June 30, 2006

!Es Comcastico!

SO HERE I WAS on Thursday night, all ready to sit down and watch the Red Sox-Mets game on television, when my old Motorola cable box finally decided to give up the ghost. This unfortunate happenstance, which prevented me from watching the Red Sox win their 12th game in a row (!GOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!), prompted me to make an emergency call to the cable company.

Much to my surprise, I found my cable company's customer service people professional, friendly and most importantly helpful. So much so, in fact, that I found myself biting my lip so I wouldn't say anything snarky during the repair process. In a way, this was greatly disappointing. During the minutes in which I struggled on my own with my dying cable box, I immediately thought up a good quip and resolved to use it at least once during the repair process, in the hopes its proper deployment would earn me a credit on my bill or something. Yet I had absolutely no chance to use it.

So instead of being witty, I guess I'm in the position of having to actually thank my cable company for their efforts to fix my problems, up to and including scheduling a service appointment in hours as opposed to days. I have to admit I'm surprised at the new cable box, too. It's roughly 20 pc the size of the old giant box, works faster and as such seems more useful. There's a phrase which describes this state of affairs, but now that I've discovered its potential, I'm going to have to save it for future use.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 05:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An Open Letter to That Guy in the Other Car

SIR: I’M CONCERNED that after our close encounter in the parking lot of the Taco Bell on Thursday afternoon, you may not have been able to tell exactly what I was saying after you nearly ran into me and the Family Truckster. Therefore, I would like to advise you that you are … uh … an intellectually-challenged personage of unfortunate parentage who should consider remedial instruction in the art of driving a car. Yeah.

That’s just for starters. Personally, if I was a balding thirty-something driving a foreign econobox sedan, and I had a haircut and mustache that made others think I was nostalgic for the late Seventies, I would seek professional help. Fortunately, I do not have these troubles, but you, my friend in the other car, should soon head to Supercuts, where you can get a decent haircut for about $15. It’s possible that a decent haircut could improve your vision, which might prevent you in future from zooming around a corner heedless of other traffic in the area.

Now, I realize you, my friend in the other car, might not realize why I was so upset. After all, both of us were certainly able to stop in time before any collision occurred. However, my giant 32 ounce Taco Bell soda – that was one full quart of Diet Pepsi – was not as fortunate. It flew out of the drink holder and onto the passenger-side floor. The soda burst through the flimsy plastic top holding it in the cup, and covered the entire passenger-side floor in what can best be described as a syrupy ichor. This was impossible to clean up.

What? What did you say? That part of the upholstery was already shot? Look, pal, the damned mess reeks of … well, Diet Pepsi left out in a hot car all day. Now I’m going to have to get the Truckster detailed, and there are few things that annoy me more than having to spend money due to other people’s stupidity. I mean, my own mistakes are bad enough as is.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 05:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 24, 2006

Seats Right on the … Well, 25-Yard-Line, Anyway

SO YESTERDAY I splurged and spent $38.50 on a third-row seat to watch the Manchester Wolves, my city’s minor-league arena football team, play against the Louisville Fire, one of our divisional rivals in the arenafootball2 league.

I’m proud to report it was money well spent. For one thing, the third-row seat gave me an excellent vantage point whenever the Lady Wolf Pack dance team took the field to perform. For another, I gained a newfound respect for arena football, a sport which people often mock but actually has a lot going for it. As Loyal Rant Readers know, watching the Wolves is part of my grand strategy to watch football on a year-round schedule, and I'm pleased to say the af2 portion of the strategy works.

But let’s review the game itself for a moment.

Sadly, the Wolves lost, and the final score of 59-49 doesn’t accurately reflect Louisville’s domination of the game. Rather, it reflects the stupidity of the Louisville coaching staff, who ordered an on-side kick not once, not twice, but FIVE TIMES during the game. If Louisville had actually kicked the ball deep on those tries, they’d likely have punished Manchester on defense, or at the least burned time from the clock while preserving their lead. Not that they faced much of a threat in that regard, though.

You see, our offense had trouble with a capital T. Near the end of the first half, it looked as if Manchester would finish up having scored just ONE touchdown during the first thirty minutes. Since the arena football pitch is just 50 yards long (excluding the endzones), and there is no punting in the game, I thought for sure I was witnessing an ignoble moment in arena football history. However, it was at the end of the first half when the game’s most exciting play took place.

Manchester had come out to kick a field goal from thirty yards or so. This is a moderate distance in American football to kick the ball through the uprights, and one would think it would be a cinch to make the kick in the arena. However, there’s a catch – in arena football, the uprights are roughly the size of the exhaust port Luke Skywalker needed to hit to destroy the Death Star. As such, one must kick the ball straight and true, because there is practically no room for error.

In any event, our kicker was a little bit off to the left, and the ball bounced off one of the large endzone nets. Whenever a ball hits the net, though, it is considered live – and somehow, a Manchester player managed to run down the field and recover it in Louisville’s endzone for a touchdown. It was an astonishingly cool play. The halftime score was 24-14, and Manchester was still in the game, at least for a while.

Even though the game was a bit of a bust, the entire atmosphere made it a fun night out, even if the “family fun” was a little overboard. I was sitting right at midfield, and in a section with fellow football fans, so that provided plenty of opportunities for discussing the play. Also, there were these two guys in the front row who were all decked out in Wolves clothing and had face paint and – most amazingly of all – had a “DEFENSE” sign at the ready.

Anyway, here’s the recap:


MOST UHF-LIKE MOMENT: Man triumphs in pizza-eating contest, wins free pizza

MOST INVENTIVE HECKLER’S REMARK: “Look at that Florida State education at work!”

MOST CRINGEWORTHY PLAY: Louisville receiver tries to make catch, goes over the wall pads and onto the concrete floor. Of course, the field itself is basically concrete, but still.

MOST INEPT PLAY: Man at half-time has chance to win $10,000 for a school by making field goal kick; tee-based kick goes just 10 yards, on the ground. Man roundly booed.


SECOND MOST IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE (tied): Manchester Wolves DB Brian Mance recovers blown field goal for a touchdown. Also, using only chopsticks and a soup spoon, I successfully eat a giant bowl of pho at the Vietnamese place on Elm Street. It was amazing pho, too.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 19, 2006

Thanks, Italy! (and Other Sports Foibles This Weekend)

I MUST SAY I PITY Cristian Zaccardo.

The look on his face after he scored an own goal in the World Cup match between Italy and the USA -- a goal which kept America's tourney hopes alive -- said more than any words could about the gravity of his error. It was a look of both horror and fear, a look that seemed to say, "Oh, dear God, back home the children will laugh at me and the women will mock me and there's a fair chance I'll get garroted in a back alley."

As with all sports, soccer fanatics tend to have memories that are very long, and one can imagine Mr Zaccardo will hear about his blunder until the end of time. So I wish Mr Zaccardo well, and wish Italy the best on Thursday when they take on the Czech Republic -- wait, what? What's that you said? I'm just saying that because we need Italy to beat the Czechs on Thursday to advance ourselves into Stage 2? Dear readers, I can assure you I would never ever sunder my love for Italy due to a tough and hard-fought soccer match, even if Daniele De Rossi is a scoundrel and a cad.

But moving on. Did you notice this weekend was a weird one for sports mishaps? Maybe it's just me, but it seemed like there were plenty of big-time screwups, no matter the sport. Let's review:

GOLF: Phil Mickelson loses the U.S. Open in an 18th hole performance so bad that even he said, "I'm such an idiot." I mean, first the man screws up his drive off the tee so bad he hits the corporate hospitality tent. Then he hits a tree. Then he knocks it into the bunker. Three strokes later, he's handed the entire tournament to Geoff Ogilvy, who was in the clubhouse watching it all on television and, from what I could see, trying mightily to not jump up and down for joy.

BASKETBALL: Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard not only misses two free throws in the clutch, but also calls a time out BETWEEN FOUL SHOTS right at the very end of the game. This meant that Dallas, down by one point with 1.8 seconds left on the clock, had to start with the ball at the far end of the court, instead of being much closer to the basket. As a result, Dallas lost. While this actually wasn't all that bad -- it meant we once again got to see Mark Cuban pitch a fit -- it still is kind of pathetic.

FOOTBALL: The Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos wanted to prove they still "had it" in their first game, despite many changes since they won the Grey Cup last year. Well, they not only lost to Calgary, they had a third quarter in which they scored just one point.

Yes, that's right. ONE point. In the Canadian Football League, it is possible to score just ONE point in regular play. It's hard to describe why, but it's kind of as a consolation prize. Anyway, this was embarrassing.

BASEBALL: On Sunday night, the Boston Red Sox organization allowed Rudy Seanez to travel with the team, enter Turner Field, suit up in a Red Sox uniform, and enter the game as a relief pitcher in the seventh inning. Upon throwing his first pitch, Seanez gave up the Red Sox lead on a three-run homer. The game was only saved due to an improbable eighth-inning comeback which saw the Sox score six runs -- plus the efforts of ace closer Jonathan Papelbon, who rules.

Speaking of Papelbon -- for those of you who were watching the game, did you see Papelbon and Tavarez warming up together in the bullpen? Upon seeing that image, did you -- like me -- think, "Oh, dear God, they're going to put in Tavarez and we'll lose?" That was MY initial thought, anyway.

Fortunately, though, the Red Sox won the game -- and won tonight, as it turned out. Just as nice, the Yankees lost yesterday -- and lost tonight too. I'm really not the type to gloat -- really, I swear it -- but I can't say I mind when the Yankees help out the cause.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 16, 2006

Haggis Risotto?

ONE OF THE ENJOYABLE things about reading the English quality press -- heh, I love that phrase -- is that their writers don't pull any punches, especially in the area of professional criticism. That is to say, you can always count on an English restaurant, film, theatre or literary critic to disparage, humiliate and mock unfortunate creative efforts wherever those efforts may surface.

This morning, I noticed several particularly fun restaurant reviews which excellently illustrate the aforementioned principle. First, in The Telegraph, I note Jan Moir's review of The Tolbooth restaurant in Stonehaven, Scotland, which is described as an alleged seafood restaurant. As Ms Moir writes in her review, this supposedly award-winning restaurant does not cook its lobsters to order at supper. This is a sin of cookery so foul that words cannot express how disgusted I am at the very thought. Even more amazing, the waitress told Ms Moir and her husband she would need the table back in two hours! God Almighty, not even the staff at the lowest hamburger shack in Massachusetts would say such a thing!

But according to Ms Moir, things get even worse from there:

On the menu, there are a few meat options, although the focus is firmly on seafood. However, many of the dishes listed don't make sense and seem gastronomically distraught, as if dreamed up by an alien who'd been given a bunch of disparate ingredients and told to have a go on an intergalactic cookery show.

How else can you explain scallops served with asparagus and lavender risotto and a saffron and Arbroath smokie broth? Or pork belly dusted with Chinese Five Spice, glazed with a caramelised honey sauce and served "on a haggis risotto"?

Haggis risotto?

Moving on, I would encourage all Loyal Rant Readers to read The Sunday Times' review of The Bell restaurant in Sapperton, Glos., which is delightfully and supremely vicious. Mr A A Gill's review includes phrases such as: "this was an even more repellent and pointless sacrifice of pig;" "a viscous gruel of curdled liquid ran out," and "Christ, what's that?"

Upon reading the last item, I nearly fell out my chair laughing. For the restaurant owners, however, it does not get much better. Mr Gill, who awarded the place zero stars, writes:

Main courses are about £15 and starters about £7. For the middle of nowhere, this is hideously expensive. The service was slow, forgetful and careless, even by the standards of the West Country. They stress the importance of local ingredients, but the staff all come from New Zealand and South Africa.

The Bell won South West Dining Pub of the Year last year, which, frankly, doesn’t surprise me. It is replete with everything that makes eating out in the muddy bits of England such a hideous torment.

Perhaps, but such fun to read about as well!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 01:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Don't Call Us, We'll Call You Dept.

REPORT: After Roethlisberger crash, Tommy Maddox "available" to return to Pittsburgh lineup.

A poll on KDKA-TV's Web site presently shows that 76 percent of respondents are opposed to the idea of Maddox, whose incompetence cost the Steelers at least one game last year, returning to the team. The remaining 24 percent are fans of the Cleveland Browns.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 15, 2006

... And the Agony of Being Thrown Into a Windshield Head First

RECENTLY, A DEAR friend of mine wrote and mentioned he had a good laugh at my recent nasty remark directed at Peyton Manning, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback.

As a New England Patriots fan, my friend too has no love for Peyton Manning, whom all can agree is a pathetic crybaby sissy who can't deal with an aggressive defense. Still, as a Patriots fan, my friend could not leave things at that. Oh no. At the close of his letter, my friend politely wrote, "Still waiting to see your post about idiot QBs who ride motorcycles without helmets."

Sadly, it has taken me a while to properly compose my thoughts on this week's incident involving Ben Roethlisberger, the starting quarterback of the five-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. For those unaware, Roethlisberger suffered a broken jaw and nose after he ran his motorcycle into a car. As my friend noted, Roethlisberger was not wearing a helmet. However, I can assure readers that I went through the same emotions as the rest of Steelers Nation upon hearing the news: namely, fear and nausea.

I first heard the news at work, where due to circumstances beyond my control, I am surrounded by New England Patriots fans. Most were sympathetic to my plight, or at least kind enough not to openly mock my suffering. However, there were those who poked a little fun at Pittsburgh's expense. ("Hey, Ben! What's a nose and jaw between two buns? A Roethlisberger!")

Ha, ha! I thought. Then I realized this particular colleague was not even a Patriots fan, but rather a fan of the Green Bay Packers, who last won a Super Bowl in 1996 and will not win one again until 2048, when their quarterback, Brett Favre, finally decides to retire. Sadly, I could not come up with this witty comeback when the joke was first delivered, but hey. It works now.

But anyway. Certainly, the news of Mr Roethlisberger's injury came as a severe blow to my psyche, and I have to admit it was the first time in a long time I felt really crushed about a sports incident.

You see, Roethlisberger is one of about three professional sports figures in whom I have placed an actual emotional investment -- the others being Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward and Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. So to hear that Roethlisberger was hurt was devastating -- particularly as it seemed, at first, to put in jeopardy the chances of winning a sixth Super Bowl victory.

It also came during a particularly bad sports week here at The Rant. In the World Cup, the Czechs kicked America's collective ass on the soccer pitch in a game that can be called embarrassing at best. Then, the Germans -- whom I was rooting against -- went around winning everything. So did the English, which was also annoying. As if that wasn't enough, barring direct intervention from St. Sebastian -- and perhaps even Our Lady of Victory herself -- the Italians are going to crush us like a bug on Saturday.

But things were not only going bad soccer-wise. This week, the Red Sox have been busy dropping the ball over in Minnesota. The trouble, you see, is that the Red Sox have a weak bullpen, aside from Papelbon and Timlin. So here we are in extra innings on Tuesday -- the 12th inning, to be precise -- and the Red Sox are set to win if they can just hold off the Twins. However, it was that point the Red Sox decided to send in Julian Tavarez. I submit that everyone in Red Sox Nation knew the game was irretrievably lost at that point. What we didn't know was that Tavarez would lose it the worst way possible -- with a grand slam.

So all in all, it's been a crappy week sportswise -- the incident with Roethlisberger is just, I don't know, an additional steaming pile of crap on top of everything else. The good news, though, is that Roethlisberger is now out of the hospital and will hopefully have a speedy recovery. In the meantime, we've always Charlie Batch -- who was once a former starter himself -- to rely on. As Pittsburgh fans know all too well, it could be so, so, so very much worse.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 10, 2006

A Show With Everything But Yul Brynner

Oh No!
It’s Time for Yet Another Installment of …

An occasional Rant feature

WITH THE WORLD CUP on television this weekend, I’ve found myself in the position of needing something to do during commercial breaks, half-time shows, and those annoying breaks between matches.

For the most part, this is because I’m watching the games in Spanish, which is more fun than watching in English. You see, if I watched in English, I’d probably have to listen to some American soccer announcer. This is the soccer equivalent of listening to a European do play-by-play for an NFL game: undoubtedly correct, but not optimal. Also, listening in Spanish – GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! HOLY CHRIST! Beckham just fired that thing in from mid-field! How did he do that?! And how did the Paraguayan goalie let it go in?! Oh, now the goalie’s coming out of the game. Shame, most likely. Of course, I don’t speak Spanish fluently, but you don’t need a lot of it to follow what’s going on.

Anyway, needing something that I can write in short bursts as I go along, here’s an extra-special edition of Your Search Engine Queries Answered. Today, I’ll focus on questions about love, money, sport and, of course, those weird queries that make one despair about the human condition. Subete!

QUERY: how many days in a year does it rain in manchester

ANSWER: 365.

QUERY: how much beet juice could i drink?

ANSWER: If you can drink any beet juice, you’re a stronger man than I am. That said, make sure not to drink more than four ounces at a time, as drinking too much beet juice can stain the teeth and cause psoriasis, pleurisy and sluggishness.

QUERY: minivan sliding door chirping

ANSWER: I hate it too. The only way to stop the chirping is to sell the minivan and get a decent sedan.

QUERY: what is peyton mannings favorite thing to eat

ANSWER: That would be a loser sandwich. You know, because he sucks.

QUERY: are steelers americas team

ANSWER: Yes, of course. How could it be otherwise? I’ll say this – it certainly ain’t the frickin’ Dallas Cowboys.

QUERY: when is earthquake season

ANSWER: June 11 – July 31.

QUERY: aussi do not like to fight with yanks at night

ANSWER: Fighting Yanks during the day is also dangerous. That’s because we’re all armed cowboy-types.

QUERY: amscray means

ANSWER: From the French, amscray has a functional meaning similar to the old Gallic retort, votre mere pue d’hamsters. It generally confounds one’s enemies, unless they attack through the hilly Ardennes.

QUERY: what does que quieres mean

ANSWER: From the Norwegian, que quieres means, “God! What a mess!”

QUERY: what does per diem mean

ANSWER: “Breakfast allowance.”

QUERY: what language is silas speaking in davinci code movie

ANSWER: Tagalog.

QUERY: roman tattoo strength and honor

ANSWER: This can be summed up in one Latin word: “Perfututum.”

QUERY: black cherry vanilla awful

ANSWER: It does seem a bit silly, doesn’t it? Here in New Hampshire it is easy to find Black Cherry Vanilla Diet Coke, but difficult to find regular Diet Cherry Coke, even though Diet Cherry Coke is far superior. Why this is, I don’t know, but hey: even the Coca-Cola Co. Inc. needs to earn returns on its investments.

QUERY: what musical note is americas car beep

ANSWER: It depends on the car. If I remember rightly, my own car horn is an A, but many car horns seem to be Fs. This is different than those European airhorns, which are alternating Cs and Gs.

QUERY: ford taurus stuck in drive

ANSWER: It could be worse! That said, if your gearshift is not on the steering column, check and see if anything has slipped down into the shift. I once had a penny get stuck in the mechanism and it prevented me from putting the car into park until I figured out what happened.

QUERY: quit smoking spitting up

ANSWER: All perfectly normal. Your lungs are healing.

QUERY: how to do an essay on stranded on a desert island

ANSWER: Well, this is easy. First, you write about the things you would like to have with you in a perfect world (CDs, books, Kate Winslet) and then write about how you would deal with certain logistical issues, such as finding potable water. See, it’s no trouble at all.

QUERY: ben or benson and food! or drink! or beverage! or restaurant! or cafe! or bar!

ANSWER: Or copyright infringement!

QUERY: things are getting weirder


QUERY: did jennifer wilbanks fire dr. tom smiley?

ANSWER: Anyone else know? Anyone? Anyone? Guess not.

QUERY: effects of modern day music on moral behaviour

ANSWER: Perhaps the better query would be “effects of modern day moral behavior on music.”

QUERY: four paragraph lead

ANSWER: That sounds a bit much!

QUERY: risks currency speculation

ANSWER: Currency speculation is extremely risky, primarily because the small trader has so much leverage at his disposal when trading in the forex markets. As such, even tiny moves the wrong way in a currency can entirely wipe out a small trader’s position. In terms of less-risky options, such as CDs, these let speculators bet on which way a currency might go – but the speculator’s assumptions about the currency might well prove wrong. Plus, a CD will likely lock you in to a position. You could always open a bank account in a foreign land, but that’s annoying tax-wise, and you then have to trust the nation’s banking system, to say nothing of the foreign bank itself. In short, you’ll find it a difficult game to win.

QUERY: the idiocy of timing the market

ANSWER: It’s not an easy thing to time the market. Speaking personally, I’m generally not a fan of the market-timing approach, preferring a buy-and-hold/fundamentals strategy. I do think a market-timing strategy can prove successful, but only if one spends a lot of time at it and is very disciplined in his approach. That’s easier said than done.

QUERY: alpacas wall street journal best kept secret of the two thousands

ANSWER: Not anymore. Especially since economists at the University of California at Davis wrote a paper on the alpaca-breeding industry and its potential to develop tulipomania.

QUERY: diamond size social status

ANSWER: I don’t really have an answer to this one. I’ve said in the past that a one-carat diamond is perfectly sufficient for this day and age, but I’m not sure about what larger diamonds say about social status. Sure, larger diamonds connote wealth, but a diamond that is too large makes it look as if one is showing off.

This too is problematic. It reminds me of something I read once about television sets: it’s not classy to buy a large TV if one has little else, but classy to watch old TVs if one is loaded up the wazoo. As such, ostentatious spending is only useful if it goes in line with one’s standard of living, and even then, it might not be advisable because it would look as if one was flaunting one’s wealth.

QUERY: unordinary wedding gifts to special friends

ANSWER: I can understand your desire to get an unordinary wedding gift for your friends, but there is a reason your friends have a wedding registry. My suggestion is to use it. If you would like to give them an extra-special gift, consider a nice housewarming present after they’re married and they’ve set up house.

QUERY: based on value line s forecast information what is the range of possible intrinsic values for geico?

ANSWER: 15 percent or more than you thought!

QUERY: interpretation of keynes in the long run we’re all dead

ANSWER: Uh, I think the man was pretty clear when he said it.

QUERY: manager solutions to lack of productivity due to mid life crisis

ANSWER: Perhaps giving the employee an unpaid leave of absence for a little while might help him sow his oats – that is, if he’s an excellent employee. Other than that, I’m afraid you’d have to execute him.

QUERY: people can’t afford boston

ANSWER: I can understand living in New York and not being able to afford it. I can understand the same for those living in Los Angeles. Boston, not so much. I mean, you can root for the Red Sox anywhere in New England!

QUERY: significance of health and economic of patronising our local drinks

ANSWER: It’s a good idea to support local producers wherever possible, provided it’s at least somewhat warranted. For instance, buying local produce will often mean getting a better and fresher product at a not-unreasonable price So the same would go for buying local beer or patronizing one’s local establishment, etc. etc.

QUERY: how to live below your means

ANSWER: Spend less, make more.

QUERY: what can happen to you if guilty of disorderly conduct nh?

ANSWER: If it’s a misdeameanor, it’s up to a year in your local county house of correction and a fine of up to $2,000. More importantly, though, you’ll be stuck with the opprobrium that goes with having an official societal determination that you were a boor in public.

QUERY: does having sex in denver count for mile-high club?

ANSWER: No – but nice try.

QUERY: can you become a born again virgin?

ANSWER: No – but nice try.

QUERY: love and romantic female bloggers

ANSWER: Boy did YOU come to the wrong site! Also, I’m sure all the romantic female bloggers are taken. I’m sure they’ll let you know when they’re available.

QUERY: trying to get the girl all the bad guys want

ANSWER: Well, I suppose my first suggestion to you would regard purchasing nunchucks. These might come in handy when dealing with the bad guys, who will almost certainly look unfavorably upon your competition with them for the girl whom all the bad guys want. Barring that, I’d suggest buying a good pair of athletic socks, as you can put billiard balls in them and use the socks as makeshift maces.

Flowers might work, too. I don’t know.

QUERY: uconn venereal disease 85%

ANSWER: It wouldn’t surprise me.

QUERY: why is it such an embarrassing error to mistake the sex of a new baby?

ANSWER: Because most people use blue clothes for boys and pink clothes for girls. Not picking up on this should cause one a bit of embarrassment.

QUERY: what men want second date sex ok

ANSWER: Most men these days, I think, would be all right with sex after three or four minutes. Not everyone is like that, though, so just see how things go.

QUERY: should i be dating if I’m going to move

ANSWER: If you’re leaving next Friday for the West Coast, it might not be the best time to start a new relationship.

QUERY: serenade your girlfriend

ANSWER: For most men, this is a bad idea. A really bad idea. Furthermore, it’s a terribly bad idea if you do it in place of something like a birthday gift. Also, serenading one’s girlfriend is illegal in Kalamazoo, Mich.

QUERY: men being cheap and selfish engagement rings

ANSWER: It’s not good for a man to be cheap and selfish regarding an engagement ring – unless, of course, his fiancee is also being selfish and wants a prohibitively expensive ring. However, I am sure that is not the case in this instance. As such, I have absolutely no idea what to advise.

QUERY: if your cell phone rings while you are out to a restaurant having dinner do you answer it

ANSWER: Only if you are around very close friends, who wouldn’t otherwise mind. In all other circumstances, you should shut your phone off (or at least put it on 'vibrate'). This will prevent you from disturbing other people’s dinners, insulting your dining companions and in general acting like an asshat. There is very little which can’t wait until after dessert. If you must take a call, do so out of the dining room.

QUERY: brooding is bad for relationships

ANSWER: Yes, in general, being persistently morbid about minor matters has a way of ruining the mood.

QUERY: why do guys not like public display of affection?

ANSWER: I think it depends on how much affection is being given. I don’t see anything wrong with a bit of it, but when both parties are oblivious to the world in going at it, it’s a bit gauche. As amazing as it may seem, the whole world may not want to see a couple getting amorous in public, or hear all that much about their love life, or what have – OH MY! DID YOU SEE THAT SAVE!

I can’t believe Trinidad and Tobago, after having one of their players sent off, managed to draw Sweden! Good Lord! Wow! Hopefully we’ll see Ivory Coast manage to do the same thing. Anyway, that’s it for this edition of Your Search Engine Queries Answered! Tune in next time, when I’m watching the … well, I’m sure the World Cup will have something to do with it.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 02:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 06, 2006

All Football, All the Time

I HAVEN’T been a good blogger lately and for that I am sorry. I’ve been busy with work and home and trying to eat properly and switching dry cleaners, among other things, and all-in-all it’s taken my blogging energy and stomped it into little tiny shreds. That, and I realized I’m suffering from a considerably advanced case of football drought, and also slowly becoming the type of embittered, wretched, hubristic person one frequently encounters in James Clavell novels.

The good news, though, is that I’ve found a fix for the football drought problem.

I realize the idea of a football drought may seem a bit much to some. After all, few seem to talk about a baseball drought, even during the winter. Even fewer talk about a basketball drought, given the length of the NBA’s playoffs. As for a hockey drought, although the true fans suffered mightily, no one else really minded when the NHL cancelled its 2004-2005 season.

But football, at least for me and many others, is different. Both the professional and collegiate seasons only run in earnest from early September through the New Year, and while the January playoffs are exciting, the end of the Super Bowl in early February marks the start of several long football-free months. No Michigander can be expected to suffer this way, especially a Michigander with deep family roots in Western Pennsylvania, and an extended family with strong loyalties to their respective teams in the AFC North (except Baltimore, which can rot in perdition along with Art Modell, the scoundrel).

However, I was fortunate. After doing some research, I found that soon after the Super Bowl ends, I can start watching minor-league football, courtesy of the Arena Football League and the NFL Europe development league. That will keep me going all the way through June, when I can start watching the Canadian Football League, plus see a few live games of the Manchester Wolves squad, which is a team in the arenafootball2 league, the AFL’s minor league. These games will get me through until the NFL and NCAA start up again, thus ensuring all football, all the time.

Yet this solution also presents a dilemma: what teams am I supposed to root for?

Some decisions are easy. For instance, Manchester has its own af2 team, so I clearly have to root for them. The Canadian league also makes it easy. I mean, what Midwesterner couldn’t support the Saskatchewan Roughriders? They’re from Saskatchewan, for God’s sake. That’s reason enough. Besides, think of the Roughriders’ fans out on the wind-blasted steppe! Think about little Johnny out in Flin Flon, who lives and breathes the Roughriders and whose dream is –

READER: Isn’t Flin Flon in Manitoba?

Not now, I’m on a roll. Anyway, think about little Johnny, who yearns to someday earn thousands of (Canadian) dollars per year making crucial third downs and scoring a rouge here or there for the green and white. I mean, you just can’t ignore that cultural impact. Also, Saskatchewan went .500 in the 2005 season, so it’s not like I’m jumping on the coat-tails of an especially good team. In my book, that would be as dishonorable as rooting for the Oakland Raiders or saying nice things about Jerry Jones.

But what do I do regarding NFL Europe, where nearly all the teams are in Germany? My traditional mindset would have me root for the one non-German team in the league, the Amsterdam Admirals. The trouble is, the Admirals are one of the best teams in the league, which means I can’t start supporting them now. As for the German teams, I would normally side with Frankfurt, since that’s closest to the Ancestral Home of the Kepples. But they’re a good team too, so now they’re out as well. About all I have left, when one takes into account geographical and performance factors, are the Cologne Centurions. They may not be the best team in NFL Europe, but they sure have the best name.

As for the Arena Football League – well, that was easier than I thought. It turns out the city of Grand Rapids, an hour north of my old home town, has an Arena Football League team: the Grand Rapids Rampage. They were last in their division this year, with a crummy but not hideous 5-11 record. I don’t know if I’ll get to see them on television much, but then again, I don’t get to see the Steelers all that much either, so I’m used to it. Football, even if it means watching certain teams I don't especially like every week, is still football.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack