Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Northern Alliance Crossword Puzzle Book

So last night, after returning home from a church function at which I partook of many yummy desserts, including some snotty thing that looked like booger peach pie but was delicious nevertheless, I sat down to relax with a crossword puzzle book.

The first puzzle had BROTHER as a clue. Six letters. First letter is F, the last two are ER. That one was easy. A few minutes later, I moved on to the next puzzle.

Another challenging clue came up. Something IN THE DARK. Five letters. Third letter is H, last letter is T. Another easy one.

At that point, I gave up and went to sleep. After eating booger peach pie and discovering a mysterious coincidence in my crossword puzzle book, I decided that I had better stop before I came across EXPECTORATING BOVINE as a clue in a third puzzle. That would have been proof positive that the booger peach pie had been spiked, and if that were the case, I would rather not know.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Get Into Duluth

One week from today, my family and I will likely be patrolling the Lake Superior shoreline from the Minnesota side. Or the Wisconsin side. Or both. I'm too excited to blog about anything else this afternoon.

Plus, it's Friday. Who gives a monkey's about anything on a Friday afternoon?

Oh yeah -- if all goes well, I will be at Keegan's next Thursday. I have been wanting to find out for myself if Fraters Libertas is the drunk tank that Hugh Hewitt says it is. If not, I will be extremely disappointed to say the least.

The vacation itinerary also includes the Mall of America, the Great River Road, and maybe the source of the Mississippi if I feel like spending most of my day behind the wheel of a minivan. Perhaps it would be best if I were to move there permanently; that's the only way that I could fit everything in.

I have a brand new digital camera. No more of this film developing nonsense for me. Every picture I've taken in the past ten years has been getting scanned and electronically filed. It's a pain in the neck. Twenty-First Century, here I come!

Look for more incoherent rambling as the weekend progresses!

Mystical, Magical Birther King

Today is one of those good news days, apparently. A baby has been born in a Burger King parking lot just east of Pittsburgh. Either he was ready for solid food, or he wanted his first experience in the outside world to be a memorable one. After all, despite all of the "Super Size Me" style propaganda, more people die in hospitals than in fast food joints. Burger King is a much happier place to be born, especially if you get one of those cool orange fluorescent Human Torch action figures.

On the other hand, the child might get stuck with this clown for his godfather:

Thursday, July 28, 2005

End of an Era

This is big news for those of us who grew up in the Pittsburgh area at any time in, say, the last 150 years or so.

Kaufmann's is going away forever.

As a young boy, I loved going shopping downtown with my mother. If we wanted to go to a big department store, there were three choices: Horne's (near our bus stop), Gimbel's (somewhere in the middle of town), and Kaufmann's (even more centrally located and even easier to find). The downtown shopper of yesteryear has become today's mall rat. Gimbel's went out of business years ago, and Horne's gave way to the ill-fated Lazarus department store. The Kaufmann's name lived on, even as the parent company changed hands and changed names on several occasions.

Now I know how the Minnesota people felt about Dayton's. It will be sad to see Kaufmann's go; nevertheless, I won't be shedding any tears over it, especially considering what's taking its place. Macy's? No thanks; I'll stick with my suburban Megalomart types stores.

Augh, I Say

Augh! Jim Quinn on "America's Morning Show" here in Pittsburgh just called Hugh Hewitt an excellent talk show host from Boston.

You would think that someone like Quinn, who has spent time in northern Ohio, would recognize Hugh's thick northern Ohioan accent. I have been to Ohio. Everyone in the greater Cleveland area sounds like Hugh Hewitt.

However, I will admit that, when I first visited Cleveland, I thought everyone was speaking with some kind of French accent. So I can see how Quinn could mistake HH with someone from John Kerry's hometown.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Hey Big Boy, Nice Forward Throttle

Well, well, well.

I see that Mary Beth Ellis of Extreme Blonde Hotness (now with pictures!) has gone and gotten herself published at MSNBC again. Do I dare make fun of this article, and risk incurring a great deal of embarrassment like I did the last time?

Oh, what the hell. Why not!

This time around, there is no drooling over Obi-Wan Kenobi. He showed his inaptitude as a pilot in Revenge of the site by requiring Anakin Skywalker's help to knock a bunch of dismantling droids off of the wings of his plane. Regular readers of MB's blog will know that her Obi-Wan obsession has given way to another, this one involving a real live human being. And he's nothing less than a fully qualified pilot, which means that he knows what he's talking about when it comes to matters aviational, as MB has learned to her chagrin:

The best way to ruin a pilot movie is to watch it with an actual pilot. “Top Gun,” for example, was officially destroyed for me the day I was summarily informed that this movie was completely ridiculous because everybody knows that the airbrake of an F-14 is activated by a slide mechanism on the side of the throttle quadrant — and here Tom Cruise was moving the throttle forward. Bah!
He's a know-it-all with real world experience. This is even worse than going with a Star Wars geek because the geek will make things up and you can challenge him. But poor MB has to just sit quietly and listen and accept everything the pilot says is true because he has lived it.
I was, as you can imagine, absolutely shattered. You — you mean the filmmakers presented supposed factual information in an erroneous manner? I barely collected myself in time to appreciate the most intellectually vital aspect of the entire film, which as we all know is the skins vs. skins beach volleyball scene.
Whoa! Skins vs. skins? I have never seen the movie, so I can't comment directly. Was this a nude scene? Does she meurgencynous manner" instead of "erroneous manner"? I remember the MTV video with Terri Nunn of Berlin standing like some kind of wind goddess atop a very phony looking stage set. She was kind of cute, but she didn't show any skin. I might have to check out the movie to see what I'm missing.

Of course, there's always the possibility that the pilot switched a porn version for the original Top Gun and MB couldn't tell the difference. She is blonde, you know.

This is not to say I take issues with pilots paying attention to detail. I want the person in charge of transporting me from Orlando to Cincinnati to boast sharp discernment skills, as opposed to me, a person who until very recently thought that a filibuster was an appetizer only available at TGIFriday’s.
Everyone knows that a filibuster is a chocolate-with-peanuts coating over ice cream on a stick bar from Dairy Queen. I'm glad she figured that one out.
But I fear a similar ruination of “Stealth,” a futuristic film which indicates that U.S. Navy pilots have, since the Top Gun Class of ’86 displayed its mighty forearms, developed the ability save the world fully clothed. More’s the pity. As a teenager I found great comfort in the notion that in the event the United States was drawn into full-out war with the Soviet Union, Val Kilmer’s pectorals were adequately lubricated with SPF 15.
See, I was right! She was watching the porn version!
Hollywood seizes upon our notion of pilots, particularly those of the military persuasion, as the latest model in knighthood. Not every industry can be portrayed in this manner; English majors, for example, hardly ever analyze the rhyme schemes of Yeats fully aware that the FURther on the EDGE, the HOTter the inTENsity, no matter what Kenny Loggins might have us believe. I also doubt that human resources managers elicit Meg Ryan-style cries of “Take me to bed or lose me forever!” on a regular basis.
What is the significance of the capitalized letters in the middle of the middle sentence? "FUR EDGE HOT TEN" might be the working title of the Top Gun porno.
Rather, it’s because planes are cool. They light up and go VROOOOOOOOOOOOOM and present the ability to bypass the entirety of Detroit in four seconds. There is something tingly in the simple act of attaining cruising altitude: I am higher than you. Ergo, I rock.
I am not sure whether this paragraph is about sex (a tingly act) or about drugs (lighting up and getting high). Probably both.
Airplanes bear upon their wings a certain erotic allure; they are all curves and steel and joysticks located between the knees. It is therefore safe to assume that The Pilot is having The Sex.
This is blatant. I can't even comment on it because MB leaves nothing to the imagination. (And I do not mean the picture on her blog!)
Actors who play pilots, consequently, assume in the public imagination the perpetual mantle of the flight suit. When simultaneously presented with an actual pilot and a Hollywood pilot, the world will lick the hand of the fictional flyer every time, for Maverick never tells us that we are now fifteenth in line for takeoff but might be able to make up some time in the air.
So actors who play pilots are basically porn stars with a hand licking fetish. Got it. Thanks.

John Travolta — who happens to actually have a pilot’s license but is more important than most other pilots because he played a cheerful, bomb-stealing one in “Broken Arrow — recently emceed the opening ceremonies of the annex of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. He stood amongst Neil Armstrong, John Glenn and Amelia Earhart's flight suit, and an AP story covering the event discussed Travolta’s misty eyes for many words before getting around to mentioning that the first person to set foot on the Moon also happened to be hanging around. But then again, Armstrong wasn’t featured in “Look Who’s Talking Now,” poor sap.
Look Who’s Talking Now, another pilot sex flick. I loved that babe with the sexy English accent who tries to seduce John Travolta in the ski lodge. Sure she was evil, but no way could Kirstie Alley compete with her. Given the chance, I would have written a completely different ending.
We must note, however, that one of the most famous aviation-heavy scenes in Hollywood history — the closing moments of “Casablanca” — the pilot of Ingrid Bergman's getaway plane is thoroughly dissed. Who’s flying this plot device? Who started up the propellers? We are not told. We should be told. If anybody has earned The Sex, it’s this guy. At least show him honking the horn telling Ingrid to get a move-on. I doubt the scene would have played quite so well had Bogart insisted that if she did not get on that escalator to the mall mezzanine, she’d regret it soon and for the rest of her life.
Is "honking the horn" some kind of metaphor? They didn't show that kind of stuff in movies forty years ago.
There’s an ironic reality to this. Actual piloting (and this is the big dirty secret of aviation) does bury moments of un-fun within the fuel mix. The powers behind “Pearl Harbor,” for some reason, declined to shoot a scene in which Ben Affleck fills out requisition forms for “One (1) Official Pilot Pencil, Semi-Sharpened, Size Medium.”
Well, it's either an "ironic reality", or an "erotic reality". I'm betting on the latter. "Big dirty secret" is MB's way of warning us that we can expect more innuendo before this paragraph is over, like "un-fun within the fuel mix", an obvious reference to transmission of venereal disease. I need not comment on Ben Affleck's semi-sharp medium pencil.
An amazing achievement by the movie-makers; they’ve found a way to sex up engineering. Many movie pilots, for example, speak with much angst of “the envelope.” They must push the envelope! Press the envelope! Lasso, write book reports on, and deep fry the envelope! Nobody ever sits the viewers down for an explanation of what the envelope is, exactly; when I first heard of it in “The Right Stuff,” I assumed the pilots were speaking of a large, “Tic Tac Dough”-style dragon hanging in the sky, or a great wall of flame, or, at the very least, an actual envelope, preferably one from Publisher’s Clearinghouse announcing that you may have already won.
She should have figured out years ago what "the envelope" was, but I will give her a pass on this one since she was a nice Catholic school girl. Proper young ladies do not discuss such things.
The reality is crushing. Last year I followed a pilot friend through pre-flight procedures, and clapped my hands like a small child when he called me over to a computer screen and asked if I would like to learn all about The Envelope, which, as it turns out, is nothing more than a highly boring graph dealing with atmospheric conditions and decimals and how much a person weighs, and other such mildly unpleasant things.
That's what she thinks. The graph (probably short for "pornograph") is just foreplay. The reality is rather less mild and more unpleasant when she learns the real reason that body weight matters.
Still, this may or may not make for a high-octane 2006 summer blockbuster. The Envelope! Starring Nicholas Cage! Will Smith! Hillary Duff! And as Ed McMahon as… The Envelope!
No! Eva Longoria as...The Envelope! Ed McMahon is not anatomically correct in this context.
Bah.
Indeed. Now, I have an irresistable urge to go out and military press an airplane. Again.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Outrage Continues

Meanwhile, over at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll issued a contrite apology Monday to the widow of a fallen Marine from Westwood, saying she didn't mean to offend his family by attending his funeral, giving her business card to his aunt and speaking against the war in Iraq.

The apology came after hundreds of outraged people from Pennsylvania and across the country swamped Knoll's and Gov. Ed Rendell's offices with phone calls and e-mails, many demanding Knoll's resignation or impeachment and others faulting the governor for telling the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the state takes no position on the war.

The Trib article is worth reading just to see the angry reader emails directed at Knoll. There is also some response from Rhonda Goodrich to the non-apology:

Goodrich's sister-in-law, Rhonda Goodrich, of Indiana County, who had asked for the apology, said she was satisfied that public pressure caused Knoll's office to issue the letter, but she had hoped it would also include an apology to all Marines and others in military service.
This is something that some of us may have been missing. It's not just the offense to the family of the deceased Marine that is at issue here. There is a big picture aspect to this matter: the offense to the United States military in general. Thank you, Rhonda Goodrich, for pointing this out.
Knoll, 74, of McKees Rocks, left Rhonda Goodrich a telephone message Sunday night, apologizing and explaining that as a mother and grandmother she opposes all war, Goodrich said.
I'm not sure how I would respond to a message like this if I were at home. Even if I were screening calls via the answering machine, I would be sorely tempted to pick up the phone and start shouting obscenities. Of course, I feel like doing that to Democrats all the time anyway.

As for the comment "that as a mother and grandmother she opposes all war", I assume that she is expressing her opinion in the context of her personal point of view, and that she is not implying that others are incapable of feeling the same way. Fathers and grandfathers also grieve, as do children, siblings, etc. The implication that they do not feel the same way as a mother would bothers me.

"I'm still bitter, but if she apologized, that's what I asked for," Rhonda Goodrich said. "I wanted her called out on this, and I wanted people to know that she's against the war -- and if they're all against the war, why are we fighting and people are dying? It's a big political move. If it hadn't gotten all this attention, I'm sure we'd never have heard anything."

You can't really expect more than a half-assed apology under the circumstances. Knoll needed to CYA on all counts. She issued an apology without admitting that she was wrong about anything. "A big political move" by a big-time politician.

"Everybody knows somebody that's affiliated with the service," Goodrich said. "I don't want her doing this to anybody else." She said Goodrich's family was not upset that Knoll had come to the funeral, but was offended by her behavior there.
I've been part of several family funerals and it's always nice to see an unexpected guest's signature in the memory book. They usually drop by during visitation hours (an occasionally during off hours so as not to draw attention to themselves) but they never crash the funeral service. When you are a celebrity of some sort, where ever you go, it's "ALL ABOUT ME, ME, ME!" Knoll and anyone else who intends to pay their respects to the fallen would be wise to remember this in future.

A Non-Apology: Was Knoll Lying Then Or Is She Lying Now?

The fallout over Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll's abominable funeral crashing offense continues as she has issued some kind of apology for her behavior at the funeral of Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich last week. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette tells us:

Her appearance, and an article about it in Saturday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, generated an outpouring of letters, e-mail messages and Web log entries from around the country ("Lt. gov. crashed Marine's funeral, kin say," July 23).
No kidding. The number of hits on my blog has skyrocketed over the last four days, all because of this ghoulish hag. It's hard to find a milblog or a right-leaning blog that hasn't had something to say about this, and everyone seems to be unified in our opinion of Knoll. To put it politely, she is a disgrace and she needs to go NOW.

True to form, the PG tries to spin things in such a way as to make Knoll look like less of a scumbag than she actually is:

Writers were angry about Knoll showing up at the funeral in Carnegie of Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich, who was killed in action in Iraq July 10. She handed out a business card, appeared to a relative of the soldier to be campaigning and made a puzzling remark that was interpreted as criticism of the U.S. military action in Iraq.
There is no need for interpretation of her "puzzling remark". She plainly stated that the Rendell administration is against America's war against international terrorism. Rendell and Baker have taken sides. They are not with us; they are against us. How hard is that to figure out?

Now let's look at the "apology":

Knoll yesterday wrote to Amy Goodrich, widow of Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich, saying she was "incredibly upset" after learning through press reports that the Goodrich family was offended by her actions.

"I wanted to assure you once again that my intention was not to add to what must be a tremendously heartbreaking, difficult period," Knoll wrote. "I have attended dozens of funerals to offer my sympathy and condolences to the families of soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice."

Knoll said she offered a business card to a Goodrich family member "as a sign of my willingness to help the family through this difficult time in any way I can. To do anything that was deemed insensitive was completely counter to my intent."

Knoll said that Sgt. Goodrich's military service "was beyond the call of duty. If my regard for his family's grief was seen another way, it is thoroughly regrettable. The fact that you have been offended deserves and receives my most profound apology."

Now let's see...she was upset, she's been to military funerals before, she just wanted to help, she didn't mean to be insensitive. Lots of explaining going on there. How about the apology?

The way that she phrases it, the family is at fault for misinterpreting Knoll's intentions. "Sorry you feel that way, but you're wrong." She is apologizing because she offended the family, but not for the content of her words. This is what is commonly called a "non-apology".

Ah, there's more:

According to Rhonda Goodrich, Knoll told the family that "our government" is against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not so, Knoll insisted. "I will continue to support our troops in my role as lieutenant governor and support our president as an American," she wrote. "That I somehow conveyed an impression that was interpreted as other than that will forever be saddening and upsetting to me."

Rendell emphasized that his administration has no official position on the fighting, beyond showing support for U.S. troops.

"We join with every Pennsylvanian in supporting our young men and women who are fighting this global war on terrorism," he said.

So either Knoll was lying, or Rhonda Goodrich was lying. It certainly sounds like Knoll was calling Goodrich a liar. And if, as seems plainly obvious, Goodrich was telling the truth, then Knoll was either lying about the Rendell administration opposing the war, or she and Rendell are lying now about supporting the war.

And she still puts the blame on the Goodrich family for allegedly misinterpreting her remarks!

The PG also tries to discredit Rhonda Goodrich by pointing to her past political activities, which include protesting Michael Moore and being a registered Republican.

Rhonda Goodrich said she had no political motive in raising concerns about Democrat Knoll's appearance and statements at the funeral.

Goodrich said she's a registered Republican but added, "If [Republican U.S. Sen.] Rick Santorum or President Bush had showed up, I would be all over them, too."

Santorum and Bush don't do this sort of thing because they understand that the focus of a funeral should be on the deceased, not on a publicity seeking public figure. Remember that the next time some outraged Moonbat criticizes the President for not attending military funerals.

Filius Libertas

So, this morning, I casually drop by Fraters Libertas to read about the latest antics of Minnesota's surprisingly responsible gang of drunken frat boys. Whilst briskly scanning my way through a post about a Fraters internship program, I did a double take. (Which looks really weird when you're sitting in front of a computer.) Did I see what I thought I saw? Has Chad the Elder gone the way of Nick Coleman?

He certainly has...he's become a DADDY. A Pater Libertas. To a child named Nathaniel. Could this be the beginning of a new Fraters satellite blog, Filius Libertas featuring Nat the Younger?

Whatever happens, congratulations to Chad and his wife Beth. Even though, after four kids of my own, "congratulations" seems more like a curse than a blessing, but I wish them all the best nevertheless!