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Friday, February 29, 2008

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Getting screwed: The Live Blog

9:00am: Two days ago, my wife told me both of our uptairs toilets had problems. By problems, she meant they were flushing, but doing so all over the damned floor. I accused her of being unlucky and told her to buy some Drano. No Home Depot product worked. A day later, she called the plumbers. I started to get cranky.

9:20am: The plumber arrived. I am already disappointed because the guy is not fat and I doubt there will be any butt crack joke availability. In fact, he's thin, fairly good looking, has a stylish haircut and makes a point of covering his shoes before he walks on my floors. He smells like chewing gum and cigarettes. I fear I might be headed toward some sort of alternative lifestyle fantasy fodder, so I'll leave it at that.

9:28am: I take the guy on a tour of the upstairs. The wife has cleaned up, I guess just in case we want to impress the plumber. I tell the guy the toilets won't flush. I don't think he's listening.

9:32am: Here are a few of the quotes from the plumber over the past few minutes.

  • "You really want to stay away from toilets with rounded fronts."
  • "You really want to stay away from Drano. There's acid in that. Not a lot. I mean they can sell it at Home Depot. But there's acid in there and that can cause you problems."
  • "You really want to go for a toilet with a square front. They are a bit enlongated and, if you know what I mean, a little more man-friendly."

  • Yeah, I don't know if he was hitting on me or not.

    9:34am: Wow, why the hell didn't I see this coming? You call a plumber to fix your toilet and he tries to sell you a new toilet? Really? This happens? Now, I'm no fan of my cheap toilets. I'd even buy some new ones to replace these if I thought it was going to save us any time and plumber fees. So, this guy thinks I'm buying what he's selling. And I'm probably going to make the purchase until Mr. Man-Friendly tells me the new johns are going to run me more than $600. Apiece.

    9:35am: Using smelling salts and a few kicks in the ribs, Mr. Man-Friendly gets me up off the hardwoods. I try to find a way to play off my lack of consciousness. "And, so how much just to fix the ones I have?" I ask. And then I get it. They try to sell you on the NASA Space Shuttle toilets and quote you the price. So, when you get the actual quote for the repairs, you are actually happy about what would normally be sticker shock. In fact, by now, I am downright excited to spending $400 for what is certainly a couple minutes of witchcraft and probably some generic Drano. And somewhere along the way, I buy the Ben Franklin service plan, titled cleverly enough, "The Ben Society." A stich in time and all.

    9:41am: I leave the guy to "snake" my toliets. The "snake" looks more like a military-grade weapon. It sounds like it, too. What's happening upstairs sounds like the plumber destroying everything on the second level of my house. I hear running water and a lot of banging. Before this is over, I feel certain I will need a new toilet after all.

    9:57am: Man-Friendly is really putting on a show. He's made more noise than any service person in the history of our house. I've heard the two upstairs toilets flush three or four times apiece. Somehow, I feel certain, the guy is going to come down and tell me, despite his best efforts, he's going to have to sell me some $600 toilets.

    10:00am: I think this guy actually hates my family. As he comes downstairs, he quietly says, "They are unclogged." The sound in Man-Friendly's voice sounds like a guy who just watched five of his buddies die in battle. He has a 1,000-yard stare and quietly says as he goes to his truck, "No more baby wipes."

    10:02am: I actually feel bad for Man-Friendly. "I've never pulled so many out," he says. I'm sort of glad my kid isn't here, because the guy will realize the boy is now three years old and ask why there are still baby wipes around. I protest briefly, "They are called flushable wipes." Man-Friendly responds, "They are not."

    10:09am: The guy seems to have come back to reality. "I think they call them flushable just so they can sell more of them. They don't disintegrate. Anything they can get hung up on, they will." I am actually disturbed by the concept of what the wipes could possibly get hung up on. I find myself actually happy writing a check for $400.

    10:20am: Mr. Man-Friendly is gone and everything seems to be in working order. I'm pretty sure that means we're going to have a major plumbing disaster in about six hours.

    Thank goodness I joined the Ben Society.


    Sunday, February 17, 2008


    I am not on a diet.

    I probably need to be. Beginning in early July, I started to notice that my lifestyle (fast drinks, fast food, no exercise, etc.) was starting to manifest itself in tighter pants. Those once roomy blue jeans started to feel a tad tighter around the man-parts.

    I am loathe to exercise, though. I don't mind getting exercise by accident, but making myself sore for the purpose of making myself sore just doesn't jibe with my generally lazy attitude toward life.

    The wife, however, is more than a tad into a new self improvement program. The early results are fairly striking. I don't dare go into specifics, but suffice it to say that the other night I felt like I was cheating on her when I stole a peek as she was getting ready for bed. Who is that woman?

    The upshot of all of this is that I haven't been eating much either. Our frequent trips to the local Mexican joint have been cut back to almost none. Take-out? Haven't seen it. A huge meal slathered in butter and bacon from my devil-may-care hands? Haven't cooked one. What's more, I've had a grand total of four beers in the past 23 days and I've gone out to play cards once. Finally, I've reduced my diet soda intake by 80%.

    Combine all of that with the fact that my buddies have either been ill, busy, or, in one case, caring for a newborn, and you have an Otis that has not been tending to his hendonistic side.

    Frequent readers will note that my hedonistic side is, in a word, significant. I like huge, fatty meals. I like to take a drink or six. I like to be...okay, I'll say it. I like to be irresponsible. The combined factors above, however, have led me to a rather quiet lifestyle that, albeit healthy, leaves me wanting. For everything.

    So, take a trip into my bedroom, if you will. The hard wood floors are shiny. The bed is soft. The pillows are feathery. The TV, while inadequate, is packed with hundreds of channels of DirecTV goodness. On any given night, I have choice upon choice of what I can watch before I go to sleep.

    Every night I settle on pornography.

    At first, I didn't think my wife would be interested. That kind of programming has never really suited her more delicate side. When I first turned it on, I expected her to sigh, roll over, put on a sleeping mask, and go to sleep. Instead, she grabbed my hand and squeezed. A small gasp escaped her lips.

    "I want that," she said as a man with nimble fingers worked on TV.

    I didn't respond at first and just watched her watch the TV. It was sexy and dirty and touched off every unsated nerve in my body. I heard her breathing quicken and had to steal a glance for myself.

    Sure, Alton Brown was no John Holmes, but he would have to do.

    For the past three weeks, the Mt. Otis television sets have been filled with little other than food porn. From Anthony Bourdain's exotica to Alton Brown's Dr. Ruth-style science, we have lapped up every bit of it. We've watched chocolate sculpting, how Pop Rocks get made, and reruns of Iron Chef (during which I developed an inexplicable crush on Iron Chef Cora as she berated her help for not removing the scales from a sea bass). If it weren't for an active Netflix account (make me your Netflix friend by clicking HERE) and an ongoing love affair with the Coen Brothers, we would be watching nothing but food programming.

    I know what the experts say. This Food TV is a gateway activity. Before long, my wife is going to find me at 3am, naked in front of the fridge and eating sticks of butter whole. But I can't stop. Not right now.

    I think Julia Child is coming on.

    She gets me so hot.

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    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    The marriage bed

    My wife and I have a problem in the bedroom.

    I've slept in more places than I can count--from five-star hotels to hammocks, I've seen it all. I've woken up on bare mattresses in houses I didn't recognize, in a bed with two other guys in New Orleans, and once or twice on a bar stool. I've slept on waterbeds, car seats, futon mattresses, and sleeping bags. For going on 12 years, I've shared these surfaces with the same woman.

    My wife put up with my sleeping choices for a long time. I'm one who objects to change for the purpose of change. For the first few years of our marriage, we slept on a bed I bought in college from my then-bed-salesman buddy. He told me a got a "deal" on it, but I'm pretty sure I just paid enough commission for him to buy a dime bag. Regardless, since I dropped the cash, I figured to be buried with the mattress.

    Several years back, my wife started complaining about quality of our sleeping surface. She begged me to actually buy a big boy bed. I fought her for months, but finally acquiesced after waking up impaled on a bed spring. It was time. The new mattress was perfect. I kicked myself for not giving in sooner.

    The bed has served us well, as evidenced by the kid who runs around the house singing about the condition of his underwear and calling himself Mr. Incredible. Recently, though, superhero performances between mommy and daddy Incredible have been a bit off-kilter. As I said, my wife and I have a problem in the bedroom.

    Across the fruited plains, couples will use this Valentines Day to celebrate the fruits of their marriage. Some might even do it with fruit. For many folks, this might be one of a few times they get it on all year long. Some of the more adventurous couples might get a hotel room, park bench, or back seat of a Chevette. Most people, though, will light a few Polo cologne scented candles, break out a can of Redi Whip, and head to the marriage bed.

    I'm no engineer. My bedroom activity is more art than science. So, I don't know what's wrong. For whatever reason--excessive use, neglect, tectonic movement--the Mt. Otis bed is an unsafe place. The danger doesn't lie only in the freaky-freaky times. My wife and I can be sitting quietly in bed watching Alton Brown and, without notice, the mattress will fall off the bed rails and crash to the floor. When it happens during Good Eats, it's annoying. When it happens at other times, I almost feel the need to say, "I don't know what's wrong. This has never happened before."

    There is a sound that perfectly describes the moment. While hard to put into words, imagine a trombone playing three descending notes of dispair. Wonh, wonh, wonnnnnnnnnh. If there ever was a picture of bad naked, it's me struggling against the weight of a giant mattress while trying to re-adjust the box springs in just such a way that the sleeping surface will not slip off the rails and crash to the floor.

    The problem has been going on for a few months now. We tried everything to fix the problem. We employed our deepest knowledge of physics, our most spiritual pleas to higher powers, and--just once--called a shaman in to chant over our love nest. The bed would hold for days at a time. Then, at the most inconvenient of times, it would tilt, slip, and collapse like a house of cards.

    My wife and I are adventurous to a degree. I mean, we've not yet joined a swingers club or anything, but we don't mind sleeping on a semi-dangerous surface. However, when the bed hits the hardwood in the middle of Good Eats, I stand a good chance of missing once of Alton Brown's witticisms. Nobody wants that.

    In the spirit of Valentines Day, I trudged up to the bedroom this morning and wrestled the mattress and box springs off the bed frame (I was fully clothed this time). I opened my tool box, broke out the socket set, and prentended I knew what to do with with man-things. Thirty minutes later, I was jumping up and down on the bed, daring the mattress to collapse. It appears, for the moment, I have fixed the problem. However, with issues like this, the more you think about it, the bigger a problem it becomes. So, I'm trying not to think about it.

    My wife and I made a deal for this fake holiday. No gifts, no flowers, no candy, no cards. We only plan to spend the evening together and, maybe, watch the decidedly romantic "Miller's Crossing" in bed. And I swear to Gabriel Byrne, if the bed hits the floor in flagrante delicto, I'm going to cry. Like a little baby.

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    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    Barack Obama: A different kind of popular vote

    I come from a generation of people who immediately disregard anything that gains any popularity among the general public. It's cool until other people like it. Then, "It's played, man. Played." These are the kind of people who support the Electoral College because they don't want to get caught supporting the popular vote. My, wouldn't that be embarrassing.

    The only way for my generation to like something past its peak of favor is to hope for its death. If the anti-popularity crowd feels comfortable that which they like can be martyred, they won't feel embarassed about supporting it. There's no chance the object of their affections will sell out (see Kurt Cobain circa the Buckshot Overdose Years).

    Hence, if something--anything--stays around too long, it runs out of cool fuel. A priest told me the other day (me and about 50 other people, but still) that we live in a throwaway society. Most of the things we like these days are disposable. We have neither the patience nor the will to make a commitment to something that will be around for longer than Britney Spears' sense of self worth.

    Columnists with hipster backgrounds have started using perjorative words like "cult" and "religion" to describe what is happening in our nation. It is hard for a culture that eschews anything popular to accept what's happening to the Barack Obama campaign.

    I understand this. Even I, a fairly reasonable guy, tend to disregard Oprah-picks. I, like most people, don't like being told what I should like and what I shouldn't. And really, when somebody suggests I'd really enjoy a Nicholas Sparks book, I have a hard time taking the recommendation or person behind it seriously.

    That's what makes what's happening right now so important and interesting. This is something we 18-35 year olds (admittedly, I'm in the long-tooth end of the curve) have not seen our our lifetimes and something we likely won't see again. If Obama can find a way to court the important Old Racist and Institutional Washington voting blocks, he could very well be the next President.

    Yeah, it's odd. It's strange to see people crying and falling out when Obama speaks. We, as a country, are naturally skeptical when people talk about being "inspired." We expect those folks to start speaking in tongues or bombing abortion clinics. Because "inspiration" too-often translates to "fanaticism." Fortunately for all of us, Obama isn't running with Eric Robert Rudolph. He's simply speaking a language a lot of us want to hear--and not in tongues.

    If Barack Obama told me to put on a pair of Nikes and off myself, I'd say no. If Obama suggested it would be a good idea if I killed Sharon Tate, I'd say no--after reminding him the poor lady has had enough killing in her life. Hell, if Obama had an open house in Waco, I probably wouldn't attend.

    But, if Obama suggests he will be the candidate who seeks to change the Washington paradigm and be a candidate for a generation of people who have never believed in anything, well, the guy has my vote.

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    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    Hermit crab

    I've left the house four times in the last sixteen days. I went to a Mexican restaurant with my family where I was mean to the boy. I went to my accountant's twice. I'm pretty sure I was mean to her as well, especially yesterday when she told me what kind of check I would be writing this year. Last night, after two weeks of being a hermit and rather crabby about it, I ventured back out into the world of other people for a weekly poker game. I was crabby there, too.

    That, hopefully, serves as explanation for my lax posting schedule and general tone. It also, hopefully, explains why I have a hollow look in my eye and have grown a beard. If not, I have come up with a list of excuses.

    Top 6 Reasons I Have Grown a Beard

    1. I'm trying to teach my kid what strangers look like
    2. I'm going undercover at a porn convention
    3. I've started noticing changes in my body and hair in places I'd never had it before. Otherwise, I have no explanation.
    4. I'm upping my efforts for Locks of Love
    5. I misunderstood my gay friend when he said he needed a beard
    6. I'm adding spice to my marriage by teaching my wife what strangers look like

    I've actually taken to the hermit lifestyle very well. I have several manifestos in the works. I've researched mountain cabins where I can wait out the government. I've also started making a list of people who deserve to be poor and embarrassed.

  • Stephen Glass
  • James Frey
  • Laura Albert
  • Ruth Shalit
  • Jayson Blair

    Can we all agree that fictionalizing one's life or the lives of others and passing it off a nonfiction is the cheapest form of art?

    The easiest way to get people to like something is to tell them it's real. I really liked the movie "American Gangster." I probably would not have liked it any less if I'd known the movie was about 95% fiction. However, being told it was a true story and then learning it wasn't leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    I am endlessly fascinated by people who pull off grand hoaxes. I am not, however, impressed by people who decide their real writing and real life are too boring, so they create a fictionalized world and pass it off as reality. If caught, they call it performance art or a dramatization.

    I'm on the rant now because of 90 Day Jane. Google her if you like, but I'm not linking. The concept behind the blog is Jane, a skinny, bob-headed twenty-something who quotes Fight Club, is going to kill herself in 90 days. In the meantime, she's blogging her daily exploits for the masses and making You Tube videos of her picking out her "death dress." My favorite crime blogger, Steve Huff is also a bit of a web sleuth and is pretty good at solving web mysteries like this. In this case, unlike the case of John Twelve Hawks, I don't give a diddly damn.

    Oh, screw it. Hereya go.

    I've spent the past two weeks working my way into a local cult that believes dentists are evil and the only way to defeat them is growing a beard and brushing our teeth with OCD regularity. There are two end-game scenarios within the cult. One, we all kill ourselves with sharpened toothbrushes and try to pin it on the dentists. Two, we all get our own reality show on FOX.

    Either way, it looks like we're gonna be famous.

  • Friday, February 08, 2008

    Take a letter to Kublai Khan

    I hate it when I get like this. It's nothing I can define outside of "uninspired." Even that isn't entirely true. The best word is "blank." I am 100% blank right now. It's one of those times where just about nothing sounds like fun and all my normal distractions (movies, books, poker, music, etc) lose their luster way too quickly.

    If I were to write right now, it would be about the following things.

  • Sixty seconds away from my brother's house in the tony community of Kirkwood, Missouri, a guy walked in to a city council meeting and started killing peoople. Before he was done, he had shot seven people, killing two police officers, as well as some city council members and other members of city government. A reporter and the mayor of the city were also shot. At the very same time this was happening, a sugar refinery not too far from here in Savannah, Georgia blew up. At the time, the casualty numbers seemed astounding. I started flipping between every major cable news network. Here's a rundown of what they were showing:

    FOX News: Britney Spears coverage
    CNN: Britney Spears coverage
    MSNBC: A pre-packaged hour-long bio on Hillary Clinton (funny enough, the DirecTV guide showed the program listing as "The Mind of Manson.")

    I mean...come on.

  • I'm not a big Phish disciple, but I found this article absolutely fascinating. Probably something about being an aging husband and father with a wild and crazy history. Via Coventry.

  • My friend E asked me to write a guest post for her professional blog. She's a political reporter out of Austin who is getting ready to see the onslaught of national media and candidates in Texas. She asked for some advice she can pass along to her colleagues. My only regret is the censors cut out the only really funny thing I put in there. It involved the word genitalia. Regardless, you can find it HERE

  • Finally...the other day, I was perusing plastic surgery websites in preparation for a rant about the industry. I came across a doctor who specialized in...wait for it...vaginal reconstruction. I suppose I should've assumed there would be such an area of expertise. I didn't realize, however, how popular a surgery it is. Among the specialities within the specialties is labiaplasty. I'll admit, I looked at pictures, because...well, really, who doesn't want to see before and after images? Let me warn you. This is absolutely Not Safe For Work. Do not open this link if anyone else is around. I feel a little weird linking it at all. However, science is involved and I think we can all stand a little enlightenment. NSFW.

  • Yeah...let that carry you through the weekend.

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    Thursday, February 07, 2008

    Poultry Primary sees winner and running mate

    DATELINE: TYSON FARMS -- Even the memory of Colonel Sanders couldn't save the one-time Poultry Party golden child from the deep frier. After a campaign that lasted through six months of egg collection, Buffalo Wing has claimed victory over Chicken Fingers in the 2008 Poultry Primary. Wing will face Beef Party candidate Bone-In Ribeye in the November general election.

    Super Tuesday saw Deep Fried Turkey suspend his campaign after a weaker-than-expected showing in southern states. The big bird's Wing endorsement all but locked up the nomination for the bite-sized appetizer. Chicken Fingers made a last minute appeal for votes, most notably trotting out the great newphew of Colonel Sanders himself for an endorsemnt. Poultry Pundits say Cappy Sanders ended up doing more harm than good when he had a heart attack on stage and attributed it to years of eating fried chicken.

    Buffalo Wing did not waste any time after his landslide primary victory. Saying it was time to start looking toward November, Wing chose a running mate and began courting the swing state beef voters. Despite Wing's strong finish, many analysts say the choice of a running mate harkens back to a 1980s political disaster in the Presidential race. Bone-In Ribeye has already quipped, "I've met your running mate, Wing, and, sir, he is no Jack Kennedy."

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    Wednesday, February 06, 2008

    Super Wednesday

    Poultry Primary to continue as two-bird race

    Within a period of one hour last night, Blogger ended my 16-hour Super Tuesday blog, my kid woke up with some sort of freak-out, and a friend showed up at my front door. He shoved his daughter into my living room, held up a video camera, and said, "Full documentation." He got his wife to the hospital just in time to have a second little girl, this time with no time for happy drugs.

    I made it to sleep by about 4am and have risen to realize the Democratic race is only now about to get exciting. More on that soon. However, I also realized that the Democratic primary was not the only contest left unfinished. As I said in the waning moments of the Super Tuesday Live Blog, Bone-In Ribeye won the Beef Primary. The Poultry Primary, however, is still going.

    Despite a late surge, Deep Fried Turkey said early this morning it will end is candidacy. "I think I probably failed to realize how fickle the American public can be. Come Thanksgiving, everybody will want a piece of me. Unfortunately, Thankgiving comes after Election Day. America is just not ready for the whole bird." Before leaving the stage, Deep Fried Turkey offered his endorsement to Buffalo Wing. "When it comes down to it," DFT said, "we're pretty close to the same thing. Except, Wing goes better with beer." DFT then left the stage, his security detail and a huge bottle of peanut oil close behind.

    This morning, the spin from the remainining candidacies has been hard to follow. Here are just a couple of snippets from each candidate's campaigns.

    My friends of a feather, I ask that we come together in the spirit of unity. Ribeye has been chosen to represent the Beef party while we sit in the coop undecided. Ribeye is a good steak. It is hearty and satisyfing, no doubt, but it does not represent what the American eating public is about. It is not the food of the common man, sitting in front of his TV during the Super Bowl, the World Series or the NBA finals. It is not being served with pitcher of beers but with fancy wines. It is not representative of what the working man can afford to eat during their sporting events.

    It is time to get out of the henhouse and into the smokehouse. It is time for us to fully endorse the Buffalo Wing to be our candidate!

    The Buffalo Wing has a history of uniting the people. It was in the early days when the wing itself teamed up with the drumstick to become one. Now, the breaded and naked come together, as do the sauce and sauceless. Hooters, Buffalo Wild Wings, and KFC are united in the backing of the wing as our candidate.

    Buffalo Wings are a nation's food. Easy to prepare, affordable, great with beer, it is a food of the people. Whether a busty babe is setting a platter of 911 breaded wings in front of you or the BW3's girl is serving those tasty spicy garlic drummies, it is the chicken that goes with everything.

    And we don't offer empty slogans. We offer the truth. Hooters make you happy! Are we wrong? NO! We need your vote today. BW3's sums it up, You Have to Be Here!

    Back us today, Buffalo Wing for the Poultry Party!

    --StB, campaign manager for Buffalo Wing

    Some have said we were afraid...chicken even...to run in this election. But we are not afraid. We are here to ruffle feathers. We will not waiver against these Turkeys. Make no bones about it, buffalo wing supporters. We are letting our Fingers do the walking...all the way to the White House...because no matter how many bad eggs are out there...the CHICKEN...COMES...FIRST!

    Richard Cluck (P), Tennessee (aka Uncle Ted), state campaign chair for Chicken Fingers

    With two candidates left, it is up to you to decide who will face Bone-In Ribeye in November. Polls are open. Vote in the comments now. Polls close at 9am Thursday.

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    Tuesday, February 05, 2008

    Super Tuesday Live Blog

    12:42am--Of course, Blogger sticks it to me in the waning moments...

    12:27am--CNN gives Missouri to McCain. President McCain...still getting used to that one.

    12:25am--CNN gives California to Clinton and McCain. That's not how I wanted to end the night.

    12:21am--Damn, that was fast. NBC calls Californa for Clinton.

    12:14am--Clinton wins Arizona, but the story is in Missouri. With 98% reporting, Obama has a 5,000 vote lead out of nearly 800,000 votes. The Associated Press has called the race for Hillary, already. So, I'm confused. Regardless, how the hell about it?

    12:11am--Ari Fleischer just said on CNN that Republicans would kill to run againt Hillary and the tight race tonight is ideal for Republicans because Obama and Clinton will have to tear each other up in the net several weeks.

    12:04am--Huckabee wins in Tennessee

    11:45pm--Highlights from Obama's speech. And damn it, I'm still inspired.

  • Also sends thoughts and prayers to tornado victims, then takes a shot at federal government response times

  • "There is one thing on this February night to know. Our time has come Our time has come. Our movement is real and change is coming to America."

  • "We are more than a collection of Red States and Blue states. We are and always will be the United States of America."

  • "We don't have to settle for politics where scoring points is more important than solving problems."

  • On this Tuesday in Feb...what began as a whisper in Springfield has swelled to a chorus of millions....This time can be different, because this campign for the Presidency of United States is different. It's different not because of me. It's different because of you."

  • "In this election, at this moment, you are standing up all across the country, not this time, not this year, the stakes are too high and the challenges are too great to play the same Washington game. This time must be different."

  • Conciliatory marks about Clinton

  • "This fall we owe the America people a real choice. We have to choose between change and more of the same. We have to choose between our future and our past."

  • "Our party must be the party of tomorrow, and that is the party I intend to lead as the President of the United States of America."

    11:40pm--McCain speaks in Arizona: "Tonight, I think we must get used to the idea that we are the Republican Party frontrunner...and I don't really mind it one bit."

    And thanks to Pokerwolf for the invite. I could use both.

    11:33pm--Rapid Eye Reality is ready to make a projection. Taking an astounding 95% of the vote, Bone-In Ribeye has clinched the Beef nomination. Analysts say Ribeye not only ran a good campaign, but had the funding that Hamburger and Philly Cheesesteak couldn't pull together. Even after a last-minute push poll from Cheesesteak suggesting Ribeye preferred to be served with A-1, Ribeye managed to reach the table in perfect medium rare form. Left unanswered tonight, which of the Poultry candidates Ribeye will face in November. Ribeye said tonight, "Poultry? Are you kidding me? I come from a cow. Have you seen what a cow can do to a chicken?"

    11:29pm--Huckabee! Huckabee, you dog. You BULLdog. Going and winning Georgia tonight. How adorable.

    11:27pm--Damn, Missouri is tight. Obama is closing in. May end up to be a 1 percent difference when it's all said and done.

    11:22pm--On a personal note, I could use: A massage, a six pack, a plate of steak and eggs, and some Visine. Maybe a box fan.

    11:20pm--CNN exit polling data out of California is pretty damned interesting. Obama is carrying the black vote by a huge margin. He is also winning modestly in the white vote. On the same hand, Clinton is killing Obama in the Latino and Asian vote.

    11:18pm--Re: the previous entry, ABC news differs a bit.

    11:13pm--On the delegate count, G-Rob sends along this witchcrafty news from the Obama campaign. The upshot is Obama's people believe they've got the lead.

    11:11pm--Romney wins Minnesota.

    11:07pm--CNN is finally showing me what's going on in Missouri. As expected, Obama is winning in the cities. Outlying KC areas and St. Louis city are still out. It's tight, but Obama has to crush the above areas to win there.

    11:00pm--Mitt wins North Dakota.

    Also polls have closed in CA.

    10:57pm--So much for the 100th comment. And hey to the new folks!

    10:55pm--Hillary is speaking. I'm...meh. Here are a few clips of the soundbites and thoughts of the night from Hillary Clinton's speech in New York.

  • "Tonight we are hearing the voices of people across America...those who aren't in the headlines but have always written America's story."

  • Prayers go out to people in Arkansas in Tennessee where tornadoes touched down.

  • "Tonight is your night. Tonight is America's night."

  • "Poltics is not game. It's about your lives and your futures."

  • 10:54--Who is gonna get the 100th comment?

    10:48pm--Bless G-Rob. Here's the laugh of the hour via IM:

    Brian Williams is now reporting that after his speech in Boston, Mitt Romney turned back into a cassette playing boom box and headed to his meeting with Optimus Prime.

    10:44pm--Garth asks in the comments, "Is it just me, or is Huckabee a more effective speaker than Romney?"

    We were just talking about that here. Huck can give a speech. It can be a bit cheesey at times. However, that's Republican speech writers for you. Regardless, the guy had great delivery and will make a great ambassador someday.

    10:41pm--McCain wins Arizona. I also got me kid to tell me he loves me tonight.

    10:38pm--I think there's baseball reference to be made vis a vis Obama playing small ball to Clinton swinging for dingers. I saly know fuck all about baseball, so I'm going to leave it to somebody else.

    10:33pm--"One thing thats clear is, this campaign is going on." That from Mitt Romney just now. "It's not all done tonight. We're going to go all the way to the convention and win the White House."

    In other news, I'm going to win Powerball tomorrow night and have a nice steak dinner with Dorothy Mantooth. She's a saint, you know.

    10:32pm--Obama wins Minnesota, CNN projects.

    10:29pm--Huckabee says Roll Tide and then wins 'Bama.

    10:25pm--G-Rob, my friend, live blog producer, and eternal optimist when it comes to things he wants, is back online and reminds me the overall vote is not nearly as important as where those votes are coming from in terms of Congressional districts.

    In many cases districts have say 4 delegates and they'll each get 2. The key is districts that have an ODD # of delegates. Obama, thanks to some DAMN SAVVY campaigning, is doing VERY well there. Therefore he'll pull a massive delegate margin out of IL and GA. Whereas Hillary crushed him in TN but will only beat him by a net of 8 delegates.

    10:21pm--Two more for Obama. Kansas and Connecticut.

    10:13pm--I'm not entirely sure why the networks aren't calling my home state of Missouri for Clinton yet. I haven't seen what precincts are out. I can only assume they are waiting on St. Louis and Kansas City. Otherwise, Clinton beat Obama's ass. Obviously, I'm missing something.

    10:08pm--Here's Mike Huckabee's soundbite of the night: "Over the past few days, a lot of people have beenn trying to say that this is a two man race. You know what? It is. And we're in it." He just said it in Little Rock as his...beautiful wife Janet stood behind him. He started talking about spiders and rocks shortly after that and I got confused.

    In related news, my wife just told me Huckabee was born in Hope, Arkansas just like Bill Clinton.

    10:06--Obama picks up North Dakota. In other news, I just picked my foot up off the ottoman for a couple seconds. Both have about the same amount of meaning.

    10:04pm--Sooners like McCain. He's going to win the state by a fairly narrow margin. President McCain? How does that sound?

    10:00pm--The 10pm projection from CNN:

    Romney: Utah. No! Really?!! His supporters in Boston look like they are cheering for a 10-year-old kid who is playing on a losing soccer team and is running around the field in a leg brace.

    9:56pm--Expect to hear the following talking points from the Obama folks in the next little bit.

  • They are winning states by a dominant amount and losing by smaller margins.
  • Wait for the caucus states - their organization is better there.
  • She should be winning her home state by more. The margin is comparable to her margin in Michigan.

  • Via Politico.com

    9:50pm--Hillary wins New Jersey.

    9:45pm--CNN finally went with NBC on the Clinton wins Massachusetts projection. Politics really are more fun when you don't give a damn.

    9:41pm--Double bubble? Really? Really.

    9:36pm--More national exit polls...

    Democrats Top Issuse:

    Economy 47 percent
    War in Iraq 30
    Health care 19

    Republicans Top issues:

    Economy 38 percent
    Immigration 24
    War in Iraq 20
    Terrorism 15.

    Via ABCnews.com
    9:30pm--Obama, as expected, wins Alabama.

    Meanwhile, my wife has joined me in the Obama slump funk and sends the link that asks if Chelsea Clinton might have bungled some election laws.

    9:26pm--Funniest comment of the hour comes by way of the on-the-road CC.

    Reporting from London, Ontario. All of Canada seems to have shut down as everyone watches Super Tuesday to learn the names of the different states that don't border Canada.

    9:22pm--If I were Mitt Romney...I'd be a Mormon. And better looking.

    Beyond that, if I were Romney, I would've spent a few of those $35 million bucks to frame Mike Huckabee in a Larry Craig wide-stance situation. Just sayin'.

    9:20pm--McCain takes New York, CNN projects.

    9:15pm--NBC news is calling Massachusetts for Clinton. CNN isn't committing yet. Writing seems to be on the wall, however. I need a shot of adrenaline. Or just a shot of something.

    9:09pm--I think we have already seen what tonight is not. Tonight is not an embarassment for Hillary Clinton. Whatever bounce Obama got out of South Carolina is not going to take him high enough to walk away tonight with a sense of confidence he'll get the nomination. California, of course, is still the big state in play. It looks like conventional wisdom will win again and we'll still have no idea in the morning who the Democratic nominee will be.

    Obama's crew obviously knew that before today. This morning, they were working hard to reduce expectations going into tonight. I can't help but feel, however, that Hillary avoiding getting embarrassed tonight is exactly what she needed. She didn't need to nail Obama to the wall. She needed to have a good showing. So far, she is. That may be all she needs to take it to November.

    9:08pm--Obama takes Delaware.

    9:00pm--Here come the 9pm projections...

    Clinton--New York, a state should couldn't lose.

    ....and that's it.

    8:45pm--With fifteen minutes until the big 9pm closings, the networks are projecting John McCain will win Delaware.

    8:33pm--CNN says Hillary Clinton to take Tennessee.

    8:32pm--Can you imagine being Mitt Romney tonight. Dude spent $35 million of his own money on this campaign. Buyer's remorse, anyone?

    8:30pm--No big surprises out of Arkansas. Hillary Clinton, one-time first lady, will win the most Razorback delegates. Same goes for former Governor MIike Huckabee.

    8:24pm--A couple of not-so-noteworthy oberservations...

    Barack Ombama's supporters cheer very well. That said, someone needs to handle them better. When networks take live shots and the supporters cheer so loud you can't hear the reporter talk, you're sort of defeating your purpose.

    Also on reporters...earlier today I questioned which SNL cast members were working on their Presidential impressions. Something else to consider is that the reporters who are embedded with the candidates have no small amount at stake in the outcomes. The reporters who are covering the candidates now stand to be the White House reporter for their network if their candidate wins.

    Not a bad gig...

    8:13pm--Now 12 hours into this live blog, we are nearing 80 comments. I've put down about eight Diet Mt. Dews and a couple Excedrin. Rapid Eye Radio is running somewhat smoothly. Still, I have an ugly feeling. Not sure what it is. It would be a lot easier, I guess, if I didn't care.

    8:08pm--CNN projects John McCain will carry New Jersey.

    8:00pm--CNN projections from Central Time and 8pm closing ET states:

    John McCain wins Connecticut, Illinois
    Romney carries home state of Massachusetts

    Barack Obama takes home state of Illinois
    Hillary Clinton wins Oklahoma

    7:44pm--Politico.com gives us a sneak peak at what we'll be hearing from Clinton supporters tonight re: her loss in Georgia. These are the talking points.

  • Unlike the Obama campaign, the Clinton campaign never dedicated significant resources to Georgia.

  • Sen. Obama spent over $500,000 dollars on ads on television and radio; we never went up on TV

  • The Obama campaign has 9 offices in Georgia. The Clinton campaign only has 2.

  • Sen. Obama has had staff and significant campaign operation across the state for 8 months. Sen. Clinton only deployed staff to the state in the last couple of weeks.

  • Polls have consistently showed Sen. Obama with wide lead over Sen Clinton. That lead has only widened over time.

  • Translation: We knew we had no chance there, so we didn't even try. So, don't hold it against us.

    7:36pm--Tornadoes in Arkansas and Tennessee touch down while polls are open. Reports of damage, but no word on casualties yet.

    7:26pm--Interesting exit numbers based on all our talk today about experience. Democrats most important attribute in choosing their candidate

    Bring needed change: 52 percent
    Best experience: 23
    Empathy: 13
    Best chance to win: 9

    Via ABC.

    7:18pm--Drudge has some early exists across the nation. These should not be seen as anything but really early projections...

    OBAMA: Alabama: Obama 60, Clinton 37... Arizona: Obama 51, Clinton 45... Connecticut: Obama 53, Clinton 45... Delaware: Obama 56, Clinton 42... Illinois: Obama 70, Clinton 30... Massachusetts: Obama 50, Clinton 48... Missouri: Obama 50, Clinton 46... New Jersey: Obama 53, Clinton 47...

    CLINTON: Arkansas: Clinton 72, Obama 26... California: Clinton 50, Obama 47... New York: Clinton 56, Obama 43... Oklahoma: Clinton 61, Obama 31... Tennessee: Clinton 52, Obama 41...

    7:12pm--It appears we've been relieved of Richard Quest on CNN's California primary coverage. While an entertaining Brit, the guy has no place in serious coverage. Whoever thought he could be trusted should be fired.

    7:05pm--Holy schnikes. G-Rob reports MSNBC exit polls are showing Obama wins 86% of black voters in GA and 43% of white voters. Black voters made up more than half the voters in the primary. In a word...mamacita.

    7:00pm--Easy win for Obama in Georgia. Still waiting to see the breakdown. That may take a bit. Still a three-way race for the GOP.

    6:58pm--Georgia results coming in shortly. In the meantime, I'd like to see your answer to Andy's comment...

    I can't feel good about voting for any candidate based on what they say they will do, or how they stand on "the issues."
    in the last republican debate Ron Paul said he agrees with Bush....or at least how Bush ran in 2000. this is because Bush ran on many things in 2000 which he didn't come though on. what candidates promise to do is pointless, it's just words. they don't have to stay true to them one their on office.

    also, and in my opinion more importantly, the "key issues" that are facing us now will most likely not be the most important thing this president will have to deal with. we're not electing this guy/gal for 6 months...a term is 4 years people. thngs change. when Bush ran in 2000, the key issues everyone asked about was not Terrorism, not Iraq, not our borders, not how our rights would be treated. However, now, 8 years later, those few issues are the big issues that defined George Bush as a president.

    I don't see how I can vote according to the issues of today when most likely the most important thing this president does is on a subject that hasn't come up yet. I think the only way to vote is by Character, by how good of Leader he/she will make. I need someone I can trust to make good decisions for 4 years, EVEN if that means I don't agree with them on medicare, or social security, or Iraq.


    6:46pm--Alright. Forget it. Was trying to set up a voting system for the beef and poultry. First ad had a milfhunter ad in it. The second was ugly. You want you food, vote for it in the comments. I'm going to change out of my cranky pants.

    6:17pm--Well, if things are going to happen, they are going to start happening soon. Polls in Georgia close in less than an hour. Chaos has overtaken Mt. Otis. I'm going to stop this until it quiets down in here. Back in just a bit.

    5:54pm--The sure sign someone is losing? When you start hearing, "My opponent isn't playing fair."

    Here's how it went down in West Virginia today. In the first vote of the Republican Convention there, it looked like Romney had a good shot. It further looked liked McCain didn't stand a chance. Because no candidate got more than 50% of the vote, convention delegates had to vote again. McCain's camp decided to make a play and, knowing Huckabee is no threat to win the primary, asked its voters to vote Huckabee. So, they do, McCain gets next to no votes and Huckabee takes the majority over Romney. All delegates go to Huckabee and Romney...well, he cries. Hic campaign manager said, "Unfortunately, this is what Senator McCain’s inside Washington ways look like: he cut a backroom deal with the tax-and-spend candidate he thought could best stop Governor Romney’s campaign of conservative change."

    5:46pm--Presented without comment.

    When I am this party's nominee, my opponent will not be able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq; or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran; or that I supported Bush-Cheney policies of not talking to leaders that we don't like. And he will not be able to say that I wavered on something as fundamental as whether or not it is ok for America to torture — because it is never ok… I will end the war in Iraq… I will close Guantanamo. I will restore habeas corpus. I will finish the fight against Al Qaeda. And I will lead the world to combat the common threats of the 21st century: nuclear weapons and terrorism; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease. And I will send once more a message to those yearning faces beyond our shores that says, "You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now." --Obama, November 10, 2007

    Via Wil.

    5:41pmBest headline I've seen today:

    Huckabee scores first in West Virginia, presumably with a relative

    Well, yeah. It was from Fark.

    5:33pm--Rapid Eye Radio is back online. Looking like the next few hours will have some Widespread, Uncle Tupelo, Ben Harper, YMSB, Scott Miller, Donna, Cigar Store, and other fun stuff. Enjoy. Or don't. [link corrected]

    5:24pm--First exit polls in...not at all surprising.

    In the Republican vote, most people voting for Romney and Huckabee call themselves conservative. Only half of McCain voters call themselves conservative.

    Among Democrats who make up their mind in the last three days, the vote was split evenly between Obama and Clinton.

    5:19pm--CNN is reporting exit polls coming soon. That should be interesting. Oh, did I ever mention that if I ever just give up on life, I'm going to open an adult video store and calling it "Coming Soon" ...?

    4:58pm--Via CJ via MSNBC...

    Romney releases statement saying McCain cut a backroom deal with Huckabee to keep Romney from winning West Virginia. Huckabee releases a statement basically calling Romney a whiner.

    5:54pm--Apparently it's not just the folks in Virginia who are a little confused. KSAT reports the good people of San Antonio are wondering why thier polls aren't open. Something, yada yada, Texas not having a primary, something or other.

    4:43pm--Hey, who is gamblin'? Crack producer G-Rob ships these lines from Slate.

    Democrat lines

    Republican lines

    4:34pm--Somebody called Madonna. Via G-Rob, the silliest thing I've heard yet, this one from New York magazine.

    The "Evita factor" could make all the difference on Super Tuesday, says New York. Hillary Clinton has a major advantage over Barack Obama among Hispanic voters, which will be crucial in large states like California. One theory holds that Latinos are more willing to embrace Hillary because of precedence in Latin America for strong women who rode their husbands' coattails into power

    Um...yeah. Let's forget the nation's largest Spanish language newspaper endorsed Obama.

    4:31pm--One interesting thing I'm noting among all of comments so far is how adamant everyone is that we shouldn't vote for a candidate. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who is actually for a candidate and why.

    4:28pm--On the subject of grassroots campigning in the digital age, G-Rob forwarded me this recent e-mail from the Obama campaign:

    Friend --

    Today, nearly half the nation will have the chance to join you in saying that we are tired of business-as-usual in Washington, we are hungry for change, and we are ready to believe again.

    Twenty-two states across the country are holding their primaries and caucuses, and you can help Get Out The Vote in these crucial contests.

    Use our online calling tool to reach out to fellow supporters. Encourage them to send a message that America is ready for a new kind of leadership and a new kind of politics.

    Make calls using our online calling tool today:


    You can make a big impact -- the more calls you make, the more people will take part in their state's primary or caucus.

    Thanks for everything you've done,


    4:21pm--In all this political talk, the other races of the day are getting lost. As I mentioned at the top of the day...

    On the Beef Ticket, voters have three choices: Hamburger, The Philly Cheesesteak, and The Bone-In Ribeye.

    On the Poultry Ticket: Chicken Fingers, Deep Fried Turkey, Buffalo Wings.

    At this hour, it appears the Ribeye is going to win in a landslide. Polls actually open HERE at dinner time. Stay tuned and campaign away!

    4:16pm--Rolling Stone reports John Mellencamp is tired of John McCain using his songs at rallies. Discuss among yourselves.

    3:50pm--CJ asks in the comments, "Would support John McCain, then? During their time in the Senate, who showed a better ability to reach across the aisle and get tough legislation passed, John McCain or Barack Obama?"

    Would I support McCain? Good question. He is, by far, the best Republican candidate running for the nomination. I think he has a lot of talent in reaching across the aisle. If he weren't so hawkish, I might be able to support him.

    Also in the comments, Uncle Wilco reiterates, "The question was what would you change? Health Care? Taxes? Economy? How are is candidate going to do that?"

    Here is a little background on where I'm coming from. I spend as much per month buying private insurance for my family as I do paying my mortgage. That insurance doesn't cover much of what a normal family has to deal with on a regular basis. Do I think a change in the healthcare system is necessary? Yes. Do I think socialized medicine is a great idea? Maybe not. However, I have many friends around the world who don't have any problem with the level of care they get under such a system.

    Under a Republican administration, I've spent more in taxes than I ever have. Meanwhile, my government is engaged in a war with my money...a war that many of us agree should never have started.

    Today, we are seeing the worst sell-off so far this year. The economy is in shambles. My portfolio (nothing but blue chips and purchased eight years ago) is worthless.

    Add to all that, a small subset of the Republican party pretty much turned my professional life upside down about 18 months ago.

    Do I think Obama is the perfect candidate? No way. Do I think he will fix many of my issues? I don't know. I do know, however, he is speaking my language.

    I'm no spring chicken. I have barely participated in national politics in my adult lifetime, largely because I could never support a canadidate even 75%. I don't know what will happen if Obama is elected. This time, however, I've decided to care. It may come back to bite me in the ass. Naive and idealistic? Sure. It may be time for that. I'm sick of being a fatalist.

    But, if it's wrong to wish for the nation to not be at war, to hope for people to work together to fix a broken economy and healthcare system, and to believe there is someone who actuallly want to make that happen, then color me wrong. Dead wrong.

    3:46pm--Quote an interesting discussion getting going in the comments. Take a look if you have the inclination.

    3:26pm--Uncle Wilco asked in comments, "Since I hear a lot about the need for change I have a question for the people out there looking for change. What are you hoping to change (besides Iraq?), and exactly how are your canidates going to do that?"

    I think by asking about Iraq parenthetically you diminish how important it is. That may not have been your intention, but to ask what we want to change besides that makes me wonder how many people don't see it as the single biggest issue in the past thirty years.

    That aside, what change? It's a change in the way America thinks. I know it sounds naive. I hate to sound naive. Regardless, I know how America has operated in my adult life. It's been an environment of hopelessness. When it comes to matters of policy, few if any candidates are speaking about changing through unity rather than battle.

    If I want America to talk rather than fight, is that wrong? I don't know if anybody has the ability to repair a fractured country, but I'm inspired by someone who wants to try.

    2:58pm--My buddy, E, is laid up with the flu. That sucks for her, as she would rather mainline political coverage than any other drug. She is a junkie unlike anybody I know. She actually gets paid to do this stuff, so she's in quarantine and live blogging from her bunker in Austin. You can find her HERE.

    2:53pm--A lot of you reading types are poker fans. If you're not one of those people, you might not know that 1) Obama enjoys a good game of cards and 2) Jim McManus is probably the best poker writer to emerge in the last ten years. My buddy Iggy posted this enlightening McManus column.

    2:43pm--Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family honcho, took a huge shot at John McCain today, writing, "I cannot, and I will not vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience." And if McCain gets the nomination? "I believe this general election will offer the worst choices for president in my lifetime."

    I'm trying to think of another way to say "fractured party..."

    2:38pm--CJ points out via IM that what looks like a McCain slaughter in WV is actually gamesmanship in play. Looks like McCain's supporters went Huckabee to keep Romney from winning. That's cute.

    2:33pm--Rapid Eye Radio is taking a brief nap. Like a damned teenager after a roll in the hay. Or something like that. Back up shortly.

    2:23pm--Huckabee wins West Virginia. Go figure. That's 30 delegates that will be doing something else come convention time.

    2:15pm--From Politico.com vis live blog producer G-Rob, re: Dole pile Romney stepped in...

    Mitt Romney just tried to give Bob Dole a quick call from his campaign plane in West Viriginia.

    He got Dole's secretary and left a message.

    2:06pm--Looks like West Virginia Republicans are rocking and rolling again. We;ll see if they can make up their minds this time.

    1:45pm--Drudge is reporting "The board of elections failed to deliver voting equipment to polling places allover Los Angeles." That can't be good.

    1:41pm--Robocall! Robocall! This hit Arizona phones this morning.

    This is Ann calling on behalf of Hillary Clinton for President. Hillary Clinton has been a tireless fighter for seniors [unintelligible]. Barack Obama has said when it comes to Social Security all options should be put on the table. That includes raising the retirement age and cutting benefits. He has even proposed raising Social Security taxes by a trillion dollars. Hillary Clinton stood up to Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security and is against raising the retirement age. When you go to the polls tomorrow cast your vote for the Democrat committed to protecting Social Security as we know it: Hillary Clinton.

    Via The Hotline

    1:35pm--Why is CNN's fashion and lifestyle reporter doing election coverage?

    1:20pm--This is pretty neat. It's a Google and Twitter thingy that is showing Tweets from voters around the country and world related to today's primaries. You can find it HERE.

    1:08pm--As I told G-Rob a few minutes ago, I would rather be sitting around with everyone listening to music, watching returns, drinking beer and arguing. Since that's not going to happen, I scrounged around for a way to play some music to background this today. You can find it at Rapid Eye Radio.

    It doesn't require any downloads or anything. Just hit play on the linked page. There is a java-based player that kicks off with a promo for the site and then the station should kick off.

    The next little bit will feature the Jerry Garcia Band, Donna the Buffalo, Cross Canadian Ragweed, the Beatles, and some other stuff.

    1:01pm--Via G-Rob and CBSNews.com...it is getting more than a little ugly between McCain and Romney. Apparently Bob Dole wrote a letter to Rush Limbaugh stating...

    McCain is a friend and I proudly wore his P.O.W. bracelet bearing his name while he was still a guest at the ‘Hanoi Hilton,’" Dole writes. “I believe our major candidates are mainstream conservatives and that our nominee will address our concerns..."

    How does Romney respond? He says of Dole, "[He is] probably the last person I would have wanted to have write a letter for me."

    Yeah, that's the way to win friends and influence people. More at CBS.

    12:54pm--Romney wins 41% of vote in West Virginia Republican Caucus. Because no candidate got a majority of the vote, a second round of voting is coming up.

    12:34pm--The weather is somewhere between 65 and Awesome degrees here in southeast. G-Rob reports big turnout in Georgia and predicts we'll see an Obama landslide called before my kid is in bed.

    12:25pm--I have no idea how I got on Mike Huckabee's e-mail list, but it's proven to be rather entertaining over the pas several weeks. One of my favorites came in overnight.

    We just finished a campaign event here in Arkansas. The crowd was great and very enthusiastic. Arkansas will lead the way for us tomorrow as we begin to add to our delegate count. Polls in Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama also show this race too close to call. We are in the middle of the fight for the Republican nomination and our hopes are running high.

    What we need to do tomorrow is turnout every Huckabee supporter we can. Last minute reminder calls and messages to voters are going to be critical. Every vote counts. To help fund this effort in Tennessee, Missouri, Georgia and Alabama we are relying on you to help us close the gap. We are $215,000 away from reaching our midnight goal of $1,000,000 for get out the vote efforts.

    Will you make an immediate contribution of $25 or more?

    Please help us reach our goal. I will make a final decision on how many reminder calls we will make tomorrow based on the financial resources we have available at midnight. Reaching our goal will give us the resources we need to win in the states we are targeting.

    I am counting on you so please consider making a contribution immediately.

    Anyone feeling like re-arranging deck chairs on the good ship Huckabee?

    12:15pm--Does anyone find it even vaguely amusing that even Rush Limbaugh is having a hard time getting behind the likely Republican nominee?

    11:48am--And it's time for the conservative voice. CJ, a longtime blogging partner at Up For Poker, decided we neeeded a little more Elephant on this side of the blogosphere. Here's his take. I'm sure we'll see him in the comments later.

    As the conservative talking heads continue to cry about John McCain not being a "real conservative," I challenge them to tell me who in the race really is. Mitt Romney? The one-time liberal governor from the most liberal state in the nation. The guy who fought to separte himself from Ronald Reagan in the 80s? Is it Mike Huckabee? The tax-raising governor of Arkansas? Sure, he's got the religious folks behind him, but he's not conservative. Was it Rudy Giuliani? Pro-choice, anti-guns. Need I go on? This race had one true Reagan Republican, Fred Thompson, and no one wanted to vote for him. Forgive me for borrowing from Donald Rumsfield, but you go to the election with the candidate you have, not the candidate you want. If conservatives want higher taxes and socialized medicine and a surrender mentality in foreign policy and up to three new liberal members of the Supreme Court, then all means ignore John McCain and support the Democratic nominee in November.

    11:39am--Oh, and Perez Hilton supports Hillary. We gotta pull this out of the gutter.

    11:30am--Here's a question...of the current Saturday Night Live cast, who gets which candidate? I have to imagine, they are all already practicing and probably basing thieir hopes and dreams on who wins.

    11:02am--If you haven't been keeping up, here's a look (Courtesy CNN Politics) at the states in play today.

    10:55pm--If you're the kind of person who looks to celebs to give you a heads-up on your voting choice, George Clooney is backing Obama. So is Bobby De Niro. So are three members of the Grateful Dead. Ugly Betty of ABC fame is Clinton supporter. Rambo loves John McCain. Chuck Norris, who apparently can't cure cancer with his tears and has no sense of humor, likes him some Mike Huckabee.

    10:52am--A brief aside...why is there no Windows-based program out there that allows me to easily create a quick pirate radio station and stream directly from my iTunes? Sorry about that, but it's become a bit of an obsession. Back to the politics.

    10:18am--In the interest of fairness, I should point out the extended Otis family is quite divided on this race. My brother, known as Crazy Smart Guy among his friends--mostly because he's a lot smarter than me in most academic arenas--is no fan of Obama.

    I'm a doctor. The only thing I know more about than the average Joe is
    Healthcare. On this issue, Obama is a fool (or should I say the people who wrote his "plan" to save healthcare are fools).


    Basically, he wants to create a national health insurance that ANYONE and EVERYONE can purchase at a rate that is on a sliding scale based on what you earn, etc. Employers will be REQUIRED to either offer private health insurance or contribute more payroll taxes to the government plan.

    There are MANY more insane details that are completely impractical and don't even BEGIN to address the REAL issues related to the healthcare crisis.

    BTW, it's going to cost about $65 billion dollars (and that is the CAMPAIGN ESTIMATE). I'm sure the actual cost would be easily 2-3X's that amount. Also, he plans to pay for it by increasing taxes on those who make over $250,000. Sounds like a great idea. Why don't we raise taxes on doctors who already pay nearly half of their salaries to the government to fund poorly-run programs? And if you think that doctors make too much anyway, you should know that physician salaries make up only 8% of healthcare costs.

    I could go on and on, but that is just ONE reason to not vote for Obama.

    Obama Healthcare FAQ (PDF)

    9:51am--At G-Rob's urging, I went all grassroots yesterday and sent an e-mail to friends and family in Missouri and Colorado asking them to vote. In particular, I tried to sway them toward my candidate of choice. One of my buddies--one I didn't expect to take heed--sent me a nice reply. I'll let him take credit for it if he wishes. Regardless, yea grassroots.

    You, sir, now have my promise. I was on the fence, could vote for him with a quite-clear conscience if only he wasn't for letting or keeping every illegal immigrant in, but I like most of the other stuff he is for, and if his weakness is his lack of experience, well, it very well could be his strength in that he would be less likely to be beholden to the political machine and good-'ol boy network that has ruined the world for the last decade. Enjoy. Voting for him shall likely be the highlight of my day...

    9:30am--You know what makes me giggle? Conservatives who break the 11th commandment. If you're not familiar with it, it's the unwritten rule that a Republican does not speak ill of another Republican. Now, here we are on the most important primary day in history and great thinkers like Pennsylvania's one-time Senator Rick Santorum are saying things like, "John was very rough in the sandbox. Everybody has a McCain story. If you work in the Senate for a while, you have a McCain story. He hasn't built up a lot of goodwill." That one, coming from a guy who fought McCain on immigration and same sex marriage issues, is cute. This one, though, is a downright kick in the ass to the 11th commandment. It comes from Senator Thad Cochran, a guy who used to be my Senator in Mississippi... "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."

    9:16am--Obama wins! In Indonesia. In a Dixville Notch-ish round of early voting, expats in Indonesia, a place where Obama lived for several years as a child, went to a hotel to cast their votes. Early counts show Obama winning...which should do him a helluva lot of good come convention time.

    9:01am--Polls are stupid. G-Rob sent this poll data along this morning. The Reuters/CSpan/Zogby poll has Obama up +13 in California. SurveyUSA has Clinton up +10. As G-Rob points out...both polls were conducted on the same day. Statistics...

    8:52am--Happy Mardi Gras, by the way.

    8:30am--I've asked myself several times why I'm going to bother doing this. I'm not CNN, Politico.com, or even Gawker. I'm just one of the hundreds of other people doing this. I'm a niche-less blogger with more time on his hands than good sense.

    That said, I have some experience in the world of politics and news. I have developed a passion about this race. I need to find someway to help me wrap my head around what happens today. And like John Gorka once sang, I tend to make my mistakes outloud. So, here it goes.

    I decided that I'm going to do live blog Super Tuesday for the same reason that I did it on Election Day in 2006. I'm doing it because this is a night I would like to be sitting in a bar with my closest friends and family and watching our nation change. This, quite frankly, is better than watching the Super Bowl. Today means something. I want to share it with you folks.

    So, the comments are open. Use them as your playground.

    Today is the closest the United States has ever come to a national primary. Two dozen states will be voting or caucusing.

    David Axelrod, Barack Obama's main man in the trenches--the guy who got him elected to the Senate in 2004 and has helped shape the Obama image since--summed up how today is expected to go. Yesterday he told Politico.com's Ben Smith, "Sleep late."



    With conventional wisdom saying this primary might not be decided by tomorrow, what happens in California late tonight will be more than important. Hillary Clinton was the favorite in that state until just a couple of days ago. As such, Axelrod seemed more than a little concerned about early voting and how that could affect Obama's chances there.

    I have no rules for this blog today. It will go where it goes. I may give up and hide in a closet by news time. As a one-time registered Apathist, I am now a Barack Obama supporter and make no apologies for it. If today goes as I want it to, Obama will have a strong showing and McCain will lock up the nomination.

    Finally, some of you may remember the other race run in here in November 2006 between Hamburger and Chicken Fingers. There were some passionate supporters of both candidacies. As this is primary season, we'll be looking to nominate a candidate from both parties.

    On the Beef Ticket, voters have three choices: Hamburger, The Philly Cheesesteak, and The Bone-In Ribeye.

    On the Poultry Ticket: Chicken Fingers, Deep Fried Turkey, Buffalo Wings.

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    Sunday, February 03, 2008

    Four conversations

    Conversation with my son just now:

    "There's a man in my sack with the corn." He says this while holding a corn-filled heating bag.

    "The man in the sack said 'everyone attack' and he's sitting in the sack with your corn?" I ask. The kid does not get the Ballroom Blitz reference and moves on.

    "Yeah, there's a man in the sack. I cut him up. His head and his feet. They're in the sack with the corn." The kid looks as angelic as the day he was born. On neither that day nor this one did I hear Ave Satani in the background.

    "Well, that's sort of strange," I say.

    The kid doesn't blink. "Yeah, it's strange." And he goes walking off with his sack, which may or may not have a dismembered guy in it.


    Conversation with the media

    Last week, the TV station I used to work for ran this story in the first block of news at 11pm. If you don't have time to click through, it's about a car vs. deer wreck.

    Yeah. Complete with repeated images of the dead deer hanging out of the windshield of the car.

    This is quote from the story is about the lady who was injured in the wreck. It pretty much sums up how classy my old haunt has become.

    Cardell Lindsay, said, "They were saying she was real bloody, but they think most of that blood came off that deer because that deer came through the windshield. He's dead. I seen him."

    Five years ago, the deer story never would've made it to a photographer's tape, let alone on the air...let alone on the air for a full minute and half with "Exclusive" stamped on it.

    Exclusive? Really?

    For most people who read across the country, this may seem par for the course. This particular station, though, was long considered to be protected from and above the FOXification of America. It was a bastion of real news. Now, it's running "Exclusive" stories about something that happens every day. And they are showing pictures of dead animals on TV.

    What sucks is, I know the guy who had to produce the story. He came along after I left, but I've met him since and I think he's a helluva good reporter and a nice guy. I can only guess he was forced to do the story. I can only hope, anyway. The station used to be managed by people who respected their viewership as much as they respected the profession of journalism. Now, it is the same station that recently ran a series titled, "Are You Too Fat For Your Car?" and has semi-regular reports on the status of Britney Spears' collapse.

    Hell, it's like watching someone you love die in the hospital. It's sad, sick, and painful. I still have many friends there who I'm sure wish they were able to do the kind of work they did a few years ago. My hope for them is the station's ownership realizes what they've done to what was once one of the most respected local news stations in the country.

    Or, if I need to speak a langauge that might be understood...

    "Journalism at that station is dying. I seen it."


    A conversation with security

    I hate the fucking circus. I really do. I only go because I don't want my kid killing some guy and putting him in a sack full of corn because I didn't take him to see the elephants.

    The only good thing about the circus, as far as I'm concerned, is it is great fodder for my Flickr account. My buddy CC bought me a Flickr PRO account recently and I was looking for more good material. So, as I have for the past three years, I walked up to our local arena with one of my Nikons hanging from my shoulder.

    At the door, several security guys were half-heartedly wanding the crowd. Had I wanted, I could've smuggled a kilo of blow, a machete, and a howitzer in my pants.

    "Is that a detachable lens?" the security guy asked.

    I was already a little cranky anyway. I've been on the wagon for a week and work is a little stressful. All I wanted was to have a nice afternoon with my family and maybe get one or two good pictures.

    "Yeah, it is."

    I knew what was coming at that moment. I remembered the same conversation playing out at the World Series of Poker. There, the exclusive media provider (read: we pay money to be the only people allowed to properly cover this event) established a rule that forbade cameras with detachable lenses.

    "I've never had a problem with this before," I told the security guy.

    "Every circus is different," the guy shrugged. "You can walk it back to your car or we can have someone escort you guest services."

    My car was less than five minutes away, but I couldn't resist actually being escorted by security to make sure I didn't get my 18-70mm lens in any clown's face.

    To his credit, my escort was a really nice guy who tried to make me feel better about the entire thing. "It's a copyright thing," he said while steam rose off my forehead.

    I wanted badly to launch into a PETA rant about abused elephants and how the tigers should eat the ringmaster. Instead, I took a valet ticket that read "#285" and watched the show without taking any pictures.

    I hate the fucking circus. More.


    A conversation with you

    About fifteen months ago, for lack of something better to do--and because I was very excited about the day--I live blogged the whole of election day. At first it was just a way to keep myself occupied. Eventually, it became a conversation with you. After more than 14 hours of live blogging, the post had 113 comments and was a great conversation to boot.

    Super Tuesday is going to be another one of those days. I'm going to be fabulously preoccupied with the goings-on around America and I'm planning to live blog the day. If any of you folks would like to join me, the comments will be open.

    See you then.

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    Friday, February 01, 2008

    TMZ, McDonald's, Circuit City, and nipple slips

    "Schadenfreude is the greatest joy."

    Americans, perhaps, caught on late to the concept of schadenfreude. We arrived so deep into the game of reveling in others' misery that we who speak English don't even have our own word for it. Maybe it was because, in the early days of colonization, we were too busy actually building a country to make fun of the fact John Smith had syphilis. Or, maybe our Western wit had failed to sharpen to the point needed to truly take pleasure in other's misfortune.

    Today, though, it is fair to say America has embraced the concept of schadenfreude. Or, in the spirit of many American "creations," we stole it from somewhere else, bastardized it, and made it trite and disgusting.

    In 2005, TMZ.com did not exist. Today, it gets millions of hits per month and is used as a source by major news networks. Its popularity has grown to such a degree, TMZ advertisers have included McDonald's, Kraft, Proctor and Gamble, and Circuit City.

    To be fair, who among us hasn't enjoyed seeing Paris Hilton be a celebitch? Who hasn't taken a little pleasure in seeing some of the world's biggest stars without make-up? It diddles a little spot in our brains to see the ivory tower of celebrity is often made of soap. I look at TMZ and its ilk like I would porn--alone and mildly embarrassed about it.

    Embarrassed, however, can quickly turn to disgust. In the few years since TMZ sprang up from the gutter, it has devolved from reporting celebrity news to exploiting such laugh-a-minute subjects as drug abuse and mental illness. One need look no further than the last few months of coverage of Britney Spears.

    In 2006, TMZ head honcho Harvey Levin, the one-time television b-lister and People's Court hack, told the New York Times, "Britney is gold, she is crack to our readers. Her life is a complete train-wreck and I thank God for her every day."

    Levin must have been on his knees a lot in recent months, because Spears has gone from flashing her netherparts to full blown mental destruction. In just the past couple of weeks, Spears has twice been sent to psychiatric facilities against her will. According to TMZ, Spears has recently been declared "Gravely Disabled," meaning she is now a candidate for involuntary commitment.

    Pretty damned hilarious, no?

    TMZ and Levin will claim they are only reporting the news as they find it. It makes no difference to them whether Spears' bipolar disorder is "news" per se. It makes no difference whether the reporting of a quick mental decline and the family strife it causes is gross and exploitive. It makes no difference if TMZ mixes its "reporting" with descriptions like "popwreck." TMZ will report it because people read it. Nay, people enjoy it.

    It would be easy to let TMZ slide as the slumlords of celebrity entertainment industry. It is usually within its legal rights and, apart from not giving a damn who it hurts or destroys, it can be commended for its dogged determination to sniff out every detail about what Brad Pitt wore to dinner Friday night. What's more, it's getting paid...and big time. So, who can blame'em, right?

    Most readers of TMZ probably don't know that it only exists because of the ownership and funding of media giant AOL/Time Warner. Indeed, the same people that give you CNN, Time Magazine, HBO, Court TV, Sports Illustrated, and the Cartoon Network give you TMZ, home of the exploitation of mental illness and pictures of celebrity's nipple slips. If not for the backing of one of the world's biggest media companies, some people might be able to lose their minds without having millions of people watch it happen. But, really, who can blame AOL/Time Warner, right? If there is money to be made and readers to satisfy, who cares if it helps the nation poke fun at bipolar disorder? In the long run, it's all about profit.

    The profit is there. It's not the readers sending in contributions. It's not subscription fees. It's advertising and lots of it. Take a peek at just a couple screen shots from this week's coverage.

    If you don't care to click through to see the larger images, what you're looking at there is McDonald's sponsorship of the announcement that Britney Spears has been declared "Gravely Disabled." The one below that is Circuit City's sponsorship of TMZ's "Nip Slip" page, an entire section dedicated to nipples that have somehow made their way out of celebrity's shirts.

    Here should begin a long lament about the downfall of American culture. Here should start the waxing nostalgic about a time when human decency rose above corporate profits. Here should be the part where we ask "At what point did exploitation and prurience become the stuff of corporate sponsorship by the likes of Ronald McDonald?"

    Indeed, it should be the point we ask that. However, it likely won't do any good, if there is any good to be done in the first place. Ronald McDonald probably thinks he is being a good corporate citizen by not having TMZ TV streaming in all locations. If McDonald's can sell a McRib because you wanted another look at Britney Spears going nuts, then all the better. The good thing about it is that we won't have to blink when pictures of Britney Spears' suicide appear on Circuit City TVs and are accompanied by a Happy Meal toy.

    This is not a defense of Britney Spears. It's a defense of human decency.

    What makes schadenfreude the lowest form of humor is its complete lack of effort and creativity. America's schadenfreude artists wait for someone else to create something and then eagerly dissect it for a cheap laugh and a feeling of personal or corporate worth. It's such an easy buck that an entire industry has built itself on making the world's lamest of spirits feel better about themselves.

    Perhaps the worst thing born from this cultural enlightenment is the ability to become famous through failure. One only need watch American Idol to see that failure is a quicker road to fame than talent. The shortsighted fail to see their fame will last just long enough to make them a little money and the subject of ridicule for the next several years. After that, it's back to failing on a smaller scale.

    Just about every major language has a way to describe schadenfreude, that funny little word with no English equivalent. Similarly, just about every major language has a way to say "Schadenfreude is the greatest joy."

    In every culture but our own, that final quote is meant to be ironic.

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