March 27, 2007

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

A couple vignettes in the life of an itinerant community leader:

Vignette #1:

On Saturday, my old elementary school celebrated its 40th anniversary. Having the afternoon free, and having heard there would be a mariachi band present, I decided to pop in and check things out. And somehow, I was successfully mistaken for an Important Person.

I serve on several boards and committees in Dot-Com Canyon, so I might be moderately familiar to a dedicated observer who spends a lot of time watching/reading the local media, but I do not consider myself an Important Person.

On Saturday, though, I was treated as one. My county supervisor, state delegate, and state senator were all at the festivities, and each of them recognized me and took time to say hello. Not in the "Oh, here comes what's-his-name, I'd better pretend to care" sense, either. They actually picked me out of the crowd and took the time to chat. I was floored. I would not have guessed that any of them could have picked me out of a lineup with the Andrews Sisters.

Later on, a reporter for one of the local papers recognized me and came across the room to interview me. She asked a number of fairly innocuous questions, asking how it felt to be back and what role the school played in the community and so on, and I gave fairly innocuous answers. As I spoke, I was flipping through an old yearbook, and came across a picture of my third-grade class. I pointed myself out to her, buck-toothed and blond. "And there's Cassie," I said, pointing to a redheaded girl sitting next to the teacher. "First girl I ever had a crush on."

As the reporter was walking away, she indicated that she would write about my crush on Cassie in her article. I think she was kidding. I think. In a couple of days, I'll know for sure.

UPDATE: No, she was not kidding. I picked up the paper yesterday evening, and sure enough, it was right there. Okay, then.

Vignette #2:

Last night, I showed up at a meeting for one of the boards on which I serve. Everything seemed normal, at least until I walked in the door. At that point, two of the board members turned and said, "Good, Fred's here! He can run the meeting." I cleverly replied, "What?"

As it turned out, both the president and vice-president of the board were off testifying at a zoning hearing (a hearing which they both swore up and down would be done well before the meeting was to start). As the treasurer, and thus technically the third in command, I was the highest-ranking person present, and therefore, it was my show to run.

At this point, a few thoughts went through my head:

1. I had not in any way prepared to preside over this meeting.
2. I had not even seen an agenda.
3. The meeting was going to be televised. Live. Starting in 5 minutes.

Fortunately, one of the board members present had brought a draft agenda, and so, we began. And having no idea what was going on at the hearing, I had no idea if the president and VP would arrive in a couple minutes, later on, or not at all. (Naturally, one of the first items on the agenda was a summary of the results of the hearing.)

As it turned out, they arrived 45 minutes into the meeting. In the interim, if I do say so myself, I did a fine job vamping and finding ways to fill time. We covered such agenda items as we could. We talked about community events that we had participated in recently. We talked about events that were coming up. I introduced our newest board member, and had him tell the audience about his background and interests. I put in an extended plug for the local farmer's market. I did everything but whip out my March Madness bracket and let the viewing public know how poorly my picks were doing.

It was, to say the least, an adventure.

So far, no one has called to tell me that I made an idiot of myself (of course, since it was televised on the local public-access channel, the viewing audience consisted of perhaps 5 people). I consider this a victory.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 09:46 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 25, 2007

I'll Kill a Snitch

The best part of the YouTube age? Not having to watch all of SNL to get the good bits.

Posted by Frinklin at 08:25 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 19, 2007

Amateur Comic Review: Week of 3.14.2007

Civil War: The Confession
It's obvious from this and his New Avengers work that Brian Bendis has a much firmer grasp on Civil War than Mark Millar ever did. This book isn't perfect; some of Iron Man's speech is hopelessly whiney and his “I saw it coming” moment is kind of dumb. The upshot here is Bendis finds more raw emotion in this one-shot than then entire seven-issue run of the main book and all 11 issues of the awful Frontline.

The New Avengers #28
Twenty-odd issues into the title, and New Avengers is almost as good the hype. This is a deepy weird team: Wolverine, Spider-Man, Iron Fist and Dr. Strange? Spider-Woman and the who-the-hell-knows Ronin and Echo? Still, Bendis makes this work for the most part. There is a lighthearted feel to this book, despite the team being on the run and hunted from all sides. There are a couple of glitches here, like why is Strange so much less powerful then in his own series? And why are Spider-Man and Wolverine on the run? Both are registered. Lots more good than bad here though, and Lenil Yu's art is the best he's ever done.

Thunderbolts #112
Some good, some bad. The good is the rather fascinating look at evil, from Norman Osborn's demented conversation with Radioactive Man to Bullseye's rather unsettling view of himself. The stuff that doesn't work? The political stuff here is way to obvious for a writer of Warren Ellis' talent. Fox News is really low-hanging fruit, and Ellis can be so much more corrosive and funny when he's in the mood.

The Irredeemable Ant-Man #6
Robert Kirkman really seems to making a go of this unbelievably unlikeable super-hero. We've come full circle here, as the first arc folds in on itself. The book is still more entertaining than it has any right to be. The twist at the end is a winner.

moon knight8.jpg
Moon Knight #8
This book never comes out, never really goes anywhere and really doesn't seem to work. I'm dropping it. I like the character, and I think Charlie Huston has some interesting ideas, but nothing seems to coalesce. David Finch's art is supposed to be a selling point, but for my money his work is as stiff as any artist working today.

Grifter & Midnighter #1
I got no idea. I dunno what's going on here, and I'm not sure writer Chuck Dixon knows either. Don't bother.

52 Week #45
The Black Adam freak-out show continues unabated, as he kills an entire country this week. This issue is OK, redeemed mostly by some nice character work between Adam and Renee and an amusingly insane Dr. Sivana at the end.

Detective Comics #829, Superman #660, Wonder Woman #5
How the hell does this happen? The Big Three all come out with fill-in issues the same week? Of the three, Wonder Woman is probably the best, despite being the title in the most jeopardy. Remember, this was scheduled to be the last issue in Alan Heinberg's run. When that was essentially canceled, this Will Pfeifer story was shoehorned in to give time before Jodi Piccoult's run begins. If DC ever decides to give this title to an actual comic book writer, Will would be an excellent choice. Here he explores how Wonder Woman can be an inspiration to battered women. Superman is a look at the Prankster, and Big Blue barely appears. Detective Comics is a moderately entertaining look at why Gotham City residents should be afraid to go anywhere in the city.

Robin #160
Still the best superhero book DC puts out, Robin launches into an interesting look at a drug that causes super powers at a huge cost, and what might happen when a nihilistic street gang might get hold of it. Adam Beechen has the voice of this character down pat, and Freddie E. Williams' art continues to be the most energetic around.

Green Arrow #72
Last issue I praised this series, just to learn it's history as of issue #75. I understand the idea is a GA-Black Canary series somewhere down the line, but this book deserves better than this. It's a testament that a story focusing in on Jason Todd and Speedy -two DC's most over-the-top soap opera characters- can be this much fun. The banter between Batman and Green Arrow is worth the $2.99 on it's own.

Teen Titans #44
Please, someone explain to be the appeal of Geoff Johns. Everything I read of his is basically based on two things: spasms of often grotesque violence and fan service. Here we get both, with several pages of Teen Titan Torture, plus the return of Jericho and a stupidly obvious get-out-of-jail-free card for Batgirl. Ugh... wake me when Beechen takes over.

Best of the Week: Slim pickings this week, but I'll go with New Avengers.

Posted by Frinklin at 11:11 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Uncle Millie Rides Again

Another week, another installment of Uncle Millie's return to the advice-giving business. It occurs to me that this more-or-less weekly schedule on which his columns have appeared is unusually regular for him, although that probably has to do with the fact that I'm the one calling him (and that I'm paying for the calls).

And once again, we find the master of romance down in old Mexico. Uncle Millie reports that he did not, as promised last time, leave the barstool where he has been holed up since I first re-encountered him. He did think about it seriously, though, and if all goes well, he'll think even more seriously about it in the coming week.

Here's what I want to know: if Uncle Millie has been slumped on the same barstool for over a month, how has he managed to change clothes? Actually, on second thought, I think I'd rather not know. Take it away, Uncle Millie!

- - - - -

I'm In The Mood For Love, Simply Because You're Near Me... Well, You and This Bottle of Tequila, by Uncle Millie

Hola, me lads! To all, a belated Happy St. Patrick's Day, which is, as you probably know, the highest holiday on Uncle Millie's personal religious calendar. You might think that they do not observe St. Patrick's Day here in Mexico, lads, but you would be most wrong. In fact, I am told by my faithful bartender, the day is set aside to remember the "San Patricios," a band of Irish immigrants who deserted the US Army to fight with the Mexicans during the Mexican-American War. In fact, I am told, Irishmen are regarded as heroes here. I have no idea if this is true, but if so, it would explain why my Mexican compatriots have welcomed me with open arms.

It would not, however, explain why I cannot get so much as a taste of Bushmills in this cantina. How can this lovely country welcome my ancestral people, but not our native drink? Where is the justice in that? The good barkeep attempted to make up for this oversight by coloring the cerveza green for the weekend, which was a nice touch, I felt. Unfortunately, due to the quantities I imbibed as part of my religious observance, I am colored a bit green myself at this point. But no matter; you haven't come to listen to my woes, you've come for romantic advice, and you shall have it.

Let me begin our letters for today with a comment left on my last column by one PG. PG feels that my advice to Mitch in Emmittsburg, who was rather dismayed about his wife suddenly wanting kids, was missing a little something. Specifically, PG writes:

It's a win-win situation.

I fear this assessment reflects Uncle Millie's oldfashioned, pre-DINK outlook. If Mitch had assumed that he was marrying a woman who also would be an earner, then having her not only stop contributing to household income, but add to the burdens on it by producing children, getting out of helping with raising those children may not be much help. After all, I doubt Mitch would be pleased if his wife currently had a wage earning job and stopped doing it simply to enjoy more leisure time. If he doesn't want children, he'll probably look upon them as his wife's hobby.

Actually, that raises a question for me to ask Uncle Millie: assuming that he's occasionally been the sole wage-earner while his spouse has been responsible for domestic duties, what is the proper attitude to have toward money in that situation? should the money be considered equally the possession of both spouses, with each having equal discretion (or lack thereof) over its expenditure? does it belong in proportion to the amount of work one does? or to the amount of only market work one does (which would make the sole wage earner the sole proprietor)?

DINK, I'm given to understand, is short for "double income, no kids," and does not mean what I thought it meant.

To answer your first point, I must concede that I had not considered the possibility that the lad's wife worked outside the home. If she does, though, my advice still holds. If she is a "modern woman," then appeal to that, and turn her "modern" worldview against her. If the lad points out that he does not intend to fall for the sham of "equal parenting," then she will have to choose between her conception as a "career woman" and her dreams of motherhood. And since no self-respecting "modern woman" wishes to be a mere housewife (how anti-feminist!), the lad will be off the hook.

Perhaps she will instead vow to continue working and hire a nanny or caretaker to raise the child. If so, the lad can simply say that the nanny's salary will come out of the wife's share of the household income. This means an end to the fancy vacations, lavish dinners out, and new clothes to which she, in her DINK lifestyle, has become accustomed. In all probability, she won't wish to sacrifice those luxuries, and the lad is once again off the hook. If she does decide to trade in dinner for 2 at Spago for Happy Meals at the drive-through, then he's rid of her free-spending ways in other areas. Again, it's a win-win situation.

As to the second part of your comment, I began to answer it, before running aground in the thicket of economic jargon. I asked my good lad Fred to simplify it for me, and he told me that you were essentially asking: If the man earns the money in the relationship, does that mean that he gets to decide how the money is spent? Or does the woman, in exchange for keeping up the household, also get a say in how the money is spent?

In traditional couples such as these, the man usually makes the spending the decisions, which is as it should be. I say this for two reasons. First, if he earns the money, he should be able to decide how it is spent. It's only fair. After all, if his wife made a cake, would she like it if she was not allowed to eat any of it? Second, he is less likely to spend the money on things like shoes and hair-care products.

Now, at first blush this arrangement may seem unequitable, but I assure you that it is more fair than it seems. As a practical matter, women in traditional arrangements have plenty of avenues by which they can influence household spending decisions. These range from nagging to cooking special meals to employing feminine wiles. In some drastic cases, horrifying as it may seem, some women have even withheld sex from their men to get what they want. Personally, I think this is inhumane. If Amnesty International wants to do some real good in the world, they should focus their attentions on the scourge of women who withhold sex. But I digress.

My point is that the traditional arrangements, so often derided by "modern women," have a significant upside for men and women alike. Everyone knew his or her role, and men and women had their spheres and avenues of influence. Compare this to our modern situation, where no one knows who should be wearing the pants in the relationship, men and women are both convinced that they're getting a raw deal, and confusion, strife, and unhappiness results. The only advantage to the new way of thinking is that some women have abandoned the notion of commitment altogether, and dedicated themselves to having sex as often as possible. This trend, I approve of. The rest of it, I do not.

Now, let's move on to some new romantic problems.

Dear Uncle Millie,

For the past year I've been dating "Carrie." She's not the best-looking or most exciting woman -- she doesn't like to go out on the town very much -- but she treats me well, she's a great cook, she always tidies up my place when she's over, and I'm sure she'd be a loyal wife and a good mother. I'd figured that in another year or so, I'd ask her to marry me, and we'd have a long and satisfying life together.

That is, until I met "Tracy." Tracy is nothing at all like Carrie. She's smoking-hot, for one thing, holds her liquor, she's wickedly funny (she tells dirty jokes better than anyone I've ever seen), and she loves to shoot billiards (and she's damn good!). She's not the most stable or reliable woman -- she's always late, she carries a gun with her everywhere, she's currently living with her drug-dealing ex-boyfriend. We've been out a few times over the last month. One time, some woman pulled a knife on us. Other than that, though, we've had a blast. And the sex has been out of this world! The things that she can do with a pair of velvet-lined handcuffs and a can of Crisco...

Neither Carrie nor Tracy knows about the other one. So far. But I really feel like I need to make a decision. Carrie's steady, kind, and thoughtful. I could see us growing old together. But Tracy's hit me like a hurricane! I can't imagine growing old with her... I have the feeling she'll be shot, in jail, or dead of an overdose before she's 40. But I don't know if I can content myself with Carrie any more. Part of me says I should bid Tracy a fond farewell and settle in with Carrie, and part of me says dump Carrie and live it up with Tracy. I can't make up my mind. Help!

Manny in Issaquah

Ah, lad, the age-old query: safe but boring or exciting but dangerous? Plod along with the tortoise or race with the hare? It's a thorny problem, to be sure, and there are risks with either option. On the one hand, there's the possibility of drug problems, financial ruin, jail time, venereal disease, or even death. On the other hand, there's the possibility of a lifetime of bad sex. Not a decision to take lightly!

On the other hand, perhaps you're not thinking creatively enough, framing it as a decision of Carrie vs. Tracy. Some might say that, since neither one satisfies you fully, you should not choose either one. I say: Why not choose them both? Let each of them make you happy in the ways she can, and between the two of them, you can fulfill all of your desires.

I know that some would argue that you should hold out for a woman who gives you the best of both worlds: a woman who's smart and kind, witty and sweet, a caring wife and mother and great at making love, a woman who can handle a beer mug and a mop with equal capacity. Uncle Millie is not sure what planet these women are found on, though he would very much like to know. In the real world, you can find women who are good in the kitchen or in the bedroom, but not both.

This is why mistresses are such a time-honored element to successful marriages. To their great credit, the French figured this out and made it part of their culture. In America, though, we cling to this fantasy of finding The One who "completes me." Many a perfectly acceptable marriage has foundered, and many a happy family has been disrupted, because we insist that men must find total and complete satisfaction in their wives. Rather than allowing the man to find another woman to supplement his needs in some of the areas in which his wife (though wonderful) may be lacking, we insist that he fulfill all his desires in her. If mistresses were culturally acceptable, American marriages would be much happier and longer-lasting. But I digress.

My point is that, if you've got one lass who cooks and cleans and treats you well, and one who makes your hair stand on end and curls your toes, what is the problem? Collectively, they are the perfect woman! Hang on to them and don't let go.

Dear Uncle Millie,

This is the most difficult letter I've ever had to write. I've been married 9 years. My wife, "Kristin," is a good woman. We've had our ups and downs like any other couple, but she's never done me wrong, and has stood by my side through some pretty rough times in my personal life (including drug addiction). We have 3 kids, ages 2 to 7, and they're the apples of my eye. They're well-behaved, smart, beautiful kids. My wife and I both have good jobs, and we have a nice house in a safe neighborhood with good schools.

Sounds like a perfect life, right? That's what I thought, too. Until three weeks ago. I went on a business trip, and afterward ran into "Mike" at the bar. We both went to the same school, as it turned out, and we had a few drinks and traded stories about our alma mater, about sports, about politics. We talked until closing time. Then (I can't believe I'm typing this) we went back to his hotel room and slept together.

This was the first time I'd had a sexual experience with a man. Honestly, it was the first time I'd been unfaithful to my wife, with a man or a woman. The next day, I was filled with shock, confusion, and disgust at myself. The day after, the conference was over, and I flew home. I did not tell my wife what happened; I tried to forget the whole thing, honestly.

But I've been wrestling with it ever since, and I really think that I might be attracted to men. I'd never considered it before (in my house growing up, I'd have been grounded for life if I'd even thought about being gay), but I've realized that this isn't the first time I've thought of men in that way.

I love Kristin. She's all I could ask for in a wife. But I've never, not even when we were dating, felt the kind of passion for her that I felt for Mike that night. I feel like I'd be living a lie if I stayed with her and didn't say anything.

But how could I declare that our whole marriage was a lie? How could I do that to Kristin? To our children? We belong to a very conservative faith community, and I'm certain that I would be shunned if I revealed this.

If it was another woman, I wouldn't hesitate to forget about her and stay with Kristin. I take my marriage vows very seriously. (That's why staying married and taking a lover is not an option for me.) But knowing now the feelings I have, I don't know if I can stay in marriage the rest of my life and pretend to be truly happy. Every option seems like a disaster to me.

What in the world do I say to Kristin? To the kids? To our friends? Please tell me how to make sense of all this.

Dave in Houston

Well, my goodness, lad. Uncle Millie has surely never received a letter like this before. You did come to the right place, though, as I do have some experience in this regard: this very situation, in a reverse sort of way -- that is, my wife declared that she loved other lasses -- is what caused the end my seventh marriage. In her case, though, I think she was simply overwhelmed: my rugged masculinity was too much for her to deal with, so much so that she abandoned the male gender entirely. But I digress.

Truth be told, though, I've always found it easier to understand women who love other women than men in your situation. Who wouldn't love women? They are far more attractive than we are, lad. Men are hairy, lumpy, and crude. I've always been surprised that more women aren't attracted to their own kind, frankly. It's fortunate for us, and for the future of the human race at large, that most lasses prefer men. But lads who love other lads... that I can't quite wrap my mind around. Where is the attraction?

Nevertheless, there is no shame in being this way, lad. You need not be disgusted with yourself over this. Neither about loving lads, or about the infidelity. It is what it is, simply a fact of life. There is no point in denying who you are, lad.

But still, you must decide what to do about your situation, particularly with a family involved. It is a pity that you do not wish to take a lover, as that may be in many ways the most elegant solution. As I mentioned in my response to the letter above yours, our silly cultural prohibition on lovers has caused the crack-up of many otherwise solid marriages, which is surely a pity. Who knows? Perhaps your wife would be interested in a three-way, particularly since you'd be spared the demeaning and unpleasant wrangle over the gender of the third person.

But you say you do not wish to take a lover, so that option is out. As such, I believe you will have to confess this to your wife. Uncle Millie is loath to include the words "confess" and "wife" in the same sentence, but I do not believe you have an alternative, lad. Now that you've opened Pandora's box, so to speak, do you truly believe you'd be able to content yourself with your wife's company for the rest of your life? That would be hard enough even if she were your preferred gender. Given that she is apparently not (why not, lad?), it is an impossibility.

That leaves the question of timing. And as a rule, I believe you should tell this sort of thing as soon as possible, because the longer the marriage, the more she will be able to collect in alimony. There is one hitch here, though. You mention that you have children, but you do not mention their genders. Are there any young lads in the lot, or are they all lasses? If there are no young lads, you may wish to wait until there are. It all depends on your desire to continue the family name. After all, this is not an opportunity you will have once you switch to lads exclusively (unless there have been advances in biology of which Uncle Millie is not aware). That part of it is up to you. Beyond that, lad, the earlier the better.

I do worry that you are not giving sufficient consideration to the possibility of taking a lover. You would be able to keep your family together, and still have the sexual satisfaction you desire. Do you really wish to discard that ideal solution simply because some old man on a mountaintop, thousands of years ago, chiseled some nonsense about adultery into a stone tablet? Think it over, lad.

That brings our advice-giving session to a close for this time. Before I go, though, I did wish to share with you a poem, in honor of St. Patrick's Day. This poem is by Tom Moore (an Irishman, of course), and it neatly encapsulates the story of my life. Here we go:

The time I've lost in wooing,
In watching and pursuing,
The light that lies
In woman's eyes,
Has been my heart's undoing.
Though Wisdom oft has sought me,
I scorned the lore she brought me,
My only books
Were woman's looks,
And folly's all they've taught me.

Her smile when Beauty granted,
I hung with gaze enchanted,
Like him, the spite,
Whom maids by night
Oft meet in glen that's haunted.
Like him, too, Beauty won me,
But while her eyes were on me;
If once their ray
Was turned away,
Oh! winds could not outrun me.

And are these follies going?
And is my proud heart growing
Too cold or wise
For brilliant eyes
Again to set it glowing?
No, vain, alas! th' endeavor
From bonds so sweet to sever;
Poor Wisdom's chance
Against a glance
Is now as weak as ever.

In case the old-fashioned English is too much for you to understand (and there is no shame in that), a brief summary: I was a horny young man, and now I'm old, and I'm still horny. What better way to celebrate this holy day.

Erin go bragh, lads! Happy hunting!

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 10:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 17, 2007

Really should have had this one


There are times when getting blown out is preferable to loosing close. This might well be one of those times. The Cougars lost in double overtime to Vanderbilt, in a game they could have... maybe should have won.

Damn this hurts.

Posted by Frinklin at 11:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2007

Frinklin Fashion Show: New Charger Jersey

I couldn't let the week go without touching on the new San Diego Charger uniforms. The Missus has made it clear she dislikes them. I'm not thrilled with the new look, but I will say it's an improvement on the previous look, which had aged.


This is the standard home uniform. Again, an improvement over the old look. I love the white helmet, especially if they can keep the pearlescent finish throughout the year. The new look adds the gorgeous powder blue as an accent color in both the logo and the lightning bolt. It's a nice touch, but I wonder if it might help to drop the darker outline. The numbers are as good as any stylized numbers you'll find in the NFL. I'm less thrilled with the bolt down the pants, and the bolt across the shoulders combined with the numbers on top look a little busy. White shoes work with a California team.


This angle gives a better look on the lightning bolt down the pants. It looks goofy and overdone. I doubt the Chargers will go the year without doing a white-on-white look.


This -the new official alternate jersey- just pisses me off. The Chargers have the single best uniform in the history of the NFL. Nothing comes close. It's as good a uniform as the Yankees' home pinstripes and the Maple Leafs' blues. So why screw it up? The color isn't the only good thing about the old Charger uniforms. Hell, the Titans do a similar blue and that look is hideous. Drop these overdone alternate uniforms and just bring back the throwbacks. Hell, just use them all the time. Are the new uniforms better than the olds? Yeah, they probably are. Just nothing close as good as they could be

Posted by Frinklin at 10:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 15, 2007

WAZZU 70 O Rob 54

To put this in perspective, I was 9 the last time Washington State University won a NCAA tournament game.


Posted by Frinklin at 09:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2007

Bracketopia 2007


Florida, Arizona, Old Dominion, Maryland, Notre Dame, Oregon, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin, Kansas, Villanova, Virginia Tech, Southern Illinois, Virginia Commonwealth, Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, UCLA, North Carolina, Michigan State, USC, Texas, Vanderbilt, Washington State, Boston College, Georgetown, Ohio State, Xavier, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisville, Texas A&M, Nevada, Memphis

Sweet Sixteen
Florida, Maryland, Oregon, Wisconsin, Kansas, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, UCLA, North Carolina, Texas, Washington State, Georgetown, Ohio State, Virginia, Texas A&M, Memphis

Elite Eight
Florida, Oregon, Kansas, UCLA, Texas, Georgetown, Ohio State, Texas A&M

Final Four
Florida, Kansas, Georgetown, Texas A&M

Title Game
Kansas, Texas A&M


Posted by Frinklin at 10:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 12, 2007

Another Round with Uncle Millie

It's time once again for "America's most beloved romantic advice columnist" (according to loyal reader Papa Shaft, whose employer might want to run a random drug screening on him, just in case). Personally, I think this blurb is more fitting:

"Well, he is different..." -Loyal Reader PG

At any rate, Uncle Millie is coming to us from Guadalajara once again. He tells me that his favorite things about his new home are "wine, women and song. And definitely in that order." He reports that, by week's end, he may actually make it off the barstool he's been slumped on for the last month or so. If he does, he's not certain where he'll wind up next. Probably the floor, if history is any indication.

But it's romantic advice you came for, and it's romantic advice you shall have. Take it away, Uncle Millie!

- - - - -

If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don't Want To Be Right - And If Having a One-Night Stand With You Is Also Wrong, I Definitely Don't Want To Be Right, by Uncle Millie

Hello, lads! It's another tequila sunrise here in sunny Mexico, to be followed in a few hours by a tequila sunset, with several tequila sun-in-the-skys in between. Speaking of sunrises and sunsets, I'm told that Daylight Savings Time has begun in the United States. This has caused some confusion for people and computers alike, as it seems that no one really knows what time it is. This has never been a concern for Uncle Millie, since I never know what time it is, at least not since I lost my watch in that poker game back in San Francisco. Or possibly San Diego. Or perhaps it was San Jose. Anyhow, I am certain it was in California. Or Canada. Nonetheless, I find that not knowing the time is a good life philosophy. No one expects you to keep appointments that way. And I find that strict timekeeping is usually associated with things I want no part of anyhow, such as steady jobs and court dates. Better by far to establish a pattern of unreliability, and prevent people from forming any expectations of you whatsoever.

Despite my apparent high spirits, I must confess that all is not well with Uncle Millie. I am somewhat homesick for the old U.S. of A. Although I am enjoying my Mexican sojourn a great deal, to be certain, I find that as the weeks wear on, I am missing some of the comforts of home. For instance, Irish whiskey. This cantina had only one bottle of halfway-decent Irish whiskey, and of course I consumed that many weeks ago. Man does not live by tequila alone! I shall have to arrange a pigrimage back to my native land, assuming that I can figure out a way to evade the border-control authorities, whom I understand are holding some sort of warrant for my arrest.

Let's take a look at our first letter.

Dear Uncle Millie,

Do you think friends can become lovers? I've been friends with "Megan" since college. We've always gotten along great; we have a ton of interests in common, and we can talk for hours about whatever.

Recently, I realized that I have feelings for her. I guess I'd never really thought about it before, because she was always like "one of the guys" to me. But we understand each other a lot better than any of the women I've dated. Plus, she's not bad-looking, either.

She and I have dated other people on and off since college, but right now, we're both not seeing anyone. I want to tell her how I feel, but I'm afraid she won't feel the same, and I'll lose one of my best friends. What should I do?

James in Scranton

Now, lad, Uncle Millie is all in favor of having women as friends. Give me a lass who can hold her liquor and knows her way around a bawdy joke, and we can be boon companions for a lifetime. Women are wonderful, and they can make fine friends, provided that they aren't going to spill the beans regarding your romantic escapades to your significant other, which all too many women are sadly inclined to do.

But let's be honest here, lad. You "just" discovered your feelings for her? You need not attempt to deceive your Uncle Millie, lad. I know how it is. I know that you've been trying to figure out a way into her pants since you first met her. There is no shame in this, lad; it's your biological programming at work.

Now, it seems, you wish to become more serious about this lass. You enjoy her company, and she's not hideously ugly. (You and I both know that "not bad-looking" means that she's a dog, but again, lad, there is no shame in that. Uncle Millie has enjoyed the company of many women whom I would not necessarily wish to see in a beauty pageant, or even to see in broad daylight, but I feel no shame. A friendly disposition and a willingness to make love cover a multitude of sins.)

Nonetheless, you're cautious about this, and you're right to be so, in my opinion. Is it worth risking a close and treasured long-term friendship for the sake of a little cheap sex? Of course it is. But consider this: if all goes well, she'll want to be your "steady" ladyfriend, which is fraught with risk. For one thing, it limits your options should a more attractive woman catch your eye. For another, it could be a financial disaster for you. Say goodbye to those Dutch-treat dinners out. Once you're "going steady," she'll expect you to pay for those, as well as the flowers, candy, jewelry, etc. that are part and parcel of relationship maintenance. You're taking a big risk here, lad.

Fortunately, our young people have devised a simple and elegant solution to this dilemma: the concept of "hooking up" or "friends with benefits." In case you aren't familiar, the idea is that you would remain friends as you are now, except now you can jump one another's bones whenever you desire. You did not specify your age, but your reference to college makes we think that you are a young man, or at least youngish. If my surmise is accurate, then you should be able to convince "Megan" of the virtues of the "friends with benefits" plan with a minimum of fuss, unless she fancies herself a "high-class" (read: "high-maintenance") woman, in which case she would be more trouble than she's worth, anyhow.

The "friends with benefits" concept allows you to enjoy the best parts of a romantic relationship (mind-blowing sex) while retaining the best of your current friendship (good conversation, she pays her own way, no commitment). Of course, this route is not entirely without risk; it may turn out that she is disappointing in the boudoir, and then you'll have to get rid of her anyhow. But at least this way, you won't have to waste your hard-earned money in the bargain.

Dear Uncle Millie,

About three months ago, I met a young woman at a business conference, and we hit it off. "Cheryl" is extremely attractive, charming, and fun-loving. She works in another city, but close enough that we are able to get together a couple of times a month, which we do, and we converse by phone and e-mail when we're apart.

Over time, the realization has dawned on me that Cheryl is not particularly bright. I mentioned the League of Nations, and she asked if it had something to do with World Cup soccer. I asked for her thoughts on Kim Jong-Il, and she asked if she was a contestant on "American Idol." I like to keep abreast of current events (a category which does not, as she believes, include finding out the real father of Anna Nicole Smith's child), and enjoy such cultural events as symphonic music and opera (her idea of opera is "Grease"). Her lack of education has become a serious impediment to our conversations.

Still, she is a breath of fresh air, and I must say that she is a most flexible and imaginative lover. I certainly don't envision marrying her, which is fine. But she can't even keep a conversation going for more than five minutes unless it involves beauty products or the debauched comings and goings of recently-disgraced entertainers. Do you think she's worth the trouble?

Symphony Sid in New York

Well then, you're a bit of a snob, aren't you, lad? It's pretty clear to me that you do not in the least deserve this fine lass. If you have to ask Uncle Millie if "Cheryl" is smart enough to be your Friday-night fling, you are almost certainly beyond help. Nonethless, I live to serve, and so I will attempt to help see the error of your ways.

If you purchased a slinky Italian sports car that can go from 0-to-60 in the blink of an eye and clings to the road like Uncle Millie to a coed's bosom, would you complain that it had insufficient space for your family's luggage? If you owned a Derby-winning throughbred racehorse, would you complain that it did a poor job plowing the fields? Of course not; a sports car is not a family sedan, and a racehorse is not a plowhorse. So why in God's name would you criticize a fine lover for not being intelligent?

Despite the claims of certain digruntled female readers, Uncle Millie is not opposed to intelligence in women. I think it's perfectly fine in its place. But when considering the attributes most desirable in a potential lady love, intelligence is far, far down the list, if it is there at all. After all, the intelligent women are more likely to see through your subterfuges, and to play private detective with your private life (see my remark about "Sherlock Holmes in a skirt" from my last column), which is a real nuisance. You've found the perfect lover, and you want to throw her away! Oh, lad, lad, lad.

If she is a "flexible and imaginative lover," as you say, treat her as the treasure she is, rather than dwelling on her perceived shortcomings. So what if she does not know about the League of Nations or Kim Jong-Il (two things which Uncle Millie also knows nothing about)? So what if she is unduly fascinated by the goings-on in Hollywood (as so many lasses are)? If these conversations are so painful to you, simply limit your availability by phone and electronic means. Surely you can endure some addle-pated conversation a night or two per week in exchange for spectacular lovemaking.

Better yet, if her lack of intelligence is simply too much for you to bear, point her in the direction of Uncle Millie. I'd certainly know what to do with her, and I assure you that it would not involve giving her current-events quizzes or dragging her off to some dreadful opera.

Dear Uncle Millie,

I know you're a busy man, so I'll give you the situation in a nutshell: I've been married for 5 years. My wife and I have gotten along pretty well so far, but she's decided she wants a kid. I don't. She knows this. I thought she didn't want kids either, but apparently, she's had a change of heart. How do we deal with this?

Mitch in Emmittsburg

That's women for you, lad. The old bait-and-switch. While you're dating, she'll pretend to agree with whatever you want, but once she's got you in her clutches, out come the demands for what she always wanted but didn't dare say, for fear of chasing you off. Now she wants children. She wants a fancy house. She wants you to come home from the bar before closing time. She wants - perish the thought - monogamy. They'll do it to you every time, lad. At least three of my marriages ended because of precisely this.

Now, Uncle Millie happens to be fond of children. I have at least ten or eleven very special children (possibly more, if the DNA tests establish a definite match), and I cherish them all. I have regular contact with at least half of them, and I would be in touch with more, were it not for those pesky restraining orders files by their vindictive mothers. Even though my wallet is much, much emptier for their presence, my heart is much fuller, which almost makes up for it.

Now, there are pitfalls to beware of with children, besides the obvious financial one. For instance, your wife is unlikely to want to make love during the later stages of her pregnancy, and after the child is born, she's likely to be so tired that romance will be the last thing on her mind. But if you've got a trustworthy mistress lined up - and do have one, right? - this should not be a problem for you. Fortunately, your wife will be too exhausted to track your extracurricular activities.

Worse yet, lasses today are fixated on the concept of "equal parenting." In Uncle Millie's salad days, it was the woman's duty to handle child-rearing, while the man's duty involved such things as financial support and discipline. This was a fine arrangement for everyone involved. Nowadays, though, everything's gone topsy-turvy: women expect their men to be equal partners in parenting! I've never heard something so absurd in all my life. If God wanted men to raise children, He would have given us child-bearing hips.

At any rate, your wife may be expecting you to share equally in the raising of this child. In fact, I suspect this may be at the heart of your reluctance regarding children. If so, lad, you have the right of it. I suggest that you present your wife with the following offer: You will agree to have children, provided that she is willing to agree to the old-fashioned distribution of labor, wherein you bring home the bacon, and she cooks it for dinner. She will likely balk at this, at which point you can say, "But I thought you wanted children." At that point, the decision is up to her, but either way, you can't lose: either she abandons the idea of children, or you will not be stuck raising them. It's a win-win situation.

And now, lads, I must away. They are playing my song (that song, of course, being "One Bourbon, One Shot, One Beer"), and I feel like dancing. Assuming I can get my legs to work. Happy hunting!

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 10:57 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 11, 2007

Amateur Comic Review: Week of 2-28-2007 and 3-7-2007

Okay, this didn't work out quite as I'd hoped. I missed last week as real life caught up with me. Moving my office and getting a new puppy does that. Also, this is a Captain America #25-free zone. I usually read the book, but I've never gotten around to getting it on my pull list. Ooops...guess I wait for the inevitable reprint.


52 Week 43-44
Was it just two weeks ago I raved about this title? After a series of strong issues, 52 is off the rails. Week 43 brings back the just awful space opera storyline and resurrects Lady Styx for some unknown reason. The rest of 43 and all of Week 44 concentrates on the disintegration of the Black Marvel family. DC – in a spoilerrific move that seems like something Marvel would do – let it slip that Black Adam would be the villain for the upcoming World War Three. Now, since Adam has spent the previous 42 weeks not being a villain, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that something awful would happen to his wife and brother-in-law. And Holey Moley do some awful things happen here: Osiris gets eaten by Sobek (revealed to be the Fourth Horseman of Apokolips) and Isis is killed. Now, as Isis dies she tells Adam to avenge her, merely contradicting every single thing we've ever seen about this character.

Justice League of America #6
Are you kidding me? Six issues of this moronic Red Tornado's-a-real-boy-now crap and we end exactly where we started from? Does Brad Meltzer not realize that nobody other than him gives a goddamn about this guy? Not only was this storyline absurdly drawn out, but it was terrible to begin with. I'll give this book another shot during the JSA/JLA crossover, but after that, the hell with it.

Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil
Hey, a DC book that doesn't suck. Jeff Smith's Prestige series revamp of Captain Marvel continues to charm, expanding on the relationship between Billy and Cap, introducing a lovely take on Mary Marvel and featuring several pages of the Big Red Cheese beating up on giant talking alligators. Plus an origin for Tawky Tawny that totally works. Just a fun comic book.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes 2-28-2007
The Dominator War storyline, which has basically been building since this revamp began, is heading toward a close. This densely plotted series is one of DC's best, and this issue -with a nice blend of action and character work, especially with the Ranzz brothers – proves why.

Blue Beetle #12 2-28-2007
While this isn't a particularly compelling issue (mostly settling the previous New Gods storyline and setting up the next), this underrated book is consistently entertaining. This is a revamp of a B-list character, but it's blend of mystery and spot-on teen characterization deserves better status.

Civil War: The Initiative #1
Well, thanks Marvel. Thank you for charging me five goddamn dollars for what is basically a coming attractions book. When DC did this with Brave New World a few months back, they slapped a 99 cent price tag on it. Of course, most of the stuff in BNW was awful, so it wasn't much of a bargain. Neither is this, for that matter. We get a look at Omega Flight – which might be the most inexplicable team in Marvel history (Beta Ray Bill! USAgent! Whatever the hell the second Spider-Woman calls herself!), a look at the revamped Thunderbolts (only two months after that series began), some Avengers, a bit of Iron Man: Director of SHIELD and so on.

We learn three things: Warren Ellis isn't taking Thunderbolts all that seriously. Marc Silvestri may be the most overrated artist of the past 20 years. And Silvestri really, REALLY likes drawing Ms. Marvel's ass.

The Mighty Avengers #1
Hey, is this a light-hearted, entertaining super team book? From post-Civil War Marvel? Really?

Yep. I had high hopes for this title, and it really lived up to it. The Mighty Avengers isn't rocket science, just an old-fashioned team book with enjoyable characters and some monsters rampaging though downtown Manhattan. Brian Bendis does some of his patented banter -especially during the framing sequence with Iron Man and Ms. Marvel choosing the team. Frank Cho does some of his best work on the art, and while he's best known as a “good girl” artist, he really shines here. Reminds me a little of Kevin Maguire in places.

And the hot girl Ultron? So gloriously goofy I can't help but love it.

Dr. Strange: The Oath#5 2-28-2007
Please let Brian K. Vaughn and Marcos Martin do an on-going Dr. Strange series. This finale was note-perfect, and I loved it so much I may have to buy it again in trade.

Runaways #25 2-28-2007
Another BKV finale, here wrapping up his run on the second Runaways series. There isn't much to say here, other than this has been one of the very best books available from the big two since it's first issue. This book is handed off to Joss Whedon, and there is a legitimate concern about a downgrade in quality. High praise indeed...

Wonder Man #3 2-28-2007
Am I the only person in the world reading this book? Well, my wife reads my copy, but I may be the only one actually buying it. I know for a fact that I'm the only person at my shop who has Wonder Man on his or her pull list. People are missing out then, because this is Peter David, and no matter what he's writing, he will do so with wit and style. Seriously, PAD could write the phone book and there would be at least one or two funny lines.

Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D #15 2-28-2007
Ehhh... maybe. Making Tony Stark the head of SHIELD is a pretty good idea coming out of Civil War, but I'm not sold on the execution here. The rub is that Tony is running a military organization like he would his company (casual Fridays, child care, etcetera), and the old guard – in the form of Dum Dum Dugan – isn't terribly pleased. It sort of works, but it seems like such a ludicrous idea it never really takes hold. At least the Knauf brothers have some sort of handle on Tony Stark. He's not quite the loathsome fascist he was during Civil War.

Oh, and does Jim Steranko get residuals? Because Adi Granov's variant cover is the second Steranko rip Marvel has put out in as many months.

Fantastic Four #543
The FF's 45th anniversary, even though it comes about a year too late and in the midst of the Civil War-inspired implosion of Reed and Sue's marriage. Good luck with that Dwayne McDuffie. Lucky for us, McDuffie is up to the task. The main story is touching look back at the career of the four, leading up the point where Reed and Sue leave the team, leaving us with a Fantastic Four of Johnny, Ben, Storm and the Black Panther. The back-up stories, a piece of Stan Lee lunacy and a Paul Pope silver age-style tale with Spider-Man and the Torch are worth the price of admission. JMS nearly put this title in the ground, but McDuffie is well on his way to reviving it.

X-Factor #16 2-28-2007
This is the best X-book available, even considering the mediocre art it's been plagued with. Peter David is looking much deeper into what it means to be a mutant than most Marvel writers have, and it pays off. Here Jamie continues to track down stray duplicates, this time finding one in Vermont that has settled down in a new life and started a family. The traveling has really helped this title rather claustrophobic feel, and while the Monet and Teresa in Paris bit hasn't completely worked, the main story more than makes up for it.

Wolverine #51 2-28-2007
Looks great, reads awful. That's really all you need to know about this title. Simone Bianchi's art is stunning, his “washed halftones” and Paul Mount's subdued colors make this a feast for the eyes. Just ignore the words, because this is Jeph Loeb at his worst. Wolverine is a muddled, confusing mess that marks a low point in the character's history. Which is saying something, since Marvel is also publishing Wolverine: Origins.

Bullet Points #5
Another great artist hampered by awful writing. I'm really rather glad this series has concluded, because I kept fighting the urge to drop it. J. Michael Straczynski's giant “What If?” story really never went anywhere, and every moderately interesting thing about it petered out. A giant waste of time.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #14 2-28-2007
This book – while I really do enjoy it – almost certainly reads better as a trade. John Jackson Miller is taking the long way though his storylines, and I have no problem with that. This issue of KotOR again hews close to the video game series, reintroducing one of the best-loved characters from the games. Here we see the young hotshot Carth Onasi, a welcome antidote to the bitter Carth of the first game. This is one of my favorite books right now.

Star Wars: Legacy #9
Legacy is always entertaining, but usually derivative. This issue is no different, as writer John Ostrander seems to be repeating himself. The fringe space station, the sniveling toady, the exotically beautiful bad girl... much of this issue seems right out of his Republic series. That which doesn't, like the moments between the Emperor and his Imperial Knights work best. Having to correct a huge coloring flaw from a previous issue doesn't help matters.

Dynamo 5 #1
The idea is terrific: A Superman-style hero who dies and leaves behind super powered illegitimate children. Those kids have to turn themselves into a team and take over his work. It is a brilliantly skewed look at the genre and really should work. And it sorta almost does. This is a first issue and as such it spends a lot of time setting things up. We also have a giant fight, a couple of interesting reveals and it all seems a little too much for one issue. Give it time though, the idea -and newcomer Mahmud Asrar's art – is brilliant.

The Authority #2
Hey! The titular characters actually appear in this book. Really no point in reading this book in serial form, as there was 5 full months inbetween #1 and #2 and that should be the way it goes from here on out.

Castle Waiting #5
Linda Medley's charming fairy tale continues, and it's impressive how much the little things entertain here. Simple art, oftentimes mundane storylines, and yet it works.

Strangers in Paradise #88
Can it really be only two more issues in Terry Moore's epic? After the shattering revelations of last issue, everyone attempts to get on with their lives. Francine comes to a decision about 5 years too late, and we begin to lean just who Casey really is. A bit of a downer after last issue, but the last two are setting up well.

Posted by Frinklin at 03:34 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

March 08, 2007

Ah, Cinema!

Last night, I stopped by my parents' house, and my dad had just turned on a movie, "High Art". I sat down to watch it with him, or at least as much as we could stand, which was about half an hour's worth.

A quick summary of the plot: There is a young woman in a New-York-like urban setting (as Dad described it, "the Lower Lower Side of New York") works for a magazine and claims to have majored in "critical theory" (which I doubt is an actual major, but serves as justification for the constant stream of pretentious artsy-fartsy piffle that comes out of her mouth). She discovers that her upstairs neighbor is a drug-using lesbian photographer who has a large circle of drug-using friends, many of whom are lesbians, none of whom are photographers. Young Woman tries to coax Lesbian Photographer to work for the magazine. Drug use, lesbianism, and depression ensue.

This movie is utterly without redeeming qualities. All of the characters are creepy and unappealing, none of the cast can act, the action is as boring as it's possible for a movie filled with drug use and lesbianism to be, and the mood is unrelentingly depressing. The film feels like a two-hour-long advertisement for suicide.

Dad summed it up aptly: "Drugs, lesbians, and photography. You'd think it would be impossible to make a bad movie featuring those three elements. But this movie shows that it is very possible indeed."

At one point, my mother walked in and sat down to watch the film. Within 30 seconds, she was shouting, "Turn it off, turn it off!" When Dad asked why, she replied, "Because it's creepy and disturbing. I want to slit my wrists just watching it. Is it set in Hell?"

The closest thing the film has to a star is Ally Sheedy, who plays Lesbian Photographer. When she first appeared on screen, Dad and I had the following exchange:

MF: I know that one!
DAD: I don't. Who is it?
MF: Ally Sheedy.
DAD: Who?
MF: Ally Sheedy.
DAD: Who the hell is Ally Seedy?
MF: Sheedy. She was a member of the Brat Pack. Remember them?
DAD: Oh. (pause) Wait a minute. That's a woman?
MF: Yes.
DAD: I was absolutely certain it was a man.

For some reason, the IMDb listing is flooded with people who loved the film and claim that it is one of the best movies of all time. I believe that these people all work for the production company.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 11:12 AM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

March 07, 2007

Cuteness as promised

This would be Perdita. She's adapting pretty well. There hasn't been a late-night accident or need to go out since her second night, and she is devoted to big brother Jeffrey.
She's also adorable, as you can see here.


Posted by Frinklin at 11:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The New Commute

Or non-commute as it may be. I'm a telecommuter nowadays. As of Monday, my office is the upstairs bedroom. I like it... I think. You can't beat the hours. Instead of hitting the 7:10 train in and the 5:40 train home, I take a good 90 seconds to head upstairs. There are some drawbacks though. I really miss being in Seattle each day. I don't miss the office, and I certainly don't miss the people, but I do miss walking through the city each day. There is also the problem that work becomes a little too accessible. I've already found myself checking my email at odd times.

It's also difficult to work when the cat crawls up the back of the office chair when you're on the phone. But I'll deal.

Posted by Frinklin at 10:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Quote of the Day

"The theme might be 'Dude, Where's My Candidate?' "

- Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, describing the 2008 campaign

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 05:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 06, 2007

Uncle Millie Settles His Debt

Loyal readers of this site may have noticed the quasi-triumphant return of America's favorite fugitive romantic columnist, Uncle Millie, a couple weeks back. You may also recall that I made mention of a $500 debt he owed to me. Well, despite his best attempts to evade me afterward, I managed to track him down again. Apparently, a middle-aged gringo with a fake Irish accent doesn't exactly blend in well in Guadalajara, especially when he's too drunk to remember who he's supposed to be running from.

At any rate. After a protracted negotiation, during which Uncle Millie offered to send me "All You Can Drink" happy-hour coupons for the cantina at which he has taken up residence and I demanded something more in the way of hard currency, we struck a compromise. You see, after Uncle Millie emerged from the woodwork, my inbox was deluged with letters from the lovelorn, who have apparently been hoping fervently for Millie's return, so that he could provide his unique brand of insight on their situations. I have agreed to forsake the debt if he would answer some of the questions I've received.

Therefore, what follows is the first installment of Uncle Millie's repayment, if you will. His columns will appear on an irregular basis until I decide that he has paid me back sufficiently, or until he becomes sober enough to flee elsewhere successfully.

Without further ado, I once again present... Uncle Millie!

- - - - -

Love Hurts, Especially If Her Husband Catches the Two Of You In Bed Together, by Uncle Millie

Hello again, lads! Greetings from glorious Guadalajara! If you ever have a chance to travel south of the border and pay this city a visit, I heartily recommend it to all of you. Guadalajara is a truly gorgeous place, at least the part I can see out of the window of this cantina. For I have not moved from this bar in three weeks, lads. Three weeks of solid drinking and inertia! Life is beautiful, indeed.

Well, my good lad Fred informs me that many of you have sent him romantic queries, in the hope that I might help you through your plight. Fear not, lads, your Uncle Millie would not forsake you in your respective times of need. With a glass or twelve of inspiration at my side, I shall endeavor to once again assist you in finding your way through the battlefield of love and romance. As you know, there is no soldier more veteran on this battlefield than yours truly. If love is a battlefield, think of me as a five-star general. Sort of Dwight Eisenhower with a harem.

And now, let us consider our first letter.

Dear Uncle Millie,

I have been married for 10 years. Our marriage was great at first, but in recent years, things have gone downhill. All we do is fight, it seems like: over money, chores, the kids, etc., etc. Sometimes, whole days go by where we hardly speak to each other, except to argue. And forget about sex. We're basically roommates at this point.

In order to deal with the loneliness, I began a discreet affair with "Margaret" about a year ago. Margaret is a young woman my wife and I knew socially for a long time before the affair began. She's everything my wife isn't: funny, sweet, creative, and not 25 pounds heavier than when I first met her.

Our relationship went along great for months, until Margaret started putting pressure on me to leave my wife. God knows I wanted to, but I decided that I couldn't do that to my kids, so I broke things off with Margaret instead. As far as I can tell, my wife never suspected a thing.

Even though the affair is over, I find that it still bothers me, and makes it hard to sleep at night. Sometimes I think I'd feel better if I just confessed. Do you think I should tell my wife what happened?

Damon in Steubenville

Oh, lad, lad, lad. It's a fortunate thing that I have returned, so that I can show you the error of your ways before it is too late. This is the reason I entered the romantic-advice business in the first place: to help well-meaning but misguided lads like yourself.

First of all, I want to commend you for your wise decision to break things off with "Margaret." In my vast experience, there is nothing worse than a mistress who does not recognize her place. Just as coaches wish to be general managers and actors wish to direct, too many mistresses wish to be wives. A perfect mistress knows that her role is to be available, discreet, and undemanding. Alas, too many of them forget this and start thinking marriage, which spoils everything. Once they get the idea in their heads, there is no stopping them, and they can cause a lot of trouble for you and those around you. I know from first-hand experience just how hard it is to give up on a particularly delightful mistress who fails to recognize her place, but it must be done. So good on you, lad, for carrying it off.

Having done so well in that regard, why would you want to ruin it all by confessing to your wife? Honestly, she's better off not knowing. Put yourself in her place for a moment, lad: imagine that your husband told you that not only had he been carrying on behind your back, but that he'd manage to deceive you completely, thus making you a cuckold and a fool at once. How would that make you feel? Why would you want to hurt her in that way? If she is particularly distressed by the news, she may even divorce you, which would cause the harm to your children that you worked so hard to avoid, and will leave you without your wife, your mistress, your children, and half of your property. Not a wise decision, lad.

More importantly - you got away with it! You had an affair and didn't get caught. You are a hero to men in loveless marriages everywhere. Do you realize how many men would give years off their life to be in your position? You cannot let these men down, lad. Besides, if you confess, even if your wife does not leave you, she will no doubt begin playing Sherlock Holmes in a skirt, as women are wont to do, and examine every aspect of your life with a fine-toothed comb. You'll never be able to get away with anything again, should you decide to begin another affair in the future (which, believe me, you will). In addition, she'll surely hit you over the head with this in every future argument, which will become tiresome. Think it through, lad!

None of this will help you sleep at night, I realize. Should you find yourself in a situation where you simply must confess in order to ease the burden on your conscience, do not tell your wife. Instead, seek out a trusted and discreet professional to whom you can confess with confidence. I find that bartenders are ideally suited for this purpose.

Dear Uncle Millie,

A couple months ago, "Lisa" started working at my office. And I've been in love with her since the moment I saw her. She's beautiful and charming, with a smile that makes me weak in the knees and a laugh that lights up the room. We've talked a lot since she started, and we have so much in common: same taste in food, movies, music, even the same favorite color! ("purple")

Needless to say, I really want to ask her out. But here's the awkward part: I am Lisa's boss. Besides the inevitable awkwardness if she says no, we work together every day and so wouldn't be able to avoid each other. (And I wouldn't want her to quit, because she's a great worker and I don't want to lose her.) And if we do start a relationship and our coworkers find out about it, I'll get the HR smackdown faster than you can say, "Your place or mine?"

I feel like I'm tiptoeing through a minefield. But she's so wonderful! Should I ask her out?

Ben in Los Angeles

Ah, lad, the office romance. As amazing as it may seem, Uncle Millie has never had one of these, due to the fact that I've never had an office job, thank the Lord. Nonetheless, they are as American as baseball, apple pie, and French ticklers. And indeed, given the workaholic culture in America, how could most of us meet mates, if not at the office?

The chain-of-command issue is a tricky one, though, one that has blown many a worthy relationship to smithereens, and you have the right of it to be afraid. But when God drops a gift like "Lisa" into your lap, so to speak, you'd have to be a monk or a fool to pass up the opportunity.

As to your specific issues: you need not worry that she will turn you down. Power is an aphrodisiac, after all, and since she's new, I can't imagine she'd be willing to risk her position by saying no to you. So you needn't concern yourself there.

Once your relationship begins, there is a certain risk, naturally. But bosses and subordinates have been carrying on for as long as there have been women in the workplace, and only rarely does it come to grief. The key, of course, is discretion. If you make love in the office (and really, who hasn't?), make sure that you lock your door first. If your door does not lock, prop a chair under the knob. If you work in a cubicle, you should avoid the office-lovemaking scenario, or at least wait until everyone has gone home. Follow these tips, and you can enjoy "Lisa's" company to your heart's desire. Go forth and be fruitful!

Oh, and if you need further tips on discretion, I believe the lad in the letter above yours could offer a few pointers.

Dear Uncle Millie,

Are those of us who are losers in love destined to always be losers? I've always had bad romantic luck. When I was a dateless loser in high school, everyone said, "Don't worry. When you get older, women will start to appreciate you." Well, I'm 35 now, and they never did start. I've only had a handful of relationships in my life, none for more than a couple months.

I read an article about a study someone did, that supposedly shows that lucky people are lucky because they believe they're lucky. If that's the case, I'm really screwed, because I've always believed that I walk around with a black cloud over my head. "Think positive," people say. But how am I supposed to think positive when my romantic history is a pile of fly-blown roadkill with the buzzards picking off the best parts?

I'm starting to think that I'll never have a long-lasting relationship. Since you're the master of romance, I'm hoping that you can share some tips on how to get the women, so that I won't die old and alone.

Charlie in Cynthiana

Aye, lad, 'tis a tough situation. Uncle Millie has never experienced a slump anything like yours, of course, but I have known many fine fellows who, for whatever reason, never seemed to have the knack with the lasses.

I agree with the article you read that love is a confidence game. Myself, I've never lacked for confidence. But then, with a list of lovers that would make Wilt Chamberlain blush, it's easy to be confident. For someone with as sad a history as yours, lad, not so much.

Nonetheless, I have some advice. When a baseball hitter is in a slump, he often starts to press. He begins to think that he must hit a home run on the next pitch. What usually happens in this instance is that he grits his teeth, grinds his bat handle into sawdust, and produces yet another strikeout.

I suspect something similar is happening to you. When you see a pretty lass, do you start hearing wedding bells in the background? Do you feel like you simply must make it work with her, or you'll wind up single forever? I know you do, lad. And that's your problem. You're pressing.

What you need is something, or more accurately someone, to break your losing streak. The best way to do this is to set your sights a bit lower. Rather than striving for a "home run" - a lifetime of romantic bliss and companionship - shoot for a "single" - a night of erotic and hopefully disease-free amusement. Fortunately, singles bars were practically invented for this purpose. I'll bet that you've never considered that route, lad, but consider: an overcrowded room full of hormonal young lads and lasses, having a few drinks to grease the rails a bit, all looking for a night of fun. Believe me, lad, after a certain point, women will go home with anyone who can walk out under his own power, or at least crawl. Granted, you may have to wait a while for this to happen, by which point your pickings may be a tad slim. You may have to settle for someone who isn't quite as pretty or as smart as your ideal, or who may be missing certain teeth. But it's that snobbish insistence on perfection that put you in this slump in the first place, no? Remember, all hits count the same in the scorebook.

You may protest that you're not going to find your true love in some dive bar, and indeed you will most likely not. But this is not the point. Just as a hitter in a slump may take a detour to the minor leagues to regain his batting eye and confidence, you're trying to boost your numbers sufficiently that you will have the confidence necessary to attract the woman you really would like to have for yours.

And if you arrive at the singles bar and still find yourself unable to make a move, have a few drinks. If you've already had a few, have a few more. Remember, lad, they don't call it a "shot of courage" for nothing.

With that complete, lads, I must away. There is much drinking to be done! I must say that I am beginning to settle in here in lovely Guadalajara. I believe I am gaining the acceptance, respect, and even love of my compadres here. They have even seen fit to give me a nickname, "El Borracho." I am deeply moved.

Until next time, lads, happy hunting!

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 12:36 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 05, 2007

Quote of the Day

"It's a tremendously encouraging example for democracy, I feel, that it can flourish in a country where everyone hates everyone else as much as they appear to in America. Well, of course, it would be a good example of democracy, had not America decided against democracy [in the 2000] election because it was taking too long and making the news broadcasts tedious."

-Mil Millington

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 10:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 04, 2007

Monster Girl

We have another dog. While I'd love to say that this was an accident, or fate, or perhaps we tripped over the puppy and felt compelled to keep her. I can't. We went to the Humane Society. We (or I actually) said “Let's see that one.” We filled out the paperwork. We paid our donation fee. And now we have a fourth dog.

Ensie and I have been talking about another dog for some time now. At one point we actually had a third dog picked out and Pharaoh was to be number four. That didn't work out and we've played around with the idea ever since. Why? Well, as Ensie told her mother, “We have three. How different is four?” Now that my office is in the home (starting Monday anyway) both of us will be around a lot more. We have plenty more rationalizations. Actually we don't. We wanted another dog. We like the idea of rescuing animals.

Every Saturday we do our errands. Not only do we do the same errands just about every Saturday, we also take pretty much the same route. The Tacoma Humane Society is in-between the comic book shop and Target. As we're driving by Ensie says, “You don't want to go to the shelter do you?”

“Do YOU want to go the shelter?”

I'm known for such quick comebacks.

“I asked you.”

“Yeah, we can go to the shelter.... just to look right?”

Oh, of course not. The shelter was really busy, which is a good thing. They were also really full, which is a bad thing. We saw several dogs. There was the blinded Great Dane, but she needed to be the only dog in the house. There was Jasper, turned in by his owner, who looked and acted exactly like the Jeffery. There was Juliet, a rather large and laid-back black lab mix with haunting eyes that Ensie fell for.

Then there was Girl Jeffery. She's four months old, and she looks exactly like Jeffrey did when he was that age. The first time we saw her she was asleep in the corner of her cage. The next time we went by, the other dog in her cage was going to his forever home and she was rather excited. I fell in love. Since Ensie has picked out our last several animals, it was up to me; laid-back Juliet or slightly crazed puppy.

I picked the puppy. I had no choice. I was in love as soon as I saw her. We brought her home tonight and God Help us, she didn't stop moving for eight hours. Her name is Perdita, which is from A Winter's Tale. That sounds unbelievably pretentious until we tell people that Ensie picked it out because of some vague memory of high school Spanish. It's actually Latin and it means “lost”.

Yeah, you know what's lost? Our sanity. Pictures of the cuteness to come.

The title of this post? It comes from a series of possible names. Since we'd come from the comic book shop I thought of naming her after a comic character. I ran through your basic super heroine names, but who wants to name a dog Supergirl or She-Hulk. The only slightly good idea was naming her after Monster Girl from Invincible, which I'm sure will end up a nickname.

Posted by Frinklin at 01:24 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack