What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Runaway Car

On my way to school the other morning, I swung by the gas station to fill up the seemingly bottomless tank on my car. If you think this post is going to about the high price of gasoline, you read way too much FCN. For once, we are deviating from this popular and very relevant theme to discuss another pressing issue at the pump.

But, as long as we are on the subject - and I am already prejudged a oil price junkie - my latest fill up was ridiculously expensive. I would write the total price down, but most of the faithful FCN few would find it too fantastic to believe. So, I scanned my receipt, blotted out a few private and unimportant details and posted it to the right for you to enjoy and be amazed at (click to enlarge).

A little topography before we continue: My filling station of choice is situated at the top of a small rise. It isn't any great hill or imposing mountain (I live in the central valley for Quetzalcoatl's sake), but it is enough of an elevation increase to deserve a mention.

So back to the story: I pulled in front of the pump (#5, as the receipt will testify) and hopped out of my car, locking the door behind me. I was careful to bring my keys with me. I waltzed (1,2,3-1,2,3) over to the pump and began fiddling with the "easy to use" pay-at-the-pump feature. The screen was asking me to enter something, but the morning sun behind me created a glare that rendered the request incomprehensible. I put my keys on top of the pump and used my hand to shield the sun. After I punched in my zip code, I selected my grade and turned around to begin pumping.

That's when I noticed that my car was nowhere to be seen. I'd heard about people stealing vehicles while their owners where purchasing gasoline, but I'd never been a victim of such a brazen crime. Still, I hadn't heard the car start and it was possible...

There, not fifteen feet from where I had parked it, my car was creeping forward and no one was sitting behind the wheel. My car was stealing itself!

Quickly, I replaced the nozzle in the guzzle and sprinted to the door. Locked! And in my haste to get over I had forgotten my keys! I ran over to the other side of the car and tried the passenger side door, to no avail. I tried the trunk, irrationally thinking that it might be unlocked. It wasn't. Had it been unlocked, I have no idea what I would have done, although the idea of me riding in the trunk of my unmanned car does have a flippant nonchalance, like something Charlie Chaplin might do (WWCCD?).

I looked up at the rest of the parking lot and mentally projected a trajectory for my uncontrolled vehicle. It was headed right for the road. While traffic was lazy, it was present and images of my car looking like bad coleslaw flashed through my mind.

Maybe, I thought, I could run to the front of the car and push it to a halt. I started moving away from the trunk when I remembered the gentleman in Tiananemen Square who held back the Chinese army by prancing in front of a column of tanks, but figured my car might not be as considerate as the red commies. Standing in front of an unmanned mobile vehicle is not my idea of a fun school commute.

The consternation and requisite sweat were building when I remembered my keys sitting atop the pump. By the time I retrieved them, my car had merged into traffic.

I wish they put as much emphasis on teaching cars to drive as they do their drivers, because my car didn't know the first thing about the rules of the road: It didn't stop at a stop sign and merged without signaling. People sometimes say I drive dangerously. I say my car drives dangerously - I just go along for the ride.

There had to have been some kind of providential intervention on the scale of Moses and the Red Sea or at least "No Country For Old Men" for my car to have escaped unscathed. My keys and I arrived before the police or a human carjacker and I was able to safely navigate back to the pump.

Of course, as crazy an adrenaline rush as I got from that experience, it didn't come close to the buzz I got when I paid for the gas.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cow Bell 101

This site has cataloged my antics at my school's basketball games before, but this post centers on the behavior of another ardent fan, this one in the pep band. If you've ever been to a collegiate sporting event, you have undoubtedly been treated to the rousing notes of the pep band, rising up over the raucous cheers of the crowd with a volume that does little to disguise its own discord.

A friend who plays a very loud (and thus very important) instrument for the group once confided in me that the band practiced only two times outside of games all semester. For such little preparation, it is astounding that they are able to get so many people to play the right note at the same time, or at least a tone that is within a half step of the right note.

This is higher education: Who's to say what is or isn't the "right" note?

Our pep band has one clear standout. He is the Kobe Bryant of the court, the Bill Gates of the computer world and the Tim Berners-Lee (the guy who invented the internet) of packet sharing. No, I am not talking about any trumpet, trombone, tuba or timpani player, although, for what it's worth, all of those instruments do start with the letter "t." Rather the clear standout is the band's cow bell player.

Yes, the cow bell. You might have heard it on an Amish farm in Lancaster County or in the background at a Nordic skiing event. In these venues, the bell is wrung randomly and with no thought to intensity, rhythm or tonality, all very important qualities for the cow bell instrumentaliste.

When our cow bell player strikes stick to bell, the retort can be heard throughout the 6,000 seat stadium and the winces of the other band members are visible from across the court. You see, our cow bell player is very skilled.

But not only does he keep rhythm, he dances like the white guy he is.

As he strikes, the cow bell player moves his feet back and forth, bobbing his head to the beat he creates. He sways, bobs and weaves like Kevin James in Hitch, Dane Cook after a bad joke or our President in Africa. It's as if he has seen too many showings of Step Up or that Cowbell skit on SNL. During the timeouts, he skedaddles out to center court and continues his gyrations in full view of all.

In the middle of one of these impromptu performances, a friend of mine asked how a cow bell specialist got to study at our school's highly ranked music department. Were there even enough classes, my friend wondered, to allow a major in Cowbell Studies or Fine Cowbell Arts?

After a brief visit with our school's catalog confirmed that, yes, cowbell was an offered degree. We have classes in Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Cowbell Strikeage, Cowbell theory (including a upper division course in where best to strike a cowbell), History of Cowbell (divided up into pre and post modern Olympic games and a specialty class in cowbells of the Western United States), Cowbell Form and Motion, a cowbell capstone class and even a course in how to dance while playing the cowbell.

Too ensure a well-rounded graduate, majors have to take at least three electives from another percussion instrument including pots and pans, the serrated stick and car dashboards.

I am going tonight to watch my school's last home game of the season and a I guarantee that during the timeouts, I will be watching the cowbell player - the cowbell artist, excuse me - very closely.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

1st Do It Yourself Post

Ever since we phased out full-length Wednesday posts, we've been dependably getting comments from regular readers reminding us that Life Tips and Notes to Self "don't count." It's been so regular and dependable we've actually taking to setting our watches based on the "don't count" comments.

"Hey, adrialien just told us that wasn't a real post. My watch is 3 minutes fast!"
"Well, it's nine o'clock. Where's batman?"

Much as we love the normal routine, we thought we should consider shaking things up some. The obvious choice was to just start posting Wednesdays again just like any other day. But we don't want to do that. We have all kinds of great reasons, the last one of which is actually true:

- Wednesdays are unlucky.
- We want to shake things up.
- We don't have enough content.
- Wednesday is the day when the the fish of the sea were created.
- We're too lazy.

So, in lieu of a standard post, we'd like to give folks like adrialien and batman (and the rest of you) a chance to make the post yourself. You don't even need a post idea. We'll take care of (almost) everything. Here's how it works: we'll post a short something - usually just a single sentence - including at least one blank spot. You'll complete the post by commenting with the completed phrase. We'll always kick things off with the first comment (unless you're really really quick and comment between the time we post and the time we comment - for which you get brownie points) to give you an idea how it works.

The more people participate, the better this works, so don't be shy. You don't need to be clever. Look at us. We've been running this blog for eons in blog-time and we didn't have to be clever. We just posted something and eventually people came and read it and went lol at it. That process was repeated ten times - count them - times. So comment. It takes fifteen seconds and when you're done people will say good things about you and flowers will grow and birds will sing.

Well, enough with the preliminaries. Let's make a post!

__________ is the new __________.

Life Tip #57

Don't do drugs.

If you are going to do drugs, don't make narcotics a family activity.

If you are going to do drugs and make them a family activity, don't interfere when your four year old kid gives the cops a demonstration during a drug bust.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Top Ten Threats to America

There are a lot of people saying a lot of things about this country and it's time we sat down and cleared the air a bit.

1) Badly popped popcorn getting stuck in the back of your throat. Pieces of popcorn shell are like danger on a stick, the only difference being that they're not on a stick. We would discourage thinking too hard about that one.

2) Mothers-in-law. We're talking some major scariness here. Now many of us have great mother-in-laws and/or are great mother-in-laws and or know great mother-in-laws, etc, etc, and those sorts of things and such stuff and all the rest, and whatnot. But the fact is, mother-in-laws are scary people no matter what. I mean, they're the mothers of your spouse! That is, they are the mother of your spouse. She is the mother of your spouses.

See. Scary.

3) Orbital bombardment. Imagine if some massively advanced alien race showed up in the sky and started raining super-hot plasma bombs all over everywhere, scorching whole continents into glass and debris. We'd launch ICBMs back at them but the missiles would just bounce off their shielding and fall back onto the planet and blow up and kill more of us. That would seriously just ruin the entire day. It would probably be best to sleep in if that happened and miss the whole thing.

4) This isn't my toothbrush. If you share a bathroom with someone you know what we're talking about here.

5) Bermuda grass. Also known as cynodon or dog-tooth grass, this stuff spreads like spilt milk and is only slightly harder to get rid of than the entire Asian landmass. It has been known to hide in bushes or behind corners and jump out on unsuspecting passerby, scaring the smoothie out of them.

6) Death.
We bet you didn't expect to see that one on the list! But it's a simple fact that death is very dangerous and rather widespread. About 155,000 people die every day. Don't think it can't happen to you. After all, as Cal Naughton, Jr so aptly pointed out in a movie we definitely did not see: "98% of us will die at some point in our lives."

7) Snickers bars. That's right. Snickers bars. You didn't realize that every time you bit into a Snickers you were contributing to one of the top ten threats to America now did you? We didn't think so. Well now you know. Don't let it happen again.

8) Dance Dance Revolution. It was invented by evil people specifically to take over the world. And that's exactly what it's doing. We know because we saw someone standing outside GameStop earlier today with a sign reading:


9) Stubbed toes. Just when you're really on a roll and you're off doing something, kachow! you're on the floor clutching your toesie-woesies and looking for someone to strangle. Yet another reason you should have slept in today.

10) We can't say. We know what the 10th threat is but we can't post it here because, well, this is a family friendly blog - or at least it is during the week. Let's just say that the number one threat to America starts with "Daily" and rhymes with "boss." Hint.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Songwriter's Take on Stockton

One of FCN's contributors was recently named humor columnist for his school's newspaper, The Pacifican. As prodigious as that sounds (and it really does have the ring of prodigy), the new position has fewer readers than even the lowly Funny Class Notes, which is saying something. It also means a whole new passel of editors, each of whom is infinitely more irritating than the other FCN writers (which, again, is saying something), will have to peruse his work before it goes to print.

A little disclaimer: These columns are written for a slightly different format than FCN. First, the nature of the publication encourages local topics and humor that may not be even remotely stimulating for those reading outside the target area. You'll have to either smile and play along or go visit Google News when the local material is discussed. Second, they still haven't figured out a way to make newspapers carry hyperlinks. I wrote the New York Times months ago about this problem and not only did they do nothing about it, they didn't publish my letter. To solve this problem, you can imagine the hyperlink by printing out the column and underlining any text that probably would have a link if published online.

The Pacifican's editor-in-chief tells us that some of the columns will be posted online, but if the IT guys at school are as inconsistent as Uncle Wally, many of them will be in print only. When the internet is benevolent, we will try to pass the article onto you.

Here's the latest column:

Forbes Magazine is famous for sponsoring riveting popularity contests based on arbitrary criteria. “The World’s Most Expensive Whiskeys” presents several pricey ways to get drunk, including Macallan Fine & Rare, aged since 1926 and sold at $3,600 a shot. With a price like that, I’m going to need another...
Click here to keep reading "A Songwriter's Take on Stockton."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Help: The scary girl has a crush on me!

Devoted FCN fans may remember a post from five months ago in which I bemoaned a young woman in my language class who scared me more than a passel of half-humans in a Will Smith movie. In that post I described "Annie's" neurotic "zone out" behavior and the jarring impact her intense escapism had on my psyche.

Back then, she hurt my ability to focus; now she is interfering with my love life.

With a new semester underway, the unique seating arrangement of my language class got a shuffle. It seemed none of the eleven continuing students retained their old places and familiar neighbors were replaced with new, fresher faces. Even I, a stubborn student and aspiring ornery codger, budged a couple seats.

But no one moved further than Annie. From her old place across the room from my desk, she transplanted herself to the spot immediately to the left of me. And know, faithful FCN few, that this selection was not random. Annie did not enter the room like tumbleweed in the wind and "find" herself sitting next to yours truly after a couple tours of the class. Nor did she respond to the entreaty of a friend and nab a seat to engender amitié. No. Rather she beelined to that spot with a purpose unbecoming her years.

How pretentious, the reader may opine, of FCN to conclude that a girl holds a crush simply because she wants to sit by you! Only an inflated ego "needs to be needed" and FCN is obviously suffering from a bad case of bragadocious navel staring.

Ah, but cool your jets, the evidence is just beginning to stack up. On the second day of class, Annie's new seat was already taken (Melanie be praised!). Instead of choosing a desk closer to last semester's position, she picked the place to my immediate right, thereby maintaining adjacency. This seat has she jealously guarded every class period since.

Further, Annie has sought my attentions for nearly every group exercise our professor assigns, often grabbing my hand before I even have a chance to ask another student. She finds reasons to ask my assistance on petty problems, even those that have no relevance to class material. Another classmate even asked me discretely if "knew how much Annie likes" me, as if my socially inept mind were incapable of comprehending a teenage crush.

While I may be wrong, all the available evidence, albeit circumstantial and based on conjecture, does point to a crush.

The height of irony is finding a girl you derided on FCN seeking your attention mere months after the derision. Help!

Don't misunderstand, I don't mind a crush. Knowing that someone likes you enough to redo their seating plans is an ego boost. But did it have to be the scary girl?

Here I am, one of four males in a class of sixteen. With plenty of beautiful women whose image does not immediately induce a cringe, there is enough estrogen to go around (It could go around four times, actually). But the other females could care less and are as likely to give our professor another glance as their attention starved colleague, leaving me alone with the freaky girl. Help!

Maybe she could reform and learn to stop zoning out - even Rachel Bilson once had a learning disorder - and I will one day utterly regret not responding to her overtures. Perhaps she is the proverbial diamond in the rough, the undiscovered gem that just needs a little cutting to shine. But that's a chance I am going to take.

Zucht. Soupir. Seufzer. Sospiro. Sigh.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Day I Cruised Down Main Street Blasting Handel with the Windows Rolled Down

I was driving out to work yesterday and came to a stop at a - you know - stop light. Someone pulled up to my right and I noticed his presence immediately. This is because he had his windows rolled down and was playing Ludacris' "Ludacrismas" * with the volume up all the way and the bass booster even higher.

* You have to listen past the first 30 seconds to really get the idea.

"How thoughtful of this kind gentleman!" I said to myself. "Here he's not only providing himself with music; he's providing it free of charge to everyone within three city blocks! Some of them probably don't have radios and wish they could listen to Ludacris more often."

The light turned green and the driver to my left moved out ahead of me. I noticed as he went by that he was wearing a doo-rag over a baseball cap over a beanie and had a massive gold chain dangling around his neck. His license plate read: IRGANGSTA.

Touched by this anonymous fellow's simple gesture, I drove on and worked my shift. On the way home, as I pulled to a stop at the nearest stop light, I did a moment of brief soul-searching. It didn't seem right, I reasoned, to sit here keeping my music to myself when people all over town probably wanted to hear it. How could I be so selfish, especially after the good example given me by IRGANGSTA?

So I rolled down the windows and pumped up the volume. My radio was playing Handel's "Harmonious Blacksmith" ** at the time.

** The first 30 seconds will give you a pretty good idea.

The light turned green, and I drove on to the next light. As I pulled to a stop, I noticed a few pedestrians at a bus stop looking around in all directions as if trying to find out where the music was coming from. I waved but they didn't seem to connect the dots. They were looking up in the air, in the sewer drain ...

Green light. Off we go. At the next stop, who should pull up alongside me but IRGANGSTA himself. He looked at me for a second with a look of incredulity. I flashed him a thumbs up and a big grin.

He rolled down his windows.

"Hi there, my brother from a different mother!" I shouted over the music. "Are you not totally digging this beat, yo?" He stared for a moment, then turned on his radio. I didn't catch the piece, but it was in the same vein as what he'd been playing this morning. He cranked the volume up all the way.

We listened to our competing musical selections. After a few moments I felt obligated to say something. "Excuse me, home dog. Sup? Anyway, I wonder if you would mind turning your music down. You see, it doesn't sound very nice when played alongside Handel. The tempos are different. So is the melody. In fact, they're not even in the same key. We're talking some serious shizzle here. I mean, what is up with that? Are you with me?"

He made a gesture to indicate he was definitely not with me just as the light turned green. As we drove, side-by-side, to the next light, I wondered how something as simple as community-mindedness could suddenly get so confrontational.

But having been confronted, I was not one to back down. I turned MY music up all the way. I'm happy to report that my speakers were significantly louder than his. Drivers behind us couldn't pick out IRGANGSTA's music, but they could see his car pulsing and vibrating.

Then I leaned over and shouted at him: "Who is the unfaithful woman now, you unfaithful woman? I am not coming on your tab because your tab isn't a hummer. If you want to blow your wig on my blip, that's solid, because I'm perfectly willing to slide my jib until you're done spouting, so help me. Let's face it, you unhep yard dog. You came up on the wrong riff. You can jump this joint all you want. Mellow. But don't you dare start beating it out while I'm busting my conk keeping the port in the groove. You feel me? Because I suggest you latch on to my signification as soon as you can."

I meant that metaphorically. You know that.

I took a left soon after and we parted ways. I declared victory. But I'm sincerely sorry that we couldn't get along more peaceably. Community radio should be about bringing people together. It should be an act of harmony and unity. And it should be a lot of fun. So if you ever see IRGANGSTA around, tell him I'm sorry.

And give him Josh Groban's latest CD. *** I'm good for it.

*** You really don't need to listen to it to get the idea.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Life Tip #56

Don't use unorthodox weight-loss methods.

If you must use unorthodox weight-loss methods, be sure to consult a physician before starting the program.

If you must use unorthodox weight-loss methods and don't consult a physician before starting the program, steer clear of worms.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Risky blogging

This post is introspective and may come across to the uninitiated as a tad effeminate, that is, not manly. Please know that I took my testosterone pills this morning, ate my Wheaties and had a snicker's bar during class. I was also told by my mom that this post is "sensitive but still masculine." Exact words. So there. If you still believe that this post is a panziness sketch after reading it, know that my governor can pump up your governor any election.

And whatever you do, please don't faint.

Barring Baring one's life to eleven anonymous readers in a publically read and uncontrolled forum (a concept which technically includes anything said outside a shower stall) is dangerous. Even when some of the episodes are embellished slightly to impart an important moral or practical reality, the fact that the stories shared here are rooted in truth makes us vulnerable to criticism, and I am not just talking about the comment section.

The especially loyal among the Faithful FCN Few may recall a post from April of the year last in which I revealed a now obsolete practice of carpooling with my father whenever the gas tank needed refilling. I say "now obsolete" because my dad caught wind of my behavior and told me I had to pay for my own gas, further straining a budget already made tight by Uncle Sam. After a full investigation, the inquisitive half of my brain discovered that it was this very page that tipped my father off to my devious tank-filling habits.

If only that example were isolated. Time after time, in many a revealing and embarrassing post, I have risked the confidence and good humor of my friends by recounting tales of depravity and dereliction. While most of the facts contained in these posts are vague and ambiguous enough to preserve all requested anonymity, the posts themselves serve as a cutting perspective on episodes whose facts are all too familiar to the key actors. A skiing trip with friends becomes a ski trip with fiends and my vehicular abuse is broadcast to the general public ad nauseum. Who knows? People might start to get the impression that I'm a dangerous driver.

Invariably, whenever I'm hanging out with friends and something exciting happens, someone will turn to me and say "you can't write a post about this." It's as if FCN's treatment of any issue will be unflattering and we are so desperate for content that we will write on every experience we have (well, maybe that last part is true). Just a few weeks ago, in fact, I was driving next to Mommy G in the middle of town and she was doing her best to keep up with me when she got pulled over by a motorcycle cop. I skedaddled on like a tiny rodent away from the light, but got a call from Mommy G as soon as the officer had finished ticketing her. Mommy G's order was clear: None of what had just transpired was to appear on FCN. Ever.


It's an occupational hazard. Like getting sued for doctors, losing fingers for dentists and getting shot at for a drug dealer, only bloggers aren't paid. Not the ones with eleven readers, anyway. So we push on for the art of the endeavor. Satirical commentary needs to be written, real art must be made and in-class doodles posts must be published out of principle, only there are no principles behind FCN and what we do here could hardly be called art. So we take these risks for the same reason Evil Knievel performs his stunts and my overweight uncle reached for that last Twinkie: the thrill and pure endorphin-inducing high of taking an unnecessary risk.

Think about that while I go pay for my next tank of gas.

Monday, February 18, 2008

How my love affair with an analog computing device left me completely and utterely single in my tech life.

Two weeks ago, my family owned three computers. The first was a shiny new laptop I had received for Christmas. The second was an ancient unnamed desktop from the late '90s that sat in a closet gathering dust.

The third computer, a laptop named Cidny (yes, it is spelled like that), wasn't as old as our unnamed PC, but, unfortunately, young age is not equivalent to young looks. Poor Cidny had traveled to over 16 states, been on two different continents (three if the Hawaiian volcanoes keep erupting) and has been dropped approximately 12 times.

As one would expect, Cidny eventually went kaput. Or capoot. While this was expected, Cidny's death was untimely, considering I was in the middle of writing the most brilliant FCN post ever. On February 14th, 2008 Cidny quietly slipped away into analog non-existence and joined the masses of outdated PCs and all useless Macs. The FCN crew quietly (or in C's case, loudly) added this to the long list of things to mourn.

So we were down to one laptop and one old desktop. This created an interesting dilemma, considering the size of our family. So we developed a system for choosing who used the computer first. The process consisted of the following important steps:

1. International Dibs Protocol - Upon the arrival of the involved participants at the breakfast table, the person who first calls “dibs” becomes the moderator for the following discussions.

2. Daily Planner and Presentation - The participants give their plan for the day and why they believe they should be allowed to use the computer first. Everyone is allotted ten minutes for their presentation. All speech material that is not original must be sourced and the original documentation available for further discussion.

3. Cultural Constructivism - The participants then cross-examine the presenter. If his/her projects are deemed harmful to mankind, s/he may be expelled from any further discussion and will probably lose the communal vote.

4. The Communal Vote - All participants are allotted one vote, which they may give to any person other than themselves.

Because there is no clear way to measure the cultural usefulness of reading online comics and playing video games, this process often takes a long time. The end result is a very long debate on the benefits of Monkey Ball Junior.

This democratic system worked for a few days until some of our family members attempted to start a revolution. Although the supporters of peace and democracy (that would be me) eventually won the long and bloody battle, my laptop was destroyed in the process. To make a long story short:

Buy computer insurance.

If you don’t have computer insurance, don’t put soda by the keyboard.

If you don't have computer insurance and put soda by the keyboard, spare yourself heart ache and don’t arm wrestle by the soda and the computer.

So my family is left with one ancient desktop that doesn't even have FireFox. Maybe someday I will find a new love. Until then, I sit here typing on a library computer, tragically, hopelessly and technologically single.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Alone on Valentine's Day

It's the 14th of February and all across the land,
Little boys and girls take each other's hand.
It's a happy sight, all sweet and pink,
But someone isn't happy, I think.

He's tried his hardest to get a girl,
But when he gets close, most just hurl.
He doesn't smell or look that bad,
He's just too desperate, which is sad.

Amid all the laughter hugs and kisses,
Stands one guy alone, no one misses.
His heart is full of love to share,
If only a girl would dare.

On Valentine's Day when all are happy,
He writes poems, and they get sappy.
His rhymes are weak, his verse uncreative,
It could even be packaged as a sedative.

Love and warmth he does not inspire
But his writing does make others tire
So I'll tell you the story of how I got this way
Alone, miserable and sad on Valentine's Day

It's an open secret that I have been as indefatigable in my search for female attention as a dog and peanut butter. In turn, females have been just as adamant about denying it. Whether it's been Luce or Carrie or, well, all the others, I've had about as much luck as Dennis Kucinich in politics (speaking of which, remind me to pass on the latest about Carrie: never talk politics on a third date). I'm batting like Jason Giambi after knocking off the steroids.

A friend kindly took me aside on Valentine's Day morning and advised that the holiday has diddly squat to do with establishing a relationship and is actually intended as a time to strengthen relationships and renew passions with existing girlfriends. V day is about servicing, that's why guys go out of their way to buy all the goofy chocolate, mawkish cards and childish teddy bears. In Aretha Franklin's terms, girls are "zoomin'" guys on Valentine's Day.

Oops, did my cynicism seep out? Maybe that's why I couldn't get a date yesterday...

The morning wasn't that bad. Most students don't take their beaus to class (unless, of course, it's "take your beau to class day") and I'd almost forgotten about the Holiday when Melanie leaned over and stuck a pink heart on my to-go coffee cup. She giggled when she did so and I think, deep down in her diabolical Melanie mind, she was daring me to forget about my horrid love life. The heart starred at me for the duration of the class. I wanted terribly to rip it off and chuck the cup, remaining liquid and all, but was mesmerized by the anatomically inaccurate shape.

Work at General Mills was even better. None of my coworkers wanted to chat about relationships and the conveyor belt seemed to move more slowly. Maybe Valentine's Day wasn't so bad afterall.

Little did I know how much Saint Valentine had lured me into a false sense of emotional security.

Plans had been laid well in advance for me to get together with my hetero lifemate and watch an action flick, which I figured would be largely unattended. I've known my lifemate since before I met my father and I'd seen my mother's face and we get along really well, apparently, but he still doesn't count as female company.

Walking into the theater reminded me of a scene from Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. If you haven't seen the movie, Chuck Barris walks into the cinema feeling down on his relationship luck. As he sits down, the camera pans away to reveal everyone around him kissing. It's kinda disgusting and, if you're there without a date, it's depressing.

The movie was a gore-fest and the romance wasn't even romantic. Despite these impediments, the couple to my right couldn't get through any of the fight scenes without fooling around and a couple below me started snogging every time the screen went blank. After the film, duos held hands, giggled and skipped away, oblivious to the impact they were having on my psychie. Deflated and wishing the movie had been better, I walked alone to my car (the hetero lifemate drove separately) and meandered home.

On the way back to my house, even the streets were deserted, a reminder of the emptiness of my heart. One car did follow me for a few miles, but it was a police cruiser and I was too worried about making an infraction to enjoy the company.

Maybe I should have purchased a box of chocolates or a bouquet of long stems. Perhaps a little more effort would have had me asphyxiating in the dark corner of the theater with a beautiful girl by my side. Maybe I totally blew Valentine's Day.

Or maybe I didn't. My selfish perspective on the Holiday is as wrong as it is depressing, I just can't help myself. I feel I'm entitled to the attention of others and I have repackaged V day for that very purpose.

But something about that kind of approach never jived with a male college student, ticking away the final months of his derelict teenage years. So, I wrote a poem.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Deconstructing the Electoral Process

Over the past couple of weeks, a number of friends have expressed confusion over our nation’s complicated election system: Some states vote while others don’t. Of the states that do vote, there is some pretty blatant favoritism, as some regions boast more “delegates,” whatever those are.

Other friends are addled by the number of candidates. The ballot says John Edwards is still running, but the newspapers say he dropped out. The ballot has the official “Great Seal of the State of ‘Kahlifoania.’” The TV has George Stephanopoulos. Who to believe?

Here at FCN, I dragged my sweet tush over to the library and uncovered the following:

The foundation of our election system is the television news media.

When all the “damn voters,” as Mitt “drops-out” Romney once affectionately titled America’s electorate, have taken a short paid vacation to go vote (as long as two hours by law in California) or waited outside their polling place for equipment to show up (as long as four hours in some parts of Los Angeles), the real “experts” decide the election.

All of the major networks assemble a group of crack (addicted) analysts to make sense of the incoming data. These highly paid TV personas are the real stars of the election process, often upstaging the candidates themselves.

CBS News even ran a house promotion for its election coverage “starring Katie Couric” and boasting “Obama and Clinton in minor supporting roles.” Who is the first major female presidential candidate now, Billary?

First CoWOmander-In-Chief, my airbrushed TV anchor!

The networks claim any and all advantages to create a competitive edge. Fox News uses flashier bar graphs, CNN calls state outcomes earlier but with less accuracy than NBC, CBS shows file clips of Obama Girl who we all secretly thought was hot and ABC doesn’t preempt its regularly scheduled Boston Legal episode, Robert Iger be praised.

The media then fabricate results to create a compelling and interesting storyline. It’s kind of like Reality TV, except it’s not real. Wait, it’s exactly like Reality TV.

To keep savvy viewers from catching on, both parties have consented to the creation of an immensely complicated “nomination process” which utilizes big, unwieldy words like primary, convention, delegate, caucus and super delegate, none of which exist outside television studios.

Except super delegates are real. I think.

Whenever a commentator is stuck for a term, they just make them up. How do you think we got the word “Gerrymandering?”

The golden rule of media driven election shows is that every major development gets credited to the network that made the call. Barack Obama doesn’t win Connecticut, CNN “calls it” for him and all the other networks cut away from a John McCain speech to acknowledge that fact.

Big win for CNN. And that Obama guy didn’t do too badly either.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Forgot

The time has come, ladies and gentlemen. FCN is starting a musical group. We call ourselves FCN, we don't have any instruments, and we couldn't sing on key or keep a rhythm to save our lives.

On to the less obvious stuff.

Instead of releasing our first album (which we're calling "A Capella due to Budget Cuts") all at once, we're opting to release the tracks one at a time. They're not singles (like Up or I'm a Victim). It's just a slow-release album. The tracks will be released in iPod ready form and we've already released album art above ... for you ... album art people.

Our first track is called I Forgot. Enjoy and look forward to the next track coming soon!

/nod to the people who don't click on things

Life Tip # 54

Don't steal purses from little old ladies.

If you do steal a little old lady's purse, don't do it in the middle of a crowded mall.

If you do steal a little old lady's purse in the middle of a crowded mall, don't run to your truck parked right in view of the security cameras.

If you do steal a little old lady's purse in the middle of a crowded mall and run to your truck parked right in the view of the security cameras, make sure your vehicle has fuel.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

FCN's Godchild needs your help

You read it right: FCN is asking you, the faithful few, to get off your collective duffs and do something for an unprecedented second consecutive day. Consider it a Valentine's day gift for three guys, who tried hard but weren't able to scare up a Valentine. Consider it an expression of goodwill and self effacement; a declaration that the self is less than the whole.

But enough with the altruistic promulgations.

Last Summer, FCN celebrated the arrival of rFCN, a website established in the vein of Funny Class Notes but with much funnier jokes (hence the name, Really Funny Class Notes). This blog was, for all intents and purposes, the Godchild of FCN: It was birthed of our seed, in its infancy it created little messes for us to clean up, later it started maturing and finally rebelled against FCN wholeheartedly during its "teenage" period.

We even share a name. Yes, "rFCN, I am your father."

Now the site is going through its midlife crisis. After a period of almost two and a half months with only one post of new content, even the most loyal rFCN fans were beginning to think FCN's spinoff blog had gone the way of Shinzo Abe. What are readers to think when an unannounced break continues into seeming perpetuity? That you've taken a extended bathroom break?

rFCN has returned from its hiatus with an ultimatum: 15 unique comments or the plug is pulled, the water will drain out and rFCN will be placed on permanent suspension. No more inspiration for us derelicts or regular, throat-clearing guffaws. Our abs will no longer be worked by uncontrollable laughter and happy tears will have to be simulated with Visine.

Yes, rFCN's position is as dire as it sounds. Unlike its Godparent, rFCN does not have Mommy G making brownies or offering an unconditional stream of motivating comments. Without such support, I might consider leaving the blog world behind as well. Heck, I've done it. Twice.

As we intoned when rFCN first broke the plane of blogosphere mediocrity last July, having a spinoff blog is the highest form of praise. It shows a level of support and adoration that cannot be duplicated by boxes of chocolates and flowers. Imitation is the highest form of praise and we here at FCN figured we'd about made the pinnacle of blog success.

For a blog that can't even muster a dozen readers, having an imitator is high encouragement. But if rFCN goes the way of the Brontosaurus, we will no longer have that acclaim. Our regular ego boost will be deflated and FCN will be back to generating its own motivation (which often means burning Supreme Court justices in effigy).

For you, the faithful FCN few, losing rFCN might mean a reduction in the quality of FCN posts, which isn't saying much, I know, but it is still something.

If this post warmed your heart at all. If it increased your blood pressure or drew one iota more color to your face, please consider visiting rFCN and commenting on their desperation post. The link, for those of you who don't click on things is:


And if that impassioned plea doesn't do the trick, maybe this will:

Monday, February 11, 2008

Answering a Challenge to an FCN hypothesis

Last week, we published a post hypothesizing that women tend to use treadmills more than guys and that at any given gym, the males will congregate around the weights. Our hypothesis was based on extensive study in the FCN lab, anecdotal observation and results from that odd-shaped beep-beep machine homeless people use on the beach (yes, I do own a Zircon MT6 Electronic Metal Finder. Deal with it).

Despite the overwhelming evidence supporting our conclusion, one conscientious reader referenced anecdotal information that, at first very red blush, seemed contradictory. She argued that women tend to use the ellipticals more and that guys ride the treadmills.

Watch and learn, boys, girls and Roger Clemens, as FCN answers this challenge:

1) Deny, Deny, Deny

FCN categorically, absolutely and without exception, qualification or reserve denies the allegation. We declare untrue, universally contradict and reject any statement or opinion that stands in contradistinction to our earlier position. We do not retract, amend, change or shift our stance, but stand firmly resolute behind our primary findings. We issue no retreat, raise no white flag, surrender no credibility and admit no error. We disclaim, repudiate, contravene, negate, renounce and disavow all objections, stated or otherwise and continue to stand as stalwart and unmovable advocates of our original position.

2) Attack mode

The commenter who raised this allegation identified him/herself as "Kirk," which is a male name of Norse origin meaning "church" which was given to some 975 boys in the year 2002. On closer inspection, however, we realize that the actual commenter's name is Kirsten, which is a female name of Latin origin meaning "follower of Christ" which was given to some 407 girls in the year 2006. Ah hah!

We don't have any more dirt on Kirk/Kirsten, but we will give you the address of his/her blogs so you can criticize everything s/he hypothesizes. She runs The Young Thinker, The Two Sisters and Corantolavolta, which is a male name of indeterminate origin which was given to nobody ever.

If all eleven readers load Kirk/Kirsten's blog at once and try to leave a comment it might shut down her server and keep her from digging up dirt on FCN's hypotheses.

3) Moral Testimony

FCN has long maintained the highest standards of academic and blogging excellence. We do not lie to our readers. Ever. Not once. Not at all. We try to ensure a comforting if not succulent blogging experience, drawing the reader in and providing a cyber-foot cushion for you as you read the latest content. We put our readers first at every turn and as your constant advocate we have never failed.

Given this pristine and untarnished record, it seems foolhardy to value the input of someone who lies about his/her name over the established and reliable moral standards of Funny Class Notes.

4) Misdirection

Still, Kirk/Kirsten's objection is a valuable remonstration in that it draws attention to the dangers of scientific error. We would be remiss if content of FCN were to in any way detract from the credibility of the scientific community and therefore pledge to post a link on our sidebar to a scientific website for the duration of the week. We understand the importance of science and want to do everything in our power to promote free thought and intellectualism.

If we had money to give, we would donate it. If we had time, we would pledge it. But we have a blog, so we'll link.

5) Slyly retool hypothesis

The fact is that women do use the aerobic machines more often then their male counterparts. Whether that machine is the treadmill, the elliptical, the stair stepper or that funky gizmo that spins really fast while making people sweat, women are more likely to ride it.

From this original hypothesis, we do not back down.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Tire Rotation

Like women, cars need maintenance. That's a fact that found its place firmly ensconced in the back of my mind when I first took up driving, but it moved to the front like a bad headache when I first had to change the oil. Or rather, had to pay to change the oil. Greasy hands and the smell of a car's underbelly are deemed too pedestrian for starving college students who work at General Mills, so we hire that sort of thing out to uniformed professionals who can afford to eat.

If changing the oil was a headache, tire rotation was Gusii Trepanation. For those of you who are deathly curious, but for some reason don't want to click on the link (get DSL, you dial-up Baby Boomer), a Gusii Trepanation is a surgery designed to relieve cranial stress wherein (and this is where it gets gross) a hole is drilled in the skull. The practice is based on the same ideology as the blood leeches that killed our first president, except that it is still used today.

So maybe tire rotation isn't Gusii Trepanation, but it isn't Office Supplies either.

Please tell me that one doesn't need any explanation. Thank you.

I found myself at my local mechanics shop, watching as my precious wheels were lifted slowly above an oily cement surface and as several young men looking like the bumpkins in a Rodney Atkins music video (minus the Skoal cans) scrambled around like a pitt stop in slow motion. Very slow motion. I sat in the establishment's under-furnished waiting room for just under an hour, occupied only by a game show so stupid it was picked up by the Discovery Channel and some car magazines that depress readers with all the horsepower they don't and never will have.

When an front desk attendant finally mispronounced my name, I got up with a relieved sigh and extended my had to a young man who looked too young to support the hair on his chin but compensated for his youth with a very earnest demeanor. The complimentary tire rotation was complete, but the mechanics had discovered a number of problems with my car in the process of moving the rubber. Apparently my brakes were worn down almost to nothing, my alignment more crooked than Jessica Simpson's pre-surgery nose (my words, not the attendant's) and my shocks were, well, shot. The entire situation could be resolved for the whopping sum of five hundred bucks.

Deep breath. A pain that was almost physical started tingling in my toes, exactly the way Colbie Caillat didn't intend. The car had run so well on the way in. The rotation was supposed to be routine. I hadn't felt anything wrong with the alignment and my shocks had given me no static when I took the hill where Peltier meets the train tracks at eighty. I had the funds, but the money, in my mind, was already spent elsewhere. Why did cars have to be so expensive? First the Saudis and their gas gouging and now mechanic's mania.

"Would you like to take care of this now?"

I turned to Goatee Boy with a tight smile, glancing down at his nametag in the same motion.

"Actually...Tony...I think I'll shop this around. Thanks for the rotation."

I walked out of the building and to my waiting car with all the confidence I didn't have. On my way home I noticed my car had a new rattle, I could feel an alignment error and my brakes were not as responsive as they used to be - all problems I hadn't noticed an hour and a half earlier. Sigh. "Free" tire rotation, indeed.

Or maybe it's all in my head and these problems were there all along and only now has my attention been drawn to it. Maybe the mechanic had altruistically pointed out a flaw in my car that, if unattended, would have been a danger to me or others on the road. But I think not. Something about Tony's goatee shouted "hood tinkerer" and I don't mean that as a compliment.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Brisingr Preview

BOREDOM WARNING: The following post will hold minimal interest to those unfamiliar with Christopher Paulini's Inheritance series (including already-published Eragon and Eldest).

SPOILER WARNING: Plot and/or ending details follow.

One of the most anticipated novels of the year is Christopher Paulini's Brisinger, the 3rd installment in the Inheritance Trilogy Cycle. Folks are dying to know what happens next in the rather epic tale of Eragon and his Saphira.

We wrote Paulini a very nice letter, and he agreed to send us the unfinished Brisinger manuscript. We read it, and now offer you this plot summary for those of you who can't stand to wait for September 20th:

The story begins with Eragon abandoning his freshly-victorious army so he can help his brother Roran track down his girlfriend Katrina, who has been captured by the Ra'zac. Almost immediately after Eragon loses sight of the army, Galbatorix himself swoops down with his dragon and has a Surda sandwhich with Urgals for seasoning and the Carvahall townspeople for desert. There are only a handful of survivors, including all the major characters. Nasuada is believed dead but of course she isn't really - she just got lost in a bog.

Eragon knows that he is too weak to take on Galbatorix directly, so he flees into the Spine with Roran, where they bump into Angela and Solembum. They have a lengthy and mildly amusing conversation which has no bearing on the plot, at the end of which Solembum utters some impenetrably mysterious riddles and turns into a rutabaga.

They proceed along the Spine eating less than is humanly possible. Nights are bitterly cold, but Eragon uses the magic word Brisingr (hence the name) to surround their camps with a ring of fire every time they go to sleep. This has several effects: It keeps enemies away, keeps Eragon and Roran warm and makes it obvious to anyone a hundred miles around where exactly they are.

Eventually they randomly fall into a hole in the mountain and stumble on a city hidden by magic from the eyes of those far off. It is populated by a race more or less exactly like Hobbits. You could say that Paulini ripped this race off of Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, but you would be mistaken, because these people are called Bar'u'ab'dualötís, so obviously he made it up himself. The Bar'u'ab'dualötís are a peace-loving people (as you know if you're at all familiar with Lord of the Rings); they want no trouble, but Eragon's ring of fire has attracted an army of Ra'zac. The Bar'u'ab'dualötís are forced to fight for their homes and turn out to be pretty good fighters for no explicable reason. Eragon's magic does plenty of damage, but the Ra'zac do something sneaky to his mind during the battle and he has strange nightmares for the rest of the book.

The good guys win of course, but they take heavy losses in the form of warm Bar'u'ab'dualötí bodies the reader barely knew the name of anyway. Of course, the heavy losses aren't actually dead - they just got lost in a bog. Eragon captures the Ra'zac leader (who's name is Arbaghdallrencarfithroughtheriver) and finds himself in a moral quandary. He can either torture Arbaghdallrencarfithroughtheriver to find Katrina's location or risk not saving Katrina at all. True to form, Eragon deals with this decision by hanging out and waiting for something terrible to happen.

He only has to wait two days. Arya, who found Eragon using magic instead of the rings of fire, appears that night and confides several important pieces of information. First, she explains the origin of the Bar'u'ab'dualötís. Here's a shocker: they come from Over the Sea just like everything else. Roran wonders aloud what's so special about Over the Sea that gives it such auto-generating powers. Arya curses him in the ancient language so he can never speak again. She says that these things must not be spoken of until the author figures out "where the heck this world comes from anyway."

Arya uses her magic to pry open Arbaghdallrencarfithroughtheriver's mind and find out where Katrina is.

They continue on their journey. They are escorted by four Bar'u'ab'dualötí. These four are led by a slightly handsomer chap named Imn-ot'fro-do. They march to Gil'ead with no idea how they'll save Katrina. On the way, a handful of survivors from the Surdan and Urgal armies join them. "Anything Saphira's master's brother's girlfriend," They reason.

Upon arrival at Gil'ead, a terrible battle breaks loose. Just when all seems lost, Murtagh shows up out of nowhere and agrees to help Eragon because he feels bad about all that mean stuff he said at the end of Eldest. Together, the brothers defeat Galbatorix's million thousand soldiers and burn the dungeon (but only after extracting the prisoners). Katrina isn't there, which means they just wasted two hundred pages of effort. Eragon, Roran, Arya, and Murtagh have a meeting to decide what to do next. During this meeting, a wounded imperial soldier sneaks up and tries to shoot Eragon in the back. Elva shows up out of nowhere and jumps in front of the arrow. She is lost in a bog soon after. The enemy is captured but Arya doesn't want to torture him because he's human and not a worthless Ra'zac.

So Trianna, leader of the Du Vrangr Gata, shows up and tortures him instead. The poor man reveals that he doesn't know where Katrina is, but he does know a secret tunnel into Galbatorix's palace. As if on cue, a bunch of Varden show up who say they can lead him to the entrance to the tunnel but go no further because a strange and convenient force has been placed on the entrance so only dragon riders can pass into it.

They reveal several other juicy tidbits:

1) There are actually three more dragon eggs at least.
2) No one has any clue where they are.
3) That thing back in the chuck wagon wasn't a watermelon.
4) It was a dragon egg, and it seems to be hatching for Imn-ot'fro-do into a strong green male.
5) Nasuada isn't dead, she's just lost in a bog.
6) Katrina has been spotted in Helgrind, which Eragon should probably have known she was in all along. That dirty rbaghdallrencarfithroughtheriver was a liar!

On hearing this news, Arya dies of despair. Dies. Of despair.

The book ends with Eragon in a moral quandary.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Note to Self #6

Doritos aren't quite as enjoyable when consumed in a sauna.

Life Tip #53

Don't get a girlfriend who will crash your car.

If you do get a girlfriend who will crash your car, don't give her the keys.

If you get a girlfriend who will crash your car and give her the keys and see the crash while riding in a passing bus, don't try to commandeer the bus.

If you get a girlfriend who will crash your car and give her the keys and see the crash while riding in a passing bus and try to commandeer the bus, don't crash the bus.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


You would have to be socially illiterate to not have heard that the New York Giants upset (meaning narrowly defeated) the New England Patriots on football's grandest stage, Sunday. And you would have to be deaf to miss my screams of pained agony at the demise of my team.

The Patriots, after putting on the best 18 game streak in football history, finally fell prey to a "physical defense and its own gunslinging mentality," or so the sports "experts" tell us. The fact is that there were a lot more factors playing toward a Giants victory than Peyton Manning whispering hints to his brother from the sky box.
Here at FCN, we put together a team of crack sports scientists to investigate the real reasons behind the heartbreaking defeat of football's hottest playboy.

1) Gisele Bundchen

When Tony Romo took a vacation during his playoff bye week with celebrity girlfriend Jessica Simpson down to a hip Mexican vacation spot, Dallas Cowboys fans the nation over commented on what a disastrous move he was making. Then the innocent Jessica attended the"big" game, "distracting" the all-pro quarterback into a sub-par performance. That match ended up a headline grabbing upset, as the top seed in the NFC lost to the wild-card Giants.
Three weeks later, Tom Brady took a vacation during his playoff bye week to go visit celebrity girlfriend Gisele Bundchen in New York City. Patriots fans watched in horror as the entire escapade, yellow flowers and all, was broadcast over TMZ, an acronym standing for "Time Much Zwaisted." Then the innocent Gisele attended the big game, "distracting" the all-pro quarterback into a sub-par performance. That match ended up a headline grabbing upset, as the top seed in the AFC lost to the wild-card Giants.
Sound familiar?
The reality is that this isn't coincidence. The writer's guild ("striking now at a studio near you") is behind the efforts to derail high profile athletes with buxom blonde females. The guild knows that television shows are facing stiff competition for air time from sporting events and it is doing everything in its power to slow the rise of televised athletics (which many commentators view as insidious as reality TV) while the big shows are playing reruns. It's a giant (pun intended) conspiracy to indict celebrity quarterbacks and thereby reduce their star power. And the really scare thing is: It's working.
In case you are really into this sort of gossip mongering, an onling gambling site is inviting wagers on who will break up first: Romo-Simpson or Brady-Bundchen. Before the loss, I would have staked the lives of my unborn children on Romo-Simpson. Now I think it's a toss-up.

2) The Twelfth Man

NFL rules require that no team can have more than eleven players on the field at once. The Giants tried to get away with twelve during one play, but the zebras caught onto their ploy and threw a yellow flag (after Bright Red Hoodie - see below - threw a red flag). By "twelfth man," I am actually referring to the audience members who are watching the game and, presumably, rooting for the Patriots.
I say "presumably," because of the eleven people watching the game at my house (or phoning in their support before the game), five were cheering for New York and six were routing for the Patriots. You couldn't have gotten a more even distribution without a hack saw. Instead of cheering the Pats to victory, our twelfth man contributed nothing and might have even dampened the mood in Arizona for the favored squad.

3) The Ugly Bright Red Hoodie

Bill Belichick has gotten away from some frightful wardrobe decisions in the past (like stuffing his red challenge flag in his white athletic socks and wearing these obscene shorts). He reminds me of me in High School. Heck, he reminds me of me now. Gregg Easterbrook talks about the "gods of football" which determine who will win or lose big games. Well, the gods of football couldn't have shined on such television inappropriate garb as the Ugly Bright Red Hoodie.
In today's age of televised drama, colors are important. And red is out. Also, the head coach and the offensive coordinator (Josh McDaniels, to the left of Belichick in the above photo) have to match. That's a rule the NFL is considering as an addition to the uniform and wardrobe regulations for next year. And, that guy in the back biting his shirt. Not good. Not good at all.

4) The Cheating Giants

I know this is a heavy charge to levy with such little and circumstantial evidence, but, hey, that didn't stop the Patriot's critics. Why should reality stop FCN? Let facts be submitted to a candid world:

FACT: Peyton Eli Manning's miraculous completion to David Tyree was precipitated by a vanishing act in front of the Pat's offensive line. As David Blaine would say: Magic.
FACT: David Tyree caught a ball thrown 40 yards away with nothing but his helmet. Research of the taps is continuing to see whether Tyree used an adhesive or a magnet to complete this "amazing" pass. Either way, both products are banned by the NFL for in-game use.
FACT: Peyton Manning (Eli's older brother, who had never enjoyed the national spotlight before Sunday) placed his head in his hands while the ball was in the air. We don't know for sure how that impacted the ball's flight path, but we know it had something to do with the end result.

Don't think it was cheating? Check out this video documentation and tell us in the comment section how else such a feat could have been accomplished:

Impossible. I wish you could see me shaking my head right now.

5) Bad Ads

It's common knowledge in the sports world that good ads favor the team from the smaller media market. It has to do with NFL conspiracy theories and Budweiser's secret ties to Roger Goodell's sister-in-law's parents and some extortion that happened years ago but is now very well covered up. It's all very boring and nerdy.

New York is a bigger media market than Foxborough. Admit it: If it weren't for the football team, you wouldn't even know that Foxborough existed, much less where it is.

Now take a look at the ads: For a second consecutive year, Salesgenie.com embarrassed itself and its stockholders with a couple of CEO written ads that induced more cringes than chuckles, at least where I was sitting. GoDaddy.com ran another ad that tried to be raunchy, but came just shy. Even the normally reliable Budweiser disappointed.

The only good add that aired was Pepsi Max's and, consistent with FCN's conspiracy theory, the Patriot's scored a touchdown almost immediately after it was played. Here it is again in case you missed it:

6) Massachusetts was sunk before the opening kickoff

What do John Kerry, Mitt Romney and Tom Brady have in common? All three of them are from the Bay state and have failed to meet expectations. Kerry's political nosedive in the 2004 elections and Romney's inability to get traction should have been a heads up to savvy football observers. We should have seen this coming. The Red Sox notwithstanding, Massachusetts teams have been ho-hum this year. Boston College didn't make the national championship after a promising start. Kerry couldn't win against Bush after a whipping up a lot of momentum. And Tom Brady was flat when it really counted.

The jury is still out on Romney - he may yet redeem Massachusetts - but things don't look good for the rich white Mormon (If you really feel that way, go vote! Now, before the polls close).

To extend this logic a bit further, the Boston Celtics will not win an NBA championship this year. That's right folks, the big three will not perform when it really matters. You heard it here first!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Music Video Melange

I detest treadmills. Although I run regularly on rubberized asphalt, packed dirt, turf and, yes, really hard cement, something about putting my full, unrestrained weight on a thin strip of textured plastic while running at speeds in excess of 10 miles per hour is unsettling. I'm afraid I'll fly off the back like a bad Schick Quattro Titanium ad or step on the strip of unmoving platform and twist my ankle. I feel like a spoiled horse on a hot walker, high stepping for my owners beat. I feel like an experiment.

My coaches see treadmill workouts as excellent pace work and the holy grail of cross-training. They advise a liberal dose of machine running, especially when the weather outdoors is not conducive to performance-level athletic training.

The local gym is a friendly place that, at this time of year, is busier than an anthill in the fall. Most guys who work out head straight to the weight rooms after saying "hi" to Shirley, the front desk attendant. Most women go to the cardio equipment (including the treadmills) and start marching. On a good day, there will be more women in the cardio section than on the first life boat off the Titanic. Social and exercise psychologists have tried unsuccessfully for years to determine what draws the female gender so exclusively to treadmills, but the research is as of yet inconclusive.

In an effort to encourage male use of the treadmills (and thus collect a hefty check from the Surgeon General) the gym has kindly placed a bank of televisions in front of the machines presumably so that we can be entertained as we pound off the pounds. Unlike the TVs at BestBuy, these units are tuned to several different channels, designed to reflect the demographics of those watching. That is, they are all tuned to various editions of ESPN.

The other day the gym broke from the unspoken rule and put one of the sets on CMT, Country Music Television. Like most treadmill runners, I listen to my own tunes when I run; something motivating, with a quick beat and a happy disposition. My current running playlist includes Nickelback and Avril Lavigne, but I'll sometimes throw in some 90s dance music like Madonna, Cascada and Whitney Houston. It's music I would never listen to under less calorie intensive circumstances, but that pushes me toward faster times on the otherwise stimulus-free treadmill.

Without sound, music videos are difficult to understand. Why is the attractive blond swinging a bat into a nice car? Why does the fat guy dance around? What's with the old guy?

By far the most disturbing thing to watch is Sugarland's "Stay" a music video commonly thought to be about requited love and a woman who doesn't want her man to leave to see another woman (although I maintain that it's a song about a meddlesome mother-in-law). In the back of the viewers mind is the pervasive thought that any man leaving Jennifer Nettles is an utter buffoon. But if you haven't seen the music video, I don't want to ruin it for you. I have embedded it below for your viewing pleasure:

How can she sing so well while crying so hard? How can anyone produce that many tears to a simple guitar and organ accompaniment?

Imagine watching that muted while running in the fourth mile of a six mile distance workout with Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" playing in your ears. Because that is exactly what happened to me. Lavigne tackles the same moral and social quandary as Sugarland, but from a completely opposite perspective. The conflict causes a stunning confusion.

While tears are flowing on screen and rosary beads clutched tighter for prayer, the sound in my ears tells me to go away. The girl on screen is resigned, the girl in my MP3 player is taking control. The girl on screen is wearing white to Lavigne's black.

Maybe the conflict was a good thing because it got me thinking about something other than how much treadmills scare me. Then someone changed the channel. Arizona was playing Illinois and the Wildcat's star was having a big game. My player started on something from Nickelback and I continued running.

Friday, February 01, 2008

SuperbowlTM Mania

Hype. That's the Kosher (meaning Terry Bradshaw approved) word to describe the rabid entertainment blitz surrounding the biggest football contest of the year. Its "two weeks of hype" or "really hyped." But Webster would turn in his grave if he heard the semantic application "hype" gets near the first Sunday in February. Hype comes from the prefix "hyper" from the Greek "huper," meaning "over" or "beyond." Etymology aside, the word is really sporty (notice I didn't say "sexy?") and gets thrown around a lot on the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN), even though it could be considered pejorative. But I like "mania," because, well, because I like being obstinate (or is it abstinent) and I am incorrigible, or so my mother tells me, which is really sweet.

So the SuperbowlTM is almost upon us. In fact, the outcome will be pasted across America's front pages like McCain's wrinkled mug before the Florida Primary before you next hear from FCN. I know, 72 hours can be a long time, especially when all you got was a Life Tip on Wednesday. Here, have another Kleenex.

It may interest you to know that FCN was not idle on Wednesday. Au contraire my doubting amigo. We took the bus down to scenic Arizona (home of McCain and millions of other retirees) and attended one of the New England Patriot's media availability sessions. We wanted to go the SuperbowlTM, but the ticket prices were exhorbitantly high. It will be a miracle if anyone other than a fat rich white male gets into the game. Once at the press conference, C dressed up like a Latina and asked Tom Brady to marry him ("her" in the context of the proposal). Everyone was really impressed with the accent and feminine voice tones that C was able to put together and with the fact that he was able to fit into a wedding dress. While Tommy turned us down, he did compliment C on his good looks and said he would be a "lucky find."

Yes, that really was us down in Arizona.

If you've been listening to any of the SuperbowlTM mania, you have undoubtedly noticed how desperate the sports media are to get a decent interview. It's a well known fact that athletes are not trained to speak. That's why when they do open their mouths they are either immensely boring, incomprehensible or mind bendingly crazy. In order to compensate for what has been dubbed the "Oral Intellectual Deficit," many anchors resort to interviewing members of their own journalistic entourage and talking heads from other channels just so they can fill air time. If you are a little creative with the channel switching, you can actually follow the "experts" as they make their radio and TV rounds. First Fox Sports, then Westwood One radio and back to ESPN for last segment of the hour. The journalists say the same things over and over again, sometimes getting passionate and calling each other names so that audience members won't follow osmosis to a different station.

There is nothing "over" or "beyond" about this mania, but some folks still call it hype.

Well, no discussion of the SuperbowlTM would be complete without a prediction. Plaxico Burress, a player only two of our eleven readers had heard of before this moment, predicted that NY Giants would win 23-17. I agree with Plax in one regard: The final score will be 23-17, but it will be the New England Patriots who emerge victorious, with some extra weight on their championship ring fingers.

Sorry about the "emerge victorious" and "extra weight on their championship ring fingers" verbiage. Maybe the hype is contagious afterall.