Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Walter Sends One From Above

I remember the day Walter died. It wasn’t supposed to happen to a guy so young, but it did anyway. He had announced within the previous year that he was suffering from bile duct cancer, but that he was convinced that with support from his family he would beat the disease.

We all had believed him, despite what our eyes told us. Walter had been diminished to a shadow of his former self. Thin, almost frail looking, there had been rumors. So while his preference would have been to remain private, the talk of aids that began circulating had forced him to go public.

I was driving down the Edens expressway when the announcement that Walter Payton had died came over the radio. It was the first week of November in 1999, Packer week, and my buddy and I were going to be driving to Green Bay that weekend for our first game in Lambeau Field. As I drove down the expressway listening to Walter’s teammates and friends talk about their fallen comrade I passed an African American man who had pulled his car to the shoulder and gotten out.

He was kneeling in the grass, head bowed, praying.

That was the kind of reverence this town had for one of it’s greatest. Walter Payton was a Bear like no other. After a tough rookie year when he missed a game with a pulled hamstring, he went on to play another 12 years. Although playing in one of the game’s toughest positions, running back for the Chicago Bears, and although running the ball on average 25 to 30 times a game Walter never missed another game in those 12 years.

There was always much talk about how strong and healthy Walter must have been to make all those games, but it was much more than that. He was tough. Walter was different than most runners in that he didn’t try to avoid tacklers so much as he tried to make sure that he was the one delivering the blow. In most cases this meant that the first guy to get to him could only hope to slow Walter down. That, and not get hurt. I never saw Walter go down on first contact, and I have no memory of ever seeing him lose a yard.

He was a Chicago Bear. Tough, committed, and hungry to deliver contact.

The Bears were bad in 1999, and the idea of losing in Green Bay the same week we lost one of our greatest was tough to consider. Farve was at his peak as Green Bay’s Quarterback, and to be honest there wasn’t much hope for our guys. It was an emotional week though, and the one thing that young team got to witness for themselves as we mourned the loss of Walter, was what it means to be a Bear in this town.

The morning of November 7th, 1999 found my pal and me outside the gates at Lambeau yelling, “Looking for two!”. It was tough; there were few extra tickets, and none with seats next to each other. We ended up buying two tickets on opposite sides of the stadium, said, “Bear down!” and went inside hoping for the best.

What a game. The team was truly inspired and played the Packers even for most of the game. Near the end, the Bears went up by a point or two and the Packers found themselves with the ball for one last drive, and time running out on the clock.

We held our breath and hoped against hope. This is where Farve excelled, and for the past decade he had been making a living as a Bear killer in just these situations. As the Pack moved down the field they pulled within field goal range with just enough time for one attempt at the three points, and the win.

The ball was snapped, the hold put in place, and the kicker stroked the ball cleanly into the air. At the last moment – the very last moment – Brian Robinson’s head appeared out of nowhere to knock the ball out of the sky. Rejected!

Bears Win! Bears Win!

The Packer’s fans looked at me like I was some sort of crazy man. “Bears Win” I shouted again, followed by, “See ya later!” as I thought it might be wise for me to beat a hasty exit. Out in the street I found my pal who came running in my direction shouting “Bears Win!”.

There are those who say that Walter knocked that ball off course that day or at the very least put B-Rob’s hand in the air. This is not entirely a nutso theory. The fact is B-Rob never did another thing of merit for the team and was out of football a few years later. People say it was Walter’s spirit that produced the win that day, and they’re right. Because of his death the team was witness to what one man can do if he works hard and makes a commitment to excellence.

Walter inspired a whole city, the idea that he inspired the team is, as they say, a no brainer.

Tomorrow: George Halas knocks on Lombardi’s locker room door.

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Welcome Back George

Well it’s about time.

After months of getting beat up by the Democrats, anti-war activists and their media cohorts, the President is fighting back. I was quite cheered on Veteran’s Day when he gave his speech denouncing not those who were critical of the war effort, but instead those cynical anti-war fanatics willing to distort and lie as their primary means of promoting their agenda.

My only concern was that the speech was a one off event and not the opening salvo in a long-term, ongoing campaign to fight for the proper war policy in America. It has been said the Bush is a good starter, but tends to be in bed when it comes time to finish, and I agree. Exhibit One is the very poor manner in which Bush and his team have communicated both the reasons for going to war, and the merits of staying in Iraq until the job is done.

Good people can disagree, and the majority of Americans have embraced respect for the well considered opinions of the side opposite of their own. For those of us who strongly support the war, and our continuing efforts to bring a stable government to Iraq, the president’s absence in making the case and leading our effort has been frustrating and more than a little bit depressing. Day after day, real progress is being made in one of the most difficult missions this country has ever attempted. We need the President out in front, leading the charge and defending the goal. With his leadership pushing us forward, the rest of us can wax the cripples as we pass by on our way to victory.

Finally. Finally he is out there once again with renewed energy. It is not insignificant that in recent days we’ve seen a change in tone from virtually all sides of American life. Serious Democrats such as Joe Lieberman, and Hillary (does she need a last name?) have stood up for the war, and defended our continued mission in Iraq, if not the exact details of the mission’s execution. The poll I linked to yesterday, published in the WaPo, suggests the public in fact does support the mission and does view the machinations of Dim Harry and Dirty Dick with the cynical eye they deserve. And the mood is up. Consumer confidence, although not completely related, is on the upswing which is in my view a leading indicator of more good things to come. Then there is the French, those loathsome, good for nothing scoundrels. The bloody French are even suggesting that it might be wrong for the US to leave Iraq too soon.

All this, with only a small effort from the President. Imagine the effect of those purple fingers that we’re likely to see on December 15th. The third successful election in one year, held by a country that previously was under the thumb of a gruesome dictator. All accomplished by the American military, the Iraqi public, and the determination of the American People thank you very much. I think we’ll begin to see a resurgence of positive opinion for Bush, and a new commitment to getting the job done right by the American people.

Today with have “The Strategy”. According to several media reports that I’ve heard, it’s a new strategy for winning the war and withdrawing troops. This is wrong. It is the same strategy with the only difference being that the President is actually doing some heavy lifting to sell it, and the media has backed itself in a corner where it now has to report it. I sure don’t like how we got to this point, nor am I particularly happy with how long it took to get here, but damn, we’re here and it feels good. Let’s hope the President has enough endurance to stick with this approach as well as he sticks to his exercise regimen.

I marvel at how fast things can change, which is to say that this state is not guaranteed, anymore than Nancy Pelosi’s previously all but certain rise to Speaker of the House next November. I am willing to make some bets though.

  • Next November we will be beginning to bring troops home, but will still have over 90,000 troops in Iraq.
  • It is quite likely that we will be talking with the Iraqi government about a more permanent base in Iraq that would include a large airfield.
  • Republicans will hold the house and senate in fall elections
  • Bush’s approval rating will be around 45% give or take 2 points.

Save a copy to beat me over the head with next Thanksgiving!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ed O'Bradovich & The Bart Starr Kid

I can't remember the year, it was either the late sixties or very early in the 1970's. I was a huge Bears fan inspite of the fact that the team was, shall we say, less than good. In fact in all of 1969, the team managed to win only one game despite the fact that they had such great players as Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Mike Ditka, and of course, Ed O'Bradovich.

O'Bradovich was nearing the end of his career in the late 60's. He was a defense stalwart for the Bears who anchored the defensive end position from 1962 until his retirement from football in 1971. I can remember to this day the passion and ferocity that he brought to every game, the type of player that makes others around him rise to the occasion and play harder due soley to their proximity.

Chicago football has never been primarily about offense or scoring. Of course we cheer for our team to win and expect nothing less than victory, but the real point of Bears football is the hitting. Teams can score and win without ferocity, but nobody hits without heart and this is what has always singled out Bears football. It's what we love about our team, and what we expect from our players. Often we've consoled ourselves over a loss with the knowledge that the other team would feel their pain in the morning.

Ed O'Bradovich, as much as any Bear, is both responsible for this tradition and worthy of our praise. So when my buddies and I heard that Mr. Obradovich would be at Wilson School in Arlington Heights one fall night in 1971 to give a talk and show some old Packer Game highlights there was no question that we'd be there.

I can still remember the room like it was yesterday. We got there early, and still could only get seats about halfway up the room because so many other kids had already arrived. On schedule O'Bradovich came out and gave us a talk. He said things about life, winning, the importance of sports, and what it was like to be a Bear. We came a little closer to becoming men that night, just to hear this real Chicago Bear talk to us.

When he was done, Mr. O'Bradovich asked if there were any questions. One hand shot straight up:

Kid: What do you think about Bart Starr? (For those not in the know, Starr was the Packer QB at the time.)

O'Bradovich: He's alright. He's a Packer, so I don't think about him much. Any other questions?

The same hand.

Kid: Do you think Bart Starr will get the Packers to the Superbowl?

O'Bradovich: You some kind of Packer fan kid?

Kid: Oh yes. I really like Bart Starr!

O'Bradovich: I can see that.

Kid: So will he take the Packers to the Superbowl?

O'Bradovich (becoming obviously irritated): Not if I can help it kid!

O'Bradovich: I've got some game films here, but before we do that are there any other questions?

Same hand.

O'Bradovich: If you ask me one more question about Bart Starr I'm coming over there kid!

Kid (bless his Packer lovin' heart): you think Bart Starr will go to the Hall of Fame?

O'Bradovich: Roll the film! Roll the film! I'm done!

The room despite being full of Bears fans went up for grabs. O'Bradovich made a great show, which was not entirely inauthentic, of being quite beside himself, and I know I had to respect the kid's courage a little that evening. He had the guts to take on the biggest Bear, and came out ahead on that day. I always wonder what happened to that kid, and if he remembers the moment as vividly as I do.

As for O'Bradovich he is as passionate about the Bears today as he was 35 years ago. One of my favorite things to do is tune in Ed and his partner, former Bear great Doug Buffone after every game to listen to their review. If you haven't heard them, it's worth a listen. When the Bears lose they are angrier than anyone, and win the Bears win, they're still angry that they didn't win by more points. Tune them in here is the link

Thanks for memories Mr. O'Bradovich.

Tomorrow: Walter sends a victory from above, and I was there.Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 28, 2005

Dim Harry, What Hath You Wrought?

It all sounded so good in the echo chamber of the Democratic planning sessions. There they were Dim Harry, and Dirty Dick Durbin drunk with their new found power planning out their strategy against the president.

Dim Harry: Dirty Dick, I think this will really work!

Dirty Dick: You betcha Dim Harry! We attack the president by attacking the war! We tell our people and our troops that the war they supported not only was a bad idea, but that we're failing.

Dim Harry: Yes, yes! And don't forget the you were lied to part. Oh yes, I really like that! I like it a whole lot Dirty Dick, a whole lot indeed!

Dirty Dick: Well Dim Harry, we've got the media on our side so the dumb bastards in the boondocks, those toothless fools that were tricked into voting Republican, will never consider that we're actually calling THEM stupid and immoral.

And so their meeting went. It all seemed so perfect; media support, repetition of message, it was a return to the cold war days when the Democratic message also was "America can't win". I wonder if they ever considered, even for a brief moment, that the public didn't buy it back then either.

You see, criticism and pessimism will only get you so far. Sooner or later somebody is going to have the termerity to stand up and say, "well, you guys got any better ideas?" There is one true and certain thing in this world, and it is simply this: The answer to that question from the party led by Dim Harry and Dirty Dick is and always will be, "no".Posted by Picasa

"Beat The Packers"

It's a simple message really, and it's all that matters in Chicago football.

"Beat the Packers".

It's the first thing a young Bears fan learns, and the only important thing he knows during Packers week. The rivalry has had it's ups and downs over the years, and free agency has threatened it's existence as transient players come to town more for the pay check than the glory. But the fan's have always remembered, and they make sure the players know that more than anything, rule number one for every man who puts on a Bears' jersey is to do whatever it takes to beat the Packers. Ask any player in Chicago, and they will tell you that at some point in their career a fan has come up to them and uttered those three simple words.

"Beat the Packers".

If the player hasn't heard this from a fan then he can be sure it is the first sign that he has been judged unworthy by those who count. This is no joke. A few years ago Chicago had a head coach named Dave Wannstedt. Wanny, or Death Spiral Dave as I liked to call him, came to town a likeable guy. Having put up a successful record as Jimmy Johnson's defensive coordinator in Dallas, Wanny was given more latitude than any head coach since the old man himself ran the team.

Unfortunately, Wanny wasn't any good. Fortunately for Wanny, Chicago fans are forgivable sorts when they have invested a lot of emotion into your hoped for success, and Bears fans had invested quite a bit in Dave. So much so, that even when Wanny exhibited a troubling inability to "beat the Packers", fans were willing to look the other way.

Then one day, one awful day for Wanny, in a desperate attempt to lower expectations and take some pressure off of another losing team, Wanny suggested that Packer week, was just like any other week. I've always wondered if Wanny knew it was over the second those words left his lips. Just like any other week? The fool. The damned fool, how could he have ever even thought he could get away with such apostasy. Death Spiral Dave spent his final years here trying to make fans believe he cared, but we knew the truth, he had failed in his one single mission.

Dave not only couldn't "beat the Packers", he didn't even care.

Just the other night Wanny, who is now a college coach and sinking fast, lost his final game of the season. The local sports guy showed highlights. We cheered.

"Beat the Packers".

It's simple. Full of the clarity that is missing in the rest of our lives. One simple mission where winning isn't enough, and beating necessarily only represents a starting point.

"Beat - the - Packers."

Some say the rivalry started between the legendary Mr. George Hallas and the cheese head with the French ancestry, Curly Lambeau. Both men loved to win, and more importantly they liked to win against each other. Both Hallas and Lambeau were NFL originals. Each man not only owned his team, but they also acted as head coach and star player. Mr. George Hallas, scored the final touchdown in the Bears first game against the Packers.

The rivalry really played out for real in that first game between two players who intentionally or not, set the tone for this brutal football classic. During that first game on November 27, 1921 Chicago's guard Tarzan Taylor landed a sucker punch into the nose of Howard "Cub" Buck, who despite being a much larger man, got the worst of the encounter. Buck's nose was broken, and his only response was to say to Taylor, "You're supposed to be a college graduate and a gentleman you know".

It sounds like the kind retort that would make a Frenchman proud, don't you think? Perhaps we could say the Pack surrendered that day, losing the game 20 zip.

Tomorrow: My brush with greatness. Ed O'bradovich and the Bart Starr kid.
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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Welcome To Packer Week

Two weeks every year are different. For 50 weeks a year Bears fans and Packers fans can treat each other with civility and at least a small amount of respect. We really have to, since our states border each other, separated by the renown "cheddar curtain".

The truth is that we need each other. Bear fans enjoy vacationing in Wisconsin with it's many lakes and woods, and Packers fans - who do little other than consume beer and burp - need our tourism dollars to keep their beautiful, yet oddly dull state from otherwise certain economic collapse. Interesting state, Wisconsin. Nowhere else in the world can one find an entire population dedicated to a life of sloth, and bizarre outdoor pursuits. Of course, I say this with a certain amount of respect, because our friends to the north despite a marked lackadaisical approach to life, do seem to find odd ways of distinguishing themselves none-the-less.

For example, did you know that a majority - not "a lot" or "many" or even "quite a bit ya hey der" - but a real honest injun majority of drowning victims in Wisconsin are found fully clothed with their pant's zippers open? True fact. I'm sure you've figured out the cause of this phenomena by now, but in case you haven't I'll add that they are solitary males, generally somewhat intoxicated, and usually an empty boat, still full of fishing gear, is found floating nearby.

But I digress. This is Packer week and it is time once again to beat and humiliate the loathsome swine from the north. It is a simple fact that this, more than any other, is the greatest rivalry in pro sports. Active since 1920, when Curly Lambeau (note the French surname) and the legendary Mr. George Halas led the Green Bay Packers and the Decatur Staleys (who the next year became the Chicago Bears), both teams have been meeting twice every fall on the gridiron for the world's greatest grudge match. Of course, the Bears hold the advantage having trounced the Packers more often than not, but we still pay homage to our worthy foes.

So I won't be turning the Pursuit into a sports blog this week, but I will regale you with tales and trivia from years gone by, as we prepare for a glorious Bears victory next Sunday. The picture above is from the Wrigley Snowstorm on December 11, 1932. Details of that game (Bears won) can be found here.

Tomorrow: Tarzan Taylor teaches Packer Howard "Cub" Brock where to find his nose.Posted by Picasa

Are You Ready For Some Football!!!!!?

Ready as we'll ever be! Big week folks, Da Bears are going for seven in a row, and they'll be doing it without one single Mini Ditka. Folly you say? Well at 3pm we'll know the truth, and hopefully so will the Bucs.

I hear there are also some other games. Here is my take on those:

Bucs 3 Bears: Da Bucs. WHAT? Hey bet with my mind, cheer with my heart.
Chiefs 3 Pats: Chiefs
Bengals 9 Ravens: Ravens
Panthers 4 Bills: Bills
Chargers 3 Redskins: Redskins
Vikes 4 Browns: Vikes
Titans 7.5 Niners: Titans
Rams 3.5 Texans: Texans
Jags 3 Cards: Cards
Raiders 7 Dolphins: Raiders
Seahawks 4.5 Giants: Giants
Eagles 4.5 Pack: Eagles
Saints 1 Jets: Jets
Colts 8 Steelers: Steelers

Bear Down!



Bear Down, Chicago Bears
Make every play, clear the way to victory!

Bear Down, Chicago Bears
Put up a fight with a might so fearlessly!

We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation
With your T-formation

Bear Down, Chicago Bears
And let them know why you're wearing the crown!

You're the pride and joy of Illinois,
Chicago Bears, Bear Down!!

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Are You Ready For Some Football!!!!!!!!!!!?

Why yes, yes I am, although I'm not sure about our lovely cheerleader friend above. As a cheerleader for the Atlanta Falcons she won't be stuffing the turkey today (although I'm suddenly thinking about stuffing muffins), but instead she'll be hard at work up in Detroit cheering her team on. The Falcons are favored by 3 points and any sane man would give the three and take Atlanta. Not this guy though, see I remember that this day, more than others is tough on birds so I'm takin' the points and gettin outta town. Go Deeetroit!

I'd post another picture of one of the Denver cheerleaders, but I haven't figured out the technology yet....someday I should get me a real blog. At any rate, the late game has the potential to be a doozy! Denver goes against Dallas and the Broncs are favored by three. Something tells me to go with the dog here too, and take the Cowboys and the points. Seems crazy, but then I'm just a wild and crazy guy!

What about my cumulative record you say? Well two tough weeks of 4-10 and 7-9 and moved me to 68-64 against the spread for the season. Not awful, but not up to my standards for excellence other. Lets see if I can get back on track today.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Posted by Picasa

Paging Dim Harry, Paging Dim Harry

It's not working Harry, it's not working!Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

More Progress In Iraq

This was the first thing that I read in my NYT this morning and it is a sign of further progress in that disaster named Iraq. Of course the Times tried to spin it as bad news, but frankly you could tell they really didn't have their heart in it. Although the headline indicated that it was putting further pressure on Bush, the article itself acknowledged that the pull-out timetable should be subject to Iraq developing a force sufficiently capable of providing security for the country.

The good news is that Sunnis and Shites are beginning to work together in the country's political process, and jointly taking responsibility for Iraq'a future. Make no mistake, this is a small step in tangible terms, but it is quite encouraging none-the-less. Interestingly, the media chose not to give this progress much attention. Odd, don't you think?

So today was another good day in the war on terror. The above development, combined with the news that Al Queda's decision to shift money out of Iraq as a result of their failure there and back to Afghanistan, is excellent news. Even more encouraging, is the news that the big AQ is increasingly unwelcome in Afghanistan, where Arabs tend to stand out.

I wonder if Congressman Murtha, who is an honored war hero and a good patriot, regrets calling for the white flag yet?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Congressman Murtha

I spent some time thinking about Congressman Murtha over the weekend. Who couldn't? Personally, I had never heard of this guy and suddenly there he was on my as a "former Iraq Supporter" announcing that we should withdraw our troops within six months.

Wow. A retired marine. Decorated veteran of service not only disagreeing with the President, but announcing a policy of more or less, immediate withdrawal. Heavy stuff.

I'll admit my first inclination was to mock him. I certainly never heard of this guy, he looks a bit like your average handout, rubber chicken banquet attending Congressman, and of course, my first inclination is to mock anyone who annoys me. It's part of the magic that is me.

Oh don't give me that high minded, Republican attack response bs that Andy Sullivan has used to put himself in near rapture today we've heard it all before. It's called politics as usual, and the Democrats have their attack dogs too. I won't mention Sid "Vicious" Blumenthal, if you promise not to bring another obscure boob named Schmidt. See we can all play this game.

I, of course wouldn't do such a thing. Nope, I'm pretty impressed with Congressman Murtha. If you want to read all the details of this man's service and philanthropy (some of it with our tax dollars, but then again that is part of his job), those details are out there, and they are impressive. He visits the service people at Walter Reed, once a week.

So he's a good guy and a patriot, by virtually everyone's account. Which makes this all the more puzzling. Why, dare tell me, would a decorated veteran declare his support for a six month pull out? I could understand a lot of things, but this? It doesn't make sense.

Say, for example, Murtha announced that he thought we needed to double our troops in Iraq. Or maybe that we should start bombing Syria. Or say that he thought we should try have some peace discussions with Zarqawi. All of these things, I would probably disagree with - although the Syrian option does seem intriguing - but I would understand that he was looking for a way to improve our position in Iraq.

Yet Murtha announces, somewhat out of the blue, that he wants full withdrawal in six months. Make no mistake, this is the one option that by just announcing support for it, is most likely to put our troops in greater danger, and a former war hero, a guy with McCainesque credentials announces that this, more than anything else is what he wants for our Iraq policy.

Think about it. Here we are closing in on the end of 2005, a historic year for Iraq and the US when we have had enormous success in pulling that country together. We began the year with the purple fingers of enthusiastic first time voters, defied the critics in June with another successful vote, and will now close the year with an overwhelmingly successful vote that will ratify the new constitution. Our number one enemy in country, Zarqawi, has just committed the most critical error of his campaign of terror, and has actually gotten his family and mosque and country to denounce him.

Suddenly here comes Congressman Murtha, a decorated war hero, announcing his support for a policy that looks damn close to surrender, and Zarqawi must be unable to believe his good fortune. "A tipping point!" has got to be his first thought, and to the extent he is capable, he must be thinking that now is the moment to go for broke. Send out the bombers and unleash as much death and mayhem as humanly possible to push the enemy's political structure over the top. Yes, there can be little doubt Murtha's announcement has hurt our position against the enemy.

I do not mean to suggest he did this intentionally, but I am willing to submit that he did it without much thought. There can be no doubt that Mutha thinks either our policy is wrong, or our execution of that policy is wrong. However, if he is a credible of a Congressman as the media would have us believe, then he is being irresponsible. Surely he knows that the "Mutha Option" is a non-starter, and he must be aware that to make such a suggestion just one month prior to the most important election in this effort will encourage our enemies and cause our Iraqi supporters to wonder about our commitment.

Congressman Murtha's timing on this matter is indeed highly questionable. It not only comes with curious timing vis a vis developments both past and future in Iraq, but it also comes in the middle of a Democratic Party campaign to build support for troop withdrawal in Iraq. Could this all be part of an orchestrated effort by the Democrats to finally get out in front of developments in this war?

Up until now the Democratic Party has been largely wrong about every development in the war. You can argue with me on this, but my point is that the Democrats politically have played their hand very poorly and found themselves on the wrong side of virtually every development so far. We do know with a high degree of confidence, that the coming election will most likely come off without a hitch. We also know with certainty that General Casey has submitted a plan to begin partial withdrawal next year upon the ratification of the constitution in Iraq.

Is it possible that the Democrats are so cynical that they now want to get out in front of this issue so that when troops start coming home following a successful election, that they can portray this success as failure. Further, not only will they portray our success as failure, but they will then take credit for forcing the President to admit failure and bring the men and women home.

You read it here first folks.Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 20, 2005



Bear Down, Chicago Bears
Make every play, clear the way to victory!

Bear Down, Chicago Bears
Put up a fight with a might so fearlessly!

We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation
With your T-formation

Bear Down, Chicago Bears
And let them know why you're wearing the crown!

You're the pride and joy of Illinois,
Chicago Bears, Bear Down!!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Wine Blogging

The Functional Ambivalent comes out of the closet and admits publicly what I've known for a little while. He is a wine guy. Not one of those turtle neck wearing effete doofuses you see walking beagles and waiting for Andrew Sullivan to tell them what to think politically. Nope, he's a wine guy and one that has even chosen Spain as his region to focus on. Good man. I'm going there in the Spring and look forward to hunting down some of his wine recommendations.

The Funky One though has a problem, in that he is suffering from wine taster's envy. Go read his post, you'll see what I mean. I was going to comment there, but there was so much to respond to I figured I could get a post out of it, and lets face it, I've got to feed the beast. So lets get the easy stuff out of the way first; There is no doubt, Tom, that you are an undiscerning boob - hell, you read my website!

Now for the post itself. Yes there are those of us who taste all of those things that he describes. Mineral, berry, tobacco, chocolate etc..... Typically it is not all at once but over the course of the bottle, since the wine opens and reveals itself over time. Tom is troubled though because he doesn't taste these things as he says. "no mater how hard I try". My read here, to the extent Tom's being sincere, is that he is trying too hard. One doesn't try to taste things in wine, instead one sips wine and lets the tastes happen. Very zen of me I know, but this is the truth. Maybe that's why the chicks dig me.....well that and the fact that when I wear underwear it's typically something unusual......but I digress.

Here is a little advice about wine tasting parties as long as we're on the subject. There is no way you're going to experience wine properly at a stuffy party. Way too many other obligations there; you've got to be sociable, witty, and worst of all you're obligated to eat little foo foo's. These things are always disgusting becauser we've grown up in a generation where women have decided that they've got to prove their merit by not being able to cook, and most guys are too bloody clodish to even try. So often were stuck with that foul crab cream cheese thing that has cocktail sauce spread across the top and some warmed over Pilsbury Crescent Roll dough with wienies in the middle. I just loathe going to homes where people put this stuff out. Get a cookbook people figure out how to make three things from scratch and in the process save your dignity!

No parties don't work at all for wine tasting. In fact how many of you have gone to one of these things where an "expert" has come in to pour the wine, and "oh by the way, he'll pass around the list for you to buy stuff at the end of the tasting"? You know what I'm talking about, we've all had this experience. You're sitting there tasting wine - some of it may even be good - and you're thinking, "I know that wine guy from somewhere". If you came of age in the '70's you remember at some point during the night that he sold your conversion van to you. In the eighties? He was the Bang Olufsen guy. Nineties? Don't ask me, I had figured this dude's gig out by then and avoided him and his oddly coiffed hair at all costs.

No, best to enjoy a bottle with a few folks who are focused on letting the experience happen....dig?

Most importantly Tom's post exposes the crime that the self important swine, Robert Parker, has committed against people of good taste everywhere. His description of a wine note from WS isn't Parker, but it is typical of the genre that he is responsible for. I repost it here:

Lush, suave red, with lush blackberry and cassis flavors, with delicious mineral and tobacco notes. Firmly structured, with a lingering finish of French roast and dark chocolate.

Who talks like that? Self important swine that's who. Especially self important swine from Maryland who would rather sip wine all day than pursue their nascent legal career! So I make a personal plea to you, my reader:

I would hope my Thursday wine blogging is a little more sincere in that I mention what I taste as I taste it with an economy of language and an accurate reflection. Please, if I ever use such elegant phrasery as above to describe a simple glass of wine, then call me a fop and shoot me in the damn head, cuz its friggin over man!

And another thing. What kind of jerk rates a wine 92? Tell me please, what is the difference between 92 and 93...or 94 for that matter? Only one possibility: The number of free cases that mysteriously appear on your doorstep! Of course everyone here knows that I have no insight into any particular wine taster's practices and so my thoughts on this matter are purely my conjecture and most likely wildly inaccurate. I would certainly never use my blog to accuse anyone of dishonesty since I have no knowledge of such practices. Really though, if you're boob enough to use such a scale don't you open yourself up to criticism?.

Straight forward and simple is my guide. Wine is either rot, "average/good", "very good", or "friggin excellent man!" on my scale. Actual ratings and adjectives can vary from this scale based on my sobriety.

So drink up people, and spit the excess in that fat bastard's face if you see him. Parker that is not Tom, who I'm sure is a svelte specimen, of specific geneology, worthy of his wife's attention.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"Polishes Potter's Goblet"?

You can imagine my surprise this morning when I saw this headline.

We've all had a laugh at some of those old porno films that in lieu of a plot, came up with a play on words for their title; Rambone, Private Bun-jiman, A Beautiful Grind, Rear and Present Danger, An Officer and a Genitalman, Battlestar Orgasmica, and my personal favorite, Diddle Her on the Roof. So you can imagine my shock this morning when I saw the linked article in the Chicago Tribune! I had no idea who this Newell guy was, but the fact that he got his x-rated film publicized in the Trib was quite impressive.

Turns out, that it is a little less than that and apparently some headline writer has quite the sense of humor. Bravo!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Are You Ready For Some Soccer!!!!!!!!!

Whew, what a weekend.

We just returned from a long weekend at a soccer tournament, far, far away from here that PD1 and her team competed in. I enjoy watching these games, and I must say there is so much to the game that I never fully appreciated when I was a kid. As I've said before, soccer was for the kids who's moms were concerned about injuries, and so we didn't really give it much attention. Of course this was an unreflective, crackpot sort of view that I've subsequently come to look past, and I now appreciate the strategy, physicality, and intensity of a game where every score could be decisive.

This post isn't about that though. What I want to write about is the importance of sports in the development of kids. Of course my only perspective is my own experience and that of my daughters', but I have seen a lot in these experiences and I find that sports are as important in our young lives as school work, or anything else that we're likely to take on at an early age.

First, we must agree that sports are about winning and losing, and that beyond the obvious importance of sportsmanship, nothing else matters.


I'm so tempted to depart from this post's intent to rant about those parents (we all know who I'm talking about here) who think that we need to protect kids from failure, and neuter the impact of competition on a child's development. I'm not going to do that, other than to say, these people are lost, and my hope is that they're children experience the "thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" inspite of these good, but misguided intentions.

I haven't mentioned it here before, but PD1 is a pretty good soccer player. I don't think we need to start reserving rooms at the 2012 Olympics, or even at whatever college she ultimately attends, but she is always one of the best players on the field, no matter what team she joins. This is the result of a certain level of innate athletic ability, but is also due to her enjoyment of the game and the level of intensity that she maintains on the field.

Over the past two years we had become increasingly disenchanted with the local team that she was on. The coaching was poor, players were not challenged to get better, and while people spoke of wanting to win, there was no real commitment. Most disturbing was watching my daughter's love of the game decline before my very eyes because of these issues.

So we moved teams. This was not without it's consequences as we live in a very small town where something like leaving the local team is viewed as an act of disloyalty. Once our decision became known, the head of the soccer association phoned PD1 and not very subtly threatened her future career in the local high school, and other parents expressed their disappointment as well. All of this made us wonder if we were doing the right thing; it is just a silly soccer league after all.

Our decision was compounded by the fact that PD1 was put on the "new" team that was being formed at this other soccer association. While her old team would continue to play at the A/B level, the new group was going to start out at the B level. As you can imagine, this was met with a few snickers, but we insisted to our daughter that there are times in your life when a small step back will mean a big step forward down the road.. Behind close doors, we of course panicked!

This fall went very well. The new team had an outstanding coach who focused on conditioning, skill development, and winning. The team, a group of girls who had not played together previously, responded better than could be expected and won their league with a 7-1 record, 26 goals for and 6 goals against. This spring, not only will they move up in competition but they will move up a couple of levels and play at the premier level. With the possible addition of two new players they may even have a shot at the state cup.

So great, but that really isn't the point either. What happened this weekend is the point.

The team went to this tournament to play A level teams and we hoped for the best, but feared the worst. Their first game was tough, but they won it 2-1 and they didn't even play very well. It soon became clear that they were suffering from over confidence. When the second game started the table was set for disaster. It hit hard.

They were playing a team that was obviously not very talented and our girls dominated the first 10 minutes of the game. They then collapsed and in one of the worst butt kickings I have ever seen on a soccer field, they lost 5-0. It wasn't as close as the score indicates.

The team was devastated. Their false sense of invinciblity destroyed, they didn't know what to do next. Our coach was beside himself, but after chewing the team out, he told them to forget it. "Bad game, failure happens to everyone. The real test is how you respond to this experience", he said.

Truer words were never spoken. The next day the team played to a 0-0 tie, but what a difference. Their passing was better than ever. They returned to using the full field, and keeping their opponents on the run. As the time was drawing to an end, they didn't panic knowing that they hadn't scored yet, they just put more pressure on. When it was all over, despite the fact that they didn't win the game, they knew that they had beaten something bigger, and in the process took the first step to learning how to win.

Learning how to win. We often look at winners in life, and think they have more talent, more brains, or possibly better connections. While this all may be true, it still is not what makes winners. Winners perservere, and use a quiet confidence to push through life's challenges to deliver victory. This is the magic of sports; they teach our kids that failure is something everyone experiences, and that failure by necessity, must only be a temporary state.

Winning is different. Winning is the end state, and while in each event it is a zero sum game, in life there is enough for all who have the desire to get there.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Are You Ready For Some Football!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?

Well, a pretty disappointing week last week. After going 10-4 and 9-5 the previous two weeks, the odds evened out on me with a stunningly bad 4-10 showing against the spread. So we cleaned house at the “Pursuit Institute for Football Prognostication” inspite of the fact that the staff has put up an impressive 61-55 record for the season to date.

We’ve got great expectations though, so I’ve brought in a new Quant analyst, had PD1 and PD2 vacuum out the server farm, and we’ve pulled one of the Crays out of storage and plugged it in too. Should be a good week:

Bears 13 49ers; go Niners

Bills 2.5 Chiefs; Bills

Redskins 1.5 Bucs; Go Bucs

Pats 3 Dolphins; Take the points

Giants 9.5 Vikes; Johnson shows baby Manning the ropes this week

Lions 4 Cards; Lions should never be favored by 4 over anyone

Jags 6.5 Ravens; Take the Jags

Colts 18 Texans; This one could be ugly, take the Colts

Panthers 9 Jets: Panthers

Broncos 3 Raiders; Broncos

Seahawks 7 Rams; Rams

Falcons 9.5 Pack; Falcons

Steelers 8 Browns; Steelers

Eagles 8 Cowboys; Eagles

Bear Down!

Functionally Wrong

Ok, now that title up there really isn’t fair. Not in the least. My “evil blog nemesis”, The Functional Ambivalent, takes the time to author a very reasoned response to my support for the extreme questioning of detained terrorists, and I go and call him “Functionally Wrong”. What kind of guy am I?

Well, for one, the kind that knows Tom, over at The Functional Ambivalent, can take a joke, and also the kind of guy who is feeling guilty about all the links Tom, at The Functional Ambivalent, has given me lately and is just trying to even the score.

Ok, so let’s get to the meat of the matter, shall we? My post below, “The Torture Hysterics” was my response to the unhinged members of our citizenry who are all up in arms about some extreme measures that we are taking in a few cases to extract some information from terrorists. Allow me to reiterate; I support doing everything short of torture to get as much information out of these fiends as possible. They want to kill us, and I want to stop them. Tom, and the intrepid Duff, do too but are a bit more restrictive when it comes to where we draw that line. Make that a lot more. Their thoughts are in the comments section, and are for the most part well considered.

They’re also wrong.

I don’t want to scribble another long post (I get the impression you folks sometimes don’t finish the longer articles), so let’s first make clear what I didn’t say:

  • I didn’t say torture was ok
  • I didn’t say extreme measures were ok for all detainees
  • I didn’t support Abu Gharib, which while not torture was a prosecutable breakdown of military discipline

What I did say is that measures which caused extreme discomfort, pshychological stress, and emotional tension in the pursuit of information is not only acceptable but morally justified. We are fighting, yes fighting Duff, depraved killers who want nothing more than to slaughter and enslave those who are not like them. There is nothing honorable or moral about their cause or their actions. This has nothing to do with their religion or their ethnicity as there are millions from each of those groups who manage to go through their daily lives without slitting anyone’s throat, or blowing anyone up.

When the radical Islamists decided to attack our country and kill our civilians, they not only sentenced thousands of wives to life without their mates, thousands of children to life without their parents, and millions of Americans to the reality that evil walks the earth, they picked a fight with us. Fighting is not pretty, it is not fun, and it is not something that should be done with half measures or hesitancy. The execution of power should not be indiscriminant nor should it be sadistic.

It would be nice if the enemy wore uniforms and fought behind defined lines of battle in clearly delineated territory as most conventionally wars are, for the most part, fought. It would also be nice, if those in their groups who were not fellow travelers would help turn them over to us. It would be really great if the enemy would stick to killing only legitimate soldiers and attacking only military targets, but they don’t.

So this war is different. To win, we must be ruthless and we must work harder than any other conflict in this country’s history to gain intelligence, just to figure out where the enemy is. For all of these reasons, it is not only justifiable, but morally imperative that we press the fight to the limits of acceptable practices, and include such extreme procedures such as water boarding and other similar measures. Our obligation to protect those innocent people around the world who are the illegitimate targets of the terrorists demands this from us. My only regret is that we haven’t gotten more information to stop bombing such as those that occurred in Jordan this week. The conventional wisdom is that the rough stuff doesn’t work, but I have my doubts about this. If our interrogators believe they need this tool to be effective, I’m happy to give it to them. Does it bother you that bombings that didn’t occur may have been stopped because we got rough with a detainee? I’ve got to tell you, I have no problems here.

I read with interest Tom’s comments on evil, and no doubt he’s read Hannah Arendt’s banality of evil stuff. I couldn’t agree more, but we cannot look at the totality of what we are doing in this war and conclude that we are evil. I realize Tom that you didn’t do that, but I’ve heard more of this “we’re going to lose our soul” bit lately – mostly from Sullivan – and it just doesn’t stand up. We have given the people of two countries a shot at a better life when it is now clear that our supposed allies spent the last decade taking bribes to ensure that the poor of Iraq remained poor and under mortal threat from Saddam. Talk about the banality of evil!

As with all other wars that we’ve been in, I’m sure we’ve crossed the line in places. Abu Gharib was clearly one of those places, and we’ve paid a price for it, although I think that price has been greatly exaggerated. In those other wars where we stuck to our principals, no doubt treated some of the enemy pretty harshly when information was required, and ultimately won, we came out victorious and have been viewed by history not only as liberators, but as the most benevolent victors this planet has ever seen. Claims of the impact of Abu Gharib aside, I have no doubt that the same will be true in Iraq.

The fact is, we’ve been accused of Koran desecration, which didn’t happen, massacre, which didn’t happen, torture and indiscriminate killing of civilians during air raids, which didn’t happen. So this “torture” bit is the only tool the anti-war left has been able to get traction with. I admire those who are taking a stand on principal here, and despise those for whom this is just an anti-Bush club.

Sorry we’re gonna disagree on this one guys, but I hope my reasoning is at least clear to you.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Food Bloging

Charlie Trotters in Chicago tonight. It was very good not great.

Wines: Meyer Chardonay 2001. Fantastic
Caju Cabernet Sauvignon 2001. Average

Courses: Blue fin tuna, shell fish emulsion. PEI mussel. Wow.
Some japanese trout. Very good
Venison Wow
Cheese on fruit bread with 25 year old balsamic. Very good
Multi Course desert. Wow. Don Pedro Sherry. Excellent.

More later.

Must sleep

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

The Torture Hysterics

It was with great shock last week that I heard news reports suggesting that the CIA was maintaining secret prisons around the world. These “black” prisons, to use a sufficiently loaded word favored by the press, are in locations where we are able to take prisoners in the GWOT for some extreme interrogation.

I, of course, couldn’t be more pleased.

I’m glad to see that we are still aggressively pursuing the homicidal criminals of Al Qaida despite the crazed rants of hysterics such as Andy Sullivan who view this as just more evidence that George Bush is turning America into a torture haven. I read Sully’s blog occasionally and find myself astounded at just how detached from reality he has become since Dick Cheney and W decided to oppose gay marriage.

Ok that probably isn’t fair, so I’m sorry.

These torture hysterics’position on torture (his tortured position on torture?) is that torture is bad which doesn’t exactly qualify them for intellectual status anywhere outside of the echo chamber of DNC and UN cocktail parties. In the isolation of an amoral world it is difficult to disagree with these folks, yet we all know the world is not as black and white as we’d perhaps like.

The enemy that we face today is unlike any that we have ever seen and the simple truth is that nobody is torturing any legitimate soldiers of any legitimate opposition army. In fact, nobody is torturing anyone from any illegitimate army either. I do acknowledge that some prisoners have died while in custody, the number is somewhere around 100, and I whole heartedly agree that each death should be fully investigated and any murderous activity prosecuted. Yet let’s not fool ourselves here. The people we are fighting are criminals who violate international law every waking moment of their day, and dream of killing innocent civilians while they sleep. To subject them to the full extent of discomfort during interrogation right up to the edge of torture is just fine by me.

It all comes down to how you define the word “torture”. Anti-Bush hysterics want to maintain a broad definition of torture that includes not only the widely agreed upon sadistic practices that are viewed as wrong, but also those practices that make the detainee uncomfortable and frightened. Koran abuse? Not a fantasy of the anti-war left, its torture. Leash girl Lindy? Not a punishable breakdown of military discipline, its torture. Water boarding, temperature stressing, fake menstrual blood? Not rough measures of discomfort to elicit information that we need to keep the country terrorism free since 9/1, its torture.

Sorry, but I’m not buying it. As Americans we have every obligation to treat opposition soldiers with the respect and dignity that an honorable fighting man should be accorded. I think we can all agree that terrorists are not honorable fighting men, but rather homicidal maniacs who target civilians and gleefully kill those who are simple civilians trying to live life, or aid workers toiling to make the lives of others better.

Sadly there are those who just can’t see the moral distinction. Lets take a look at a line from Sully’s blog the other day. Admittedly it is only one line, but I think it is representative of the rather unhinged nature of his recent writing. Acknowledging the historically low number of American casualties in this war (a good thing one would think), Sully suggests that it is actually the result of something sinister for which Rumsfeld, and presumably Bush should be held accountable for:

“And part of it is a consequence of the Rumsfeld decision to let Iraqi civilians be murdered in the thousands, rather than provide basic order and stability in an occupied country. But it's important to keep some context in mind.”

Oh yes, Andy and his kind are always careful to keep context in mind, aren’t they?

A serious view of the casualties would make it quite clear that part of the reason they’re so low is because we face a cowardly enemy who would rather kill innocents than take on a professional fighting force. In case it’s not clear allow me to spell it out. These people are criminals. Criminals such as these will sink to whatever depth is necessary to achieve their evil goals, including the murder of civilians. Yet to maintain their anti-Bush psychosis the terror hysterics suggest that it is our Defense Secretary who “decided to let Iraqi citizens be murdered”.

This distinction is important, because were the hysterics to admit that we face a criminal enemy, they would then also have to admit that such an enemy is not subject to the same Geneva Conventions that protect legitimate members of honorable fighting forces. Hysteria and its partner, hatred, have led these types to the position that criminals must not be made to be uncomfortable, and because we maintain a policy of aggressive interrogation, the US military and Administration are the real bad guys in this war.

I often look back on the days that followed 9/11 and wonder what these folks would look like from the perspective of those awful days. The NYT reports this morning that one of the terrorist prisoners, Kalied Shiek Mohammed, was a recipient of a cell in one of those “black prisons” where he was water boarded as part of the interrogation process. I’ll remind you that this fiend was a key (possibly the key) architect behind the 9/11 attack which killed over 2,000 American civilians.

Now ask yourself what is the real outrage; the fact that he was made to believe that he was drowning so that we could get some information, or the fact that we didn’t finish the job.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

I Ain't Got No Basketball Jones

I am not a basketball fan. Never have been, never will be.

A simple enough statement don’t you think? In fact, you could say it would fit nicely on a set of business cards that I could hand out to all my male acquaintances that, in my view, are way too enamored of this sport. I’m not sure where the attraction for this game comes from; sometimes I think my peers are relieving themselves of pent up sexual frustration, with an unhealthy focus on this and other sports. Any five minutes spent listening to sports radio tends to confirm this view, and when you think about it my theory would also go a long way to explaining the outbreak of violence at that Pacer’s game last year.

Whatever it is, there is one definitive truth in the world today, and simply stated that truth is that basketball, in any of its forms, sucks.

In the spirit of full disclosure I probably need to acknowledge that me and basketball, well, you could say we have a “troubled” history. I’ve always been very competitive and as a boy enjoyed playing in all the big sports. Football was by far my favorite, but I also enjoyed baseball and had an interest in playing basketball as well.

So it was with great enthusiasm, and perhaps less talent, that I went out for the team in fifth grade. Of course, as a natural athlete of uncommon skill I was able to make the team despite a lack of basketball specific knowledge or experience. I quickly grasped the basics, rebounded with the best of fifth graders, and my shooting skills, while not accomplished, demonstrated a certain level of promise.

So what was the problem? Well, I’m sorry to say it but the sport seemed to be populated with a bunch of wussies who couldn’t take a little contact! As a result of these timid little momma’s boys, me and the officials became quite familiar with each other early on in each game, and I resultantly received the proud designation as the team’s “hatchet man”.

Unfortunately, this also resulted in a reduced amount of playing time for young Pursuit, a situation to which I had been previously unaccustomed. None-the-less, I was undeterred. When I entered the game to “slow down” (my coach’s words) an opposing player who had the hot hand, I remained committed to demonstrating the promise of basketball as a semi-contact sport but found no avail. It seems the referees were just as determined to enforce the draconian standards of the game that were, no doubt, dreamed up by Dr. James Naismith’s mom. In fact, anybody here want to bet that Dr. James nailed that peach basket to the post in the first place as a direct result of the fact that his mom wouldn’t let him play football?

I didn’t think so.

Well by now you all can see were this is going. I was determined to play the game as I thought it should be played, and the officials were just as committed to thwarting my attempts at improvements to the game. The back and forth of this joust continued until that fateful Saturday morning in February of 1972 when I received my fifth foul in the first quarter of the game against the Pioneer Park Pirates. I remember it like it was yesterday. I stood there, an incredulous look on my face as I was whistled for “reaching in”.

Think about that…..”reaching in”. What kind of sport has a penalty for such a move? My goodness, if I were writing the rules there wouldn’t be anything special for reaching in because PEOPLE DO THAT WHEN THEY WANT THE BALL! Reaching in….geez if I were in charge of the game, clothes lining would be a border line call and reaching in would mandatory.

So as I walked off the court that day, it was with the full knowledge that my nascent career in the sport of wimps was over. Oh, I played out the year, and to my everlasting credit I lived up to my nom de honour, “The Hatchet Man”, but it just wasn’t ever the same. I gave up the sport.

I became the guy who went to our high school games to socialize, but I could never muster much enthusiasm for the team, since my respect for the voluntarily meek of this world has never been great. I went on to matriculate in my undergraduate studies at Indiana University where we even won the NCAA tournament during my sophomore year. While I gleefully participated in the mad partying that accompanied the victory celebration, I never set foot in Assembly Hall until I was there to receive my diploma on graduation day.

I walked away from basketball completely.

Never again could I honor the sport with my presence or attention; it simply wasn’t worthy. In January of 1972 my father, before The Day That Shall Live in Infamy and in support of my basketball interest, obtained tickets to go see the Chicago Bulls at the old stadium. We had a delightful time, and as I recall the Bulls, who included Norm Van Lier, Tom Boerwinkle and Bob Love, beat the Milwaukee Bucks that night.

It was the last Bulls game that I ever saw. Michael Jordan? Never made it to the Stadium or the United Center to see him. All those NBA Championships? I might have caught one or two games on TV when it couldn’t be avoided, but I made great efforts to ignore the whole sorry spectacle otherwise. Most upsetting about those games that I did happen to see was the realization that NBA players now played the game physically and aggressively – ala Pursuit you could say. One might think I would have found some satisfaction as a player who clearly, in my own small way, helped instill some respect and honor to the game, but to this day I remain uncredited for this advancement and therefore, unimpressed.

Last night I returned, after 33 years, to a Bulls game.

My only reaction is, “what in the name of all that is good and pure about sports have these people done?” Oh sure, I have to admit that it was fun, but the actual game hardly seemed to be the point. The contempt that the players, owners and fans thereby show for the game itself should be criminal in the eyes of any real aficionados of the game, but last night made clear that there a very few of these types left.

It was like I went to a carnival where they happened to have a basketball game as just one of the events. There were dancing girls (the Luv-A-Bulls), dancing kids (The Bull Kidz), horny mascots (yes, horny), weird break dancing McDonalds cashiers with T-shirt cannons, a Benni the Bull dirigible that dive bombed the crowd. There were races between coffee cups, donuts and bagles. There was a race between water trucks (win a free gallon of Hinkley-Schmidt water!) and worst of all there was “Rubber Boy”.

Rubber Boy. Man this was one scary dude. As you can imagine Rubber Boy, the main event at halftime, was a contortionist who was brought out to center court in a very small box, from which he slowly unbent his body to emerge and begin his performance. Rubber Boy was quite flexible. He put his whole body, one appendage at a time, through very small orifices such as a toilet seat (which he but humped while he gazed at the crowd with a wicked look in his eye) and a tennis racket. He bent his limbs into all sorts of unnatural positions, seemingly able to dislocate and relocate his joints at will. The crowd was alternately horrified and amazed depending on what body part was being bent into what position to perform what act. I found the whole thing to be bizarre and more than slightly obscene.

As the horror that is the Rubber Boy experience continued to reveal itself at center court I found myself wondering exactly how I would explain Rubber Boy’s act when he became quite infatuated with the spectacle of his own ass. There in front of Benni the Bull and everybody he gleefully examined his butt, close up, from the vantage point of bending his head down between his legs and back up towards his posterior. Thank God my daughters weren’t there, for I am sure that I will be experiencing repressed memory syndrome and wouldn’t wish this experience on them.

To be candid, the whole evening had a weird sort of Acid Trip feel to it that I hadn’t felt since my college days. The only thing that was missing was T-Rex on the stereo and my buddy saying things like “Life is different through a plastic bag”…….”Man”.

For me, this was fine. I hate basketball and was glad for the diversion which was so distracting that at times the game had resumed after a break, and few in the crowd really seemed to notice. Were I a fan though, I would have found this monstrosity to be an outrageous crime against an otherwise noble sport.

However, that really is the crux of the problem isn’t it? Basketball at its heart is a charade. Players run up and down the court for 60 minutes tossing a ball in a basket and unless things get really out of hand, none of the points during the first 50 minutes count. It’s all just an elaborate fake. The only real action is in the last 10 minutes of the game when the clock threatens to arbitrarily cut the time short and leave one team out in the cold because it missed a few baskets at the wrong moment in time. If you think about it, basketball is really no more sophisticated the children’s game of musical chairs except that it’s played by really tall people with over protective mamas.

I don’t know about you, but I’d never pay to watch musical chairs, but then again, I’ve never seen Rubber Boy perform at a musical chairs game either.

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Monday, November 7, 2005

Kind of a Drag

A confession: Politics is boring me and I fear my blog is suffering as a result.

I never thought I’d say it, but it’s true. Everything political has become so dreadfully dull that I’m lulled into a sort of brain dead, stem function only state every time I try to muster up some interest in what is going on. I wish I could say I feel guilty about this, but in all honesty I don’t.

My only regret, in fact, is that it has been terribly hard to come up with any interesting blog items this past month. I don’t mean to suggest that politics is all I’ve got to talk about, but the truth is that it’s an easy means of running a narrative for a blog, while interspersing bits and pieces of slice of life stuff to keep it all interesting for both of us…..or all three of us, I’m never really quite sure how many folks read this space.

I realize that the new gig has me pretty distracted too, but distraction has never been a problem for me. I thrive on risk and pressure. All of my life I’ve had to train myself not to intentionally build up “to do’s” until they result in near death, crash into the wall sorts of experiences, that provide a rush, with the concomitant satisfaction of actually defying the odds and getting everything not only done well, but done better than others. So it’s not the job.

Nope the real problem for me is that we’ve arrived at a time in our culture that is threatening to be a repeat of the 70’s; a decade of fear and loathing when America, aided by liberal hand wringing, became unsure of itself. Look at any newspaper today and you’ll see the signs. We’ve got Bird Flu! We’re losing a war (except we’re really winning)! The president lied! Big corporations are killing us! Disasters are increasing!
Global Warming is here (in the 70’s it was the coming of the second Ice Age)! We’re running out of oil!

The litany is as endless as it is tiring and inaccurate. The same thing was true in the 70’s. Yes we were experiencing a cultural upheaval, but the restructuring that began in the 70’s led to over 20 years of uninterrupted prosperity and job growth such as the world has rarely seen. Entrepreneurs built new technologies that provided the catalysts for today’s information and communications revolution. Financial engineering worked its magic to stabilize the American economy and make capital cheap and accessible to anyone with a good idea. Business schools educated and graduated a generation of executives who focused on maximizing shareholder wealth and created tens of millions of new jobs in this country alone.

Yet we were quite grumpy in the 70’s, and the popular culture, what we today refer to as the conventional wisdom, told us that it was over for America. The Kinks wrote about Captain America (“catch me now I’m falling”) and the Japanese were the specter on the horizon that would usurp American economic dominance and make us all hourly lackeys doing calisthenics in uniforms before work. Nuclear plants were going to kill whoever survived World War III.

Something funny happened on the way to fall though. It simply never happened. American brilliance, freedom, and creativity won the day instead and those who bet on us did pretty well for themselves. In fact, the Japanese after a moment of glory entered a malaise that they have yet to recover from. The only exploding nukes were in the former Soviet Union, and the great Ray Davies is known more for his song writing skills than his political prognostication.

So why are we letting it happen again? Why does anyone really believe that millions are going to die of bird flu this winter? Why are we so afraid of global warming, a theory based on unproven and deeply flawed models, that many want us to sacrifice our economic well being to head off the threat? Does anybody seriously believe that the Chinese are going to push us off the world stage anymore than the Japanese did 20 years ago? Have we not learned first through the example of Russian communism, and then through Japanese Corporate/Governmentalism that centrally planned economic models, especially when combined with police state authoritarianism, simply do not work?

The famous words of some famous guy are that “those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it” and this is what this decade is all about. It’s such a crushing disappointment to me. When we marked the passage into the new century it seemed like a time of such great promise. Sure, we had a tech bubble in the market, but the correction came quick and our economy rebounded with its typical resilience. I felt sure that the enthusiasm that we felt for the new age would produce new technologies, new art and be springboard to a great time in our lives.

Sadly, we seem to be a bit delayed. Make no mistake, our market is working it’s magic, and our brains are creating new advances which we all will benefit from, but like the 70’s everything is a bit below the cultural radar right now. It’s a funny country that we live in. America has always rewarded the visionary and the risk taker, and we are a uniquely positive people. Yet there are those among us who from time to time gain control of our national psyche and bring us down for a while. They’ve never won yet, and without fail they have always been wrong, but man, while they’ve got the microphone these people are just such a drag.

So, I don’t exactly know what the point of this post is other than I felt like I needed to vent and get this off my chest. I’m not sure where I’m going from here with the Pursuit, but I’m looking forward to getting back on track after a month of postings that I am not particularly proud of. Hope you enjoy the ride.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

The Manhattan: Weekend Indulgence, Noble Quaf

It was true when I wrote this earlier this year, and it is true now that cold weather has returned.

Ladies and gentlemen my ode to the noblest of cocktailsPosted by Picasa

Thursday, November 3, 2005

It's 30 Miles to Chicago, I've Got a Bottle of Wine, It's Dark Out and I've Got The Reidel

Uncork it!

Welcome my friends to another addition of Thursday night wine blogging; America's fastest growing Thursday night diversion. Where I get toasted, and you get to read all about it.

Tonight Mrs. P is joining us in a special guest tasting role as we tipple the 2000 Napa Valley Zinfindel offering of T-Vine. Ah, T-Vine one of the very few California producers that I truly enjoy. I've been drinking the "T" for at least 5 years perhaps a couple be honest with you, in all the excitement I've clean forgot.

No matter though, it couldn't have been much longer than that since T-Vine has only been producing since 1992. Prior to that, Gary Brown, the label's owner and jack of all trades spent time at Turley, another of my California favorites.

Like Turley, T-Vine is a mouth full of power that literally threatens to blow your head off, much like Dirty Harry's 44 magnum. Unlike Harry's gun, T-Vine will do it with the utmost of elegance and sophistication. A powerful wine, the nose and flavor reveal themselves in layers of taste that last and last and last.

The name T-Vine stands for the Trinity, not of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but rather of Body, Spirit and ........well of something else. To be honest I really can't be bothered with some new age mumbo jumbo when the wine tastes this good.

I've had all of the T offerings; Merlot, Grenache, Cabernet, and the subject of tonight's tasting, the aforementioned Zin. Enough of my rambling though, lets get down to tasting this 14.5% alchohol by volume monster.

Oh yes, this is very good. First sip; plums, black cherry maybe some raisin. It sits in the palate and then releases to almost a scent of blueberries on the wind and pepper. God, that sounds weird, but I'm tellin you that is a great description of what I just tasted.

Mrs. P is taking a sip, heh, she didn't know what she was in for. "Black berries" is her comment. "But can you guess the varietal" I say. "Oh, no way". "Come on what is it"? "Zinfindel"?

Yup, I married well.

Ok it's been about five minutes, lets give it another try. The berry is still there, although I'd agree that Black berries......or maybe it's black cherries are more predominant. The is some chocolate now, peppery chocolate. Geez this is a blow the back of your head off wine, but the thing about T-Vine is that it is such a balanced explosion. Can something be smoothly explosive? I wouldn't have thought so, but this wine is definately changing my mind.

This is why as an avowed California style hater, I keep coming back to the "T". It's elegantly powerful, and in being so has maintained a subtlety and nuance while still playing to American tastes.

T-Vine may not be easy to find, it isn't a big producer and I've only been able to find it at one place in Chicago. This bottle cost me $40 and I've seen their cab is now up to around $60. If you're looking for a good wine, and are in the mood to spend a couple bucks on something special, give the T a swirl!

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

All That's Missing Is A Welcome Mat

Well here is an interesting opportunity, a house AND a bride.

Meet Deborah, not Deb, Debby or Debbie, but Deborah. I like that. Professional, intelligent and quite the comely lass too wouldn't you say? Deborah has a small problem. Despite success in life as a jewelry designer and CEO of her own privately held company, she has failed to find love.

Of course Deborah has looked for love in all of the right places, and from her list, I'd say some of the wrong ones as well. Who can say they haven't been there? Yet Deborah has managed to make lemonade out of life's lemons and now she wants to pour you a long tall glass of I mean cool refreshment. Lets let Deborah explain:

The idea of “House With Bride” began while I was contemplating selling my house in Denver, Colorado. Although my company is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a few years ago I bought a house in Denver. My life in Albuquerque had solely revolved around my work, and I felt that I needed to make some changes to improve my social life and hopefully meet my “soul mate”.

You might be wondering why I have my listing at $600,000.00 plus myself for bid as “priceless”. First, I estimate the value of the house with furnishings at approximately $600,000.00. When I asked my girlfriends their advice on what I (the “bride”) was worth, most responded that I was “priceless”.

I don't know about you but 6 hundy seems like a pretty good deal to me. I mean lets face it, if things work out you've got the house, the wife, and a steady income stream from the company with a big payout down the road when Deborah has her liquidity event. Crunch the numbers yourself folks, the present value of that stream is far in excess of $600,000. In fact I'd bet there is a viable secondary market if you change your mind down the road!

She doesn't mention it, but I do get the impression that this deal is not open to women, but I wonder, what kind of man is Deborah looking for?

I hope to find that special man, who wants to build a life with me and share this special home with me. Ideally that man is between 40 and 60 years old, is well educated and well spoken, and has a professional career. Since I am the daughter of a minister, spirituality is also important to me. Other important traits include love of travel and adventure, a good conversationalist, and a lover of animals. Although I don’t have children, I do love them, and am very open to the role of “step-mother”. It is important to me that a man be open and caring, kind in words and deeds, spontaneous to a certain extent, and takes pride in his appearance. It also goes without saying that I want to be with a man who is realistic about and committed to a relationship.

Uh, ehem......she didn't say anything about being single did she? To bad my blog is only worth 9 grand!Posted by Picasa