Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Could You Be A Bigger Douchebag?

Knowing full well that he used to be a Hitler Youth member, my reaction to his latest yammering was still

"What (Chelsea Handler pause) an asshole."

If I may?
a) Please. Like we don't know that angel farts are the most significant contributor to global warming, and

b) WTF?

Look, "being a Nazi" is usually sufficient evidence that someone is an asshole, but if you still need convincing that Pope Benny Dick may not be your best source of moral guidance, there's the whole "equal rights for everyone is a threat to mankind on the same level as the wanton, wholesale destruction of our ecosystem" thing.

You know... in case you're still on the fence.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Kristi's new bud Crabman is on, and he gets a quick call home to check on his dad, who was diagnosed with cancer just before the show started. If I hadn't had my remorse gland removed, I'd probably feel bad for making fun of the fact that Crabman doesn't know what the phrase "gunning for you" means, but I did, so i don't.

Nat E. Dredd, Rasta Gourmet
Whoah, edgy challenge! Is it oregano? No, no, no, NO! We're cooking with pot, and... What? What's that? Ohhhhh, cooking with one pot. Martha Stewart's Quickfire challenge is to make a 1-dish holiday meal. Soup, anyone?

Top Dishwasher tells us that housewives and grandmas all over the world use cornstarch to thicken their stews. Too bad he's not on Top Grandma.

Martha Stewart calls Luigi's food gray, and they say guys are more likely to be color blind. You would think that someone who builds an empire on design would know the difference between beige and gray... Whatev'. I'm not seeing it, but I don't want to get shanked in the yard, so I don't say anything.

Starbuck is once again in the top three and you can tell by her tight little smile that she knows she's not going to win. Damn, what's a girl gotta do to get a little love?

Oh. She's gotta be from Jersey.

The LoJack on Martha's ankle starts beeping and she's got to run home or something, because she is out of here as soon as the Quickfire is over.

There's a choir, there's some caroling, there are some knives, and somehow we end up with a challenge instead of a multiple homicide. Oops. Is my lack of holiday spirit showing?

It's a celebrity gala for amfAR. The chefs are each assigned one of the twelve days of xmas, which several of them promptly ignore. The rest come up with the saddest, weakest, most pathetic links they possibly can. Did the chefs have some sort of side-bet that ended up on the cutting room floor?

Chutney gets the Partridge in a Pear Tree, and makes Duck Breast with, I kid you not, Pear Chutney. Time is so tight that she skips her de rigeur "Not just the Indian Chef" speech.

Crabman, that's not the kind of pipe they're talking about. He makes some lame ass piping, pipe, smoking excuse so he can serve smoked pork. You know, they do eat in Scotland, dumbass, and just off the top of my head, Ireland has both pipers and Guinness. I bet you could make a kick-ass Guinness reduction and... Hmm. I may have to do some experimenting.

Hair Product's Lords a Leaping is even lamer. He gets two kinds of Greek cheese and makes a preposterous "island hopping" connection. Look, I love cheese as much as the next person, but WTF? Really?

They scramble around in the store, they prep their food, they stuff the fridge.

Oh damn, someone left the fridge open, and Chutney and Crabman are so screwed.

Everybody pitches in to bail them out, even Bork. It turns out that Chutney and Crabman are slightly less screwed than one might assume: when Chutney broke down her ducks she put the other parts in another fridge, and Crabman "finds" a bin full of pork that "just happens to be laying around" the Top Chef KitchenAid Calphalon Wusthof Cusinart Glad-Bags Kitchen ...you know, as bins full of pork for 300 so often do.

Everybody kind of half-asses their dishes so that everybody has something to serve.

The winners will be chosen by popular vote. Each attendee has a red ribbon, and they vote by pinning them on the table (or chef's whites) of the judge whose food they judge to be the best.

Does Stretch know that Turtle Doves are actually birds and not turtles? ...or mushrooms?

Luigi serves up some bullshit story about dancing lady crabs, but nobody's really buying it, especially those of us that heard the equally bullshit Can Can connection he made last night.

Jersey Girl made Deviled Eggs? Now, I love me some deviled eggs at a picnic, but they don't really say "black tie celebrity bash" to me. This is clearly a "Who's got immunity now, bitches?" choice. Too bad there's not some kind of high-end delicacy that comes from geese... maybe one that's suitable for use in canapes or hors d'oeuvres. If only there was something like that, she'd have been in there like swimwear.

Bork hasn't even bothered to come up with a connection to his theme, aside from the fact that he ate a chicken pot pie once at Christmas or something. Padma and guest judge Natasha Richardson try to help him out, but he couldn't care less. The conversation goes a little like this:
"So the pot pie is the drum?"
"Yeah. Sure. Whatever." (blank stare)
"...but the drumstick is inside?" (helpfully)
"Oh, drumstick. I see what you did there."

Not Everybody Leaves
Crabman and Hair Product run away with it, with Bork and Chutney rounding out the top 4. Crabman wins and gives props to everyone else for saving his ass. They all get a cookbook. For Augustmas. I guess.

The crowd hated Top Dishwasher, The Mouse, and Starbuck. One of them got 8 votes. Eight out of 300. Ouch.

Radicchio eventually comes in and tells them that they all sucked, even the winners. But, in the spirit of August, or whenever the hell they filmed this, and recognizing that they all made sacrifices to bail out Chutney and Crabman, he's not going to send anyone home.

Conspiracy theory, anyone? I think they wanted to send Starbuck home for her slimy scallops, but they realized they would have looked like total dicks if they sent the last member of Team Rainbow home from an amFAR benefit on the Christmas episode. Maybe?

Maybe not. Maybe they just realized that everybody sucked, and that it was partly due to the production staff not checking out the kitchen before they turned off the lights.

Whatever. I like Starbuck. I'm glad she stayed, and I'm sure she's learned her lesson and will steer clear of scallops for the rest of the season.

Next week: Double elimination?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gratuitous Shower Scene

Dude. Not Cool.
Sexy Pants and Crabman explain to the cameraman that they both have significant others back home, so ixnay on the akingmay outway otsshay. Start the clock... Countdown to the scene that triggers their breakups with the at-home players begins now.

Return of the Taste-off
The chefs play Name That Ingredient. This challenge is a good idea still looking for a good format. This version is not so much about who has the better palatte as it is about who wins the coin toss, who can play the other contestant, and most importantly, who has made this particular dish before.

They made some effort to standardize the challenge level by making each pair work with the same dish each round, but there are again some stupid inconsistencies in the challenge level. They ask what kind of basil is in the curry (Oh, really? They used Thai basil in green curry? What a twist! Someone call M. Night Shamalan.) but "salt" and "pepper" are specific enough to count as ingredients. "Salt." Really? They use salt when they cook? No shit? Still, there are some amusing mistakes, like when Chutney guesses chili powder is an ingredient in curry. I laughed and laughed.

It gets down to the last three, and it's Bork, Crabman, and Stretch. Ha! Stretch blows the very first ingredient. She should have guessed salt. Crabman wins and, not for the last time tonight, Bork looks like he just ate a bug.

They get back to the house and Bork goes all creepy uncle on Starbuck. Stretch is there to help fend him off. Dude... boundaries.

A Little Something Something
The chefs are going to cater a bridal shower for Gail and all her Food and Wine friends. The chefs are divided up into teams of "something old" (Bork, Hair Product, and Crabman), "something new" (Top Dishwasher, Stretch, and Bobby with the Stupid Beard), "something borrowed" (Starbuck, Chutney, and Jersey Girl), and "something blue" (Luigi, The Mouse, and Sexy Pants).

The Oldies will work with heirloom tomatoes. Surprise! Bork is a dick. He's going bitch about Hair Product's tomato sorbet nonstop for the rest of the show, except when he takes a short break to tell the other teams how they should be making their dishes. Hair Product thinks Bork is a tool, and Crabman has immunity, so Bork might as well be talking to a wall, or... you know, blogging for the Dead Spot.

The Newbies will make Surf N Turf Sushi. Stretch doesn't like the idea but doesn't say anything. Sound strategy, Stretch. That's always worked out so well in past episodes. Honestly, do any of the contestants watch the show before they audition? Back at the house, Top Dishwasher has a brainstorm. Deconstructed Sushi. Bobby Stupid Beard loves the idea. (Has he ever not loved anything this whole season? I think he might have a skepticism deficiency. He should get that checked out.) Stretch says nothing. Bobby Stupid Beard "helps" Stretch by hiding some mushrooms that he found under her salad. He's lucky there's not a spare salad fork, or it's going to end up in his eye.

The Borrowers borrow a cuisine from Chutney and a secret ingredient from Starbuck to make Indian-inspired marinated lamb with raita and carrot mush. Go get a drink. Chutney's going to make her mandatory "not just the Indian chef" speech. Jersey Girl cooks the lamb. A little. Then she cooks it some more, and Starbuck kindly refrains from stabbing her to death while the clock runs down, probably because it would mean that they would then only have 11 people to plate. When Jersey Girl finally finishes, all of the other chefs dive in to help plate, and they literally finish plating at the buzzer.

You know, on the off chance that rules will be important this episode.

Team Blue goes with seafood, because blue food is hard to come by unless you're Veruca Salt. You know, the Willy Wonka character, not the band. She turned blue from chewing defective gum. Yes, there was too a band. They did that Seether song. ...and that other song where they talk about the fact that they sang Seether. I seem to have strayed off point.

Service Up!
Hair Product owns Bork. His sorbet is the highlight of the round, although Crabman's gazpacho shooters looked pretty tasty to me too. Bork's dish was the low point for his team, and Bork's bug is even bigger and wrigglier than the last one.

Top Dishwasher forgot to explain how to eat their Sushi Gesundheit, but that's the least of their worries. Dude, if I may? If you have to explain how to eat food, you probably need to simplify. A little tip from me to you. No charge. The bigger problem? Their food is just bad, and Gail is pissed.

Starbuck and the rest of Team Borrowed save the day. Hey, Bork. Just for future reference, that's what an ass whipping looks like. Is there any doubt that they won this?

Team Blue relies on the fact that Gail's cougary friends will wet themselves over Luigi's accent and smarm and forget to taste the food. They do get all schoolgirl giggly when Luigi tells them that they're all byootifool, but the nursing home fish brings them crashing back to earth.

Why U Gotta B A H8r?
The fix is in, and Jersey Girl's Lamb Interminable takes the win. Poor Starbuck, always the bridesmaid and never the bride. You know whose fault that is, don't you? That's right. Fucking Mormons...

New and Blue get called in. The old people food was bad, but not as bad as the sushi, so it's the end of the line for Top Dishwasher, Stretch, or Bobby Stupid Beard. Top Dishwasher is gutted. Stretch says that she didn't like the idea, but refuses to throw Bobby over the bus for dragging her dish down with his last minute addition. I admire her show of character (Really, I do, all sarcasm aside. I would have crucified the moron if he'd survived long enough to see the judges.), but let's face it: even if he hadn't screwed up her salad, she made a salad. Bobby Stupid Beard is clinically upbeat in the face of disaster.

The judges know the score even if Stretch didn't say anything. Bobby's lack of critical judgement is the deciding factor, and we're out of Bobs.

Next week: Save your cigarettes and sharpen your toothbrush; it's Prison Chow with Martha Stewart.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Season of the Spit Take

Foam Kills
First, a few highlights from the Thanksgiving Episode:

Sexy Pants beats out Starbuck to win the Soup Is Good Food Quickfire, and gets to choose her team for the Elimination Challenge with White Asparagus Soup that she hates. She picks everyone who has won anything and Crabman for Team Sexy Pants.

The Elimination challenge is to use a copy of their concert rider as a guide and make Thanksgiving dinner for the Foo Fighters. Winners get front row seats to the concert, losers wash all the dishes.

Chutney makes Stuffing Vindaloo ...I kid, I kid. It is pretty much unanimous that her vegan stuffing is the best dish of the day. Of course it was. Everybody knows that stuffing is the best part of thanksgiving.

Luigi makes Pumpkin Tiramisu. I make gagging noises.

Team Jersey Girl's Workout Shorts is everyone who hasn't won anything.

Hair Product emerges as the leader of Team Jersey Girl's Workout Shorts, but once again, the talk is all about his organizational skills, and not so much about his cooking skills. None of his dishes are good and his Pumpkin Slime Avec Berries is singled out as one of the worst dishes on his team.

Faced with nothing but microwaves and toaster ovens to make Thanksgiving dinner for the Foo Fighters, Top Dishwasher busts out his mad MacGyver skills to make a grill out of bear skins and stone knives, or a chafing dish and some kind of rack, I forget which. His grilled pork nets praise and helps send his team into an early lead.

Jersey Girl's turkey is somewhat surprisingly the best dish for her team.

Bob (man, I wish I could think of a nickname for this guy) makes Banana S'mores with Vanilla Cat Spit.

In a close match, Team Sexy Pants pulls from behind to win in the Dessert Round. Team Jersey Girl's Workout Shorts goes down on the weakness of their foam-based desserts.

After the break, we find out that nobody on Team Sexy Pants can dance, and No Nickname Bob goes home with a tearful farewell, leaving Starbuck as the last member of Team Rainbow.

What have we learned? Put it on the board, kids: Foam is stupid.

Ready Now? Here We Go.
No Nickname Bob left sad notes for his buddies telling them that they should bring it, baby girl.

Let There Be Bacon
It's a breakfast amuse bouche challenge. I wonder if anyone will stuff an apple.

It comes down to Sexy Pants and Starbuck again, and again, Sexy Pants gets immunity largely because Starbuck didn't cut hers in half. Starbuck can't believe this crap. Maybe that thick layer of Big Top Pink lip gloss is throwing off her palate. She's wearing a lot for someone who isn't a clown, is what I'm saying.

How About Tomorrow Instead?
The challenge is to make a dish for presentation on a TV show within a very strict time limit (or not so much, you know, whatever).

Starbuck is up first, and holy crap, she can't cook eggs. She waffles on whether to break the rules by going over the time limit or to serve a very runny egg. She foolishly decides that rules count.

Chef Raddichio spits out the Mouse's Shrimp Napalm. Even Padma can't believe how flaming hot it is. Rocco (did I mention that Rocco DiSpirito is the guest judge? Consider it mentioned.) bluntly tells her that he doesn't believe she tasted it.

The top 3 are chosen right away. Luigi's Tuna Tartare is chosen. Apparently the judges are so giddy over his accent that they've forgotten how passe they think Tuna Tartare is. Somewhere the Veterans of Foreign Foods are mobilizing for a march on New York. Jersey Girl's Tomatoes, Feta, and Watermelon goes through. Tomatoes and feta is great. I can see watermelon and feta being tasty. Tomatoes and Watermelon? I'm not so sure about this one. The group is rounded out by Hair Product's Middle Eastern roll.

Because it is sooooo late they will put off judges table until tomorrow. Surprisingly, everyone seems to buy this.

Chef Radicchio wakes up the winners in the middle of the night, and whisks them off to 30 Rock to meet Tina Fey. Not really. Instead of getting a real prize, they have to prepare their food on the Today Show. They all avoid laughing when someone is introduced as the show's "food stylist."

The other contestants are woken up at a slightly less horrible hour, but they have to watch the Today Show, so it's kind of a wash.

Big Hair Lady spits out Hair Product's food, and somebody hates fish or something and Jersey Girl wins by default.

Doubleyou Tee Eff?
There's 10 minutes left, so hold on to your seats. There must be some huge twist coming up.

Oh, hey, look at that. The twist is that they run 8 straight minutes of commercials broken only by a 30-second segment that tells us that Sexy Pants and Crabman are an item. In the interest of good taste, I'll refrain from making crab jokes and instead reflect upon the fact that we now have an explanation for Crabman's spot in Team Sexy Pants last week despite his awful Canned Whatever The Hell Is In This Can Salad.

...on Team Sexy Pants, I mean. My bad.

When we come back from this interminable commercial break, I'm confused by the fact that I've apparently tuned into The Next Food Network Star by mistake. You didn't like Starbuck's body language? Seriously? What happened to "all about the food"? Hung was a complete jackass, and I don't recall that ever being brought up as a reason to kick his ass off the show.

And that brings us neatly to my biggest beef with the show. Bear with me. You've heard this before. If you're not going to enforce the rules of the challenge, there's no point actually giving the challenge. Give Starbuck an extra 30 seconds like you gave Sexy Pants, (How many of the other contestants ran over the time limit? I remember several still cooking after time was up who aren't in the loser's circle.) and she's in the top three instead of the bottom three. How are the contestants supposed to know when you're actually going to care about the terms of the challenge? Did she miss a memo, or did you just expect them to know that you were only joshing around with the time limit this time?

Fortunately, in the end, the judges realize that they're just being dicks by expecting Starbuck to follow the rules since they didn't really ask anyone else to, and The Mouse becomes the second contestant this season to advance after having a judge spit out their inedible food. (The third if you count Hair Product, but he was one of the winners in this episode. Take a moment to roll your eyes. I'll wait.)

That leaves Whatshisface with the failed Rose Creme Brulee as our victim du jour.

Next Week: "I thought she said thespian.": Bork's Secret Heartbreak

Friday, December 5, 2008

Delay of Game

Sorry. I'd hoped to write it today, but the Top Chef recap will probably happen on Monday or Tuesday. I'm completely swamped at work, and I've been working through lunches instead of blogging. I'll get something up before the next one airs.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Muffin Buffalo

Did anyone else catch the Wonderfalls reference on Pushing Daisies last night?


Just me then.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ahead of the Curve

A new group of Japanese workers has joined the ranks of the sararimen as experimental robots are being developed to replace them. Thespians can now expect the same soul-crushing grind of stress, overwork, and depression as other workers, relieved only by subway frottage, late night bouts of sake-fueled karaoke, or the sweet embrace of death. Even as their jobs come under threat, the bigger question remains: will the Japanese public accept robotic actors?

They'll get used to them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

Oh, please. You all thought the same damned thing.

Is it just me, or does Boy George look like Dr. Evil in his perp walk photo?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hot Damn!

Yadda yadda, New York. Yadda, yadda, classic food. Yadda, yadda, first! time! evah! The chefs will have to cook against a professional hot dog vendor in the Quickfire.
A) Puh-lease. Like New Yorkers know anything about hot dogs. I've heard that those philistines put ketchup on them.
B) What's the big deal? If the vendor wins, will they kick someone off and let her compete? No? Then it's exactly like every other Quickfire, except you're eating a hot dog at the end.

Everyone else makes their lumpy, malformed Frankendogs from scratch, but Pippi Longstocking cuts up a store-bought hot dog and serves it in a... salad-y... spring roll-y sort of thing? At least she cut it on the bias, which makes it so much cheffier than cutting straight across. I wonder if she had enough time to make a box of mac and cheese, because I know this dish I could teach her...

Most of them failed to learn from Army Wife that bacon, the King of Meats, will not be enough to save them this season. It seems like every other "hot dog" contains bacon. I guess it can't hurt, though. Bacon is nice.

Bork makes a World Dog ...in a panini press ...with tartar sauce. Really? He's going to need more than one German beer on the side to keep them from remembering how much that sucked.

Chutney continues her quest not to be pigeonholed as The Indian Chef by winning immunity with her... um... Indian Kebab Dog.

Luigi is a huge D&D fan or something, because he just can't shut up about dragons and princesses. Hey, Luigi, roll a d20 to see if I care.

Back at the House
We get back to the house and Luigi's still talking shit about dragons. Apparently he thinks that if he keeps talking, nobody will figure out that Chutney kicked his ass in the Quickfire.

Elimination Round
They're going to Open! A! Restaurant! What the hell? Restaurant Wars already? What is going on this season? Luigi stops yammering about dragons long enough to tell us that he's opened 50 restaurants in 3 years, or some absurd shit like that. Ouch, dude, maybe if they didn't suck, they might have stayed open longer.

Psyche. They're just serving lunch! In a pre-existing! Restaurant! That's pretty much the same thing, right? No? What's the deal with all of the excessive hype for ordinary events? We need 5 starters, 5 entrees, and 5 desserts, and Hair Product shows us what a take-no-crap, take-charge kind of guy he is by... um... politely asking people what they want to make?

Look out, soccer moms in the grocery store! The chefs are on meth! The chefs are in a hurry, and they feel like they're entitled to act like assholes in public is what he's trying to say, I think.

Crabman is going to make his famous Fresh Dungeness Crab Salad because he's just so damn good at seafood. What's that? No Dungeness? ...his famous Fresh Some Other Kind Of Crab Sala... What? Really? ...his famous Canned Whatever the Hell Is In This Can Salad. Because otherwise, he tells us, he might have to come up with a new plan on the fly. Oh, this should be entertaining.

Some cooking happens and they're serving lunch at Craft to a bunch of cooks who weren't good enough to be on the show, and oh, sure, now that they're in his restaurant, Chef Raddichio is suddenly all worried about double-dipping. Douchebag.

Jersey Girl tells us that she is going to be so pissed off at the other competitors if her Lemon Meringue is as terrible as everyone seems to think it is. Because it's their fault she can't cook? Something like that. It has a cookie in the bottom, she tells us. Well OK, then.

Spoiler alert: New York chefs are petty little camera-hogging whiners when they don't get their shot at 15 minutes of fame.

Starbuck's corn soup with chili oil sounds tasty to me, and the judges like it too.

I bet that guy wishes he'd saved his "dog food" comment now that he's seen Top Dishwasher's deconstructed meatloaf sandwich.

Ha! Padma lays the smack down on Chutney's avocado goo. "Yeah. You can tell she has immunity, or she wouldn't have made avocado mousse." Sue thinks Gail just called her Erotica, which is pretty funny, but I'm sticking with Chutney.

Padma shows us her WTF face and spits Jersey Girl's Lemon Insulin Shock into her napkin.

Stretch's tart and Starbuck's soup win praise, but Luigi's raw meat slays the dragon! Because there were olives on it. Those must have been some great olives, that's all I'm sayin', because cows were not meant to be sashimi.

Ha! Crabman thought his Canned Whatever the Hell Is In This Can Salad was one of the winners. What a doofus.

In the end, Pippi's incoherent defense of her Quiche Gluante d'Autruche knocks her out, and Jersey Girl survives for another round of Top Debater. Her food's spat out, but she moves on again. You're not ever gonna keep her down.

As Jersey Girl sobs the obvious, "I don't deserve to be here," in the back room, we close with words of comfort from Stretch. "There are no accidents in the universe." Wait. Her uncanny resemblance to Jar Jar Binks is on purpose? Damn. The universe is a bitch!

Next Week: Thanksgiving and Combattants de Foo!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Deconstruction Time Again

Pleased to Meet You
Hope You Guess My Name

We start out with the obligatory meet the contestants montage. Damn, there are a lot of them. If it's all the same to you, I'm just going to call them all Bob until they earn a nickname. There are some bald Bobs, a couple of European Bobs, Bobs with tattoos, and there's a Bob with a very silly beard.

Bob tells us that he's a big queen and that his inner queen is most concerned about what Padma's wearing, even though it's just so queeny, because all of his queen friends back in Queens want to know. Because they're queens. I kid. He's actually from San Diego. Damn. How am I going to come up with a nickname for this guy? If only he had some ridiculous affectation or verbal tic that I could seize upon for comedic effect.

Chutney tells us that she doesn't want people to think that she's going to make a lot of spicy curries just because she's Indian. Damn. I could go for a spicy curry right now.

Awww! Army Wife's friend Moby from culinary school is here and she tells us that they're bestest buds and that they had so much fun together in culinary school, and it's going to be totally awesome having him here during the competition. Awwwww. Aren't they adorable? I hope nothing happens to either of them. That would be sad.

I Know It's Over,
And It Never Really Began

The judges arrive and we jump right into the Mad Knife Skills Quickfire. Ha. No phony party for you this season! This is New York, bitches, and there are 3 and a half billion people in the food services industry here. Or something like that. I wasn't paying that close attention, and I'm not about to go and count them all. Like they'd even hold still long enough. Now peel some damn apples!

Fifteen apples, Tom whispers to Padma, is a lot of apples. Yes, Tom. Yes it is.

Bork, The Finnish Chef, is an apple-peeling machine and he gets immunity.

Oh! In the rush, Bob decapitates himself! I mean, he cuts off his thumb! OK, he just cuts himself, but he really is bleeding like a stuck pig. Bob thinks he's done, despite my suggestion that apples covered in blood are probably worse than apples that lost a little too much apple with the peel. In a stunning reversal, Tom overrules the at-home judge. Pommes avec le Sang it is. For those of us keeping track at home, the judges have now ruled in favor of both spit and blood in your food, so we've only got a couple of bodily fluids left before someone gets a bingo.

The next time you go to Craft Steak, you should probably pass on the Hollandaise.

The last spot is taken, and we're on to phase two. The chefs have to speed dice 2 cups of apples. Oh! Apples... I see what you did there.

Bob has suspect knife skills, and Tom is picking big chunks out of her cups before she can continue. Bob gamely soldiers on, though, and she makes the cut. Makes the cut! Ha! I made a funny!

The four remaining chefs must now cook with apples, and the loser will go home without even seeing the Top Chef KitchenAid Calphalon Wusthof Cusinart Kitchen.

Army Wife calls upon the power of bacon and Chutney decides that her best way to avoid being pigeonholed as "the Indian chef" is to make Apple Chutney in the very first challenge. Solid choice. Hey, they're in New York. I understand that you can get pigeonholed just off Times Square for as little as $20 if you know who to ask.

Oh, drama! It's down to Army Wife and Moby. One of these two dear, dear friends will have to send the other one home. Army Wife looks right into the camera and tells us that she hopes Moby goes home. Karma pricks up its ears.

We come back from commercial to find that even the power of bacon can't save her. Army Wife is redeployed back home. Aaaaaaaand, Karma sticks the landing!

Here is the House
Where it All Happens

So we get back to their snazzy apartment and get some face time with the remaining contestants. Bob looks over the balcony at a high school track and football field and says something nonsensical about the Taj Mahal. Hunh?

It's a good thing Moby's still in this thing, or I'd have to make an Unambiguously Gay Duo joke about Team Rainbow right about now.

Nobody likes Luigi and Bork. Their strange, foreign opinions on whether vinaigrette is an emulsion or not have already alienated the other chefs. At least they have their shared love of subtitles and the... how you say... football?

Wait. Back up a sec. You're telling me Stretch isn't on Team Rainbow? Are you sure? She has very gay-friendly glasses.

Hey, Hey, We're The Monkees
And People Say We Monkey Around

The chefs somehow get paired up and sent into the neighborhoods of New York, and there's some kind of head to head challenge involved. There was either some bad editing, or I stepped out of the room at an inopportune time. If you weren't watching, you'll never know. Never mind. We'll figure it out as we go.

The chefs wander around. They exchange bewildered looks with shopkeepers. They buy ingredients they've never heard of. They go back to the kitchen and cook.

By the time Stretch gets all the bones out of her smoked fish, it looks like it was prepped streamside by a bear, and she comments that she really hopes that she doesn't miss any. Bob suggests that perhaps she should have considered buying the fillet. You know, like he did.

Hair Product is shaping up to be this season's uncontrollable spaz. He decides that he's doing so well on time that he should really make some more garnishes. Because if there's one thing we've learned from past seasons of Top Chef, it's that judges love it when you desperately clutter your plate with unrelated crap. He's so busy making garnishes that he completely runs out of time and only gets like 2 of his 19 garnishes on the plate.

Guest judge Van Goghbitussin (or something like that) loves Bork's meat oil, and I decide that I've probably already exceeded my Team Rainbow jokes quota. Bob just wants to get Tom drunk. His opponent, Bob, has served up a "Decontructed Greek Salad". Nobody is impolite enough to point out that her deconstructed salad appears to have been mysteriously reconstructed into something that looks suspiciously like a "Greek Salad". Except me. Just now. Sorry, Bob. Guest judge Van Hurghhurghhurgh takes advantage of this lull in the conversation to drop some smack by suggesting that (the other) Bob's "technique" of overcooking his lamb didn't work, just like he did it on purpose. Nice! Hair Product begs for mercy, and beats Luigi despite his missing frippery. Stretch doesn't choke any of the judges on fish bones, but her unintentionally hilarious Caviar Crazy Eyes loses anyway. The Mouse thinks a steak is Italian cuisine as long as you put some marinara sauce on the side. Ohhhh kay then. The judges kindly suggest that she just needed a little salt and move along. Bob and Moby don't know jack about Chinese food, but Moby's gummy noodles cost him the Chinese Buffet Steam Table Battle.

The high point of the episode for me, though, came with Top Dishwasher's pair:
Tom: "How about you, Bob? Do you have any experience with Indian cuisine?"
Bob (with misplaced confidence): "Well, fortunately I have experience with Latin cuisine and they're pretty much the same thing."
Boy, it's a good thing he didn't say that in front of someone who knows Indian cuisine, 'cause, damn, that'd be embarrassing as hell. So then Padma... ohhhh, right. Oops. So then Padma turns to Top Dishwasher and tells him that even though he didn't really know what he was making, he not only made a classic Indian dish, but he knocked it out of the park. Either Padma really hates Bob or Top Dishwasher just pulled a Monkeys Typing Shakespeare. Either way, I can't stop laughing.

I Cannot Save You
I Can't Even Save Myself

Bork, Top Dishwasher, and one of the Bobs get called back to see who wins. It's Bork's meat with meat oil! He's taken both challenges on the first episode.

Either Jersey Girl or Moby will go home. The judges rip into Jersey Girl for her lack of culinary curiosity: "What if somebody tells you they want an Indian meal?" She answers, "I have books to look at," and if the crickets weren't stunned into silence, we'd hear them right about now, but they were, so we don't. Lex thinks she was making a joke that just completely failed, but I'm not so sure. If she's a comedian, her delivery makes Steven Wright look like Rip Taylor. It was deadpan, that's what I'm saying. Damn, people, don't you have google?

The judges send them back to the storage room to squirm for a little while longer, and then they drop a two-fer on our little human interest story at the top of the show. Here's Moby now, going to the east side. He packs up his knives and he starts to ride.

Next week: More smack talk, fewer Bobs!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fire Down Below

Becks hasn't explained exactly what the expectations are for my new role as President of her fan club, but I hope they include Graft, Corruption, Decadence, and Lies.

There is one thing that concerns me. The squirrels apparently think I "owe them one" now. They left muttering something about a kajillion acorns, but a) I'm pretty sure that's not a real number, and b) I don't think they can count that high.

Finally, I'd like to apologize if the title of this post caused any confusion. Just to be clear, under a Deadspot administration, I promise more of this

and less of this

Friday, November 7, 2008

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

We won, and that's pretty cool. Equality rocks. I mean, it's not like we went crazy and elected an atheist or a woman or someone who isn't married, but you know, small steps and whatnot.

Some good things happened. Ohio, finally able to vote without the shackles of a corrupt Secretary of State slash Republican Campaign Chair, went for Obama. Go, Flan! Bizarro Indiana voted Democratic.

The deep south and the western plains states, the Ignorance Belt, stayed red, but even they showed signs of change. South Dakota voters said that yeah, maybe women should have the right to choose, and the other Dakota realized that people really should pay their taxes after all so that the government can pay to fix things. I'm not entirely clear on how they thought Republicans would do that, but progress is progress, right?

With the good came the bad, though. Schizoid California inexplicably voted for Obama but against equal rights. Florida, sans Harris, did the same. Arizona voted Republican and against equal rights, so kudos on their commitment to being assholes, I guess. I'd blame the heat, but New Mexico opened a can of 15-point-spread whoop ass on McCain. Have I ever mentioned that even the desert in New Mexico is beautiful, and that Arizona, much like Bruges, is a shithole? Consider it mentioned.

And even though we won a crushing victory in the electoral college, the popular vote was disturbingly close. After 8 years of the Party of Hoover trashing our international reputation, eroding our civil rights, pillaging our economy, and, oh yeah, getting us involved in a land war in Asia (twice!), there were still 57 million people who thought that we really needed another 4 years. Double you tee eff, mate? What is it going to take to convince these sheeple?

Still, I'll take whatever we can get. Half a cup of progress is better than none. Right?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Twenty Twenty Twenty-Four Hours To Go

Look, if you put up with this blog, you're probably already planning to vote, right? Bear with me anyway.

I live in Illinois. It is pretty solidly Democratic. I live in Urbana. It's an island of urban blue in a sea of downstate rural red. The state is going to go Democrat whether I vote or not. The county is going to go Democratic whether I vote or not. The city is going to go Demcratic whether I vote or not. But here's the deal... I'm going to be there first thing in the morning when the polls open, and I'm going to vote.

If there's one thing that I've learned from the time that I spent coaching, it's this: Sometimes you have to play well enough to beat the other team. Sometimes you have to play well enough to beat the ref.

Sometimes the ref is a petty little asshole. Sometimes the ref just isn't really paying attention. Sometimes the ref just sucks. On those days, you have to crush the other team so badly, put the score so far out of reach, that even the ref can't steal the game. He can only make so many bogus offside calls. He can call only so many phantom fouls. And yeah, if the other team are nice guys, it sucks to run the score up on them, but it also sucks to have some chump screw your team over, and our team's been screwed for the last 8 years.

That's all a little irrelevant anyway, because the Republicans aren't nice guys. They're dicks. Look, we both know that the Republicans are going to try to steal this, because it's the only way they can hold on to power, and because they're amoral lying scumbags, and because they don't give a shit about democracy, or the rule of law, or any of the other nice things they say to try and get votes from people who would know better if they ever paid attention. Luckily, there's a simple way to beat them.

Here's the ugly secret. It doesn't take great ideas. It doesn't take superior statesmanship. It doesn't take inspiring ideology. It doesn't even take filthy lucre. All it ever takes to win an election is for people on our side to get off their fucking couch and vote. Voter turnout rates in this country suck, but if their voter turnout sucks and ours doesn't, it's game over, man, and we win.

Let's deliver a victory so crushing that their next Katherine Harris never gets the opportunity to throw away our votes. Let's deliver a monster win in the popular vote so the Democrats know we're fed up with them bending over when the Republicans try to steal the election in the inbred redneck backwaters where this thing is still close.

Whether you think your vote is going to matter or not, get your ass out and vote for Obama, or don't bother speaking to me again.

Oh, and if you're in Cali, vote against Prop 8, because who they love is a stupid reason not to give someone equal rights.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Cause It's Halloween

I know this is my favorite holiday of the year. I just wasn't feeling it. I'll spare you the whining and self-pity. It just didn't really seem like Halloween. I'd been planning to put my Rhino New Wave Halloween CD on my iPod for weeks, and I never even got around to that, much less the decorating and the pumpkin carving.

Just for the record, a) I love carving pumpkins, and b) I kick ass.

Watching the Office last night, I considered the "Dave" costume, but I didn't even know if I'd go to that much effort.

This morning, I stared into the abyss my closet and decided I'd go ahead and dress up. I dressed as myself from the 80s, and my costume is totally awesome. It's a costume with a relatively small target audience, but I think any of them would instantly recognize it.

Should I worry that I didn't have to break out the Halloween box?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Take Me Seriously!

I'm pretty and I have lots of money!

In a vain attempt to get us all to take her seriously, the Republicans have spent more than twice the average American family's income to give Sarah Palin a new look.

She's a one-woman economic stimulus package:

She dropped $75,000 in a single store in Minneapolis.

She spent almost $42,000 on a shopping spree in St. Louis.

She spent over 4 grand on hair "consulting", which makes the Republican's bitching about John Edwards's $400 haircuts look just a teensy bit hypocritical to those unfamiliar with the fact that the Republicans are, in point of fact, a huge steaming load of hypocritical.

She even dropped almost $5,000 at a guy's clothing store.

I'm sure that will come as a great relief to everyone currently crossing their fingers and hoping that the economy will stay afloat until the Party of Hoover gets unceremoniously kicked out of Washington so the Democrats can try to undo the damage those assclowns have managed to do in the last 8 years.

Whew... all that shopping's enough to wear a girl out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008



Now stop worrying and enjoy your lives.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Lex's soccer team finished their regular season yesterday. The coach said he thought it was the first time in the history of the school for any sport that both the varsity and JV teams had undefeated seasons in the same year.

The coaches added a bunch of non-conference games and tournaments this year to help the teams get in extra games to prepare for a run at state. If you add in all of those extra games, JV only lost 1 non-conference game and 1 tournament game way back at the beginning of the season. Varsity only lost 1 non-conference game. Both teams lost to Quincy. Quincy has their own tour bus, like they're rock stars or something. They were really good, and both of our teams lost by one goal.

It's not quite over yet. Varsity is hosting regionals starting next week, and JV has one last tournament this weekend. If they make it to the final, they'll play 3 games on Saturday, so they'll probably spend Sunday in a coma. There's a reason they don't do double-headers in soccer.

Lex started the season as a forward, but he seems to have settled into a midfield role. He's playing out on the left wing, probably because he can use both feet and he's got a strong, accurate kick. They're probably playing him there to put crosses deep into the box, but it's not where I would play him. I don't know that he has the endurance to play the wing. It's a little hard to tell exactly where he's playing. He missed so many games near the start of the season, and the freshmen are caught in a catch-22. If the game is too close, they don't get playing time, but if it's not close enough, then they get played in the wrong position so they don't run up the score. I think he may have played more defense than offense this year.

The bench is really deep this year, but Lex's ankle has healed up and he's playing again. He got a good stretch of play in the first half yesterday. He went in while the game was still scoreless for a change, and we got our first goal while he was in. If you ask me, they looked better when he was in. The guy he replaced has more experience, but I think they held more possession and had tighter passing when Lex was in. I could be biased.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


So you may have read about the poor bastard who got beaten up for driving his car on a Wednesday. Scroll down... I'll wait.

OK, remember the police with the fists of iron? They arrested the guy who got beaten up. Because, you see, the riots were his fault.

For those of us keeping track at home, that's
a) fists of iron, and
b) heads of shit.

You want a punchline? The guy that got beaten up was one of the founders of a committee to promote peaceful coexistence in Acre. He apologized for the trouble he'd caused by getting beaten up.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Holy Crap

"For Jews, Yom Kippur is a sombre day of fasting, during which it is considered offensive to drive in much of Israel."

Just to be clear, driving is offensive. Kicking the shit out of your Arab neighbors? That's all good.

So here are the facts:

It was Yom Kippur, or, if you're not Jewish, Wednesday. In the city of Acre, an Israeli Arab (I know, right? It's like being a poor black lesbian Republican... I digress.) got in his car and drove, because it was Wednesday and he had someplace to go.

The streets were deserted "except for pedestrians, cyclists, and skateboarders." Happily for the cyclists and skateboarders, the ancient Israelites had found time off from their holy duties of burning dead animals, keeping slaves, and committing genocide to a) predict the invention of automobiles, bicycles, and skateboards; and b) respectively declare them unacceptable, acceptable, and acceptable modes of Yom Kippur transportation.

A group of Jewish youths saw him driving and felt that, while it was sacreligious to drive on Yom Kippur, it was probably not sacreligious to commit a violent assault, as long as you can gather a large enough group of holy-minded pussies to gang up on the lone driver.

So they beat him up.

Because he drove a car.

On Wednesday.

News of the attack spread, promoting reactions of "What the fuck, don't they know it's Wednesday?" and "That sounds like wholesome Yom Kippur fun," in the Arab and Jewish communities, respectively. I may be paraphrasing. I didn't go and ask them.

Anyhoo, hundreds of people poured into the streets to establish that along with "violent assault", "destruction of property" and "vehicular damage" are also activities that their cheeseburger-shunning, shrimp-hating, menstrual-cycle-fearing ancestors would probably approve of as acceptable ways to celebrate the Holiest Day of the YearTM. Provided the violence is directed at Arabs, of course... I'm guessing they would not approve of the same violence were it directed toward Jewish people, especially on Wednesday. As I recall, they get rather tetchy about that.

The Chief of Police in Acre described it as a "serious incident" and said that they would "deal with all the rioters and those who take the law into their own hands with an iron fist." (The cliche collision left it unclear which party has the iron fist, but I'm assuming that he meant that the police have fists of iron, and the rioters have to make do with regular hands made of flesh and bone.)

You may take solace in the fact that he said "all of the rioters" will be dealt with, unless you excuse yourself and have a quick look at the past performance of the Israeli justice system. Fewer than 10% of police investigations into settler attacks on Palestinians even make it as far as an indictment, much less a conviction. You may also want to note the disparity between the 205 cases that were opened in recent years and the police knowledge of at least 407 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians so far in 2008 and another 366 incidents last year, in the West Bank alone. Knowledge of incidents prior to 2007 may be assumed, although it didn't come up in the article.

In the light of these statistics, one may be excused a certain level of skepticism that "all of the rioters" will be dealt with, no matter what kind of fist with which the police chief may be equipped.

Look, I'm not saying that Judaism is any more or less ridiculous than any other world view based on the principle that an all-powerful entity lives in the sky and has nothing better to do with his time than obsess over a project that he spent a week on eight thousand years ago. What I am saying is that even if you do believe in that crap, some people don't, and that means that you don't get to tell them what to do. They have their own crazy-ass world view that they have to follow. They don't have time to follow yours too. They're busy, I don't know, not drinking beer, or figuring out how many is too many wives, or worrying about cartoons, or some shit like that.

Oh, right... also, before you form a group of violence-prone pedestrians and approach me while I'm in an automobile, you may want to consult your giant-slaying, manna-eating, witch-hunting forefathers about how to celebrate Vehicular Manslaughter Thursday, because I'll run over your asses. Fair warning.

Happy Thursday.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Is Your Skills About To Expired?


We provide a concept that will allow anyone with sufficient work experience to obtain a fully verifiable University Degree.

Bachelors, Masters or even a Doctorate.

For US: 1.718.XXX.XXXX
Outside US: +1.718.XXX.XXXX

"Just leave your NAME & PHONE NO. (with CountryCode)" in the voicemail.

Our staff will get back to you in next few days!

Oh, I hope I can get my Ph.D. in English. - ds

Two Observations, A Suggestion, And A Pizza Place

First, let me just say that calling yourself a "maverick" is a lot like giving yourself a nickname; if you do it without irony, you're kind of a douche.

Second, I don't need to hear your opinion on nuclear weapons or nuclear power until you've done at least enough research to find out how to pronounce them.

And finally, if I may, what these debates need is a shot clock. As soon as a candidate strays off point, the clock starts, and if they don't get their ass back on topic before the buzzer goes off, the rest of their time is given to the other candidate. If you're not going to make them answer the questions, then we might as well just let them each read their list of talking points and then show an episode of Scooby Doo.

...but not one of the ones with Scrappy. I hate that little bastard.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Yet Another Reason That I Love Having Smart Kids

"She's elaborately constructed of hatred and bile."

- My son, describing one of his teachers

At least when they complain, they complain and entertain. I've often said that sarcasm runs in my family (Mom says I get it from my dad's side), and it's nice to see that not everything skips a generation.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Net Profits

I read an interesting bit on the most recent Japanese financial crisis.

When their companies screwed up, instead of buying a portfolio of loans that might turn out to be worthless, the Japanese version of the Fed bought a portfolio of stock that might turn out to be worthless. See what they did there? Because selling stock is the way (Republicans and businessdrones should probably have learned this in Micro Econ 101, but apparently they were too busy joining a frat, doing kegstands, and crashing daddy's car...) businesses raise capital when they've screwed the pooch and would prefer not to close their doors and sell off their assets.

To make a long story short, the central bank got stock, the companies got their bailout money, and eventually many of them stopped sucking.

Then the government sold the no-longer-quite-so-worthless stocks and (and here's the bit that we may want to pay attention to) turned a profit on saving their economy. See how that works? They employed a pretty complicated economic theory, but I think I can explain it in words of one syllable: They bought low, and they sold high. Even a business major should be able to wrap his pointy little head around that.

Perhaps someone should explain this concept to the Party of HooverTM before they bankrupt our children by scooping up our tax money and making it rain for their country club buddies.

Even better? If the board continues to run their company as ineptly as it was when they got us into this mess (by, say, offering cut-rate adjustable mortgages to goldfish and soft toys), we can do something about it. Because the Fed owns stock in the company, it can vote to can their asses at the next shareholder's meeting. That's a lil performance incentive right there, yeah?

So we've already bailed out AIG. AIG is an insurance company, right? The way I see it, they owe us approximately $85 billion dollars worth of health insurance right about now. $85 billion ain't what it used to be before we let the Republicans run the economy for 8 years, but it still ought to pay a premium or two, right?

If we're laying out the quid, they'd better come up with some quo.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Postponing The Inevitable

Oldy McMoneybags would like to postpone the presidential debates, because the best way to resolve our financial woes is to not talk about them. He wants to have a big meeting about it instead, saying, "We must meet until this crisis is resolved."

Seriously? With the Party of HooverTM in charge of resolving their crisis, that's going to be one long-ass meeting.

Obama, on the other hand, says that he is still going to debate on Friday. I wonder if he's aware that a debate requires two people? Yes? Oh, well, I'm sure the dead air during McMoneybags's turns at the mike will be riveting television.

Phrase of The Day

The judges would also have accepted "abattoir-derived". Thanks for playing.

Can I go back to editing my own journal now, please?

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Heard The News Today, Oh Shit.

"The government will spend billions of dollars to buy up bad loans from financial institutions so that they can begin making new loans."

The newscaster said it. He just didn't seem to understand that it was a bad idea.

I had a long post full of piss and vinegar, but not so much of the funny, so I deleted it. Instead you get this, also short on funny, but now with 73% less vitriol.

I just want a couple of things from this bailout deal.

1. I want heads to roll.

A plan which puts the same idiots who got us into this mess in charge of getting us out of this mess is a plan which has not been well thought out. Any financial institution that takes government bailout money should have to fire their upper management and the people who get canned should be done with their careers in this field. Maybe a job in the food service industry is more suited to their talents.

2. I did not make foolish decisions. I am not happy to be paying for people who did. I'd really prefer not to pay my mortgage and theirs.

At the very least, the government should only be left holding the bag for one loan per person. If you thought you were a real estate genius and took out a bunch of bad loans, you should be screwed, moron.

3. Instead of temporarily banning short selling, how about temporarily removing the protection for personal assets given by incorporation?

Run your business into the ground, lose your mansion. Seems fair to me. In fact, it seems a little bit like poetic justice. Perhaps a little incentive not to screw over the whole economy is in order, yes?

4. I blame HGTV.

It may be because I'm in the middle of a kitchen renovation which has taken considerably longer than half an hour, but I'd like to see HGTV take all of their stupid House Flipping Realty Envy shows off the air. They were still trying to lure people into buying real estate as a get rich quick scheme when it was clear to a chimp (No offense, Dr. von Monkerstein) that the bubble had burst. What dicks.

I'd also like to see each show's last episode be an hour long special where the cast and crew get repeatedly kicked in the junk by people who lost their homes to foreclosure, but that seems like the sort of thing that would be tough to legislate.

5. Arrrr!

Keelhaul the scurvy dogs.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm Just Sayin'...

If we didn't want it to smack us around, we probably shouldn't have named it Ike.

Presidential, Vice

I take it all back.

Sarah Palin is totally ready to be president if Oldy McMoneybags should kick the bucket (as opposed to her role if Oldy McMoneybags kicks it old school, which is totally different and significantly less likely, but I digress).

She's got the ridiculous views on education.

She's got the requisite certainty coupled with complete ignorance that has become our foreign policy trademark.

She's destroyed a small town's economy.

And she's finally passed her final test, stonewalling an ethics investigation.

Bravo, Sarah, bravo.

Friday, September 12, 2008

In The Rectory?

I thought you were supposed to snort it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Let Them Eat Rats

I'm sorry, can I have the cake instead?

Vijay Prakash, the Principal Secretary of the Welfare Department of the Indian state of Bihar says that his proposal that the government popularize rodentophagia among the poor will reduce consumption of grain by pests. Presumably, they have more poor people than cats in Bihar.

Hey, once they've filled up on rats, the poor won't eat as much of the grain either, so bang, zoom! Double prizes!

Because they have "almost no bones", Vijay says, rats will be a tasty and nutritious protein-packed delicacy for the poverty-stricken. The problem, it seems, is that poor people just didn't have the right recipes. Luckily, he's on the case, and he envisions a day when his scrumptious Rat Vindaloo will be so popular that they will have to resort to rat farming to keep up with demand.

His next plan for the poor? Encouraging them to catch venomous snakes. I wish I were kidding. Hey, didn't he work for the Regan administration?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oh Wait, There Were Witnesses?

I know that I get biblical allusions and racial slurs mixed up all the time, so it seems to me like Emil Jones came up with a perfectly reasonable explanation for the lastest clusterfuffle. Right? That happens to other people? No? Hm. While we're on the subject of mythological fiction, I'm nearly positive that there's a relevant biblical quote for all of the Obama supporters who have been accusing Clinton supporters of racism, but I'm a recovering fundie (Hi, Mom!), so I can't recall. Something about motes and beams? Surely someone holier than I will remember.

What the hell, Emil? You're a state senator from Illinois. You've clawed your way to the top of the state senate... the Illinois state senate. Shouldn't you be better at this lying thing by now? "Doubting Thomas"? Really? That's the best you could come up with? What are you, some kind of amateur?

If any Obama supporters can hear me all the way up there on their high horse, they may want to listen carefully to the next four words.

Shut. The hell. Up.

Just button it for the next three months, and if we beat Oldy McMoneybags, then you can show us all what total asshats you are, and it'll all be coolies because, hey, we won and they're stuck with us for four years. Right now? Your behavior is costing us votes and last time I checked, the polls weren't looking so great. If you could avoid losing the election for us, that would be just spiffing. If you fuck things up for us now, we're only going to live in a free society with civil liberties and affordable health care if we can score at least 67 points.

Now don't get me wrong. There are plenty of assholes to go around in this sad story. At least the victim took the high road and... who am I kidding? She went straight to the Sun-Times and called Emil an Uncle Tom right back. Ah, very clever: the Rubber And Glue Defense. Only the You've Got Cooties Riposte could possibly defeat that. I'm so glad to see that we've raised the rhetoric in the great race debate to grade school playground level. More importantly, for those swing voters keeping track at home, we've clarified that you're an Uncle Tom whether you support a white sentator from New York (from Illinois) or a white governor from Illinois. So there's one thing that Obamacistas and Clintonistas can agree on, anyway: As long as you get along with white folk, you're an Uncle Tom. So maybe we can't solve our problems with race, but at least we're making excellent progress on the party unity thing. With any luck, maybe by November we can all go down together.

Maybe you didn't get the memo. You won the nomination. Golf claps all around. Mondale won the nomination. Dukakis won the nomination. Winning the nomination doesn't mean dick. You're still just one dopey tank ride away from being a footnote, and frankly, another rich old white guy becoming president? Not such a historic moment. All of the stuff you care about only happens if you win the general election. Perhaps you could focus on that.

Three months. That's all I'm asking. Get your shit together.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Making The Cut

I've mentioned before that I coached my son's soccer team, and that I'd be handing him over to the high school coaches this fall.

Lex was anxious about tryouts. All summer long, he's been making us add "hopefully" to any sentence that involved him and the soccer team. Our high school soccer team is fairly competitive, and our park district team was not. He wasn't sure that he wanted to commit that much time to soccer (despite the fact that he spends many of his waking hours playing, watching, or otherwise thinking about soccer). Some of the most obnoxious players from the club system were trying out, the club system he'd avoided because he saw the kind of assholes that played in it.

He'd gone to some of the soccer practice sessions over the summer, but his plan to start running with all of his friends never really came together. The siren call of chilling and just kicking it around the park (or playing FIFA on the Playstation) had been too strong.

By the time tryouts came arrived, he was just about ready to can the whole idea. He'd been playing against the varsity players over the summer, and I think his confidence was a little shaken. He also tends to be a little anxious about getting into new things, even things he enjoys once they've started. We told him that he was going to have to make a major time commitment to something this year and it might as well be something he loved, and we reminded him that his friends were also trying out. He agreed to do this season and see how it went.

Tryouts started with two-a-days for the first week: long morning and afternoon practices. Lex woke feeling queasy, the result, we thought, of too much popcorn and coke at the movies the night before. It turns out that we were wrong. He barely made it through the first of the two practices and back to our house before he started barfing. He was too sick to make it back to the afternoon practice. He was too sick to make it to the Tuesday and Wednesday practices, but by Wednesday night he was starting to feel a little better except for a sore throat.

On Thursday, he got to practice to find that they'd already made the first round of cuts. Luckily, the coaches must have seen enough of him over the summer to have some idea of how he plays, because he was still in the running. He made it through practices and came home completely wiped out. On Friday, there were a few more cuts, but encouragingly, the coaches asked him what number he wanted. On Saturday, he brought his uniform home and we could finally stop using the word hopefully.

He asked for Zoe's number, but there was another kid on the team that really wanted it so he gave him the number. Lex flipped the digits in the number she'd originally wanted and brought home the 31 jersey. It's just a little huge on him right now. It's scary to think that if he keeps that number, he's going to grow into the uniform.

I was relieved for other, purely selfish, reasons as well. I think I mentioned that our team was sort of the Bad News Bears of the local soccer scene. We had a lot of kids who liked playing soccer but weren't natural athletes. As high school drew near, I knew that most of the kids would stop playing, but I started to worry that maybe I hadn't prepared the others well enough to make the jump to the high school team. I wondered if I was doing them a disservice by not making the practices tougher, by not being more competitive, by not pushing them harder. Even though I knew that I was coaching the way I should be coaching for the park district league, I had this nagging worry that by trying to keep all of the kids in the park district program that I might be keeping some of them out of the high school program.

In the end, some good players were cut, including at least one really talented individual player who could never make the transition to play as part of a team, but four of my boys made the team. All of the players from last season that I thought would probably make it did. Later today, they'll all take the field for the Tiger preview game and they'll officially be high schoolers before classes even start.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Red Carpet

Is it awards season again already?

Thank you very much. That makes up for the strip-search.

(What? Anybody can riff on Sally Field.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Salsa y Ketchup

"So far, so good. You don't seem to be annoying, anyway."

That's how Flan (of Prone to Whimsy fame) once summed up my blog, and I've always tried to live up to that standard because it seems like the kind of standard that's low enough for me to handle without having to set down my beer and really play.

Recently, however, she raised the bar on me by sending me one of these in all of its jpeggy goodness:

According to the designer of this award, "This prize has arisen from the daily visits that I dedicate to many blogs which nourish me and enrich me with creativity. In them, I see dedication, creativity, care, comradeship, but mainly, ART, much art. I want to share this prize with all those bloggers that entertain me day to day and to share this prize with those who enrich me every day."

So, here are the rules:

1. You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award through creativity, design, interesting material, and also contributes to the blogger community, no matter of language.

(DS: Shouldn't that be "up to 5 blogs"? Otherwise you end up with a sort of Ponzi award that ends up going to blogs like, well, mine. Oh, well. It's your award. You can dilute the brand if you so choose...)

2. Each award should have the name of the author with a link to their blog.

3. Award winners have to post the award with the name and link to the blog of the person who gave them the award.
(check, see above)

4. Please include a link to the “Arte Y Pico” blog so that everyone will know where the award came from.

5. Show these rules.
(and check)

My list of awards should come as no surprise to anyone:

Johnny Yen - Here Comes Johnny Yen Again
I've known Johnny for a long time. He's probably the smartest guy I know, and more importantly, he's wise, which is a vanishingly rare quality these days. Johnny's a big-picture kind of guy who does the right thing just because it's the right thing to do, and his blog shows it. Touching and insightful, funny and heartbreaking, his blog sets the standard to which all others should aspire. You know, or not, in which case they can join me down at the shallow end of the blogging pool.

However, because Johnny knows everybody, and because I can never do anything on time, somebody beat me to the punch. Suck it, rules! Johnny gets two.

Vikkitikkitavi - Bells On
File under Socks, Removal Of, Via Knocking. I always look forward to new posts on Vikki's fierce and funny blog. I particularly admire the well-researched way she vents her wrath upon the oh-so-deserving. When I'm reduced to incoherent apoplexy by some right wing nut job, I can count on Vikki to tear them a new one in a way that leaves me not only feeling better but smarter just for reading it.

Well, crap. She has one of these too.

Becks - The Pop Eye
Despite my dismal performance in the Firecrotch of the Month contests, I have to give one of these to Becks. The Chelsea Handler to my Chuy, Becks is always on top of a good pop culture news story. Always on point, Becks always makes sure I don't suffer from a Schadenfreude deficiency.

OK, obviously, I wrote this before I became Firecrotch of the Month. I have got to finish these posts more quickly...

Splotchy - I Splotchy
Splotchy's totally genius Adopt An Actor program has brought joy to millio... thousan... many! But most importantly, it has brought joy to me. The rest of you can find your own joy. Ever since I adopted her, I've found that I get a little warm feeling whenever I catch sight of my adoptee on TV.

No updates to this one? Let's move on before something changes.

Dale - The Passion of the Dale
Ably assisted by his supporting cast, my fellow Catherine Tate enthusiast never fails to amuse. I may have been hooked by his tales of Honeypot, the Korean Bagel Lady, and Our Elvis of the Railways, but they are only part of what keeps me coming back. His dry and urbane observations are exactly what I need to start off my uncivilized day south of the border, and his willingness to shoulder the blame makes him an ideal blogging companion. While you're there, listen to his audio posts. If I ever write a book, I'm asking him to record the audiobook. I'd make a joke about Canadian dollars here if our economy wasn't circling the drain.

...but it is.

And there we have it. Only 60% of my awards were outdated by the time I finished writing this.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Same Old Story, Same Old Song And Dance

Remember when I brought up the Red Cross thing in connection with the Betancourt rescue and how they couldn't get their story straight and it all started falling apart right from the start? Remember when I said how completely improbable the Columbian government's version of events was?

It seems the Red Cross thought so too, and now they have the video evidence to prove it.

The video, which has now been shown on Columbian TV, showed that the Red Cross logo was being used before the operation had even begun. Dominik Stillhart, the Deputy Director of the International Committee of the Red Cross said, "If authenticated, these images would clearly establish an improper use of the Red Cross emblem, which we deplore." Hmm. Maybe we could get some clarification about the validity of the video from the Columbian response to it, Dom.

The Columbian government has responded like any grade school child caught in a lie. They have grudgingly apologized and vowed to get the person who ratted them out. After claiming that the President, the government, and the Chief of the Armed Forces had no idea that the use of the logo was part of their extensive careful planing for this mission when they lied about it just being one nervous guy, the Columbian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos described the leak of the video as disloyal, corrupt, and treasonous, and promised that they would identify and punish the person responsible. Sounds like they think the video is real, Dom.

Santos also described Columbia as "the Fatherland", which gives you an idea where their heads are at.

Just to recap, the Columbian position is now that they carefully planned the mission all on their own with extensive help from the United States and totally still get all the credit for all the good stuff, and that their violation of the Geneva Convention was just the result of one nervous soldier disobeying following orders.

Oh, and that they are so sorry about all this that they are going to track down the person who proved it wasn't an accident and maybe charge them with treason a little.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tales of True Crime

I'm not going to turn this into a News of The Weird True Crime Blog or anything, but this is weird stuff. (Carson)Some weird, wild stuff...(/Carson)

This Is Why I Avoid Canadian Mass-Transit
You never know when you'll be minding your own business, listening to your iPod, and some syrup-huffing drifter is going to decide to stab you a couple of dozen times and cut off your head. It just happens. No reason.

Saudi God Cop Breaks Religious Law
Four wives is perfectly legal, but six is apparently a no-no. You would think that he would know this stuff, since he's responsible for enforcing it... Bad cop! A fatwa on donuts for you!

Bad Serbs, Bad Serbs, Whatcha Gonna Do?
Of course there were demonstrations in favor of genocidal douchebag Radovan Karadzic, who spent his last days of freedom hanging out at the Pinoccio Pizzeria in a low-budget Dumbledore disguise. Why would you even be surprised at that?

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Baa-aaa-aaa-d Man

I know there's a "Baa Ram Ewe" joke in here somewhere, but I'm not going to look any closer than I have to.

I just want a moment here to talk to the lambs. Look, I know he must seem exciting in Chislehurst: the man from the big city, London!, with his flashy jogging bottoms and his party drugs. But don't do it. Sure you'll get high, but he's a freak. You're going to regret those "candid photos" when they end up on the internet, and even if you don't end up doing a Michael Hutchence like those other two, you're going to be left with nothing but heartache and a pair of his crusty underpants while he scarpers off to his flat and a jar of mint jelly.

Not even once, lambs, not even once.

At first glance, I know it seems like they have set perfectly legitimate conditions for bail, but how many "farmyards" really lie within the jurisdiction of the London Metropolitan Police, aside from the occasional heavy petting zoo?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Republicans Love A Good Hostage

So, another election cycle and another Republican getting involved in a hostage rescue. When we heard the news about the Columbian hostage rescue, those of us who were around during the Reagan years probably thought of Ronnie's negotiations to delay the release of the Iranian hostages until after he took office. But here they were in the thick of a story about ending a hostage situation instead of prolonging it. And they say that an old dog can't learn new tricks...

"What a coincidence," we thought, "an embattled Republican candidate in desperate need of some anti-terrorism news to prop up his campaign decides to take some time off from campaigning for a little Central American junket. The old coot probably just wanted a little sun, but what ho? He just happened to be in town when a daring mission rescued American hostages from terrorists. What a stroke of luck!"

Except, as it happens so often with the Republicans, their story started to unravel almost immediately. White House mouthpiece Dana Perino said he had no information about the raid beforehand, but someone forgot to tell McCain, because he was busy spreading the word of his briefing on the classified, top secret mission. Oops!

The State Department said that the US had nothing to do with the rescue, but had known it was in the works for months. The Pentagon said that the US was not involved. Then McCain and U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield spilled the beans and said that the Columbian operation had extensive help and "close cooperation" from the Americans. Shocker!

The Republicans knew for months, and they pulled their candidate from the campaign trail to put him on the ground in Columbia just in time for a hostage rescue that they helped pull off. This sounds not so much like a coincidence, no?

And now it comes out that the rescuers violated the Geneva Convention and have put Red Cross workers around the world at risk by dressing up as Red Cross workers. Their story now is that it was just one guy, and he was "contradicting official orders", but that story doesn't even pass the giggle test.

First, here's the thing about uniforms: they're uniform. It's right there in the name. If there's one guy wearing something different, he kinda stands out. Don't they have Sesame Street in Columbia? "One of these kids just doesn't belong." You're telling me that not one guy asked "Hey, Jorge, what's with the Red Cross, pendejo?" You can't even start a park district soccer game without someone checking to make sure everybody's wearing the right uniform, but during a highly-sensitive military operation the guy wearing a giant RED CROSS went completely undetected by everyone around him?

When you put a big red cross on your chest, you stand out. It's kind of the point. Wearing a "don't shoot me" sign only works when it's not discreet. If you can't see it from the other side of the battlefield, it's somewhat ineffective. Are we to believe that they couldn't see it from the other side of the helicopter?

Second, since when do you have to issue "official orders" to a military unit not to dress up as the Red Cross? That's a little odd, isn't it? By the way, don't dress up as the Power Rangers either. Saban has vicious trademark lawyers, dude. They'll fuck you up.

Congratulations. It's pretty difficult to come off as the douchebags when you're being compared to hostage takers, but you did it. Kudos.

Oh, and of course they managed to have a naked, blindfolded prisoner exposed to mixed company before the helicopter even touched down. What is the deal with right wingers and their fetish for naked dudes with blindfolds, anyway?

My first and dearest fan Flan has graced me with an award that I really don't deserve. I need to find some more deserving bloggers to share the love and then I'll post it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

California Uber Alles

Thank you, thank you, thank you. San Francisco is officially made of awesome and win. If only they could name the contents after him instead of the plant, they would be dead on, but you take what you can get.

This is exactly the kind of voter from which we need to see more initiative.

Now get your ass out and vote.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Take That

I haven't talked about my favorite coffeeshop recently. We're moved on to a long-distance relationship, and it's been a little rocky.

The lovely retro starlet owner is no longer there. She sold the business, and it just hasn't been the same. They still have the same free-trade coffee. They still have many of the same employees that I absurdly think of as "my barista" when I see them on the street.

Aside: What gives? Why does spell check recognize sitarist and not barista? They must have outsourced the coding to India.

They no longer have the Caffe Paradiso debit cards that made my life so convenient. I know I could use my Visa, but a little piece of me died when I gave up my coffee card.

They no longer play the same music. Instead of hearing something interesting that I've never heard and kind of dig, I usually hear something I don't particularly care to hear again.

They no longer have great service. Oh sure, I used to kvetch about getting shorted by Scruffy Barista Girl, but at least I got underserved quickly. Now it takes forever even when there isn't a line, because the new owners have under staffed the place.

The crowd of hipsters, townies, and coeds is largely a thing of the past. The last few times I've been in there, the place has been almost empty. It used to buzz and now it's a mortuary. I almost always get mine to go, so it's not such a big deal, but I did enjoy the company while I waited.

I have a theory.

I don't know the old owner. I haven't asked her why she sold the place. But here's the thing. It happened not too long before the new Starbucks opened in Urbana, and I think she saw the writing on the wall. There had been one on campus, but campus is a pain in the ass to get to, because the U of I is afraid to tell the students to stay the fuck out of the streets because cars drive there. They're smart enough to get into the U of I, but not smart enough to look both ways before they cross the street.


Caffe Paradiso is technically on campus, but it's on the edge, on a major thoroughfare, and it's really just across the street from not-campus. So people could get to it. It wasn't in the deepest darkest heart of campus in the maze of one-way streets and bus-only routes and no parking, like, say, the campus Starbucks. But now there's a new Starbucks. And now my coffee shop sucks. Thanks. Way to go.

So, as much as it sucks for the people involved, hearing this brightened my day, just a little.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

An Open Letter to MIA

Dear MIA,
So, yeah, you know that song you did that people seem to like? They like it because it's by the Clash, asshole.

Straight to Hell is a fine little song because the Clash, and I cannot stress this enough, are a fine band. Paper Planes on the other hand is not a fine little song, and because you lifted the whole fucking song directly from Straight to Hell, I think it should be obvious to everyone where the fault lies.

I know you think you're clever, but putting your own lyrics over a Clash song doesn't make you a songwriter, it makes you a dumbass who doesn't know the words and won't shut the hell up.

Go write your own damn song.

Grumpily yours,

P.S. No, it was not clever when Beats International did it to Guns of Brixton.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Not Dead Yet

I just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know that I'm not dead, and that I do intend to post things at some point.

I was sick. I'm swamped at work now. Both will get better.

I'll try to bring the funny.

While you're waiting, go rent In Bruges. It's fucking brilliant.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

So, Dick...

What was that you said about the bronze medal?

Don't get me wrong... Dick Fauxhawk was probably a better chef than Piercing Girl on pretty much every other day of the competition. But on game day, when it really counted, she kicked his ass. She really kicked his ass.

Second Lia deserved the win, but who knew that Piercing Girl would be the one to make it close?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Words Mean Things

When someone says that a boot "fits like a glove" do they mean that it fits very well or that it fits very poorly?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Stuff I Was Going To Post About Back When It Was Relevant

I meant to post. I really did. I even started posts. I came up with snarky headlines. Then.. oh look! A squirrel!

I got distracted.

In lieu of actual content, it's the Festival of Leftovers! Here are my half formed thoughts for you to make half formed comments about.

Real Genius
I guess this is better than mice.

Tag: WTF

CIA Claims Victory Over Al Qaeda In Dunkin Donuts
Are you fucking kidding me?

Seriously? Out of all the things in the world to get upset about, the conservatives choose to worry about a scarf worn by Rachael Ray?

(insert Rachael Ray graphic here)
Figure 1: Probably not an Al Qaeda operative.

(insert larch graphic here)
Figure 12: The Larch

Tag: Politics, WTF

What can I say? It was kind of a WTF week.

It's June. Do you know where the Venture Brothers are?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mattell To Corner Market On Little Plastic Whores

So Mattell says that this guy drew the designs for the creepy freakish skanks on the back of their notebook or something, so that's like totally the same thing as if Mattell had thought of the idea and built a company around it so they should, like totally get all the money and everything and this other company is a bunch of jerks and now people don't want Barbies anymore because her head isn't big enough and Barbie clothes for girls are just creepy and Bratz clothes are cool and that stoned lady from American Idol helped them make an awesome movie that I totally wanted to go see with all my friends and I want a juice box now. Mom! Where are the juice boxes?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Indiana Jones and the AARP

Other rejected names for the new Indiana Jones Movie:

Indiana Jones and the Kids on his Lawn

Indiana Jones and the Eventual Left

Indiana Jones and the Little Blue Pill

Indiana Jones and the Long, Rambling Story

Indiana Jones and the Medicare Part B

Indiana Jones Versus the Zimmermen! (for UK release)

Indiana Jones and the Hip Replacement

Indiana Jones and the Childproof Cap

Indiana Jones and the Kids Today With Their Rock And Roll Music And Their Baggy Pants

Indiana Jones and the Hoveround

Indiana Jones and the CBS Evening News

Indiana Jones and the Newfangled Telephone

Indiana Jones and the Interminable Pictures of Grandchildren

Indiana Jones and the Exam of Doom

Is it just me or is Harrison Ford getting a little long in the tooth to be an action hero?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Breaking the Curse

I coached my last soccer game on Saturday.

Next season, I'm handing Lex off to the high school, and I'll go back to being just a spectator. For 9 years, I've had the same core group of lovable slackers forming the heart of my team, and they've grown from kindergarteners to young men on the verge of entering high school. I've been to my share of Bar Mitzvahs this year, and at all of them, everyone knew me as "the soccer coach" whether I had met them before or not. At one of them, a slightly-tipsy grandfather paid me a high compliment when he told me that our soccer team had been the core of this group of friends that had held them together over all these years.

We're at an age where most of the casual players have dropped out of the other teams, but we keep adding new players and introducing new kids to the game. This year, Lex brought two of his friends onto the team that had never played organized soccer before. We got back one of our players who hadn't played soccer since elementary school. I hope that even if this is the only season of soccer they ever play that they will take a little love for the game with them.

We've had successful years and less successful years. We went through periods where we so dominated the league that the park district gutted our team, sending players off to other teams to try to balance things out. We've had periods where we have struggled. Lately, we've been in a long slump. It has been several years since we last had a winning season. It has, in fact, been a couple of years since we've managed better than a tie.

We'd been showing signs of breaking the curse all season. We fought our way to a gritty, exciting 1-1 tie against a really good team that had blown us out early in the season. We managed several ties, but had yet to get a win in our last season together.

If this were a soccer movie, the scrappy underdogs would come together and win their last game and their coach would retire on a happy note.

True to Hollywood form, the team we were playing against in our last game were unlovable assholes. A couple of weeks ago when some of our players were late to the game, they started 10 players against our 8 instead of adding players as late-comers straggled in as tradition dictates. By half-time we had enough players to even things up, but the damage had been done. They had scored using their extra players, and we managed only a come-from-behind moral victory. Our 11th player showed up, but we finished the game tied at 1-1, playing ten-on-ten with our extra player on the sideline.

Saturday was a perfect day for soccer. The Shakespearean gales that have plagued this season were replaced with a halcyon breeze. There was an absence of rain and hail. The sun was out. It was warm, but not too hot.

We arrived on the field to find that we had the tough-but-fair ref that all of the kids respected instead of the incompetent college student with the chip on his shoulder. Things were looking up. I gave them the same advice I always gave them, gave them a few little things to work on in the game, reminded them that this was our last game together, and told them to have a good game. The whistle blew to start the game and the boys took their game to a whole new level.

They looked like stars. They moved the ball through Champaign's defense with ease. They strung passes together. They laid down mad jukes. They pinned the other team back on their half and piled on the pressure. They got players up in numbers on the attack and fell back to defend as a team. Their keeper was forced into save after save. A free kick just missed the upper corner. Another shot went just wide. And then it happened. One of our players sent in a picture-perfect cross and Lex put a wickedly dipping shot over their keeper and into the net. We were up 1-0.

With just seconds left in the half, one of their players (following the script, a talented but dirty player) swore at the ref. The ref showed him a yellow card and sent him to the sidelines to cool down. As he left the field and his sub came on, the player couldn't resist a parting comment. The ref showed him a second yellow, then the red and ejected him from the game. The sub was sent off the field. They would have to finish the game a man down.

In the second half, the other team tried to sneak an extra player onto the field, but the ref caught them and sent him back off.

Even playing eleven on eleven, the boys had controlled the game. In the second half, with the extra man advantage, the boys put on a clinic. We went up 2-nil when Lex put a cross through their defense and our forward at the back post casually took the ball on his chest and deflected it into the net. Up two goals and with our opponents a man down, the boys showed their maturity. Without needing any word from the coaches, they began spreading the opportunities around instead of running up the score. The two goalscorers worked hard to set up their teammates, unselfishly giving up their own scoring chances to give other players the chance to get a goal, passing instead of shooting. I gave one of our players who mainly plays defense the chance to play as a midfielder and he almost immediately forced their keeper into a diving save that sent the ball skipping off the far post.

The game tightened up when the other team scored on a counter attack after a rare missed call: one of their players took down our defender to let the attacker get a one on one against our keeper. After that, the traffic was all one-way. Our first half goalkeeper scored to put the game out of reach. At one point, Lex put a jaw dropping no-look back-heel pass through the legs of the guy guarding him right to the feet of a teammate. With time running out, we got one more goal.

With all of the Hollywood conventions met, the final whistle blew and we finished with a convincing 4-1 win. (If we'd been following Bollywood conventions, we'd have had to work in a show-stopping dance number.) The curse had been broken.

It was, as I said to my co-coach, the perfect season-ending trifecta. The boys won playing beautiful soccer: teamwork, individual flair, great chances made and missed, it was all there. The most obnoxious kid in the league finally got tossed out of a game. And finally, in a neat bit of poetic justice, one of the two teams that had played extra players against us had to finish the last game a man down.

Honestly, I'd been ready for it to be over. All of the irritations and inconveniences that coaching brings had been wearing on me. For the last few weeks, I'd been looking forward to being done with coaching, but now that it's all over but one last scrimmage and a pile of pizza boxes, I think that I'm going to miss this after all.