Saturday, February 17, 2007


You're going to hear a lot about Barack Obama in the next year. And not just from me. May as well do your homework. I did - and found one of the best speeches on the role of religion in politics I've ever heard.

I would admit that it's also the ONLY speech on religion and politics I've ever heard, but I don't want that to diminish the impact of the endorsement.

So what's it all about? Barack takes aim at conservative politicians who mean to portray all Democrats as godless and immoral. He says that the religious do not have a monopoly and morality, but also that constructive religious support has been essential throughout our nation's progress and cannot be ignored today. Some really great stuff in here, especially for open-minded conservatives.

Here's something to watch for that rubbed me the wrong way. I noticed that Barack changes his tone, inflection, and manner depending upon the crowd he is addressing. Before an assembly of church-going African Americans here, you'll note his delivery is decidedly more "urban," for lack of a better word. At first I found the subtle adjustment a little disingenuous of him (think Hillary). But then I caught myself doing the same exact thing! And I wasn't even aware I was doing it.

I realized that this adjustment in communication style and delivery, at least in my case, was occuring on a subconscious level. I wasn't choosing to forfeit grammar, gratuitously employ expletives as adjectives, and end all my sentences with apostrophes. I was just mirroring the people with whom I was interacting. And you'll notice Barack starts out doing a little of that here. It's actually kind of amusing. But he settles down about 3 minutes in and the common sense starts pouring out. Almost scares me to think that Americans, after hearing what this guy is shoveling, would even consider the alternatives. He's slick. He's sharp. And he's got good ideas. Which basically means he's screwed because if the results from last two presidential elections proved anything, it's that we don't want slick, sharp, and good ideas in the White House. We like our late night comedy just the way it is.

That won't stop me from drumming up support for him, though. I can't help it. I have a common sense fetish. Good ideas turn me on, baby. In fact, last night I downloaded every one of this guy's speeches, drew down the shades, and uncorked a bottle of red. It was hot. Didn't even make it half way through his first speech before I needed a cold shower.

Kidding inside, I encourage you not to dismiss this guy simply because he's a Democrat (dad), or because he's only been in politics for 10 years (isn't that a PLUS?), or because he's Christian, or because he's black, or because he's also white (didn't you know?), or because he's a man (didn't you know?), or because he's smoother than Billy Dee Williams, or because his name makes you think about a cave in Afghanistan, or because you don't vote (slacker).

Check out the issues link on his page when you get a chance. You might be surprised to learn you have a lot in common. When I saw government corruption third on his list of issues, it became instantly clear that he's been shopping AYNtK for ideas.

And I'm happy to provide them.

Barack: Three day work week, baby. We can DO this!

Friday, February 16, 2007


Chief Illiniwek has taken sabbatical.

The University of Illinois has, at long last, been forced to retire its controversial Native American symbol/mascot (depending upon which side of the fence you sit) once and for all.

As an alum who once supported and celebrated the Chief, I can honestly say I wasn’t surprised or sad to see the Chief finally go – but only because I always knew it was just a matter of time. Those who wanted Illiniwek out were going to get their way eventually – because the people who wanted him to stay were, well, primarily well-to-do white people. And let’s face it – that just didn’t look good under the media's powerful hyper-P.C. microscope.

If Illiniwek supporters had the blessing of the native Amercan community, the story would be radically different. There’d probably be a lot more Chiefs out there, in fact. Chief Iowek. Chief Wisonsiwek. Chief Ohiowek. The names of so many of our nation’s states are derivatives of native American tribes. Fortunately, that hasn’t pissed anyone off yet. (I’ve got a list of alternative state names ready to go in the unlikely event we lose that battle. I like to be prepared.)

Certainly, there is a difference between naming the territories on a map after the native people who had thrived here prior to European expansion (germs!) and dressing up a college kid in an Indian suit and having him prance around barefoot on a basketball court surrounded by thousands of orange-clad white people swinging their arms like tomahawks, many of them reservation drunk and tragically undereducated as to actual Native American history and culture.

Whoa! Did I just say "reservation" drunk? What’s that supposed to mean? Isn’t that a negative Native American stereotype?

It sure is. And, sadly, those are the kinds of stereotypes that will persist in the wake of Illiniwek's burial, while less-offensive (if also less accurate) stereotypes like "the Chief" are discarded in the name of unchecked political correctness.

Personally, I never did see what was so offensive about Chief Illiniwek, his questionably authentic headdress, or his always-spirited quasi-endemic dance routine. While attending Illinois, I never got the feeling the University or its drunk students (myself included...but only after I turned 21, of course) ever regarded the the Chief as an unflattering representation of Native American history and culture. His dress and dance may have been contrived, in part, but not for the purpose of ridiculing a people.

The Chief was most certainly not, as many have argued, a caricature or cartoon – like the Cleveland Indians mascot. To many of us, he seemed real - and we came to associate our school pride with his image: a celebrated symbol of courage, strength, honor, and respect. When I see a Chief decal in the back window of a passing car, I don't giggle at the thought of a dancin' injun. I actually feel a sudden kinship with the driver of that car - as though we are members of the same tribe, so to speak.

It seemed the Chief's authenticity was always in question, and this was an ongoing struggle for supporters. But he wasn't supposed to be an actual person from the past - like Sacajawea, Crazy Horse, or Sitting Bull. He was a cultural composite of the many Native people who we still recognize to this day in the names of so many of our towns, counties, cities, and states. Why would early University officials have elected to associate their state school, its image and athletic program with a complete mockery?

Of course, they never did. But in the eyes of those who matter, that's what he has become.

And that, my friends, is really all that matters. I do not belong to the ethnic group of people his half-time circus act means to represent. I’m a mutt of various European descents - white bred to the core. So I’m really in no position to judge whether or not he is offensive to Native Americans. Only Native Americans can make that determination. And it appears they have. If the Native people after whom Chief Illiniwek was modeled find his use offensive, then it's incumbent upon those in power to be respectful of that - even if we the people cannot find it in ourselves to.

That's the point most die-hard supporters I know just don't get. It’s not whether white people, or people of other colors for that matter, find him offensive – it’s the people he is meant to represent who matter. If I call you "wise" and mean it in a good way, but you think I'm making fun of you, it doesn't matter that I am meaning it in a good way. All that matters is how you are taking it. If I keep calling you "wise" knowing that you don't like it, then I am disrespecting you. And that's what's been going on here for years.

It is indeed unfortunate that Illiniwek WAS respected and revered as a positive symbol of Native American culture. Minority groups may not have thought so - but he was. Had they come to appreciate the Chief as we did (and do), they would not have objected to his contrived pageantry and traditional exhibition. They would have embraced him. To an objective third party, the Chief's half-time ceremony wasn't an "offensive" one in and of itself. Illiniwek wasn't waving around a fist full of scalps. He wasn't shown stealing the women and raping the horses, or vice versa. He was simply performing a dance that celebrated the history of the people after whom our state was named. If that's a stereotype, I've got to tell you I've seen worse. But it's not about me. And I suppose that is all I need to know.

So save your Illini gear - might be worth something some day. Like the embarrassing lawn jockeys my grandfather, bless his departed heart, had no problem putting out in his front yard. Relics of a similar, less-enlightened time when it seemed okay to do something we have since agreed it is not.

Progress isn't always popular.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


My buddy JB sent me this great article on Barack Obama's star appeal. I found it quite entertaining. Here's an excerpt that made me snort milk out my nose all over the keyboard.

"The Illinois Senator is the ultimate modern media creature -- he's a good-looking, youthful, smooth-talking, buttery-warm personality with an aw-shucks demeanor who exudes a seemingly impenetrable air of Harvard-crafted moral neutrality. If Hillary Clinton even dares to open her mouth within a hundred feet of him at any time during the campaign, she's going to come off like a pig digging for truffles. Even Edwards -- the so-called "slick" candidate from '04 -- sounds like a two-bit suburban Buick dealer next to Obama. You get past the "issues," and it's a wipeout."

Spot on. It's called charisma. Hillary may be intelligent, motivated, and well-intended - but it's just so damn painful watching her speak. She's about as loose as the tin man. She needs to visit the wizard and get herself some charisma. Mos def.

Monday, February 12, 2007


New Mexico is pissed off about drinking and driving, so they came up with a sweet idea to send a message: Cake. But not just any cake. Urinal cake - the talking kind.

At $21 a pop, the state has ordered 500 urinal cakes that deliver a pre-recorded message designed to warn bar and restaurant patrons against drinking and driving. And on top of each cake is the state DWI slogan, "You drink, you drive, you lose."

NOW - Imagine for just a moment, if you will. Some drunk dude staggers into the bathroom to give the porcelain wall ornament one more shot when suddenly, from out of no where, a man's voice starts lecturing him on the perils of piloting while intoxicated.

The man freaks out, loses balance, and starts leaking all over the wall and floor. He presumes he is hallucinating, or perhaps even hearing the voice of the Almighty himself, which prompts him to head back to the bar for another drink. This, in turn, leads him right back into the bathroom for another round at the stand'n'go.

He enters slowly, peers around nervously, and swings in each stall door to be sure he is alone before finally unzipping for his final stream of consciousness. Confident in complete solitude, he stumbles up to the wall again and shoots a hot laser into the white dish, cutting sloppily into his wetting cake.

Again the voice mocks him, detailing the consequences of navigating buzzed. Alarmed, the man turns completely around, urinating wildly all over the slick tile floor and shouting for the menace to make himself known.

But now the voice is behind him.

He spins back around and eyes up the cake in the basin at his waist. He reaches in and angrily pries the preachy culprit from its foamy warm nest and hurls it hard at the opposite wall.

Just then, another patron swings open the rickety wooden door and catches a face-full of piss icing, spun in a flickering stream off a flying, talking plastic urinal cake. Tasting twice-filtered special export dribbling down his cheek, the surprise guest assumes an immediate state of rage and flies across the room at our would-be Olympic discus champ.

The two collapse in a puddle of tepid waste, rolling about heatedly, their clothes soaking up that evening's sterile chemical stew like a hungry sponge. A third patron steps through the threshhold in time to spy two men writhing about on the floor. He's so loaded he completely disregards the fracas and steps over to the nearest urinal to make a deposit. As he does so, a voice begins discussing the dangers of drinking and driving. The attacker on the floor hears this voice and thinks the guy at the urinal is lecturing him.

He scrambles to his feet, steps to the third man and runs his elbow hard in the back of the man's head. The original drunk, meanwhile, spies his opportunity to escape and bounds out the bathroom door. The aggressor hastily follows him out. The third man, dazed from the sudden blow he just received at the hands of a complete stranger, gains his faculties, zips up, and races out the door after the others. The first man jumps into his car and fishtails off. The second man drops his keys, recovers, unlocks his door and flies off down the road after the first. The third man stumbles out into the parking lot and sees the taillights heading off into the distance, so he hops into his car and joins pursuit.

Now we've got three dangerous drunkards ripping at insane speeds around curvy dark roads instead of responsibly weaving at 10MPH below the speed limit.

So I ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury - is this conversational urinal cake a good idea?


Did you hear what those randy Brits are up to?

Beginning on Valentine's Day (that's Wednesday, fellas) the pharmacy chain Boots plans to offer Viagra WITHOUT A PRESCRIPTION.

According to the Boots company, its pilot program will be offered in three stores in Manchester first and is expected to last six months - although if erections persist longer than that, you should see a doctor immediately. Many believe the move will be the catalyst for a new sexual revolution. Never mind the upper lip - when it comes to keeping the anatomy "stiff," Britons clearly have something else in mind.