Sunday, September 30, 2012

FAMU v. Whoever it was Weekend (Made it!)

Ramblings Post #202
There are a number of ugly truths. We don't like to confront them because they make life hard, making us realize that we have flaws. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. I like to think that being able to admit the ugly truths and deal with them is what makes the difference. 

I don't like pictures of me. I don't like them because they have an odd tendency to shatter the mental image I have of how I think I present myself. I often envision myself as a sort of down market Denzel. Seriously. In reality I look more like the uncle at the family reunion who talks too loud about the wrong things and just annoys everybody.  In short, I don't like pictures of me because the damn things look just like me.

So I got out of the house. After a week getting over whatever it was I had - I went ahead and slid down to the Georgia Dome to catch the Alma mater play. The Alma mater lost.  Not that anybody noticed.  Let me start again.

I went to college with Spanky, and when the circus comes to town she's all about the hangout. So when she called Saturday morning and asked was I going and if I was going did I want her "extra" ticket it just kinda fell into place.
Biz Markie on the ones and twos.

I met her at the tailgate. No, that's wrong, because at a tailgate Coors wouldn't have had a pavilion. And a stage with Dougie Fresh performing, and Biz Markie on the turntables. So I got the hookup and got into where the free food and drinks were being tossed out. And as it turns out, Spanky's "extra" ticket was for club level. So the day is looking up.
This was club level...and this is not a crowd.
So we go to the game. Me and Spanky's cousin get a couple of drinks and pal around for a while, then lo and behold Spanky hits me up and next thing you know we're in a Super Suite. As I've mentioned before, Spanky is a VIP diva. But who am I to argue with an upgrade.

It is at this point I get my first view of the whole stadium, and quickly come to realize just how important the band is to FAMU.  The university is able to get premium venues - Georgia Dome, Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Ford Field in Detroit - because Rattlers fill a room. And apparently they fill the room because the band does its magic. I say this because the band wasn't there and the Dome was empty. We did not turn out. I don't have the heart to post the picture.

Somebody took some pictures of me. Somebody pasted them on FB.

Two things I realize now. Although I am in better shape than I was, I'm not any appreciable shape at all. The standing and walking of Saturday has my legs burning today. My back hurts and I am shuffling about like an old man...which I kinda am. So it's time to hit the gym. And two, I have been putting off going back on my diet strong for various, usually silly reasons, - I want biscuits, I haven't had that in a while, I deserve some ribs today! -  but looking at the picture of me indicates I've put off going back too long. Way too long.

So, we begin again. It will not be easy...but it will be good.

Barkeep. I'm gonna need sixty ounces of water to start, and a fresh orange. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bar chatter

Bar chatter #27
Sometimes it ain't enough to equal a whole post, but still needs to be said.... it's bar chatter. 

I should be out this weekend. It's the FAMU v. whoever else is playing Weekend and all my people that I ain't seen in forever are in town. I haven't been out for the whole week's festivities since Law school started in the long ago. The party kicked off on Wednesday, got really rolling Thursday night and started at one in afternoon for the day party on Friday.

I however am just getting over what I think is the flu...and rather than infect half the east coast I have missed everything. Yes, I'm staying home. On a Friday in Atlanta during a be out weekend. Son of a ....

Quite probably Game Day Saturday too, unless I see a big improvement in the next 12 hours. And the house party afterwards!

So bummed right now. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I still love British television

Ramblings Post #201
We plan. We all plan. We plan to get in shape, clean the kitchen, landscape the yard, get new furniture, learn a new language, run a marathon, take a dance class, become a better person. And that's just for today, there is also what we plan for tomorrow. But mostly, we plan, then find a comfy spot on the couch and dig into that bag of potato chips, and click until we find something to watch. But not I. But not until tomorrow. My tummy hurts. 

A few years ago, I found what was to me a new show. It was fresh, like nothing I'd ever seen, looking like part improv, part painstakingly choreography, a deft mix of British comedy, satire and political commentary. Called The Thick of It, it revolved around the characters in a mythical office of a British cabinet post shown in a way that looked more like real life than anything I'd ever seen, including reality TV and documentaries. And at the center of it was a character called Malcolm Tucker, a character that comes across as living breathing personification of everything that is wrong about whichever political party it is you oppose. He swears, he browbeats, he threatens, he scorches the earth behind him and is not even afraid to brag about it, but he is what makes government run.

Well, Malcolm is back.

Malcolm Tucker terrifies

I found new episodes of show on Hulu, and they're in the free section! There is now a complete season three and they are shooting a fourth now. I've been catching up and whoever writes this hasn't missed a beat, unlike some "revived shows" I won't mention. Because the actor that played the Minister in the original series got arrested in real life, they've got a new Minister for Malcolm to abuse, one who he chose over, as he puts it, "drawing a smiley face on his own right buttock." The third's season's first episode is her introduction and Malcolm "tactfully" explaining on the her first day on the job she's got to choose between making her husband resign his job because its an unintentional political liability, or changing her daughter's school because it is also an unintentional political liability.  Because he just doesn't want to have to deal with both. This against the backdrop of the core office staff subtly stabbing each other in the back in case the new minister wants to let someone go.

And that was just the first episode of  the season. The second episode was even funnier.

The language is a little racy, apparently the Brits can get away with a bit more than prime-time in the US. And the slang is still sometimes a little hard to follow, but you can get the gist of it. The story is the thing. Crisply written, dense and detailed, with actors who appear to be either truly committed to the roles or don't know they're being filmed.

I lamented back then that we'd get a watered down version in America, and we did with HBO's comedy Veep starting actually funny actress Julia Louis-Dreyfuss as the Vice President. Maybe it's because I've seen the original that I can't get into this version, or maybe because it hits a little close to home - we actually have a VP and I know what the job entails as opposed to me not being sure if the ministry used in the original actually exists. I think its an existential need for the disbelief to be believable. Or something.

In any case, I now have something worth watching. Hulu even has the first two seasons in case you want to catch up. It is good stuff. True, you will have to watch on computer, but good television is hard to come by. Maybe I'm just happy it doesn't have vampires.   

I don't need better television. I just need better access. I almost like Hulu now.

Barkeep, get me some Guinness. No, wait that's Scottish. Some um...something English. Whatever. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The NFL goes WWE...AGAIN!

Ramblings Post #200
After writing all this in a burst of fury after the game, then letting it sit for few minutes, well for a few hours....I downloaded a .gif of the play - and watched it through maybe fifty times. Got a couple of screen grabs. Blew them up, ran them through some filters to clear them up. Read the NFL Rule book. Checked a few message boards, got some insight. I can see why the replay officials might have an issue overturning it. Might. Because as I understand it, once simultaneous catch is ruled on the field that the replay officials aren't looking at that, but only if there was enough evidence to overturn the touchdown call made. But then that speaks to something else.

Man those folks at ZipMeme are fast! Game wasn't over five minutes when this popped up

You have got to be kidding me. Now, I like the rest of the nation watched as the NFL started this season with work stoppage - the refs. Nobody ever really likes the refs, we tolerate them, but we gain a grudging respect for them over time. Occasionally you would see one you recognize and realize, much like a boxing fan seeing Mills Lane in the ring, that even if you didn't like the calls you knew that it would be fair.

We never really knew how much we would miss them until they were gone.

A travesty of officiating has taken place over the past few weeks. The replacement refs, made up of not second string (people hoping to be NFL refs after the labor strife, so they bowed out) but of third string penalty callers have wreaked havoc with the game. Ten minute delays as they sort through things. Mystery penalties. Extra challenges awarded to one team. Although the league would claim that the outcome of no game had been affected. 

Really? You give someone two extra challenges and the outcome wasn't affected? A non-call becomes a call and a drive stays alive - doesn't affect a game? A twenty seven yard penalty for unnecessary roughness from the wrong spot on the field - doesn't affect a game? The replacement refs aren't affecting a game?  A you kidding me? Okay, maybe. I mean, I've only watched the game since I was a kid...I obviously have no clue! Whatever.

But then Monday night came. And the whereas a stout Seahawks team played an incredible game they should have lost to the Packers. Trailing by five, in a last second heave, the Hail Mary was sent. And aside from the missed obvious offensive pass interference call (shoving a defender in the back), the offensive receiver may have never actually had possession of the ball. I watched Golden Tate's right hand come in after the defender had two hands on the pigskin over and over again (via downloaded .gif). At best he's wrapping his arm around the ball pinned against the defender's chest.

The two officials giving opposing signals as they both stood three feet from the pile should have been the first clue this was about to go wrong. But all scoring calls are reviewed, so we're good.  But, as it turns out, the replay officials - who are the REAL REPLAY OFFICIALS, not replacements - can ONLY review the play AS CALLED. They can't tell the refs on the field  "hey, you should have called this," they can only review if there is enough evidence to overturn the call that has been made.  And the call on the field was touchdown.

The call was so bad that no reporter on Sportscenter, not one of at least 10 people, was willing to even defend it, not even to play devil's advocate. You could actually see the self control on the faces of the Packer players as they were interviewed about it. FB and Twitter got downright profane. My favorite tweet, a fake quote from WWE chairman Vince McMahon: "Even I know that was an interception."      

I compared this is the world of Wrestling for a reason. At least in the WWE, you expect bad officating. For the ref to get "distracted" by a heel. Or to get knocked and wake up just in time. It's part of the show, part of the story.  But pure sport, basketball, baseball and especially the NFL, is supposed to be above this sort of tomfoolery. 

Somebody call the White House. Obama needs to straighten this out.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The NDAA and You...

This is a political post. 

My new conservative FB friend has actually proved useful, but I still miss my old conservative buddy. I miss him because he would actually defend his points, as opposed to this person who has a tendency to just post those photos with messages computer worked in that are supposed to prove their point. That and she likes to reiterate that Obama is just evil for some reason. Her rationale is never quite clear. I believe she is a basically a single issue voter - against abortion -  and is simply along for the ride.

The other day she posted a JFK quote indicating that at one point the Democrats were in favor of lowering taxes to spur economic growth. A quick Google check shows that when JFK made the statement, the top tier income tax in this country was over NINETY percent. So yes, it was a great idea at the time, but decisions aren't made in a vacuum, and at this point taxes are on the other side of fifty. In fact they're on the low side of twenty for the referenced income earners. So maybe a new plan? 

Her latest picture decries the injustice of the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization act. It has been the centerpiece of outrage for freedom loving Americans because it allegedly contains something that gives the President the right to detain US citizens indefinitely. I use the term allegedly because the item they seem to have issue with - Section 1021(b) - doesn't say what they claim it says. Now, the NDAA may give the government indefinite detainment rights somewhere, the whole thing is 565 pages of fairly dense print. But it's not where the outrage is directed. Let me explain.

You can get a PDF of the whole thing here. The section is question is on page 265 - Subtitle D - Counterterrorism.

The section covers specifically detainment for "covered persons" under the law of war, or for the lay person - who we can consider "prisoners of war" for this war on terrorism. It defines those persons in part (b) as a persons involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks, and persons who are part of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban or those who associate with them or give them aid. That's it, that's all it covers.

Now, the disagreements stem from the language used, because it doesn't define what giving aid to those parties listed actually means. Some reporters have been afraid to speak to contacts in the Middle East for fear association would be within the scope of aid. Others whose peaceful organizations have been lumped into the same watch list type group as Al-Qaeda fear the same possible vague violations. So maybe they have a point. But wait...did they read the rest of that same act?

Now, it is this last part that makes me think that the people who argued about it in Congress don't know what's in it, that these people who went to court to get it struck down to protect Americans haven't completely read it, and that most of the people who are mad are just  upset because somebody told them to be upset - but they haven't bothered to do the homework for themselves.  

If you've looked it up, let me call your attention to the part just down 16 lines in part (e) of Section 1021.  If you haven't got your own copy, here is the text of 1021(e):

AUTHORITIES.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.

Nothing in this section, meaning the entirety of Section 1021, can affect the laws on the books with regard to US citizens and what happens if you break the law. So what happens to you if you are arrested (your constitutional right to a Writ of Habeas Corpus) is not affected. Note, the language does not say it has to be a Supreme court tried and tested law, nor create any other qualifications, but merely be an existing law. And in here we can fill in the Constitution if you like. Or state law. Or any law that exists now that says you cannot be held indefinitely. 

The practical upshot is that your right to a speedy trial, which may vary depending on what part of the country you were arrested in, is not affected. You still have all the same legal rights if you were to get arrested for aiding Al-Qaeda that you would get as if you'd got caught say... robbing a 7-11. The President can't send you to Guantanamo because you robbed a 7-11, can he? Then he can't send you to Guantanamo for being a US citizen who aids Al-Qaeda. 

So if this whole section - Section 1021 - can't affect existing laws pertaining to US citizens, which don't allow indefinite detention, then how can it grant the President the power to detain US citizens indefinitely? Maybe citizens of elsewhere would have an issue, but not US citizens.

Or maybe I'm reading it wrong?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Where are you when I need you?

Ramblings Post #199
This is a semi political post, but since it's really more about other stuff, it's going in as a rambling item. And as I thought about this, the picture I was going to add in originally had been saved as name that would have ensured it came up in every search under the sun. But I changed it. Why? Because pandering to the lowest instinct is not right. And this isn't that great a post. And I'm better than that.

Why does this make is sound like the other sections aren't willing? 

I've been defriended. Again.

This time, because of my Facebook app Social Fixer, I was informed fairly immediately.

As I've said before there are a lot of folks I don't even remember befriending on my friend list so I'm certain it must be the same for other folks with me, so I should be getting igged on the regular. But since this is the bookmark of relationships that hasn't been happening. One almost asks why bother? Well, that one asking would be me. But then I don't really share that much on FB. But for those who update as many as 15 times a day - like Schmoopy with her fitness tips, or a certain conservative christian friend of mine - I guess you become aware of who you're sharing with.

The loss this time was one of my rather vocal conservative friends, the one from college who I know is counting down the days until the national nightmare that is Obama is over on his iPhone app. This is a guy who was backing Mitt when the Republican field looked like an early round of American Idol. Of those who post regularly, his rantings seemed the most grounded. Well, not really, but at least they made some sense. Listening to him, seeing the links to his sources and looking back at their sources, gave me insight into why those people who have a different viewpoint from me have that viewpoint. Echo chambers are great if you're planning on cheering on your football team. For real life, not so much. The idea of living in an informational bubble to such a degree that any opposing viewpoint must be heresy has no appeal.

My remaining conservative friends are more akin to ....well, the metaphor I want to use will only offend, so let's just say have their blinders on. They, much in the vein of my conservative christian friend,  are prone to making contradictory statements in the same paragraph, not even checking the sources they're willing to repeat as gospel and/or seem to have internalized a dislike for the President as though he's been personally been stealing the newspaper off their front stoop for the last four years.  I understand that they don't like the president, but the reasons they present are myopic at best, and gross disinformation at worst.

This becomes important now, because my old buddy would have been able to fashion out a media distortion angle for Mitt's unexplainable smirk after his initial comments on the sudden swell of violence in the Middle East, and championed the free speech argument for the film that started it all. My old buddy would have defended the Romney budget plan as sound even after Ryan admitted they haven't run the numbers. He would have a, he would have a, he would have come up with something to explain away Mitt's audio tape debacle, press the issue why it's unimportant (if not completely true!) and why we need to check Obama because of X or and Y. He would have come out swinging on this. Or at least ducking and weaving. Now, I get nothing. Or at least, nothing that I can use to educate myself.

Barkeep, who are you voting for? No, Jim Beam is NOT running.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gimme a Beat!

Ramblings Post #198
I don't go out anymore. I got out of the habit going to school at night, and now I've gotten comfortable sitting home at night watching TV and playing video games. You would at least think I would be reading or something productive, working on one of my projects. But no. Anyway, the truth is this house is kinda empty, and the city is teeming with life. So here we go. Again.

Atlanta, despite reports to the contrary, consists of more than Waffle Houses, strip malls, chicken joints, circular highways and gentleman's clubs. There is a bit of arty crowd here, with the High Museum, a symphony, a branch of the Savannah College of Art and Design and that eclectic little district known as Little Five Points. And once a year, the good folks at Jack Daniel's sponsor a show called Art, Beats and Lyrics. And no, I didn't go just for the free Jack Daniels.

They held it at The Compound this year, one of the ATL's hotter clubs, which has undergone a major renovation since the last time I graced their doors. Originally it was three installations with a open air garden in front, now the first buildings have been combined and they've added a lot more couches and polish to the whole thing. It was rather impressive. Like out of a music video impressive.

Art Beats and Lyrics is the kind of show I would have to had dragged Sporty too, but once she got there she would have been like 'cool'. I've been a few times, met a few artists - some of whom's art now adorns my walls - and had a very good time. It's a combination Art show, mini-concert and party. There are little attractions, like the light graffiti wall you can "paint on" and a visualizer of some kind I didn't want to get into to do something(?), and this interactive thing hooked up to an XBOX Kinect. Spaced throughout the venue are the art installations, some adorned with price tags (didn't see the artists this time though) from up and comers with proper art names like Kaz, Hebru Brantley, Doubleyoo, Dres13, and A Squid Called Sebastian.

Oh, and free Jack Daniels.

Here are a few shots from show. I like how it all wasn't one style, but an good mix.

In the end though, I got "Ritz crackered".

This is a reference to the old Eddie Murphy joke where he compares not having sex long period of time to not eating for a long period of time, to the point where if someone gave you cracker, that same cracker would be delicious, possibly the best tasting cracker ever. Maybe even a Ritz cracker.

Now, because I had not been going out as of pretty much anywhere except a friends house or two...I forgotten something very important about this city. I believe author Dan Jenkins put it best, in saying "That if in Atlanta on a Friday night you can't meet a woman you'd leave your wife for, then you didn't leave the house." What that boils down to is that there are some very attractive women in Atlanta. But in my many years of going out, I had developed a more refined taste. I needed more than just a cute face, I needed personality, intelligence, a sense of purpose, etc. A whole woman (.i.e., Sporty). But at ABL, it was like I hadn't eaten in months.  And then someone put a whole sleeve of Ritz crackers in front of me. Have I been out of the game that long?

In the end, good night out. True, I was home by 10:30pm...on a Atlanta. But baby steps man, baby steps!

Side note: The show goes through DC on November 16th.

So was a good night out. I realized I'm little too old to be doing this regular. I got other priorities , other things I need to focus on. Shole was fun though. Maybe I'll just dabble a bit.

Barkeep. Yes, I will be have the Jack and coke. No, not in the cool pre-mixed bottles, but in a glass. Age has it's privileges.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bill Clinton vs. The Dallas Cowboys

This is a political post. Kinda.

I remember a cartoon from a long time ago, Regan's second inauguration if you will. By happenstance, the inauguration fell on Super Bowl Sunday. I kid you not. And the cartoon suggested that Regan take is second oath of office at halftime, that way we could be sure someone noticed. I didn't think it was that far fetched an idea. Because sometimes, you have set the silliness aside and focus on the important things in life, like football. Okay, that time I was kidding.

Really? Whose brilliant idea was it to hold the Democratic National Convention at the start of football season? I mean come on. That was patently unfair to those of interested in the future of country as a whole...AND in what Bill Clinton had to say. Yes, that is correct, I equate the success or failure of my favorite football team with the success of the country. I'm only almost partially kidding. I clicked over the convention (because I was watching the game!) and they were telling Bain horror stories, nothing I didn't already know so I figured I'd check back later.

I missed almost all of Elizabeth Warren watching the Cowboys offense give'em the peppa! As much as I know I can get the text someplace or run through the clips later, you should want to hear it live if possible. But the Cowboys were leading at the half 7-3! As a long time Cowboy fan, do you know how fleeting that is as of late. The way we were handing out points in the second half last year, we Cowboy fans have to savor those precious moments that we're up while we can.

Then then sent out ole' Slick Willie. And then I was truly torn. Because this year the 'Boys have actual cover corners, guys who might be able to stop a pass every now and then.  But Bill Clinton knows how to turn a phrase, and although we want Obama back....let's just say the President should be happy ole Billy Boy can't run again.  So I clicked back and forth between the game and convention. I missed the second touchdown, but caught the part about us being better off.  I missed the Giants field goal as the former President waxed on about math being the key to the economy.  With just a seven point lead I was now pressed. Would Coach Garrett make Tony Romo throw the ball all over the field for no reason, increasing the possibility he'd throw a game wrecking second pick? I was sorely tempted to go make myself a drink.  Instead I clicked back over to Clinton breaking down what the Republican budget plan means in real terms.

I listened to Clinton toss out zinger after zinger, doing the dirty work, something he knows the President won't be able to do in his own speech.  Then I watched Miles Austin make a leaping catch on first and thirty, then scamper into the end zone to make it a two touchdown game. It is at this point I wish I could say I relaxed a bit. But then the Cowboys gave up three games last year where they were up by 12 or more fourth quarter, including one to the Giants.  I continued bouncing back and forth, but they were cheering so hard I could barely hear Clinton speaking. And when the Giants closed the gap, I feared that the 'Boys would somehow figure a new way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

I don't really sound like a fan do I?

Let's just say I've been disgusted with the way Jerry has done my team as of late, all ego and bluster amounting to much disappointment. But through thick and thin, you stay with your team. I wish I could say I did the responsible thing and watched Clinton. What I watched was the Cowboys RUN for a game winning first down as the Giants were out of timeouts, only to get it called back for holding. I really needed that drink about then. Then Romo didn't choke and threw for a first down! And then Romo didn't fumble the ball on the kneel down! Then the Cowboys won the game!

Well damn.

And Clinton gave a great speech as well. At least the parts I heard. Thank God for the internet.

Barkeep, a tall glass of ice tea and chicken sandwich. I got some reading to do.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bar Chatter

Bar Chatter #26
Sometimes it just ain't enough to make a post, but it's still needs to go's just bar chatter.

I could comment on the RNC convention, Clint and Chair (a new series on FOX) or the start of the DNC and what they'll need to pull out of their hat. Or on the passing of Micheal Clarke Duncan, who got into acting late in the game and makes me think I could still do it. Or the start of the football season.  Or that out the blue Chatty Mogul called me (why does this person have my phone number?) about some new conspiracy theory.

But no.... 

Monday morning, Labor Day, I made biscuits. From scratch, just milk, flour and shortening. They came out nice too. Biscuits and syrup, with bacon on the side.

They were so good I had to write about them.