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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

News Flash – Bush Scurries into Spider-Hole After Scare

This just came out over Reuters: Bush Taken to Bunker After Airspace Scare. Gee, it sure looks like it got tense for a few minutes:

Wed, Apr 27, 2005 01:26 PM ET

President Bush was hustled into an underground shelter on Wednesday amid fears an aircraft had entered the restricted airspace around the White House, officials said. The Secret Service determined minutes later that it was a false alarm.

Vice President Dick Cheney also was moved to a secure location as heavily armed Secret Service agents cleared the area in front of the presidential mansion.

You know, it kind of reminded me of this headline that CNN ran after we captured Saddam:

‘Saddam ‘caught like a rat’ in a hole’ – the cowardly bastard!

It’s a good thing this was a false alarm at the White House today. I’d hate for Bush to be pulled out of a spider-hole. Boy, would our face be red!

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Bloogeyman Travels

If you’ve ever taken a flight out of Los Angeles you know that LAX can be a nightmare – in fact, it’s almost always a nightmare. First, the 405 freeway in LA (near LAX) always has a traffic jam – I’m not talking about jams between 6 and 10 a.m. and between 3 and 7 p.m., I’m talking about all the time – you could be on the 405 near LAX at 1 a.m. in the morning and find yourself in traffic (trust me, it’s happened to me…). So, from the first step, even getting to LAX is a hassle.

Once you get there, what do you do about parking? Well, I like to use Parking Lot C – it’s pretty much the cheapest parking for a couple days – the only problem is that this parking lot is large enough to qualify for its own zip code. Theoretically, this isn’t really a problem – they have shuttles that come by every 10 minutes or so and take you to the airport – there’s just the dreaded possibility of forgetting where you parked your car. Sure, you make sure to write it down in two or three places and find yourself muttering “area 7C…area 7C” as you board the shuttle.

Now, I’ve never lost my car in Parking Lot C, but I can only imagine what would happen if you did. This isn’t a normal parking lot, in which if you lose your car you can just wait till 9 or 10 p.m. when everybody goes home and only your car is left, this lot has thousands of cars and is always packed. One car leaves, another car takes its place. I imagine that if you don’t remember where you parked your car you’d just have to write it off and go buy another one. I’ve tried to mentally prepare myself for what would happen if I forgot where I parked my car. Sure, I could wander the desert that is Parking Lot C in a vain attempt to locate my car – I figure I’d eventually die of thirst. No, better to just go buy a new car and forget my old one ever existed. What’s the probability that you actually forget where you parked your car? Pretty slim, I gather, since most people seem to understand the danger of Parking Lot C. But, in the same way that I figure everybody’s bound to lock their keys in their car sometime, I figure that if you use Parking Lot C enough, you’re bound to forget where you parked sometime…

Yes, it’s not the threat of terrorist WMD attacks, the loss of social security, or the loss of civil liberties that keeps me up at night – it’s the fear of forgetting where I parked in Parking Lot C.

Well, this time as I get on the shuttle to the airport I’m pretty confident that I won’t forget where I parked (I wrote it a dozen times on my arm…). Now comes the next ordeal in the gauntlet that is airline travel: getting to your boarding gate. First, upon getting off at your correct terminal (you hope!) you’re faced with a couple choices of how to check in – -there’s regular check-in, e-check in, and e-check in with self-baggage check. Liking to feel self-reliant at all times, I choose e-check in with self-baggage check. Ok, I just slide my credit card in and it pulls up my name…all’s good…it shows my flight (to San Francisco!) and the gate…good. I push “Continue” and it takes me to a screen where it asks me if I want to upgrade to ‘Economy Plus’. This ‘Economy Plus’ costs $19 and gives you an extra five inches of legroom. Gee – a whole five inches…wow, and only for $19! I push “No” as I think to myself “Good lord, if the airlines have come down to hitting people up for $19 to upgrade to five more inches of leg room, they’re in more trouble than I thought” Of course, we all know that Delta announced this week that they were close to bankruptcy again.

Now comes the dreaded security perp walk. The funny thing about security is that if you fit the ‘profile’ you potentially have a lot to be worried about. Now, I’m not talking about your stereotypical bearded, middle-eastern man wearing a turban (do they even bother going into an airport anymore), but just the broad profile by which you might be considered a threat. I’m talking about any guy traveling alone, between the ages of...say…18-45, who has black or dark brown hair. Yep, I fit that profile. So, knowing that you fit a broad profile of the type of person they’d be interested in (somehow, little girls between the age of 12-17, with blonde hair don’t seem like the type of traveler that gets a lot of scrutiny) you now try to show that they’ve got nothing to worry about regarding you. You try to act non-chalant. The interesting thing about this whole little mental game you play with yourself is that you try to act non-chalant without acting non-chalant in a clichéd way. You sure as hell don’t whistle and tap your shoes. You try to kind of look at people, but not stare. You don’t want to look spaced out, or constantly look at your shoes either. Given the recent 60 Minutes report about how people are randomly being abducted and spirited off aboard ‘phantom airplanes’ to countries that use torture to get information out of you – I wasn’t looking forward to the possibility that I might draw any unwanted attention…

That's all for now, the Bloogeyman will get back to you with more tales of travel as his week of traveling adventure goes on.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Throw a Bucket of Cold Water on 'Em

A couple weeks back the Bloogeyman related the first part of his epic story: The Trials and Tribulations of Installing a Water Heater. When we last left the Bloogeyman he was on his way to Home Depot to get a soldering kit to do the damn job of welding copper pipes. Why? Because the Bloogeyman doesn’t exactly fancy the thought of having some inbred plumber blow up his house. The Bloogeyman prefers to do the job himself.

So anyways, the Bloogeyman is on his way to the local Home Depot to pick up a soldering kit, some copper pipe, and some couplings. The great thing about Home Depot is that it’s basically like a huge candy-shop for men – I mean the amount of power tools, electrical gadgets, and just-plain-manly-stuff (PVC pipe) is astonishing. Of course, if you’re not used to doing things yourself, or if you don’t exactly know what you’re doing it can be as intimidating as parachuting naked into the jungle.

Luckily, since the Bloogeyman had been through the drill before (looking at water heaters, connections, etc.) he knew exactly where to find the stuff. Oh, how the Bloogeyman strutted through the wide aisles like he owned the place. The meek, who didn’t know what they were looking for, or the babies who were waiting for some Home Depot employee to guide their hand, scattered before the mighty Bloogeyman.

Of course, once I got to the water heater / pipe section I realized I couldn’t find any soldering kits. Great…now my turn to stand around helpless like a baby who just crapped his pants waiting for some grownup to come rescue him. Screw that, I’ll go find some employee. The first guy I run into, a kid, actually (is there some sort of pimple-count test you have to pass before becoming an employee of Home Depot?) starts walking with me towards the soldering kits while I tell him exactly what I’m going to be doing.

“Hey, you should use this stuff right here – CopperBond – you just put it on the pipes and bond them together, you don’t have to do the soldering”, he said as he grabs some epoxy glue-type stuff for bonding copper pipes.

“Yeah, but will this really work?”, I said as I scratch my head and look at the label denoting a $5.99 price (that’s gonna be $20 less than getting a soldering kit).

“Sure, that stuff will work. And look here on the back of the box, it says this stuff is guaranteed to provide a leak-proof joint. If this stuff leaks and messes up all your stuff you can, like, sue the hell out of them and get a ton of money”, he advised.

I actually started laughing out loud.

I mean, come on – like you can sue some large-ass corporation that’s probably a subsidiary of GE or something because their ‘CopperBond’ didn’t bond your copper and water-damaged your whole house. You’d get that lawsuit shoved up your ass so hard by some GE corporate lawyers that you’d end up paying them for slandering their product or something. I almost wanted to pat the kid on the head because he was so naïve!

“No, really, you could sue them and get them to pay for all your damages”, the kid defended.

“Yeah, well maybe, but probably not”, I said noncommittally.

Screw it, I’ll just go for the soldering kit, I thought as the kid walked away. If I’m going to do the job myself might as well do it right.

Of course, there was also some latent pride at being able to walk up to the counter and purchase a propane torch soldering kit. I’m a big boy.

So I get home and fire up that torch. First things first, I have to undo the previous joint the previous scumbag plumber welded into the wall.

So, I start to heat up that joint – once the solder gets hot enough I should be able to pull the pipe off.


There’s molten hot soldering dripping onto my hand as I hold the torch below the joint. Goddamn, molten metal is hot! I go run my hand under some cold water – luckily I hardly got burned – and then go find some gloves.

To make the rest of a long, boring story short suffice it to say that there really weren’t any other hilarious mishaps (no, my eyebrows did not get burned off and I do still have a house). Frankly, I kind of enjoyed doing this project myself – it’s always cooler to do something with cool tools than say, sweep the sidewalk.

All-in-all I’m actually glad I didn’t have to deal with watching a plumber do a shoddy job and overcharge me when I could basically do the job myself in roughly the same amount of time. And I guess that’s what it’s come to – these days you either have to buck up and do the job yourself or resign yourself to the fact that you’ll probably get ripped off.

And that gets me to our current-day larger than life scandals. You can’t trust anyone anymore because they won’t think twice about ripping you off. Take Enron, for example, Ken Lay rips people off and just walks away. He is never going to trial. And hell, even if he does go to trial, he’ll probably get some lame Martha Stewartesque slap on the wrist. Raise your hand if you would gladly go to a minimum-security prison for 5 years if you got $100 million dollars out of it. Yeah, some of us have ethics, but face it, most people don’t. And, even if they try to take the money away from Ken Lay he’s had like 4 years to carefully stash, launder, and hide the money away. What a scumbag…

We need to revamp the whole prison system to create only two types of prisons: regular, and super maximum security. The super maximum security would be for people on death row, people who don’t behave (taking away their pudding doesn’t help), and psychos. Regular is for everybody else. That’s right – Mr. I-carjacked-somebody-and-then-shot-two-people right next to Mr. I’m-just-a-tax-accountant. I really think that if people like Michael Milken, Charles Keating, and Ken Lay had to bunk with some 300lb Bubba who’s serving 20 to life for gang-raping a Teamster they’d think twice before stealing pension money from old ladies.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

March Madness, Part 3: Bracket Breakdown - East

Welcome back to our coverage of March Madness. Previously our guest commentators, Gumby Bryant and Mad Johnnen, helped us break down the exciting 'North' region of the iNCAA bracket. Now we're going to look at the 'East' region - I'll let Gumby and Mad get right to it:

North Region

Oh, and if you haven’t gotten the whole bracket yet, or haven’t filled it out, here's the entire, printable bracket.

Gumby Bryant: Welcome back to our exclusive iNCAA coverage. I’m Gumby Bryant…uh…no relation to Kobe…and here’s Mad Johnnen…

Mad Johnnen: Welcome back everyone…

Gumby Bryant: Ok, let’s cut right to the chase – is the ‘East’ region the strongest in the iNCAA bracket? I’m starting to think so…

Mad Johnnen: Well, hold on a minute, let’s back up for a minute – I want to take a moment to introduce anyone who’s just joining us to the iNCAA tournament.

Gumby Bryant: Ok, but make it quick, we’ve got a lot to cover!

Mad Johnnen: The iNCAA tournament is a ‘last-man standing’ style tournament to determine who has the most control over Iraq at the end of the tournament. This tournament lasts 1 year and has six rounds (thus, each round lasts 2 months). At the end of each round a determination will be made as to which of the two teams has more control and authority in Iraq. For example, if you look at the ‘East’ region, #1 seed Theocratic Shiites is up against #16 seed Christian Iraqis – at the end of April we will determine who has more control and that team will move on to the second round.

Gumby Bryant: Hah – we all know who’s moving forward from that match-up.

Mad Johnnen: Well, yeah – the Christians are going to get crushed like this is a modern-day crusade!

Gumby Bryant: That’s what makes the current turn of events so interesting. Not many people realize that life was actually pretty good for Christians under Saddam Hussein. Ever since the invasion Iraqi Christians have been pretty much under siege with church bombings, kidnappings, and killings.

Mad Johnnen: Now, wasn’t the Deputy Prime Minister under Saddam Hussein a Christian?

Gumby Bryant: Yup, many people forget that Tariq Aziz, basically the number two guy in Iraq under Saddam, was a Christian.

Mad Johnnen: Well that’s too bad for Christian Iraqis – they had a good run.

Gumby Bryant: Yeah, you could say that they’ve been the ‘Cinderella story’ of the past 30 years – I think they’re going down and out after the first round.

Mad Johnnen: Now, how about that #1 seed for Coach Sistani’s team?

Gumby Bryant: That was pretty much a given – the Theocratic Shiites are arguably the strongest team in this whole tournament after U.S. Army. But, in addition to the #1 seed that the Theocratic Shiites deserved, I think they also got really favorable placement within the ‘East’ region.

Mad Johnnen: Come again? I was thinking the exact opposite – I think the ‘East’ region is potentially upset city…

Gumby Bryant: How’s that?

Mad Johnnen: Well, bear with me here, take a look at the top half of the ‘East’ region – you’ve got two other really strong teams in that part: Moqtada al-Sadr and Ba’ath Party

Gumby Bryant: But only one of those teams can move up to challenge the Theocratic Shiites…

Mad Johnnen: Sure, but whichever team moves up to challenge them in round 3 will have the benefit of a bruising second round match that will get them in shape for the Theocratic Shiites.

Gumby Bryant: And who do you think will move up to challenge Coach Sistani’s squad?

Mad Johnnen: I think Ba’ath Party, though seeded much lower than I thought they deserved, will move up and could possibly upset the Theocratic Shiites.

Gumby Bryant: Wow! I didn’t even think they could get by Moqtada al-Sadr in the second round!

Mad Johnnen: al-Sadr had his spark last April, but he’s really lost a lot of traction since then. You have to remember that the Ba’ath Party is really well organized and knows all the tricks of the game – they’ve been number 1 in Iraq for 30 years.

Gumby Bryant: Well, I guess you have a point, but I’m not sure I see them upsetting Coach Sistani…

Mad Johnnen: Well, it could happen – also take a look at the bottom half of the ‘East’ region. I was really surprised that the Theocratic Sunnis got a #2 seed!

Gumby Bryant: I guess you could say that was the shocker of this region – the Kurds were really unhappy at the fact that they were given a #3 seed.

Mad Johnnen: But that’s ok, they have a chance to take out their anger on the Theocratic Sunnis in the 3rd round.

Gumby Bryant: Only if they get past the Saddam Loyalists in the second round…

Mad Johnnen: What? I was going to say that the Kurds were going to roll over the Saddam Loyalists, they sure have some vengeance to work out of their system!

Gumby Bryant: Hey, you can’t underestimate the Saddam Loyalists – remember, they were the ones who started the current insurgency way back in March 2003!

Mad Johnnen: Granted…they are a tough, scrappy little team.

Gumby Bryant: Well, in conclusion, Mad, give me your pick to win the ‘East’ region…

Mad Johnnen: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the Ba’ath Party will make an astounding comeback to win it all in the East.

Gumby Bryant: That’s definitely a daring prediction – I’m going to play it safe and vote that Coach Sistani and the Theocratic Shiites stomp through the East. With that, we’re off – stay tuned for some more bracket breakdowns next time. We actually have a surprise for viewers…

Mad Johnnen: What’s that?

Gumby Bryant: Next time we’re going to break down the ‘West’ region and we have booked Coach George W. Bush of U.S. Army to give us some insight into the ‘West’ region and the whole iNCAA tournament.

Mad Johnnen: Should be exciting – stay tuned!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Poll of the Week Results: Please State Your Nickname for the Record

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Well, here are the results from our ‘pick a nickname’ contest. How did I even come up with such a contest… you should check out this post in which the Bloogeyman takes an opinion columnist to task for suggesting Condoleezza Rice might deserve a Nobel Peace Prize (WTF?!?). Just writing that post got the Bloogeyman so worked up, muttering various unflattering names for Condi Rice, that he decided to make a contest of it and let you decide what Condi’s nickname should be.

So, you all voted and…the winner is…’Condosleaza Rice’ (in case you have trouble reading the complex graph above…or, unlike Ross Perot, just don’t like reading graphs). Oh, I also forgot to mention that Condoleezza Rice agreed to abide by our decision and use our proclaimed nickname from now on.

Just kidding (I know, that really threw you guys for a loop…you’re so used to the Bloogeyman being dead serious)

Ah, nicknames indeed – we all know that George Bush has a penchant for providing his own little nicknames…but what would George Bush nickname Condi? Well, the Bloogeyman knows because the only vote that ‘Brown Sugah’ got came from George Bush himself. You see, the Bloogeyman called up George himself, disguised as a ‘reporter’ from ‘Talen News’ service and asked him this very question. George seemed to think I was asking him a non-hypothetical question, since he quickly provided the “correct” answer. “Uh, that would be number D, Brown Sugah”, he replied to my question.

The Bloogeyman was about to launch into a hard-hitting one-on-one interview with the President, but right at that moment I heard a knock and George said “Shit, I gotta go, that’s Dick – I’m supposed to be reading this report”. Oh well, now that I’ve got George’s personal line (I found out the number for the large red phone that sits on his desk – I figure with the safety and security that George provides the Russians will never need to use the ‘red line’, right?). So, enjoy the results and don’t be afraid for the Bloogeyman, intrepid reporter that he is, will surely call George back on the ‘red line’ and get an interview one of these days…

Friday, March 18, 2005

March Madness, Part 2: Bracket Breakdown - North

Welcome again to our coverage of March Madness. Last time, we presented some opening comments and let everyone take a look at the bracket. This time, the Bloogeyman is proud to present Gumby Bryant and Mad Johnnen – they will be helping us take a closer look at the bracket. First, we’ll break down the bracket and look at each region – there’s some exciting stuff going on here, and plenty of controversy – then we’ll wrap it up by looking at the bracket as a whole along with some possible outcomes. Here’s the ‘North’ region of the bracket, I'll let Gumby and Mad take it from here:

North Region

Oh, and if you haven’t gotten the whole bracket yet, or haven’t filled it out, here’s the entire, printable bracket.

Gumby Bryant: Hello everyone, welcome to our iNCAA coverage. I’m Gumby Bryant…uh…no relation to Kobe…and here’s my co-host, Mad Johnnen.

Mad Johnnen: Hiya everybody!

Gumby Bryant: Ok, Mad, let’s get right into this, there’s a lot of interesting things going on in this North region.

Mad Johnnen: Well, hold on for a minute, I think we need to first introduce the iNCAA tournament to everybody out there who just got into this – it’s going to be an exciting tournament and we want everybody to play along!

Gumby Bryant: Ok Mad, take it away…

Mad Johnnen: The iNCAA tourney is pretty exciting because it’s a ‘last-man standing’ tourney – we’re looking at who has the most control over Iraq. Man, there are a lot of players and players who play a lot. The interesting thing about this tournament is that there really is no time limit – players drop out whenever. Basically, we update the bracket each year and during the year we follow the players at two-month intervals and then determine who has more control at the end of the round. For example, lets take a look at the ‘North’ region – the first round is over at the end of April. At that point we’ll take a look to see who has more control, #1 seed Britain, or #16 seed Netherlands. Round two is over at the end of June, and so-forth.

Gumby Bryant: I’m sure we all know who’s going to be out at the end of April in that match up! Remember, a #16 seed has never defeated a #1 seed in the history of the tournament – the Netherlands is going to get rolled.

Mad Johnnen: No objections here, Gumby. You know, when I first took a look at the North bracket I was amazed at how stacked this bracket is with the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ this year.

Gumby Bryant: Right Mad, but I was thinking they are more like the ‘Coalition of the Willing-to-Bend-Over-and-Take-it-for-Uncle-Sam’!

Mad Johnnen: No objections here, Gumby. But, you gotta like some of the ‘wildcard’ players they threw in here…Iran, Syria, Israel. This could get really interesting.

Gumby Bryant: That’s exactly what I was going to talk about – there was a lot of controversy over the fact that Iran got a #2 seed in this region – are they even playing in this tournament?

Mad Johnnen: Boy, that sure took people by surprise. Coach Howard of Australia was really miffed on this one – he was really hoping for a #2 seed. Not only did he not get that, he’s potentially going up against Italy in the second round! I talked to some of my sources and here was the rationale behind putting Iran in this bracket and for giving them such a high seed. Basically, any way you look at it, Iran has a lot of influence, even control, in Iraq: Sure, they don’t have troops on the ground but there have been a lot of reports about Iranian intelligence agents in Iraq.

Gumby Bryant: Right, and if you remember back in January, a British C-130 Hercules was shot down – some people say that Iran was behind that. You’ve got to be nervous if you’re Coach Blair because you might have to go head-to-head with Iran to win the North bracket.

Mad Johnnen: Let’s look at another pick that took everyone by surprise – Italy. Gumby, didn’t Italy announce just a couple days ago that they were going to withdraw troops from Iraq by September? How did they get on the bracket, and how did they get such a high seed?

Gumby Bryant: Well, here’s how I look at the situation: Sure, Coach Berlusconi announced a couple days ago that he was going to drop out of the tournament by September, but look what happened yesterday – he backtracked on that statement! Coach Bush (U.S. Army) called him up and twisted his arm...

Mad Johnnen: I bet he didn’t have to twist hard…the U.S. hasn’t owned Italy this much since they drove through Italy in a convertible during World War 2!

Gumby Bryant: …yeah, well I think that Italy will be there longer than September, but I know they’re going to have to get by Australia if they want to stay alive past the second round.

Mad Johnnen: Now what about these other two surprises – Israel and Syria?

Gumby Bryant: Israel was a real shocker – Coach Sharon had publicly said that he didn’t want to be on the bracket, but that didn’t stop Israel from being placed…favorably, if I might add…

Mad Johnnen: Wait just a minute here, did you say that Israel has been placed favorably?

Gumby Bryant: Sure, just look at the top half of the bracket – Britain’s a #1 seed right now, but I think Britain’s position is kind of shaky. Coach Blair’s been getting a lot of pressure lately and if he makes some move that indicates he’ll be out of the tournament – or even some comments undermining the appearance of Britain’s commitment to the tourney – I think there’s an upset in the making. Everybody knows that Israel has a huge stake in the outcome of this tournament, and I think you’re naïve if you don’t believe they have some level of control in this process.

Mad Johnnen: So, let me get this straight: You think Israel will sail past Japan in the first round…

Gumby Bryant: The Japanese are a bunch of wet noodles…

Mad Johnnen: And then they have a chance at upsetting Britain…wow…that would be breath taking. In that scenario, what about a possible match-up against Syria in the third round?

Gumby Bryant: That’s what makes the North bracket so interesting…I think that Israel would squeeze by Syria – that could potentially result in a 4th round match up against Iran.

Mad Johnnen: Wowza!

Gumby Bryant: That’s right – this bracket has the potential to be a real powder keg of action. Good to have all you folks with us – let us know what your favorite picks are in the North bracket. Next time we'll take a look at the 'East' region of the bracket.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

March Madness, Part 1: Iraqetology

Well, March Madness has arrived and it looks to be a doozy. In fact, I’m a little late to the party because by my count March Madness actually started two years ago: I just never got around to filling out my brackets. Of course, I’m talking about Iraqi March Madness – the biggest, baddest bracket fest ever. So, sharpen your pencils because, without further ado, here is the bracket:

Click for larger, printable version

Click here for larger, printable version.

Also, I have a special surprise, I have scheduled Gumby Bryant (no relation to Kobe) and Mad Johnnen to do a region-by-region breakdown of the brackets. They’ll be swinging by later on to let us know the ins and outs of the brackets – who looks like they’ll be going far, who might be on the receiving end of an upset, and which surprises to look out for.

This looks like an exciting tournament - make sure to fill out your brackets and get ready for some madness!