talks about being fiscally conservative.

Finally-- here's a political strategy for each and everyone of you regardless of your political inclination and life philosophies. Vote against the incumbent. Vote for a change. Regardless of party affiliations, vote for the new guy or gal. Then call, mail and email every new member of Congress (state and federal level) and tell them to vote for term limits.

Maybe they'll get the message.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

OTIT: Churchill yet again

No, not Winston. Ward. Bother. It bothers me some that he is getting paid to wander the country blathering his bigotry, but that's America. I will defend to my death your right to say things that offend me. It's how things work here. I just wish it worked BOTH ways. For all that many on the left are screaming about the rising anti-intellectualism in America, how come it seems that a lot of the dissent being crushed these days is coming from the right?

Case in point: Depaul University. Check it out and sigh mightily.

Speaking of Winston, though, I did find this post interesting. The times they are indeed changing, but that hoary old saying about not descending to your opponents level has some validity folks. If we decry the torture and murder of innocents by jihadists, but then torture folks that we merely suspect might not be innocent, where is our moral standing?

Better that an indeterminate number of guilty men go free than that one innocent man is imprisoned.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

You've Got Snark!

My blog has been snarked. Six anonymous snarky comments in the last week or two. I was also spammed, but that's no biggie-- maybe I'm getting enough traffic to appeal to spammers? Seems unlikely. Anyway. The snarks.

Funny thing is, they all seem to have a leftward slant. Well, one tries to pass itself off as rightwinged, but it is either a really pathetic effort, or tongue in cheek. And, as much as I have ripped snarkiness in the past, I understand the urge to do it-- I do it. Everyone does it. We all have a snarky streak. So, okay. But Mr. Snarker (and all future snarkers and just plain commenters), please sign in as... anybody. Snarking behind the anonymous label is just so... lame. I mean, make a name up-- but give us something to call you besides that annoying anonymous poster who's too much of a wimp to give a name.

The most recent first, then backwards, with my commentary in response to the snarks in between:

Some really boring choices [for 25 foods to have on a desert island], comrades. Right down the list, starting with those of our host. Doesn't anyone out there own a cookbook anymore? Really, what is a hamburger and fries doing as someones number one?

The fast food generation speaks, and totally surrenders it's palate.

Well, the term comrade is certainly unlikely to garner you much support on nearly ANY blog, but perhaps it was meant as incendiary. Also, you may want to look into what exactly is the purpose of the apostrophe. As to the content here-- well, you only get 25. As much as I enjoy shrimp scampi, salmon, sushi, lamb chops and lots of other foods, they are excellent in large measure because they are a change of pace. I would not want to have a steady diet of those foods. Overall, the foods selected allow for more variety precisely because they aren't specialized. Finally, did you even read Kilfire's list? Hard to call that fast foodish.

Next, we have a snark in response to my commentary about how dreadful the NFC North was and that the possibility of a team winning the division with a 6-10 record was not that implausible:
The Packers are toast, and who the flip cares? Really! Get a grip on yourselves people and grab onto some life. Your identity should not be grafted onto Brett's stem, and if it is you have my pity
Very kind of you to offer us all your pity. Very nice indeed. Goes well with the rest of the condescension in this snark. First off, the post was pretty generic, and really didn't whine a whole lot about the state of the Pack-- and trust me, I know whining when I spew it. Secondly, as Gym Jim noted in response to this snark, why exactly does Mr. Snark assume that someone who is interested, even passionate, about sports needs to "grab onto some life" and that our "identity should not be grafted onto Brett's stem"? How do you make that leap of "logic"? If nothing else, that sort of "look down your nose at those dufus sports fans" is not going to help the impression in much of the country that liberals are intellectual snobs.

Next one is a bit more involved, and is in response to my "cronyism" complaint about the Meirs' nomination:
Of course W is more concerned with rewarding those loyal to him, then he is to appointing talented, qualified people. Where have you been? Lost in some sort of dream world where if we hope for things to turn out correctly, they do? The whole Bush clan has always been about rewarding the loyal. Go right down the friggin list of cronies, starting at the Veep, and that is all you see. Come on! Wake up and smell the growing stink of the gangrene spreading on all the limbs of America.

Bush doesn't care about America. He never has, and he never will. He is incapable of caring in general, and it's far past time to rip his smirky face from that of America's. He has screwed up everything that he has touched or tried. Enough is enough. Impeach the bastard now for crimes against humanity, and send him into obilvion where he belongs.

The people are starting to rise up. Doesn't it feel more and more like the days of Vietnam to you? It does to me. This administration is creating great tears in the fabric of our nation, and I'm sick of it. They would sell their grandmothers to slave labor if they thought they could get more political power by doing it.
Here we get to see the far left impotence and rage at its starkest and most edifying. In a nutshell, this is why Bush won his second term-- the left was so busy hating Bush, so convinced that he was some sort of abomination, that it was nearly inconceivable to them that large swaths of the population would vote for the man. I actually tend to agree with the first paragraph-- well, except the last sentence-- but any sympathy I might have for Mr. Snark's position is almost immediately eradicated by the rabid, frothing at the mouth claptrap that follows in paragraphs two and three. This is an amazing thing to me-- much, perhaps most if Howard Dean is any indication (hopefully he isn't), of the left just doesn't get it. As to Vietnam and the people rising up. No comrade, it doesn't feel like Vietnam to me, and if the administration truly is ripping great tears in the fabric of our nation, it is only because folks like you are pulling equally hard, if not harder, from the other side.

Number four. This is the faux right wing post, written in response to my worst ads list:
Screw the stupid ads. I gotta wonder why on earth you would be watching news on Fox?

They're so clearly biased to the left.
Anybody buying that? And just for the record, I wasn't watching Fox News (I don't get much cable-- stone age dweller my friends), I was watching the news on my local Fox affiliate. A fact that was clearly noted in the post to avoid precisely this kind of misunderstanding.

Moving on. Number 5 is in response to my "I feel safer already" post decrying the appointment of should've been convicted felon Sandy Berger to a non-partisan think tank.
I guess since Rush isn't in jail, even though he admitted to forcing others to commit crimes to feed his addiction, the powers that be decided to throw a bone the other way in the world of bias and double standards.
Which is a staple argument for both sides. Since the other side did something wrong, or something suspicious, it's okay that we did something wrong or looked the other way. What crap. Did your mother never teach you that two wrongs don't make a right, Mr. Snark?

And, just as a "boy, what a lousy analogy" retort, Rush suffered a lot more public ridicule and abuse for misusing prescription drugs than Sandy Berger did for stealing confidential documents from a federal repository. This does not excuse Rush's actions, but in my opinion he paid a larger penalty for his misdeeds than Berger did for significantly more criminal behavior.

Okay, final snark-- going back to my top 25 most attractive women athletes list:
Why must our society turn women into objects?

Everywhere you turn, even on this simple blog, there it is. Women are objects to be owned by men.
Hey, who you calling simple, pally?

Our society? Not to disabuse you of a long-held, and clearly cherished, canard Mr. Snark, but men have been admiring attractive women for a lot longer than the U.S./Western society has been around. And once again, how do we make that "logical" leap from admiring attractive women to turning them into objects? I watch football nearly every week and I watch particular players more than others because they are on my fantasy football teams-- is that objectivication? Is that wrong? Why would it be? If you Mr. Snark (Ms. Snark? Don't mean to be sexist-- the comments just sound like a man to me. If not, my apologies) are incapable of being able to distinguish between looking at attractive women as a pleasant, hormone driven and completely human experience and looking at women as property or some sort of "thing" then I really think you have the problem.

Now, you can make the case, I will probably even agree with much of it, that our society is overly focused on beauty and sex. The barrage of images we receive daily on tv and elsewhere is pretty intense. Which is all the more reason to admire and highlight women of accomplishment as well as beauty-- all 25 women on the list meet that criteria. Heck, 30 years ago you'd be hard pressed to make a top 25 list because women's sports were pretty much non-existent outside of tennis and golf.

So, back off Mr. Snark and take your pretensious, narrow-minded and often just plain wrong little bits of "wisdom" elsewhere. Before I taunt you a second time. Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelled of elderberries.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Peter King Silliness Update

Actually, overall I'd say this week's Monday Morning Quarterback is better than any of his other 2005 entries. He starts it out with an interesting theory: namely, that lower picks in the first round, as well as second round picks, are a better value than top picks in round 1. Early first round picks tend to be extremely expensive, and often put a lot of pressure on a team's salary cap, while the return on that investment is iffy, since a goodly number of early first rounders are merely good (not great), and more than a few are complete washouts. His analysis is not completely convincing, but it certainly is an interesting take-- especially given that my team, the Packers, may well be headed for a top 10 draft pick in the 2006 draft.

The rest of the column is okay to good. With two exceptions. The first is when King puts the Eagles at #4 (highest ranked NFC team) and the Patriots at #5 in his top 15 teams column. To which my natural, and very thoughtful, response is... huh? McNabb looks like one of the living dead out there, the Eagles have no running game, and the defense has been exposed at times this year. #4? Ahead of Tampa Bay? Ahead of Cincinnati? Ahead of Dallas, who waxed them last week? I think you can make a pretty good case that Philly isn't even the best team in its division, right now, much less the best team in the conference. And the Patriots? 3-3, and a miracle finish in Pittsburgh away from being below .500. Half the team is in the infirmary, and I do think they are still adjusting to the loss of both the offensive and defensive coordinators during the off-season. Top 15, okay-- they still have Brady, and they still put together at least a few drives every game that remind you of just how dominant they were last year-- but not top 5. Not in front of Tampa and Cincinatti for certain, and probably not in front of Jacksonville, Dallas, Washington and maybe Pittsburgh and Carolina.

Exception two. On page 4 of the article, King makes the following truly mind-boggling statement during his listing of things he liked this weekend:
Warrick Dunn. He slipped and fell on a third-quarter carry at the Alamodome, got up, and bulled for six yards. Overall, I can't name three backs in football better than Dunn, try as I do almost every week.
Ease back on the espresso shots, Pete! You're clearly losing your mind. Dunn is a borderline great back, and one who is generally undervalued. Fast, great receiver, makes excellent cuts, good vision, and tough enough despite his fairly diminutive frame. But the third best running back in football? Please.

Ladanian Tomlinson is clearly #1, and Shaun Alexander is probably right behind him. Those two are 1 and 2 in yards rushing and touchdowns, with LT getting the edge because he's such a good receiver. So, King wants us to believe that Dunn is better than Edgerrin James? Priest Holmes? Hmmm.... don't think so. If you were starting a franchise would you rather have Dunn, or Julius Jones? Tiki Barber? Willis McGahee? Cadillac Williams? Rudi Johnson? Domanick Davis? Duece McAllister? Maybe, but I think that a strong case can be made that ALL of those guys are better than Dunn. And then there are guys like Brian Westbrook, Lamont Jordan, Clinton Portis, etc., etc.

You really have to think about what you write, Peter. And if you honestly can't think of three running backs better than Warrick Dunn, perhaps you should consider covering field hockey. Good grief.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday's List: Guest List Edition

Okay, let's face it. I'm tired, and coming up with a top 10 or top 25 (or top 18 once, I think) list every week is HARD. Really. Try it some time. So, occassional reader, long-time online friend/writing associate, and all around British dude Kilfire is filling in this week. And I can guarentee you that his list is one which I never, ever, would've generated myself.

Oh, and he can't count, but don't hold that against him. Thanks Kilfire, and away we go:


If you like sci-fi, you've probably heard of Doctor Who. You might even remember the 1987 single by the KLF, "Doctorin the TARDIS". But you probably haven't heard of http://whomix.trilete.net, dedicated to amateur remixes of the Who theme. The best ones beat the professionals, and that's what this list is about. All mixes come from that website, except for the KLF's and Orbital's. I hope you have as much fun listening as I did ^_^

This list is about mixes that add something to the original theme. They either take it to a new genre, or do a substantial rearrangement, and one or two address shortcomings in the originals. That removes a lot of good music, but otherwise I'd be doing a top 50. The acid test is repeated listening - if I can imagine adding a track to the mix CD I've burnt for playing in the car, then it might make it onto the list.

Special mentions go to the following disqualified tracks:

Evolution Mix. This mix doesn't add anything to the themes, it simply blends five of them together seamlessly. If you've forgotten what the Who theme sounds like then this is a great place to start.

Toxic Adventurer. Very funny and poppy, but too much Britney and not enough Doc.

Doctor Wah. I'm not rating this. I'm just not. Here's a 10/10 for sheer cheek - and now never torture my ears again.


32. Elegy for the Ninth Doctor. Nice gentle classical piece, but there's nearly no Doctor in it. You can just about hear the fragments of the original melody after a few listens.

31. Slow Metal. Nice noodling on the start, naff guitar solo on the end.

30. Blacker Mix. I liked this enormously when I first heard it, but that Depeche-Mode-esque sound has aged a bit for me now.

29. Shadowcast. Gets the bassline wrong, but a good effort.

28. Dr. Wood. Slow and spooky. Very good really, just not quite my thing.

27. Take Off. Very light-hearted, and uses all the comedy effects from the new series TARDIS. Would rate much higher if it did a bit more with the melody, or if I was doing a list of "best purist mixes".

26. Transition's Rave. Straightforward hard trance remix, livened up with some well-chosen cybermen and a ranting Dalek.

25. Space Who. Slow, spaced out, and a little pensive. A nice interlude between more active tracks.

24. Ka Faraq Gatri [Dalek propaganda version]. This is nearly great, but the pedestrian tempo undermines the good work of the opening.

23. Alternative Time Mix. Like the Tom Baker samples and the very bouncy take on the theme. Not so sure about the guitar solo.

22. WhoBlaWho. Spaghetti Western Who. A little too simple, but doesn't outstay its welcome.

21. Tripping the Vortex. Spacey, moody and slightly downcast.

20. Moody Sea Mix. The Doctor stands on a high clifftop looking over a wild ocean on a blustery overcast day.

19. Davros Returns ...to the sound of drum'n'bass.

18. Russell Who? Played on xylophones, the Who theme becomes a soothing lullaby.

17. Matinee Intermission. The grand quest to remix the Who theme into all genres embraces the obscure sound of "Blackpool Ska". If you know who John Shuttleworth is then you'll like this.

16. Blue Whale Mix. If you can't hear this then you need new woofers :)

15. Nyman Who. If you've ever heard Nyman, you'll know that this is not a piss-take, it's a tribute. Pompous classical with a scampering middle 8.

14. JustUs2@TheEndOfTheWorld. A bit of acid jazz noodling. Mellow and contemplative, and unlike anything else here.

13. El Doctoro. This mix performs a very impressive musical trick - it restructures the original theme as if it had been written as a late 80's techno track, with minimal use of modern instruments.

12. As Good As Gold. For those who miss the middle 8 in the original, this is what Murray Gold's theme for the new series should've sounded like. To me it feels a little tinny, and some of the samples are played too often, but still very impressive.

11. Doctor Who 2006. Good use of samples that nobody else has thought to use - especially the Master's laughter, which will give you a shiver every time.

10. Industrial Cyberdisco Remix. The artist describes this as "a bunch of cybermen stomping around outside the TARDIS in an abandoned warehouse", and that's exactly the right image.

09. Cavern Chant. This is a Doctor Who remix - honest. It took me three or four listens to pick out the tune. First time round just expect to be amazed - this is totally bonkers and perfect for Hallowe'en.

08. Victory Lap. In the UK, the Ninth Doctor brushed aside all his competitors in the Saturday night ratings. This bright and poppy mix comes from "Dancing Rat", and it really does sound like some sort of Wind-in-the-Willows rodent doing a victory jig round the TARDIS console. The Doctor Is Back!

07. Doctorin the TARDIS. Since this was released, Gary Glitter has gone from 70's glam rock legend to convicted child porn pervert, which spoils things more than a little. But there's still something amusing about hearing a Dalek say "BOSH_BOSH_BOSH_LOADSOFMONEY". Even if it isn't quite a Dalek.

06. High Noon Mix. If Lorne Green had played the Doctor, it would've sounded like this. The TARDIS lands on the High Chapperal.

05. Jesus Built My TARDIS / The Mind is an Evil Thing to Taste / Wolf Tracks on Wax. This is what the TARDIS dematerialization sound has been crying out for - the full industrial treatment. Alas, the longer version (Wolf Tracks on Wax") can't quite sustain the sense of dread in the first mix. If the Master returns, I want his entrance to sound like this.

04. Geldomere Quote Mix. The one that proves that all the sample-haters are wrong. It's an old, old trick, shoving random quotes together until the the listener is overwhelmed, gives up and laughs. But with quality material like this it can't fail. "Machiavellian Machinations" indeed.

03. Zinc Tuner Mix. This is a Remix with a capital R - Arthur Crichton has given the theme a full electronica rearrangement, with all sorts of subtle new details, whilst keeping it recognisable as Doctor Who.

02. Doctor? (Orbital). Easily the best track on Orbital's patchy album "The Altogether". In some ways, it's a by-the-numbers modern dance remix, and exactly what you'd imagine Orbital would come up with. But it's so perfectly crafted I can't not love it. Only Orbital could successfully re-create (not sample) the "electronic scream", and follow it with some pure bass menace to open the track.

01. Delia D's Cha-Cha-Cha. This has no right to work, but it does, and brilliantly. The original Who theme is shoehorned into high heels and a long flowing skirt and flounces around your speakers. This would still be at least #3 even if I wasn't a Quiller.


So, there it is in all it's... ah... glory? Sure, glory. Interesting annotation Kilfire, and thanks again for the list. And yes, this does mean I'm open to accepting other people's top-whatevers lists. Though I reserve the right to laugh at any or all submissions and to only post the ones I want based on an entirely arbitrary and whimsical criteria.

One final note. Given the tremendous fan following of the faithful-- I mean the cultlike status of the Doctor is right up there with Star Wars and Star Trek and Batman-- why hasn't there been a major studio production of Doctor Who? I'm guessing its some sort of copyright thing, but even so-- no matter how dreadful the film actually was, it would likely make gobs of money (much like the first Star Trek movie). Any ideas, folks?


Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Don't miss this Sunday's HUGE, TREMENDOUS, NEVER BEFORE SEEN NOR DUPLICATED MOTHER'S DAY EXTRAVAGANZA! Yes, folks, it's already October, so it's time to start thinking about the wonderful woman that gave you life and buy her lots of useless crap she doesn't need! Affirm your love for your mother the old fashioned way-- with diamonds, pearls or other earthly baubles that are far easier to acquire than, say, making a card, or visiting her, or taking her out for a nice dinner. But HURRY! This event will NOT be repeated for at least a few weeks, and REMEMBER it is only a little over half a year until Mother's Day!

Sigh. What brought that on, you ask? Driving to my pool league last night I noted several houses decked out in Christmas lights. Seriously. Quite a few had Halloween decorations up as well, but last I checked, Santa and reindeer were not part of the Halloween lineup. Good grief.

Now, I am not a knee jerk, reflexive hater of Wal-Mart. I believe strongly in the free market, and am opposed to tariffs and other artificial barriers to trade. But honestly-- can't we wait until Halloween is over before we begin marketing and displaying Christmas decorations? I love Christmas lights-- tremendous tradition. They look great in snow, and they bring some brightness to the long nights of winter. A little soul pick me up before the dreary, cold nights of January and February. Lovely.

But October 13th? Lets go back to Psalms, or at least to the Byrds, and to everything let there be a SEASON. Christmas is not a three month long celebration. But then, it's not Christmas any more, is it? It's the bloody "holidays." Hah-- they are all part and parcel of one another. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas... just a big long string of "holidays." All pretty much the same, eh? Dress up for one, eat turkey for the next, give and get presents for the final one. Nice system.

Except that they aren't, nor should they be, part and parcel of one big holiday season. This blurring and blending makes each and every one less special, draws away from the actual meaning of the events and makes it all a big, bloated marketing extravaganza. Quite frankly, it's disappointing and vaguely repulsive.

Even my KIDS don't like it. Kids love all three holidays-- but each is supposed to be special and unique, not a blurred together mishmash. The fact that Thanksgiving follows closely on the heels of Halloween and then Christmas soon after that is great because once you get done being excited about Halloween, you can start getting excited about Thanksgiving. All as a warm up to getting excited about Christmas. But I think it is nearly impossible, even for children, to stay excited about all of them for three friggin' MONTHS.

We were at Menards (home improvement store for those of you not in the midwest) the other day, and Nicole asked me why the Christmas decoration were out already. I told her I wasn't sure, it seemed a little early, didn't it? She whole heartedly agreed. Both she and Jacob felt that it was extremely silly to have Christmas stuff out before Halloween is over. Kids aren't stupid-- inexperienced, naive, and malleable, but not stupid (well, mine aren't-- I'm willing to concede that many other people's kids are remarkably stupid). I know that having Christmas decorations up in October is wrong because of my past experiences-- this was not the way it was when I was a kid waaaaaaaaay back in the '70s. My kids know it's wrong just because they know it's wrong.

It's stupid. It cheapens all of the holdidays, and Halloween and Thanksgiving weren't that rich to begin with, while Christmas has been cheapened enough already, thank you very much. Above and beyond the irony of this weird DNA holiday splicing of a pagan celebration with a secular, state originated holiday with the second holiest event of the Christian religion.

Ye gods, even if we can't agree on whether cloning is right or wrong, can't we all at least agree that THAT monstrosity is wrong and should cease to be? Where's the ACLU bemoaning the intrusion of Christmas decorations into a federal holiday? Church and state and all that claptrap. Where are the Christian fundamentalists bemoaning the appearance of Christmas decorations next to witches, black cats and Frankenstein's monster? This is one that we can all agree on! Except maybe the marketers-- but we can throw them overboard with the lawyers and politicians as far as I'm concerned.

So, here's what I'm doing: I will not buy Christmas decorations from a store that displays them before Halloween. More, I will inform someone at the store of my decision and reasons for it. Further, when possible I will email the corporate offices of the company in question, again informing them of my decision and reason for it.

If just I do that, no one will care. Which is why I'm posting this here-- I hereby implore all three of you, my intrepid readers, to join me in this cause and to likewise boycott retailers that diminish the importance of our holidays. And, more importantly, to tell them you are boycotting them and why.

Who's with me!

. . . . .

Well, I'm doing it anyway.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Mike Tice: Disciplinarian

Eden Prairie, Minn-- Investigators are looking into a party attended by several Minnesota Vikings' players that allegedly involved drunkenness, nudity and public sexual activity on a pair of cruise boats last week.

That's a real news story folks; I am not making it up. Right out of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Now, maybe the stories of nude women, sex acts on the floor of the boat, players taking over the bar and being belligerent to the crew of the boats is all crap. Hopefully, the police can figure out where the truth lies. But at this point, we don't know. It could all be true.

In his continuing quest to be the worst head coach in the history of the NFL, this was Mike Tice's reaction: "It doesn't make things any simpler and quite frankly I'm not happy about it."

Whew! Feel the anger. Thanks for being frank, Mike, but easy there big fellow-- maybe a little sugarcoating next time. I'm not sure our more delicate readers can handle that much emoting! And I've no doubt that the miscreant players on your team are quaking in their shoes, Mike, knowing that you're not happy and all.

Ye gods. Can you imagine Bill Parcels' reaction if his players were having a drunken sex cruise during the bye week? Vince Lombardi's? George Halas'? Back in the days of yore, Lombardi and Halas would likely have cashiered the schmucks involved. Well, unless they were Paul Hornung. And I'm reasonably certain that the Big Tuna would be more than "not happy about it."

I dunno, folks. As bad as Wanny (his Pitt Panthers did manage to beat Cincinatti last weekend to move to 2-4) and Shula are/were, I think Tice is worse. He's certainly more diverse. Scalping tickets, drunken sex cruises for the players, 1-3 with his Pro Bowl QB looking as stiff and unconvincing as his performance in that horrendous Fed Ex commercial. He's a well-rounded incompetent.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Fantasy Football Update, week 5

v. 11 #5


Piece of Work Division
1. Stumbling Alcoholics, 4-1, 226.9
2. Hairballs, 3-2, 265.1
3. Metal Mayhem, 3-2, 249.0
4. Renaissance Men, 3-2, 233.6
5. Diamond Boys, 2-3, 244.6
6. Motor City Cheeseheads, 2-3, 230.5
7. Knights Who Say Ni, 1-4, 228.1

Cinematic Doubletake Division
1. Fearsome Canines, 4-1, 284.0
2. Centurions, 4-1, 265.8
3. Chocolate Foam, 3-2, 250.4
4. Dimestick Cowboys, 2-3, 235.8
5. Snowmobilers, 2-3, 221.8
6. Barkeeps, 2-3, 191.0
7. Posts, 0-5, 218.0

If the playoffs were today…
1. Fearsome Canines, 4-1, 284.0
2. Stumbling Alcoholics, 4-1, 226.9
3. Centurions, 4-1, 265.8
4. Hairballs, 3-2, 265.1
5. Chocolate Foam, 3-2, 250.4
6. Metal Mayhem, 249.0

On the outside looking in:
7. Renaissance Men, 3-2, 233.6
7. Diamond Boys, 244.6

If the Barrel Bowl were today…
11. Snowmobilers, 2-3, 221.8
12. Barkeeps, 2-3, 191.0
13. Knights Who Say Ni, 1-3, 228.1
14. Posts, 0-5, 218.0

On the edge of ignominity...
10. Motor City Cheeseheadss, 2-3, 230.5

Stat of the Week I: During the draft, GM Frank of the Diamond Boys joked not once, not twice, but at least four times that GM Nick of the Hairballs had selected the third best Smith (Steve) earlier than two other, better, Smiths (Jimmy and Rod). After five weeks: Steve Smith, 47.3 (6th best WR to date), Jimmy Smith, 37.2 (14th), and Rod Smith, 30.9 (21st). Given that all three are in or near the top 20, you can safely say that all three are very good. Granted it is very early, but to date, GM Frank’s claim that Steve is the least of the three Smiths doesn’t seem to carry much freight. Thankfully, not everyone is employing the Packers' "ten guys cover Steve Smith" philosophy.

Stat of the Week II: Two of the top four wide receivers in the league are Arizona Cardinals. I am not certain, but I strongly suspect, that this is one of the seven signs of the apocalypse. They may not wind up there at the end of the year, but y'all might want to start stocking up on high-caliber weaponry and canned beets, just in case.

Stat of the Week III: Two weeks ago, John started three players that were outscored by players on the bench and lost. Last week, he started four players that were outscored by players on the bench and lost. In last week's Update, I provided, free of charge, the following piece of advice for John: "Small coaching tip for John-- you should play more guys that score a lot, instead of playing lots of guys that don't score much. Just a thought. Oh-- and pay me you friggin' deadbeat." John has, apparently, chosen to ignore the sterling advice of the Update, as he once again played three players that were outscored by players on the bench. And lost. I'm going out on a limb here, but I really think there could a direct correlation between starting the right players and winning. Though I should add, in the interest of fairness, that choosing McCown (bench) over McNair (starter), Chris Perry (bench) over Mike Anderson (starter) and Brian Finneran (bench) over David Givens (starter) were not easy calls to make. Oh, and pay me you friggin' deadbeat. I also suppose, in the interest of fairness, that I should point out that John's defense is just dreadful-- teams are AVERAGING 59 points against the Posts. Next closest to that are the Hairballs, and they are only letting teams score 53.2 points a game. And we all thought the Packers' defense was bad.

Stat of the Week IV: Troy's Stumbling Alcoholics are leading the Piece of Work Division despite having the lowest point total of anyone in that division and the fourth lowest in the league. Once again proving that defense wins championships. Or that Troy is one lucky SOB. Probably both.

PICKUP ALERT: There are weekly pickups. Pickups are in inverse order of record with points as the tie-breaker for teams with the same record. You can enter your choices on the web site, or email/call them into me. Please do so before Wednesday, 9:00 PM Central Time.

TRADES: Tired of starting the wrong running back every week, John traded Fast Willie Parker to Frank for Relatively Quick Reggie Wayne. Despite this move, John still managed to start the wrong running back.
Game Capsules

Canines Stake Claim to "Best Team" Title. Mass Hysteria Ensues.
In a "dogs and cats living together" moment, the Fearsome Canines clearly established themselves as the best team in the league this week. This came as quite a shock to the cosmos, though the damage was somewhat reduced by Scotty actually drafting a good team last year. But still. Come on. A Scott Craine coached and managed team as the best in the entire league? Inconceivable! But there it is. One week after pummeling the previously undefeated Hairballs, the Fearsome Canines wupped it up the previously hot Motor City Cheeseheads, 61.5 to 37.6. For the season, the Canines are averaging nearly 57 points a game, which is over three points a game more than anyone else in the league. They've won four straight, and show no signs of slowing down until week 10, when Palmer, L.T., Chad Johnson and Gates will all be on bye. Oh, and just to confirm that Troy is a REALLY lucky SOB, whom I hate rather a lot, naturally that's the week the Stumbling Alcoholics play the Canines. Nice. In a great piece of coaching, the Motor City Cheeseheads sat tight ends Daniel Graham (11.9) and Jason Witten (8.0) for super-stud TE Steve Heiden's stellar 1.1. Update sources have verified that there is no truth to the rumor that the Cheeseheads' staff hired John as a coaching consultant prior to submitting their week five lineup.

Stumbling Alcoholics Take Division Lead Despite Not Being Very Good
As noted above, the Stumbling Alcoholics have the lowest point total in the division, yet they are 4-1 and lead the blasted thing. How wrong is that? This week, despite getting a whopping 7.1 total out of his wide recievers and tight end, Coach Troy's group hung on for a brutal 37.6 to 33.4 victory over the Diamond Boys. The anemic offense, I use the term loosely, of the Diamond Boys was lead, and I use that term even more loosely, by Rudi Johnson's 8.3. It was all downhill from there for Coach Frank's crew, who fell to 2-3 and, at least for the moment, out of the playoff picture. So, the question for the ages is... well, who knows, that's pretty deep and metaphysical for a bleeding fantasy football newsletter, don't you think? What am I, Kant? But we should find out if the Alcoholics can handle the pressure of being a front runner this coming week, as the Centurions come to town for a match up of 4-1 squads.

Centurions Continue Relentless Advance
Ye gods these guys are consistent: 48.5, 51.6, 55.4, 55.0 and 55.3. The pressure of such a grinding, inexorable offensive force just seems to wear the opposition out. Of course, Coach John starting three players that were outscored by folks on the bench didn't hurt Coach Adam's cause any, but this gaffe could also be ascribable to said offensive pressure. Or to John being a deadbeat. Wait, no. Or to John just being cursed to suffer loss after loss until he pays for last year. Wait, no. Well, maybe. But more likely it's just that the Centurions are anchored by a stud QB (Bulger), a stud RB (James), and the complimentary (not free, but contributary) players step up when needed. For the nonce, the well-oiled Roman column of football destruction just keeps grinding 'em up and spitting 'em out. Kinda weird, and definitely geeky, but I'm already looking forward to the week 12 match-up between the explosive Canines and the steadily overwhelming Centurions.

Mossless 'Balls Gather No Wins.
Yikes that was a horrendous headline. How'd that get past the editors? What is this, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel? Well, okay, so be it. The Hairballs were without moody, annoying, petulant, but undeniably talented, super stud WR Randy Moss in week 5, and despite a tremendous fill in performance by Joe Jurehowtheheckdoyouspellthisname, fell to the resurgent Chocolate Foam (ah man, another dreadful double entendre-- I think I'm stuck writing and AC/DC song) 71.0 to 60.7. Domanick Davis finally broke out of his season long slump for the Foam, and his 17.3 lead strong performances by Jim's entire team. The win kept the Foam's division championship hopes alive and moved them into the playoff picture, while the loss dropped the Hairballs from the top of the Piece of Work Division to... well, I've whined enough about that.

Metal Mayhem Wins On "Free Earplugs" Night
Amps that go to 11. Screaming, 200 horsepower engines. Power chords. Revving throttles. Oh yeah, you can bet it was loud at the House of Mayhem last weekend. Thankfully for the half dozen or so fans who showed up for the game between the Metal Mayhem and the Snowmobilers, free earplugs were distributed by FEMA representatives prior to the game. In the end, monster games from headbangers Mark "Thrash" Brunell (17.8) and Anquan "Pierce" Boldin (16.5) were enough to take the game, 58.7 to 49.9. The Snowmobilers were lead by Steven "not Tyler" Jackson (13.9) and Jake "not The Snake" Delhomme (12.1). After the game, Coach Dave was upbeat about his team's future. "It's coming, baby. Snow! Mounds of the stuff. Blizzards, killer icicles, ice damns! All coming and coming soon! And when it does-- WHAMMO! We're off!" There was more, but at this point Dave stopped shouting and the Update was unable to make out his words through the earplugs.

No Cadillac Equals No Victory for Dimestick Cowboys
With rookie sensation Carnell "Cadillac" Williams up on blocks this past weekend, the Dimestick Cowboys had nobody to pair with Shaun Alexander in their backfield. Playing 5 on 6 against the Barkeeps, the Cowboys kept it close with big games from Alexander and QB Tom Brady, but came up short, 47.3 to 52.0. In contrast to the Cowboy's backfield, the Barkeeps got excellent games from both Tatum Bell and Thomas Jones to easily eclipse their previous season high of 47.0.

Did Someone really HAVE to win?
I mean, the final score was 29.4 to 26.5. Can't we just give them BOTH a loss? No? Sigh. Okay, well, Russ' Renaissance Men managed to suck ever so slightly less than Coach Rod's Knights Who Say Ni and "won" the game. This matchup featured two guys that didn't play (Mike Vick for the Kanniggits and Duce Staley for the Ren Men), ten players that "racked up" less than seven points, and only two double digit scores-- 11.6 for Sanatana Moss and 10.5 for Aaron Brooks. Both of those guys were Ren Men, which was enough to tip the balance of sucking less to Russ' side. Are we sure we can't just assign them both losses?


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Apples in the Rain, part ii

“I miss Pa.”

“I know ya do, sweetie,” Billy’s mother said gently as she made them sandwiches. “I miss him, too.” She wiped her hands, pulled Billy into a warm hug, then tousled his hair and tried to smile. “We’re just gonna have to make do, Billyboy. Hang in there until this rain stops and we drive outta here.” She finished making his sandwich and handed it to Billy.

He took it from her and pulled himself up into one of the rough-hewn kitchen chairs. “I hate the rain.”

“Me too, sweetie. Me too.” She finished making another sandwich and sat down next to Billy. “But it can’t last forever, and once it stops, we’ll get outta here as fast as we can, okay?”


They sat in silence for a while, eating their sandwiches and thinking about the night, two days ago now, when Billy’s father had headed out to the coop with the shotgun. The rain pounded on the roof above them, poured into the ground outside.

“Do you think we’re safe, Ma?”

His mother sat for a moment, considering the question. “I don’t know for sure, Billy, but I hope so. Ain’t seen anything weird since,” her voice caught, and she had to swallow heavily before she could continue, “since the other night. Maybe your pa scared it away.” She changed the subject then, and they talked for a while about other things. The coming school year, the impassable roads, the likelihood of expanding the house next year. Somehow, the conversation kept coming back to Billy’s father. There were many awkward pauses.

Finally, Billy’s mother stood up and started clearing away their lunch. She looked into his eyes briefly, started to say something, then looked away abruptly. She washed up the few dishes, and the silence was deafening as the rain drummed incessantly at the small building.

Billy sat in his chair, uncertain what to think. He felt like a python was constricting his heart, yet he felt no pain, only an awful, frightening numbness. Tears slid down his face and he did not feel them—would have been shocked to know they were there. “Ma?” he said, tentatively.

She turned then and saw the tears. Her face mirrored his as she went to him and held him and cooed to him the way she had when he was a baby. They clung to each other for a long time, and their tears mingled and soaked the thin fabric of her dress. Finally, she sighed and gently lifted his head, looking closely into his wet face. She smiled a little, just a little, and kissed him on the forehead. “I love you Billy,” she murmured into his hair, and held him tightly against her.

“I love you, too,” he choked out as he clung to her comforting warmth.

“It’s going to be all right. We’re going to be all right.” They rocked together for a while longer before she kissed him again and quietly asked, “You okay now, sweetie?”

Billy sniffed and wiped his nose on his sleeve. “Yeah.” He did feel better, he realized. The constriction around his heart was gone, and the numbness was fading. He hurt, but he was no longer paralyzed.

“That’s good baby. That’s good.” She smiled at him, tousled his hair again, and turned to finish up the dishes. “I think I’ll pick some apples later on, and make us an apple pie for dessert. Doesn’t that sound good?”

“Pick apples in the rain, Ma?” His voice quavered a little. The python was back, sliding around his heart and pulling tight.

“Sure. A little rain never hurt me afore, why should it scare me now? Lord knows I’m not gonna change my whole life ‘cause of some lousy rain. Besides, a fresh, hot pie would taste good.” She smiled in reassurance.

Billy wanted to shout, “But what about the monster? What about the thing that got Pa? What about me?” but the constriction was so tight he felt he could barely breathe, and he said nothing. His eyes pleaded with her, but she wouldn’t look, turned away from him and hummed softly to herself.

“Yup,” she said softly, “an apple pie would taste mighty fine tonight. A little rain ain’t gonna stop me.”

She went out early that evening, basket in hand, shawl over her head in a feeble attempt to prevent the rain from soaking her. Billy clung to her before she left, tried to get her to stay, but she ‘had her heart set on apple pie.’

From the front porch, Billy watched as she ploughed through rain and shin-deep mud. She looked very small, very vulnerable as she slowly forced her way through the sheets of rain to the vague blur Billy knew was the apple tree. Beyond it, were the few remains of the chicken coop.

And somewhere out there in the seething ocean of brown and black mud it waited. Billy knew it. He could feel it. The python was slowly strangling him. Every minute he expected to see his mother enveloped by the huge, frenzied shape he had seen two nights before in the flames of the chicken coop.

She was at the tree now, slowly picking the few apples that still clung to the tree despite the rain’s ferocious pounding. Each one was gently placed in the small wicker basket she carried. Billy could see her silhouette as she moved around the tree, a distorted blur seen through the shimmer of the never ending rain. She seemed to move in slow motion as she circled the tree, and he found himself holding his breath as she slogged from apple to apple. He had to force himself to breath, force the stagnant air past the constriction of the python that squeezed his lungs and ate at his heart.

Finally, she was finished, and Billy felt the snake loosen its hold a little as his mother began the long, slow voyage back across the sea of mud that separated them. He wanted to scream to her to hurry. The words caught in his throat. He see her clearly now, hair and shawl plastered to her head, water streaming off her face and down her coat. She was almost to the porch, almost out of the rain and the mud. Almost safe.

She was on the porch and Billy clung to her wet, soggy frame. She seemed thinner to him, but she was there. Finally, he let her go, and half-skipped through the front door and into the living room. He was through the living room and stepping into the kitchen with a smile on his face when her scream tore through his soul and shattered his heart.

Spinning around, he found her staring at him in agony and sorrow. Her right hand was holding the doorknob desperately while the rest of her body was suspended in midair. A brown-green tentacle was wrapped around her left leg and was pulling her back. Back into the rain. Back into the mud.

He was frozen to the spot. He reached for her, but even as he did, another tentacle rose from the mud and smashed down on her right forearm. Through blind eyes he saw her dragged backward into the mud. Her screams echoed in his mind. A trail of blood was the only evidence she had ever existed. A trail of blood, and her severed right hand, still clinging to their front door.

It took him over an hour to dislodge the hand from the doorknob.

“Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day.”

Bill was humming under his breath as he worked. Sweat bathed his face, and a bright light shone in his eyes. He was almost done, the trap almost finished. Placing the last piece of venison in the middle of the living room, Bill stood and looked at his preparations with satisfaction.

A trail of venison led from the bedroom, where the rain seethed through the hole left by the thrashing of the creature, into the living room. Bill had soaked the floorboards of the living room with the kerosene from the last lantern in the house. He had been very careful not to spill any of the fuel in the bedroom or the kitchen. Going to the kitchen, he took the box of matches out of the cupboard where his mother always kept them. A grim smile remained on his face the entire time. He sat in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room and waited. The fumes from the kerosene were making him drowsy and groggy. He sang quietly to keep himself awake. “Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day.”

A loud crash startled Bill from the light doze he had fallen into after waiting for what seemed like hours. He rose to his feet quickly and nearly collapsed back to the floor as his cramped muscles protested the sudden movement. Another crash rocked the shack and threw Bill head first into the living room, where he slid a little on the kerosene soaked wood. His mind was bleary with sleep and kerosene fumes. He couldn’t think—why were the crashes coming from behind him? The creature was supposed to follow the venison trail from the bedroom into the living room.

He climbed to his feet, the fumes making his eyes sting and water. With a thunderous concussion, the back door flew through the kitchen, into the living room and smashed into the wall behind Bill. His heart clutched with fear as long, brown-green tentacles writhed through the doorway. Feeling as though he were moving in slow motion, Bill clambered through the living room towards the bedroom. At any moment he expected to feel those hideous writhing tentacles wrapping around his legs.

Diving into the bedroom, he turned to see the tentacles wrapped around the venison. The large chunks of meat were rapidly dissolving under a sickly green slime. Bill knew he did not have long—the venison was almost gone. He crawled across the floor as quickly as his still stiff legs would allow, stopping once he reached the doorway between bed and living rooms. He groped out a match and struck it viciously against the wooden floor. The match sprang into life, a small, furious flame.

A long, hideously mottled tentacle smashed the match from his hand, and agony lanced down his arm and into chest. He could not feel his right hand. The tentacle wrapped around his leg and began to drag him into the living room, towards the green blob of bubbling ooze that was all that was left of the venison. Gritting his teeth against the pain, Bill groped for another match with his left hand.

Triumphantly, he struck the match against the floor and threw the burning ember into the middle of the room. As the match landed near the bubbling remains of the venison, a whooshing wave of fire washed through the room. Partially blocked by the tentacle, the flames still seared his hair and singed his clothes. Then it was gone, and the thing was thrashing about in agony as a fierce fire engulfed it.

Bill rose to his feet and painfully stumbled into the bedroom. He had no time to waste—there was probably no chance the fire would kill the monster, and there was work to be done before it recovered. He crawled through the hole in the bedroom wall, and let the incessant, relentless rain cool his fire-singed body. Slowly he slogged his way through the mud that clung to his legs and would only let go after a fierce struggle. A sea of mud and rain separated him from the shed and the tanks of kerosene and gasoline, but Bill plodded on. He ignored the pain in his legs, ignored the awful howling of the beast as it thrashed amidst the burning shack, and plodded on.

One foot in front of the other, he thought as he waded through the mud. One foot in front of the other. Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day. One foot in front of the other. Behind him, the house where Bill had been born was burning fiercely as the thrashing of the creature spread the fire throughout the building. It’s ear-piercing shriek pounded in Bill’s mind as the never-ending rain pebbled his body. One foot in front… It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man… one foot in front of the other. Almost there now, he thought as the wail of the thing ate at his mind and the rain tore at his body. He could see the shed through the sheets of rain now, and Bill’s determined grin reappeared as he recognized the looming shadow of the building. He wanted to run to the weathered door of the shed, but he could only continue to plod, one foot in front of the other.

Suddenly, the wailing of the beast ceased, and Bill almost fell as the tremendous weight of that sound vanished. Time was his enemy now. The monster was loose, and it would be coming for him very soon. Bill forced his legs to move, to plow through the mud. One foot in front of the other. His shoes had been lost in the mud many steps ago. He hadn’t noticed. One foot in front of the other, and then he was there, at the shed. Quickly, he ducked inside, out of the overbearing weight of the rain. Silent tears slid down his cheeks as he leaned, exhausted against the door of the shed.

It was nearly pitch black inside, but Bill knew the rickety clapboard building by heart. Reflexively, he stroked his mother’s hand, still safely stowed in his pocket, with his sore right hand while his left groped about in the dark. The rain drummed on the ceiling of the shed, drowned any sounds the creature might be making out in the mud. After a few moments of groping, Bill found the lantern and matches that his father always kept in their nook next to the door. His injured hand made it difficult to light the lantern, but after a few failed attempts, he succeeded. In the faint illumination of the lantern, the shed looked eerie. Old crates, planting trays, and rusty farm implements were scattered around the room, and dirt and grime seemed to cover everything. Two large barrels, perched somewhat precariously on rough-hewn pedestals, were slowly dying under thick layers of brown and red rust against the back wall. The barrels contained kerosene and gasoline. Bill thought they looked beautiful.

With a deep breathe, Bill heaved himself over to the barrels and quickly opened their valves. The heavy smell of kerosene and gasoline quickly filled the small shed as the flammable liquids splashed onto the floor and soaked into the wood. Breathing through the soaked fabric of his shirt, Bill took shallow breathes as he let the fuel run for a few minutes before cranking the valves shut. A fevered light shone in his eyes as he wiped his sweaty forehead with his jacket sleeve. He limped as quickly as he could over to the crates, used by his father in better days to store vegetables. Shivers ran down his spine as the old building creaked under the pounding weight of the rain.

His head was spinning slightly from the fumes, and with every moan and sigh of the ancient building he expected tentacles to come ripping through the walls, wrapping around his arms and legs. Still breathing through his shirt, he hurriedly scavenged amongst the battered and dirty crates. With a harsh shout of success that started a short coughing fit, he pulled loose a long length of rusty chain. Chewing harshly on his already bloodied lower lip, he hobbled back to the old barrels and carefully looped the ends of the chain tightly around the valves of the barrels. Sweat bathed his body inside the stuffy shed and made his skin itch. Blood coated his mouth as his teeth unconsciously ground his lips.

Grasping the chain in his left hand, Bill went to front of the shed and unbarred the door. Then he shuffled more to the middle of the shed, carefully stopping short of the area soaked with kerosene and gasoline. He shivered in the dim light of his lantern and waited. Water slid down his back from his wet hair and traced shivers along his skin. Time passed slowly. The rain was hypnotic in its ceaseless, rhythmic pounding and Bill struggled to stay awake. Fumes from the soaked boards of the shed’s floor fogged his mind. He could hear nothing above the pounding of the rain. The length of chain was cold in his left hand. His right clutched his mother’s severed hand fiercely.

A tearing of metal startled Bill out of his haze, snapped him back to the present. The ceiling peeled away and the rain poured in as a huge mottled blob dropped through the gaping hole in the roof. Thick tentacles wrapped around the stunned young man.

His lantern fell to the floor harmlessly.

He was lifted into the air, pulled towards the oozing blob in the center of the shed. He couldn’t breathe. His sight was blacking out. A loud ringing filled his ears. Distantly, he heard a faint crash. It felt like a blanket had filled his lungs, and his mind was a fuzzy whirl.

And then he was flying as air was sucked into his lungs in a painful rush. He landed with a thud towards the front of the shed and rose groggily to his knees. The monster was wreathed in flames towards the back of the shed, and his lantern lay smashed near one of the thing’s many writhing tentacles. Near the edge of the ring of flames was the end of the chain he had wrapped around the spigots of the barrels.

Bill reached for the chain, then snatched his hand back as a tentacle whipped into the wall near him. The monstrosity’s harrowing screeching once more filled the air. Rain poured through the gaping hole in the roof. Already the fire that engulfed the beast was dying as the rain suffocated the flames.

Gritting his teeth, Bill lunged for the chain with his left hand. Pain lanced through his hand and arm as his fingers closed on the heated metal. His shriek joined the creature’s as the chain burned into his flesh. Instinctively, he pulled back but the chain came with him. Desperately, he struggled toward the front of the shed, the chain welded to his hand. A tentacle smashed into the floor beside him and with a frenzied dive, Bill threw himself against the door of the shed. It flew open under his weight and he fell into the night, into the rain, into the cool, soothing mud.

Bill crawled forward a few feet, then struggled to his feet. He looked back at the shed and saw the charred monster silhouetted by the remaining flames. It was moving towards him, its tentacles reaching for him. With a hoarse cry he pulled the chain taut, then yanked backwards with all his might, ignoring the fierce pain that arced through his body. The chain wrenched the spigots off of the old barrels, and streams of kerosene and gasoline poured onto the floor of the shed. The fuel instantly burst into flame, the feverish flames following the spilling liquids back up to their source. Bill threw himself into the mud as the barrels exploded with a force that flattened the shed and bathed the monster in gallons of searing liquid.

After a minute, Bill slowly raised his head from the mud and wiped the sticky clay from his face with his torn and bleeding left hand. The force of his exertions had torn it free from the links of the chain. His right hand still clutched his mother’s hand through his singed, soaked and mud-plastered jacket. There was no movement within the burning remains of the shed.

Staggering to his knees, he slowly crawled over to the still burning hulk of the creature. Bill nudged it, half expecting a tentacle to smash him as he did so. The thing squished under the pressure, but otherwise lay still. Its burning flesh smelled terrible.

Glancing around blearily, Bill crawled over to a large piece of wall that had survived the explosion and awkwardly propped it against a twisted piece of metal. He huddled under this scant protection, and cried himself to sleep while he stroked his mother’s hand through the fabric of his jacket.

Bill woke in a puddle, his clothes soaked. Every muscle in his body was in agony, but he forced himself to stretch and to leave his small shelter. Rain washed over him. The world was a dull shade of gray. It was morning. The creatures lay where it had fallen. Only its bulk and the charred and scattered wood of the shed remained from the night’s fire.

Picking his way carefully through the mud and debris, Bill slowly and torturously made his way through the sticky, grasping muck. One foot in front of the other, he thought, and forced his legs to keep moving. Ahead, he should see the family’s truck, buried to its axles in brown mud. He plodded forward.

Finally, he reached the truck and pulled the door open with a desperate wrench of his left hand. Dragging himself into the dry, safe truck, Bill felt a huge weight lifted from him as the rain no longer pounded him. He yanked the door shut and collapsed across the seat, face down. There was a strange lump poking his right side. Slowly he sat up and reached into his pocket, removing his mother’s severed hand. Bill stared at the hand for a while, then gently removed the ring of gold from the third finger. He placed the ring safely in his pocket. Rolling down the window, he threw the hand out into the rain. He watched the mud washing over it for a minute, then rolled the window back up. He lay back on the seat and closed his eyes. He waited. It couldn’t rain forever.

Faint words slipped past his lips as he lay there, “Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day. Rain, rain, go away, come again some…” and he slid into the quiet warmth of sleep.


Monday, October 10, 2005

Apples in the Rain, part I

The rain pounded down on the small tin roof. It was a steady, driving rain, the kind that plastered your hair to your scalp in an instant and left wet, slimy trails on your skin. The kind of rain that whipped tranquil rivers into seething maelstroms of dirt, brush and rocks. It beat the enthusiasm out of your body, washed away any trace of cheerfulness, and left nothing but a gray veil of despondency. For nearly a week it had been raining this way, and the glowering clouds hanging low on the horizon showed no signs of leaving.

The rain pounded down on the small tin roof and into the rich, brown mud that blanketed the ground. There were critters that liked the rain, liked the mire of mud, liked the feel of mud oozing across skin. There were critters that hated the sun, hated the warmth, hated life. Plenty and plenty of critters that couldn’t live without the mud, that wallowed in the mud, that moved easily through the mud. Critters that were mean.

The rain pounded down on the small tin roof, into the rich, brown mud that blanketed the ground, into the sides of the tiny, three-room, wood shack that supported the roof. Inside, the rain’s pounding was a staccato marching of hobnailed booted on tin plates, a deafening percussion section in an out-of-tune orchestra. The percussion accompanied a faint, ragged melody that floated on the stifling air of the shack. “Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day… rain, rain, go away come again some other day.” The notes were sung in the cracking tenor of a voice no longer a boy’s and not yet a man’s. “Little Billy wants to play, rain, rain go away.” The melody ended in the sobs of a boy who lay curled into a tight ball on a rickety bed. His tears trailed through the grime that coated his face into the first faint growths of a beard that wasn’t sure if it wanted to be there yet. He hiccupped into the bed’s dirty pillow, pulled his thin jacket tighter, and stroked the thin, cold, hand lay on the bed next to him.

A pool of dried blood, black in the faint light of a kerosene lantern, had formed around the hand. It had been torn off at the wrist, a long jagged scar tracing its way from the wrist to the third finger, where a plain, gold ring hung loosely. The young boy stroked the hand, and cried on it, and held it gently to his heart.

It was all that was left of his mother.

Gradually, the youth’s sobs faded and he began to mutter quietly under his breath. “It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring,” his voice caught momentarily. “He bumped his head on the side of the bed, and he couldn’t get up in the morning.” The words trailed away while the rain pounded onto the tin roof and the mud outside deepened.

Something rattled the front door, and the young boy bolted upright, the bed creaking under him as he moved. “Go away! Leave me alone!” The door rattled again and the youth clutched the hand close to him as he sat on the edge of the old, sagging mattress. Tears were still hovering on the edges of his eyes, but he held them back. He had to be strong. He couldn’t give in, not yet. Not while it was prowling around the house.

The rain had been falling—pounding, really—for over a week when it got his father. Life had been the same as ever until his father’s chickens started disappearing; one by one they were gone with nothing left behind a small pool of green slime. His father set traps all over their property, but he never caught anything and more chickens would be gone in the morning. Finally, his father decided to stay in the chicken coop all night, shotgun at the ready, to be sure he got whatever it was that was taking his chickens.

“By God, Ma,” the old man said as he went out into the ceaseless rain with only a lantern and his twelve-gauge. “By GOD I’m gonna get the sonofabitch what’s been killing my chickens! You and Billy get some sleep and we’ll have us some alligator for tomorra’s supper.” With those words he had stubbornly turned on his heel and stumped off through the mud and rain to guard his chickens from the sonofabitch alligator that was eating them. Only it wasn’t an alligator. It wasn’t anything like an alligator.

Billy and his mother were awakened late that night by a shotgun blast and an unearthly scream that knifed through the night. “What was that, Ma?” Billy had asked in a fearful whisper from the old, flower-print sofa that doubled as his bed.

“I don’t know for sure, Billy, but I think we’ll be having alligator for supper tomorrow.”

“That didn’t sound like no alligator, Ma.” His heart was beating fast, and the scream still echoed in his head.

“Now don’tcha worry, Billyboy….” The rest of her reassurance was cut off by another screech and the simultaneous roar of Billy’s father. Another shotgun blast echoed in the night.

“Ma?” his voice quavered.

“Shh. No questions right now, Billy, ‘kay?” she whispered and slid out of bed, then gently pulled Billy off the couch.

“Okay,” he whispered back while his heart beat in time with the pounding of the rain on the roof.

They hurried through the living room and into the kitchen, tiptoeing in silence. Billy’s eyes widened as his mother picked up their biggest carving knife. “Just in case,” she whispered, and smiled at him.

He tried to smile back, then an agonized scream seared the night, wiped his smile from his face, ripped a bottomless hole in his stomach. “Oh lord, oh lord,” he whispered earnestly, nearly moaned as he and his mother rushed out onto the front porch. “Please, no,” he pleaded.

The night was dark and the sheets of rain plastered their hair to their scalps. “Bob?” his mother called into the curtains of water, but only the steady sound of rain burying itself in mud answered her.


Again, no answer.

“Billy, you stay here. I’m gonna go take a look.” His mother’s face was set and grim in the dim light. Billy was shocked at the anger and fear he saw in his mother’s gentle face. She pulled him close to her and held him tight. He clung to her like she was the last sane thing left in the world.

A faint wail tore her away, pulled her raging into the waves of rain and mud. She disappeared quickly, only to reappear in silhouette as a hot red flame cut through the night in front of her. The chicken coop was burning fiercely ahead of her and Billy could see her tiny form slogging its way through the mud, carving knife brandished over her head. She was next to the apple tree now, half-way to the chicken coop. Beyond her, something huge thrashed within the burning frame of the coop, wailing that soul shattering scream that had awakened them earlier. The sound seemed to go on forever.

The fire was dimming as the rain crushed it, and Billy could barely see his mother stubbornly forcing her way through the mud. She was almost to the remains of the coop. Of the thrashing creature, Billy saw nothing. The huge creature had disappeared, dissolved away into the mud and debris of the coop. Its cry was disappearing, too. Dwindling more to that of an injured child, and then fading entirely, leaving a hole in the world that made the driving of the rain sound quiet and peaceful.

The fire was gone, and Billy was alone. Alone with the rain, alone with the after images of some huge monster thrashing in the light of the fire, like blind Sampson. An empty house loomed behind him. In front of him, there was only darkness and fear.

“Ma?” he cried, tentatively.

No answer.

Unwanted, a childhood rhyme rose into his mind. A cure-all for foul weather and bad times. “Rain, rain, go away,” he muttered while his eyes probed the featureless curtains of water, “come again some other day.”

It didn’t work. The rain didn’t stop, didn’t even lessen. It still fell with demonic intensity, plastering his clothes to his miserable body. Pummeling him as if it intended to break him down into something less than human, break him down into the mud and muck all around him.

Something slithered in the darkness. Billy’s eyes stabbed the rain for some sign of his mother while he tonelessly repeated the refrain, “Rain, rain, go away. Come again some other day.”

A darker shape loomed out of the surrounding void, and Billy’s heart leapt as his mother’s outline slowly swam into view. He ran to her and wrapped his arms around her so fiercely, she gasped. She held him tightly for a few minutes, and then gently unwound his arms.

“Let’s go inside,” was all she said, but there was a look of tenderness in her eyes which stopped all but one of Billy’s questions.


She said nothing, only shook her head sadly. The tenderness was still there, but behind it he could see a sadness so deep it threatened to overwhelm him. Turning away, she took his hand and drew him into the shack. They slept no more that night, but sat holding each other in the warmth of a small fire Billy managed to light.

Bill sat on the edge of the old mattress with his head bowed. The creature had stopped prowling around the front door, and Bill stared at his mother’s hand, lying cold and heavy in his lap. He traced the pale, blue scar with his index finger. The skin was cold and smooth. His mother had acquired the scar many years ago while trying to nurse a wounded bobcat kitten that Bill had found. She tried to save the kitten, but she had failed. All that remained of the incident was his mother’s scar and Bill’s memory of the kitten’s eyes staring at him while his father buried the cold lifeless creature.

A dull thump behind him made Bill jump off the bed. He whirled around in time to see the side of the shack buckling inward. Bill backed into the small nightstand as another thump rocked the shack and splinters of wood flew. Fear paralyzed Bill as the wall began to shatter under the impact of heavy blows. He glanced around the room in a frenzy of indecision before his eyes fell on the small lantern on the nightstand. Another concussion shook the house and a good-sized hole was ripped in the side of the wall. Brown-green, slime covered tentacles began to ripple and ooze through the hole, straight towards Bill.

With grim determination, Bill smashed the lantern onto the slithering mass. Flaming kerosene enveloped the slime and an ear-piercing wail swept over Bill. The tentacles thrashed for a moment, then ripped themselves back out through the wall. Bill had no time to celebrate his victory—he was too busy smothering the fire started by the kerosene. All the while he fought the flames, an idea was forming his mind. If he could just get to the shed. Just get to the gallons of gasoline and kerosene his father had stored there, he had a chance.

Bill stamped out the last of the flames with a grim grin of defiance on his face. It would whimper over its hurt for a while, he was sure of that, but it was hungry and it wouldn’t wait for long. He was going to be ready. “You’re not gonna get me,” he muttered and he chewed his lip while a feverish light capered in his eyes. Bill gently put his mother’s hand into his jacket pocket. He buttoned the pocket carefully while his idea crystallized. Tears streamed down his cheeks and into the growing puddles of water forming on the floor as rain hammered through the hole in the wall.

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