April 27, 2007

Not Dead Yet

I knew it was too good to last.

After maintaining a strict weekly schedule for all of three weeks, Uncle Millie has slipped back into his old habits. After his legendary post-St. Patrick’s day hangover and the subsequent Easter column, he disappeared from Guadalajara without warning and without leaving a forwarding address. At first I despaired of ever catching up with the old rogue again, but then I began hearing reports of a late-middle-aged gringo getting into scrapes passing out in public squares across central and southern Mexico. I figured that had to be our man.

Based on the pattern of incident reports, Uncle Millie appeared to be staggering in the general direction of Veracruz. It was there that I finally caught up with him, taking his libation in a cantina that asked not to be named. Uncle Millie reports that he’s been taking in a great deal of Mexican League baseball in Veracruz, and that the local women have been taking him in, which is surely nice for him. He has promised to keep me posted should he decide to take off again, so that we can continue to provide his column on a semi-regular basis. I don’t actually believe him, but I’m flattered that he would take the trouble to lie to me this way.

No matter; it’s time for some more advice from the romance columnist whose mind and body are both in the gutter, Uncle Millie!

- - - - -

If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time, I’d Turn Them Back To Last Night So I Could Remember What Happened To My Wallet, by Uncle Millie

Como estas, lads! Greetings from gorgeous, gorgeous Veracruz. Some of you may be a little surprised that I left Guadalajara after all this time. As those of you lads who have read me for a long time know, Uncle Millie was born with the wanderlust, and I can’t settle in one spot for very long, unless I’ve had too much to drink and lost the use of my faculties entirely.

Veracruz appeals to me because it is located by the water. For I have the sea in me blood, lads. You may not realize it, but the Irish are a nautical people. Indeed, it was my childhood dream to become a pirate. Something about the plundering of booty and the lusty sea wenches called to me. Tragically, my dream was not to be, as it turns out that I get seasick very easily and the salt water gives me a rash. But nonetheless, I am a child of the ocean. I am the sea and the sea is me.

In my rather prolonged absence, a number of queries have piled up in my mailbox. I certainly hope that my advice arrives in a timely fashion. I fear that some of the more desperate among you may have resorted to extreme measures by now. If these extreme measures have landed any of you in the service of the state, please drop Uncle Millie a line. I can recommend an excellent bail bondsman for you.

Now, on to our first letter!

Dear Uncle Millie,

My girlfriend “Selina” and I started dating as seniors in high school, and now we're freshmen in college (not the same college, though; we go to schools that are about an hour apart). This is the first serious relationship for both of us. Recently, Selina went to a party with friends, and afterward she told me that she felt uncomfortable because all her friends were dancing and flirting with guys and she couldn’t. She asked if we could have an open relationship, so she could “experience college" while still keeping our relationship. I said okay, as long as she told me about what she was doing. A couple weeks later, she tells me she went to party and had a few drinks, then made out with a 27-year-old guy (we're both 18).

This hurt me, and I told her that. She says making out with me is out of love, while making out with another guy is just something to do. We've talked about breaking up, but Selina and I both want to keep the relationship and make it work.

I love her very much, and I don't want to break up. But I’m not sure I can deal with her going out and doing things with other guys. Any advice would be appreciated.

Bobby in Orlando

Ah, lad, young love is so sweet. This dewy-eyed conviction that love conquers all is truly adorable to watch, particularly for those of us who are old enough to know better. Fortunately, Uncle Millie knows what lies in store for you. One of the primary reasons I got into the romantic-advice business in the first place was to counsel well-meaning but confused young lads just like yourself. So sit back and prepare to receive a lesson from the master.

First of all, let’s get one thing straight: “open relationship” is code for “it’s over, boyo.” Trust me, lad; I’ve employed this ruse many a time myself. When your lady friend said that she wishes to “experience college,” she doesn’t mean “college” so much as “making love to other lads.” I hate to be the one to break it to you, lad, but it’s better that you hear it from me rather than hearing it from her new gentleman friend when he tells you to stop calling her.

I imagine this will be hurtful to you, lad, but don’t let it get you down. In fact, you’ll find that in the long run, Selina has done you a big favor. For you should also be out “experiencing college,” lad. Orlando is a charming town, and I’ve no doubt that there are a great many well-tanned coeds there who are just waiting for the chance to, let’s say, show you the Magic Kingdom. College is a time to live it up, lad! When you find yourself at a club and there’s sultry music playing, and there’s a slinky young thing in a skimpy dress shooting you come-hither looks, do you really want to say no because you’re shackled to your Hometown Henrietta? I think not.

Let’s be honest, lad; what exactly can your lady do for you from an hour away? At best, some warm phone conversations and perhaps a rendezvous every week or two. That may be a good romantic life, if you’re a monk. But for a red-blooded American male? Perish the thought! You are at the height of your virility, lad! Don’t waste it pining away for your long-distance lass.

But you love her, you say. I’ve no doubt that you do. But you also say that it’s your first serious relationship. This should be sufficient impetus to make a change, lad. Let me ask you something. When you go to a restaurant, do you order the first thing on the menu? When you purchase a car, do you purchase the first you see one on the dealer’s lot? If you were to buy a house, would you buy the first house the agent brought you to? Of course not, lad. A smart person comparison-shops. That is the only way to know whether you are getting the best choice..

And so it is with love. Only a great fool settles for his first true love without at least sampling the alternatives. For many of us, it takes two, three, four, or eight marriages to get it right. Don’t be afraid to explore, lad! It is the only intelligent course of action. After all, you’re talking about the woman who will own half of your possessions in a few years. Aim high!

Dear Uncle Millie,

I am writing because I have a delicate problem, and I don’t know where to turn. I’ve been married to “Kurt” for two years. He’s a good husband, except that it seems like a lot of the time, he would rather masturbate than have sex. When we have sex, it’s good, and he tells me that he finds me attractive. But a couple times a week, he’ll come up with some excuse to get me to leave the house, and then he’ll do it. When I come back, he tries to act like nothing has happened.

Sometimes I’ll be in the mood and Kurt will say he isn’t, or that he’s tired, but then he’ll go to the computer, and I know what he's up to. I find that very hurtful. We’ve talked about it, and he says he’ll change his ways. He does for a while, then it’s the same old thing again. I think he’s just being lazy, because it's easier to have sex with himself than go to the trouble of satisfying me and my needs. What do you think?

Linda in Fresno

This letter is a bit of a stumper to Uncle Millie. I have never understood why a healthy lad would choose self-help when he has the option of a live woman available to him. It is my understanding that most lads consider self-help only when they have no alternative, other than doing without. (I would have no way of knowing for certain; after all, Uncle Millie never does without.) When a lad has a living, breathing woman who wishes to make love to him, and he still opts for his own company, so to speak, there is clearly a problem. As far as I can tell, this problem may have one of two sources.

The first possible explanation is that Kurt has a physical problem of some sort. When you do make love, has he had any trouble rising to the occasion, if you catch my drift? If he is able to raise the mast, is he able to finish the voyage, if you know what I mean? If his problem lies in this area, there is no shame in that. There are any number of professionals who can provide him with assistance to rectify the situation. The hardest part will be convincing him to actually make the call, but if you approach it gently and assure him that he is no less of a man in your eyes, that should help.

Now, if his problem is not physical, then the area of concern is a little different. He says that he find you attractive, but really, what else could he say, unless he wants to be running a one-man show permanently? Allow me to pose a few questions of you, my dear: Have you put on a great deal of weight in the last couple years? Have you been a nag? Have you attempted to make him do half of the housework, or something similarly absurd? The poor lad may have a very good reason for preferring his own company, and you must be open to the possibility. Most lads in this situation would employ the time-honored solution of taking a mistress, but perhaps your lad is hung up on the concept of fidelity. Or perhaps he is no prize himself, and could not pay for companionship without attracting your attention. (And before the feminists bombard me with angry letters, let me say this: Marriage is a contractual relationship. Alas, unlike most contracts, there is no warranty provision. If you were promised a sleek sports car, but instead received a rusted-out minivan with no engine, you would demand your money back, no? If a lad is the victim of a comparable marital bait-and-switch, not only can he not return her to the store, but in fact, she gets his money. Where is the justice, I ask you?)

Whatever the source of the problem, deploying your feminine wiles certainly couldn’t hurt, and could only help. Candles, wine, lacy lingerie, fishnet stocking, high heels… you get the idea. Perhaps some mid-week evening, you can try serving him dinner without clothes. (I mean, of course, that you should be without clothes, not the dinner. Who ever heard of a dinner wearing clothes? That would be silly. But I digress.) Perhaps you can purchase a couple of collections of Penthouse Letters and treat them as a sort of instruction manual. If you do attempt the old-fashioned methods to relight his flame, I urge you to document your efforts. Photographic evidence is particularly useful. If you do take photographs, I urge you to send a copy to Uncle Millie, for assistance in further diagnosing the problem. (Unless you have indeed put on a lot of weight recently, in which case, feel free to keep the photos to yourself.)

Dear Uncle Millie,

I have been seeing “Shirley” for about 5 months. We met through an online dating service. We’re a great fit in a lot of ways; we have a lot of similar interests, similar senses of humor, and we both love to cook. Shirley’s very attractive, a great listener, and she’s up for anything. In almost every way, our relationship is perfect.

There is only one catch, and that’s what I’m writing to you about. The uninhibited side that makes Shirley so much fun in bed becomes a problem in public. I enjoy letting loose in private, but I believe that our love life should be private. Not Shirley. She insists on making out in public in a way I find inappropriate. When we’re standing in line, she fondles my rear end. She surprises me at work with French kisses and dirty talk, and tries to get me to make love in the office. Some of my co-workers have commented on her behavior. I’ve tried to talk to Shirley about it, but she says, “That’s just how I am. When I’m in love, I show it.” She says that I’m just uptight.

We’ve talked about this several times, but we can’t seem to find a happy medium. I enjoy her company very much, but her behavior is becoming embarrassing. Should I break up with her? Or should I just grin and bear it?

David in Lafayette

I’m sorry, but are you daft, lad? You have a lass who is so enamored of you that she cannot keep her hand off of you, and you consider yourself to have a problem? Do you realize how many times Uncle Millie has unsuccessfully attempted to coax lasses to do the very same things that yours seems to do at the drop of a hat? This lass is a gift from a loving God, lad! She is perfect. By your own description, she is very attractive, doesn’t talk too much, and she’s an animal in bed and out of bed. What in heaven’s name are you complaining about, lad?

So, no, you do not “grin and bear it.” If you have a woman who expresses an avid interest in making love in your office and who sticks her tongue down your throat at every available opportunity, you get down on your knees and you thank the Man Upstairs for this blessing, and then you treat her like a queen and pray that you don’t screw it up. You “grin and bear” your in-laws. You “grin and bear” mediocre sex. You do not “grin and bear” this, lad.

In fact, if this behavior troubles you so deeply, you should not abide it. Absolutely not. You do not deserve it. You should do this lass a favor and let her loose. If you would be so kind as to point her in the direction of Uncle Millie, your sins will be absolved. Because I assure you that I would not have to “grin and bear it.” I would embrace her preference for public affection with the enthusiasm it deserves. As for you, lad, I suggest that you marry an accountant, or a librarian, or someone similarly frigid. The two of you can enjoy your tepid relations in strictest privacy, kissing only when Miss Manners would approve, and enjoy your polite and constrained little life. If you find yourself pining for the passion of your warm-blooded ex, do not come crying to Uncle Millie. I will be otherwise occupied.

And so concludes another column’s work. I would like to close by commending the work of a new English singer, a fellow by the name of Professor Green. I was introduced to his work by a compadre here in Veracruz. Professor Green sings the rap, which is definitely not Uncle Millie’s usual cup of tea. (My usual cup of tea is a Scotch.) But he performed a song called “Stereotypical Man,” which summed up my existence remarkably well. I found myself delighted that a modern entertainer had such sensitive insight into the human condition. If you don’t believe me, I offer you this passage:

What do women without issues and unicorns have in common?
They’re both myths; neither exist.

Truer words were never spoken. I salute you, Professor. Happy hunting, lads!

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 12:07 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 26, 2007

Ron Mexico is no longer entertaining

There are subjects that are difficult to blog. Some are difficult because I might not have an opinion on them, others difficult because I may lack any particular knowledge. Still other things that are so minute that even a blog mention seems overkill.

Than there are subjects that are hard to comment on because my feelings can be summed up with nothing more than a long primal scream.

This is one of those times.

Michael Vick, the prodigiously talented and oftentimes frustrating quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons has had an interesting couple of years. The Ron Mexico mess, the secret compartment water bottle, the “coach killer” comment from his then-head coach's father. More than that, there has been a singular sense developing around the NFL that Michael Vick might not ever become the player he should be. This was all rather entertaining.

Not anymore. Today authorities in Virginia raided a house owned by Vick and located “dozens” of dogs, mostly pit bulls or pit bull mixes, some injured and emaciated. The raid was initially regarding a outstanding drug warrant against Vick's cousin Davon Boddie. What they found was evidence of an illegal dog-fighting ring. Some of the dogs were kept in kennels, others were chained to car axles buried in the yard. There was ample evidence of dog fighting, like a series of treadmills for conditioning, a scale to weigh combatants, and what are known as “rape stands” - locking mechanisms that allow fighting dogs to breed.

I won't get into whatever responsibility Vick has for this. It's unknown if he lived at the property, but not even a professional athlete can be that far removed from life not to know what was happening at the house. Recently the NFL installed tough – some would say draconian – off the field conduct guidelines. Witness the season-long suspension of the moronically criminal Pacman Jones.

I freely admit to be overly emotional about this issue. I have two pit bull mixes, and there are movements all over to the country to get my dogs banned. At this is the reason. Pit bulls are no more likely to become violent than any other breed, but people like this make them so. These dog-fighting bastards turn a sensitive, smart breed into monsters. What's the worst that will happen to Vick? A fine? Maybe some probation? Maybe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspends him for a game or two. And yet this will go on, in every city across our country.

And people will be afraid of the 7-month old puppy who has sat behind me contently chewing a rawhide bone as I wrote this. Perdita was a stray, almost certainly part pit bull. She's a beautiful brindle puppy, all legs and tail. She's smart and loyal and loving. Her most threatening feature is a high-pitched, trilling, almost comical growl that Ensie and I call the “ROOOO of doom.”

And I know damn well she might have been meant to be a fighter somewhere. The same is true of Jeffrey. He certainly looks the part – a black, 80-pound hulk of a pit – a bit high-strung and wary of strangers, but so dangerous he's currently curled up under the covers with my wife. Hell, he was invited to fight. Jeffrey was only about eight months old then, but already about 50 pounds. I'd taken him with me through the drive-through at Burger King (he still does this) and the window attendant asked me if I was gonna “take him to the fights.” I was so stunned I just stammered “no” and drove off.

I should have reported it. I wish I'd punched him in the face.

For more information of dog fighting and how to prevent it, please check out Pet-Abuse.Com. Thanks to Deadspin for the story about Vick.

Posted by Frinklin at 11:25 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

April 23, 2007

Sometimes I just can't believe the country we live in

Ashburn, Georgia holds its first integrated prom.

Nice job fellas, only 53 years after Brown v. Board of Education.

Posted by Frinklin at 09:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 14, 2007


Sixty years ago today, a 28 year old black man - a father, a veteran, a decorated athlete in three sports - stepped on to the field in Brooklyn, wearing number 42 emblazoned on a snow-white Dodger uniform. He would play for 10 seasons, collect 1518 hits, 137 home runs and 947 runs scored. He would win the Rookie of the Year in 1947, the MVP in 1949, and be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1962.

And he changed our national game - and our nation - forever.

Photo courtesy of the Academy of Achievement

Happy Jackie Robinson Day.

Crossposted at No Rhubarb!

Posted by Frinklin at 11:50 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 13, 2007

RIP Kurt Vonnegut

I've been in a thick blue funk ever since I found out about this. I can't think of anything meaningful to write, except this: It would have been appropriate if the world had blown up yesterday, as a tribute to Vonnegut's memory. Dark humor, sure, but I think Kurt would have appreciated it.

This broke my heart, though it didn't really surprise me:

It can also be a sad thing, when you meet that writer late in his life, to see that his literary antidepressant isn't working anymore -- if it ever really did -- and that there's no way to cheer him up...

When the war was over, Vonnegut had trouble getting out of the army. "They found out I could type and they sent me out to Fort Riley and I was typing other people's discharges," he said, laughing at the memory. "And my feeling was then: Please, can't I go home? I've done everything I was supposed to do."

He stopped laughing.

"So that's how I feel now," he said. "Please, I've done everything, you know? Raised kids and all that, worked, tried to do good work -- can't I go home now? And I think about where home is. It's Indianapolis when I was 9 years old, and you can't go back there. But I had a mother and a father, a big sister, a big brother, a dog, a cat -- and yeah, that's where I'd like to go."

If there is a God and if He or She is kind -- which, it must be said, the author of "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" would have been the first to doubt -- that is exactly where Kurt Vonnegut is right now.

I hope you were wrong about God, Kurt, and that you've found a home, finally, up there.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 12:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 11, 2007

It's Way Too Early for Campaign '08 Update: Mitt Romney

So, last night I was watching C-SPAN again. (Normally, I insert some sort of witty explanation here, but I'm busy, so let's just stipulate that I'm a loser and move on.) I happened to catch former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney giving a speech in Keene, New Hampshire. Romney is one of the guys I haven't seen much of, but is one of the Republicans I want to know more about.

The reason is that I'm concerned about the Democrats. I have yet to be entranced by any of the primary contenders for the Democratic nomination. Hillary leaves me cold; I'm amazed at her ability to sound like a condescending scold every single time she opens her mouth. She's worse than Sam Brownback. PG over at Half the Sins of Mankind loves Barack Obama, and she keeps coming up with tidbits to entice me, such as quoting comparisons of Obama to my beloved Adlai Stevenson, but I'm not on board yet. If the primary process is like finding a date for the prom, Obama is the foreign exchange student who appears on the scene halfway through senior year: sexy, worldly, appealing, yes. But do you really know about her? What if she's harboring some secret you aren't aware of? Obama has been on the national stage for exactly four years, having in that time won a grand total of one election, against the certifiably nutso Alan Keyes. We don't know where his skeletons are yet. It might turn out, say, that he clubs kittens and drowns them in the Potomac in his spare time. We don't know. Edwards has been pretty solid so far, but I haven't gotten over his Breck-girl act from '04 yet. He seems more knowledgeable know, but in the sense of a student who pulls an all-nighter and reads the whole textbook the night before the final. And we only need look at the current occupant of the White House to see how well the cram-for-the-Presidency strategy works. Richardson is clearly smart and capable enough, but he has all the charisma of Dick Gephardt on Sominex. And the remaining contenders are about as likely to be nominated in 2008 as I am. I've taken a few tentative steps toward Edwards, I guess, but no one's blown me away yet.

Given the fact that no Democrat has got me smitten yet, I've kept an eye on the Republican field to see if there's anyone I can get behind, on the theory that I'd rather see a Republican I respect in the White House than a Democrat I'm squeamish about. Unfortunately, I'm not sold there either. McCain seems to be the popular choice of crossover Democrats, but I think his primary allegiance is to himself and his ambition. When bipartisan was cool, McCain schmoozed the press and made conciliatory noises. Now that the Republicans appear to want a true believer, he's hastily (and somewhat crankily) assuring every one that he's a conservative's conservative. I believe McCain has sold his soul, Damn Yankees-style, in order to be president, which makes for fascinating literature, but not what I'd like to see in a real-life president.

Rudy Giuliani is the flavor of the month for the GOP, but I'm not a fan. Honestly, I'd rather listen to Hillary scold me for 4 years than see Rudy in charge. He's a bit of a fascist, and we'd do well to remember that he was wildly unpopular before September 11th. Yes, 9/11 changed everything. But it didn't change the fact that Giuliani is a thin-skinned bully with an authoritarian's flair for control and a hall monitor's passion for unnatural order. If none of that matters to you because Giuliani was a strong leader on the worst day in American history, then I understand. But waging war isn't the only thing the President does, and I'd prefer someone with a more balanced personality.

Among the second tier, Brownback is a man of principle, which I salute, but unfortunately, I disagree with him on just about everything. Mike Huckabee is affable and (I believe) has a real shot at winning if he can get more public attention. Alas, I'm a little burned out on cheery Southern governors who conceal their conservatism in a velvet glove at the moment. Jim Gilmore is delusional - he was a terrible governor of Virginia, he alienated so many people in his own party that he had a plum RNC slot yanked out from under him, and now he thinks he can be President? How cute. Tommy Thompson's a good guy, but his 15 minutes were up years ago. Fred Thompson is a moron who doesn't seem to like politics much; the fact that many conservatives seem to view him as a savior says a lot about the strength of the Republican field.

That leaves Romney. And I admit that I didn't know as much about him as I should. I knew that he was a reasonably popular and effective governor of Massachusetts. I knew that he is a Mormon (a fact that seems to appall and frighten many people, but not me). And I knew that he had a reputation as a flip-flopper. Apparently, having the kind of views that will get you elected governor of Massachusetts won't fly if you want to be the Republican nominee for President. So Romney has been running steadily to the right on... well, pretty much everything. Guns, abortion, gay rights, immigration, health care, you name it.

Honestly, flip-flopping probably bothers me less than it bothers most people. For one thing, there's a certain hypocrisy in the accusation. When a guy flip-flops away from your chosen views, he's unprincipled. When he flip-flops toward your chosen views, his thinking has evolved. Besides, "flip-flopping" is a charge that is often aimed at candidates who refuse to speak in the prescribed media-friendly soundbites. If Senator Blutarsky's views on a subject are too complex or lengthy for the public's attention span, he's branded a waffler.

Also, if Romney is actually a moderate trying to dress in conservative's clothing for the sake of the primary, that would be a plus (from my perspective). I'd certainly rather have a closet moderate like Romney in charge than an unapologetic right-wing conservative like, say, Brownback.

So, I came to this TV experience fully prepared to give Romney an honest hearing. What I saw amazed me. The half-hour or so I spent watching Romney at work convinced me of one thing: There is a job for which Romney would be absolutely perfect.

Alas for him, that job is not President. That job is game-show host.

Think about it: What makes for a good game-show host? You need to be good-looking, authoritative without being overbearing, genial, and you need to speak well. Romney is all of that in spades. He's a remarkably handsome man: tall, square-shouldered, firm-jawed, well-tanned. He speaks with perfect diction and a booming voice. And when he answers a question, locking eyes with the questioner and flashing those capped teeth, he's a match for Chuck Woolery at his best.

Of course, all of the above qualities also make for a good Presidential candidate as well. So why do I say Romney is better suited to "Love Connection" than to the White House? Because he sounds so patently insincere.

Compare Romney to, say, Bill Clinton. Clinton is also a handsome man, and he also has that game-show-host ability to connect with people. But Clinton always sounded perfectly sincere in everything he said (even when he was lying through his teeth). Romney sounds like he's reading all his answers off of cue cards held up by his operatives.

For instance, one member of the audience in New Hampshire asked Romney about the Second Amendment. Romney responded by saying that he was "after the NRA's endorsement," and admitting that he had recently joined the NRA "because if I'm going to ask for their endorsement, they're going to ask for mine." Which sounds like blatant pandering, but that's beside the point. Romney then segued into personal anecdote mode, describing his history as a hunter. "I've been a hunter pretty much all my life. I've never really shot anything terribly big," he said, and described a youthful experience shooting at rabbits out west, and a recent quail-hunting trip. As Romney attempted to fake enthusiasm for blood sport, he sounded about as convincing as someone who responds to charges of racism by listing all his black friends. (It came as no surprise that, when enterprising reporters looked into it, the two hunting trips Romney described were the only two times he'd ever been hunting in his life.)

Later, someone asked what he would do to reduce crime and violence. In the middle of a fairly boilerplate answer about providing more cops and such, he launched into a speech about making sure teachers get paid on merit, not seniority. "The teacher's unions may not like that idea, but it's good for America," he said. Now, it's certainly possible to argue that improving education for kids in inner cities will help keep them off the streets (I certainly believe that), but why go that far out of the way to take a slap at the teacher's unions? I got the impression that someone told Romney to make sure he insulted the NEA (always a popular target with Republican audiences), and he was afraid that no one would ask him about education specifically, so he shoehorned the slam into the first available question.

This is why I think hosting is the way for Romney to go. No one expects Chuck Woolery to be sincere. But they'd kind of like to see it from their President. Honestly, if I was a conservative, I'd be insulted that Romney thought that merely mouthing the words I wanted to hear would be enough for me.

"But, Fred," I hear you cry, "if Romney obviously doesn't mean these conservative platitudes he's spouting, isn't that a good thing? Weren't you hoping he was really a moderate trying to fake conservatism?"

Yes, that's true. And it would warm my heart... if I could trust that he was really a moderate. The truth is, I didn't pay that much attention to him when he was governor of Massachusetts, and never saw him speak, so I don't know if he sounded more convincing when selling himself as a moderate-to-liberal Republican than he does in his current incarnation. In other words, I don't know if he's a man of moderate principles trying to wear a right-wing disguise, or if he's a man of no principles who is willing to do the chameleon act to match the sentiment of his audience.

So Romney's not my man. Sorry. But cheer up, Mitt: the Game Show Network is on line 2.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 02:03 PM | Comments (40) | TrackBack

Life Is, Um, Beautiful

I'm not sure I should find this amusing, but I do:

According to the New York Daily News, a Brooklyn law student and University of Pennsylvania grad named Adriana Dominguez has put her future legal career in jeopardy by participating in a Playboy TV series called "Naked Happy Girls" in which she "happily strips naked, gets spanked and holds gavels up to her bare breasts."

Dominguez decided to participate in the video because, she said, she "wanted to do something a little crazy before [she] graduate[d] ... do something kind of out of character," the Daily News reports. "Lawyers can be boring," she's quoted as saying.

If it turns out that this young woman does not wind up as a lawyer, it's probably for the best. Someone who decides to appear in a Playboy video because "lawyers can be boring" is probably not cut out for a career in the bar (at least not the legal bar).

But what really made me laugh here wasn't Ms. Dominguez or what she did, but the fact that Playboy has a TV series called "Naked Happy Girls." Let it never be said that Playboy does not give the people what they want. I adove the cheerful straightforward nature of the title: Naked girls! And they're happy! Do you want to see happy naked girls? Then look no further, my friends! They're here! I'd have a lot easier time finding out which new sitcoms to watch if they all followed this naming policy. "Hmm, what shall we watch tonight, honey? Wacky Twenty-Somethings in an Impossibly Nice New York Apartment, or Spiteful Married Couple Trading Insults?" But even those fanciful titles can't match the elegant simplicity of "Naked Happy Girls." Oh, Hugh Hefner, you are truly an artist for our time!

One thing makes me wonder: I'm no expert in this field, but is the adjective "happy" really necessary? You'd hope it would be implied. Certainly, I think happy is the way to go here; a show entitled, say, "Naked Gloomy Girls" or "Naked Slightly Bored Girls" just doesn't have the same appeal. And simply calling the show "Naked Girls" would lack that snappy punch.

Obviously, when it comes to Art, at least Art involving nubile young women, Playboy knows what it's doing. I shouldn't question it. Naked Happy Girls!

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 09:51 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

April 10, 2007

The Real Numbers?

In an effort to track the number of pets killed or sickened by the on-going food recall, the national vet chain Banfield has come up with what they extrapolate is the actual number of effected animals.


The Missus and I have been lucky, despite sheer numbers, all our pets have remained healthy. Still....39,000?

Hat tip to HA

Posted by Frinklin at 05:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 09, 2007

Food for Thought

It was Easter weekend, and as per my usual custom, this meant a trip up to central Pennsylvania to see my family. It's always a joy to head up and see what's happening there, as life there is a bit different than it is here in the Fedroplex. Some time ago, I remember hearing the word "Pennsyltucky" used to describe the stretch between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and it fits; the middle of the Keystone State is pretty rural, both in terms of development and values. Granted, things are starting to change; the town near my grandmother (York) has densified pretty rapidly over the last few years, and is rapidly turning into a bedroom suburb of Baltimore. But the area still clings to its small-town way of life, and it's a welcome change every now and again.

For instance, on Saturday, we went over to the Lions Pride Restaurant, which is a genuine old-school family restaurant, the kind that has been rendered largely extinct in the Fedroplex by places like Applebee's and Ruby Tuesday. I love the Lions Pride for its good prices, generous portions, and sweet-as-pie waitresses who call you "sweetie" and refill your drink without your having to ask. I love the fact that they have pickled eggs on the menu (even if I'm not quite brave enough to order them). I love the fact that they can make a simple, honest, no-frills BLT and fries better than any other place I've been to. But most of all, I love the place mats.

The place mats are an amalgam of ads for local businesses. This may not seem like a revelation, but it's a homely small-town touch that no one would dream of in the hip fast-lane self-important Fedroplex. Underneath the ads is the cheery admonition, "These advertisers are your friends and neighbors. Please use their services." And even though I don't live there, I felt wrapped in the warm embrace of friendly neighborliness. And my BLT hadn't even come yet.

Of course, given that these are local businesses who are (in all likelihood) writing their own ads, the potential for unintentional comedy certainly exists. I'm reminded of the barber who opened a shop near my grandmother's house. I guess he didn't want to be tied down to regular hours, so rather than put hours on the sign, he got a light-up sign, which he turned on whenever he felt like cutting hair. This was pretty clever, I thought. Unfortunately, he chose to advertise this policy by writing on the sign "OPEN WHEN LIT." It struck me that, of all the times I'd want someone standing near my head with a pair of scissors, "when lit" was probably the least likely. This sign generated chortles aplenty for city-slicker me every time I visited my grandmother for the few months, until he finally gave up and put hours on the sign.

This place mat certainly had its moments of unintentional comedy. My personal favorite was the funeral home that offered "Forethought Life Insurance." I imagine this is standard burial/funeral insurance and they were just trying to put a happy face on it, but... life insurance from a funeral home? It certainly put a different spin on the rest of the ad, which contained uplifting messages such as, "No physical required; no one is denied" and "Join many of your friends and relatives who have already taken advantage of this great offer." I started humming "Don't Fear the Reaper" to myself.

I also had to laugh at the ad for the consignment shop, which suggested its services in the event of "Moving, Death, Divorce, or Whatever." It's the "whatever" that gets me. "Please accept my condolences and... whatever." Into every life a little whatever must fall, I guess.

My BLT had arrived at that point, and I was about to shake my head at the humor in the ads and tuck into my first French fry when I saw another ad. This one was for the Covenant Moravian Church. I wondered briefly why a church would take out advertising on a place mat, and then I saw their slogan.

"In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Love"

It blew me away. Think about it for a second: Isn't that a great organizing philosophy for a church? For that matter, on a very general level, isn't it a great organizing philosophy for a society? Stand together on the things that matter, let everyone go their own way on things that don't, and always, always treat one another with love. It would work at least as well as anything else we've come up with, wouldn't it? I don't know if that slogan is unique to that church, or to their religion, but it's brilliant. If it did not entail a two-hour drive on a weekly basis, I think I'd have to give that church a try. It certainly put me in the right frame of mind to celebrate the Resurrection; I think Jesus would surely have approved of the church's slogan.

"These advertisers are your friends and neighbors." Yes.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 07:55 AM | Comments (35) | TrackBack

April 08, 2007

Uncle Millie Has Risen!

As we (Christian "we"s, at least) take this weekend to celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the dead, it's time to celebrate another, far less holy resurrection. That's right, America's best-loved and best-lubricated advice columnist is back.

Uncle Millie fell off the radar screen for a couple weeks, after he celebrated St. Patrick's Day a little too vigorously. During his last go-round on this site, Uncle Millie's drinking binges had a built-in limit, in the form of Aunt Beatrice. She kept an eye on him, and was able (more or less) to cut him off when he'd had enough. Since she is no longer on the scene, Uncle Millie must rely on his bartender to know when to say "when," and the bartenders in Guadalajara appear to be unable or unwilling to offend their best customer by taking away his drinking privileges. At any rate, the upshot of all this is that Uncle Millie's overindulgence led to a truly epic hangover, from which he is just now emerging.

But why should I ramble on, when you're all surely eager to hear what Uncle Millie has to offer? Enough of my babbling, let's take a look at Uncle Millie's babbling... er, I mean, sage advice.

- - - - -

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, And A Paternity Suit Is Worth Several Thousand Dollars, by Uncle Millie

Hello, lads! Your (somewhat) faithful correspondent has returned for another tour of duty on the front lines of the romantic battlefield. Thank you to all of you who wrote in, hoping that I had not managed to drink myself to death in celebration of my heritage. (Some of you wrote in hoping that I had drunk myself to death, which is unkind, but in the spirit of this Christian holiday, I forgive you.) As you can see, I am not dead, although I consumed a quantity of spirits that would have killed many lesser men. My hangover in the wake of those festivities was a truly epic experience. I happen to hold the high-score record for Breathalyzer tests in at least seven states and two Canadian provinces, but had I been tested after Saint Patrick's Day, I could have easily obliterated all my previous records. Had I in fact passed away, the coroner would have found blood in my alcohol stream. In other words, I did my ancestors proud!

My only regret about my legendary celebration and its aftermath is that it kept me away for too long from my true life's work, which is offering my counsel to you, lads, in the ways of the heart. I sincerely hope that none of you were too adversely affected by my absence. But I believe in looking forward, and I stand (or, more accurately, slouch) here at the ready, to provide you with the guidance and wisdom on which you rely, lads.

I did wish to add one quick note: Several of you wrote to express concern about my remaining on the same barstool for so long. You pointed out that remaining in the same place for weeks at a time is unhealthy and in fact dangerous. Rest assured, lads, that I have taken your advice to heart: I have risen from my barstool and gone for a walk! I walked all the way across the street to a neighboring cantina, as my prior haunt was experiencing crucial alcohol shortages, for some reason. I did have to pause mid-walk for a couple fortifying pulls on my handy flask, but I am happy to report that I feel better already, and I greatly appreciate the suggestion.

Now, let's take a look at our first letter.

Dear Uncle Millie,

For the last two years, I've been going out with "Andrea," a smoking-hot scientist with a great sense of humor. Our relationship is great. It's a real "opposites attract" kind of thing: she has a Ph.D. and I never went to college; she's a biologist and I'm a plumber; her family was loaded, mine could barely make ends meet; she likes opera, I like country; she likes all kinds of fancy wines, I'd rather just kick back with a Bud. If you saw us together, you'd probably figure it would never work. But we're great for each other; I learn a lot from her, and she says I'm the only person who can really help her relax and enjoy life. She turned me on to Beethoven, and I turned her on to Brad Paisley. It's almost perfect.

The problem is her family. Well, really, her mother. I've met her parents a few times, and they've always treated me nice enough, if a little cold. I figured they were just cold people, and didn't think anything of it. Then one day, I accidentally picked up the phone to make a call while Andrea was talking to her mother. She was telling Andrea that I "wasn't good enough for her," and that she should find someone "worthy of her." I was shocked! I talked to Andrea about it later, and she admitted that her mother had been saying things like that for months.

I'm proud to be a plumber. I make good money, I've worked damn hard to get where I am, and I think I'm damn good at what I do. But knowing that Andrea's mother thinks I'm not fit, well, it cut me to the core. Andrea told me that she doesn't look down on me for being a plumber, and I believe her. But I've had a hard time being around her mother since.

Here's my problem: I'm seriously thinking of asking Andrea to marry me. But since I found out what her mother thinks of me, I haven't been able to pull the trigger. If her folks are going to give me the cold shoulder for the rest of our lives, I'm not sure if it's going to work. And even though Andrea doesn't look down on me now, if she has to listen to her mother saying that I'm a bum for years and years, maybe she'll start to believe it. Can a working class guy really make it with an uptown girl, or is that just true in the movies?

Rick in Lansing

Ah, me lad, the disapproving family. A classic killer of relationships. I can sympathize with you on this score, lad: I have met the parents of many of the fine women I have dated, and despite my obvious charm, boyish good looks, and self-assurance, many of them professed a dislike for me. As in your case, lad, the root of their disapproval was prejudice. They held the bigoted assumption that, because a man has been married three or four or eight times, that this somehow means that he is bad relationship material.

I wish I could tell you that the situation will improve with time if you grin and bear it, lad, but hard-won experience has shown Uncle Millie otherwise. Alas, too many lasses remain in the thrall of their mothers well into adulthood. If your lady's mother hates you, sooner or later, your lady will too. You can take it to the bank. This is why I attempt to date only women whose mothers are no longer with us; it saves a lot of trouble.

But since you've already got the lass, and her mother is very much alive, how should you proceed? The most obvious solution would be to hire a large Italian gentleman to dispatch of your would-be monster-in-law, but sadly, the law in most states frowns on this arrangement. You can pray fervently for the old battle-axe to meet an unfortuante end, but in my experience, our Lord rarely answers those prayers in a timely fashion. Therefore, you have little choice but not to marry your sexy scientist, lad. I am sorry; she does sound like a delight.

However, this does not mean that you must jettison her altogether. If she is as wonderful as you say (as as wonderful in bed as you don't say but obviously imply), I suggest that you keep her around, but don't discuss marriage with her. You say you've been together for two years; if you play your cards right, you can successfully dance around the issue of marriage for at least another year, and enjoy yourself immensely in the meantime. And who knows? Perhaps you'll get lucky, and the old hag will have a stroke or something between now and then, and you'll be free and clear.

If you wish to avoid this situation in the future, I highly recommend that you stick to relationships based on casual sex, and thereby avoid the whole meet-the-parents scenario entirely. For now, I shall simply hope for the best for you, and the worst for her mother. Good luck, lad.

Dear Uncle Millie,

I recently proposed to “Anne,” a wonderful girl who I love dearly. The problem is that she used to date my buddy “Todd.” They broke up about two and a half years ago.

Todd was really pissed when he found out that Anne and I were seeing each other. He tried to convince me to stop seeing her several times, winding up in a long and angry argument over lunch, which ended when I walked out. We’ve talked about it more since then, and he says he’s okay with it, but I still feel like things are strained between us. When Todd and I get together, I feel like sometimes he’s about to go off on me. He hasn’t said anything bad about Anne and me since that angry lunch, so maybe it’s in my head, but I feel like there are some unresolved issues.

My question is: What do I do about him? We grew up on the same street, and we’d always been tight, but he always seemed a little jealous of me. With me dating his ex, it’s like it was the last straw. I always wanted Todd to be my best man, but that’s out the window now, which feels terrible. Do I try to keep our friendship alive or do I give up? Should I invite him to the wedding?

Ernesto in Phoenix

There's nothing worse than having to choose between your lady friend and your best friend. Your lady friend can provide you with faithful companionship in rough times and a bouquet of delights both carnal and sublime; your best friend can provide you with a steady stream of free alcohol and a couch to sleep on when your lady friend catches you in the midst of extracurricular activities. When a situation such as this arises, it's a tragedy.

One phrase in your letter caught my eye, though: "he always seemed a little jealous of me." This, I believe, is the key to the puzzle. Normally, men who feel jealous of their friends take to bird-dogging them, stealing the lasses out from under their friends' noses. In this case, it's the reverse; he had her, lost her (obviously, she broke up with him, no matter what he says - if she didn't, why would he care?), and is now trying to make sure you can't enjoy the fruit of the trees he so recently sampled.

This is a delicate situation, to be sure, but you must treat it with a battlefield mentality. You may be telling yourself, "Don't worry, this will blow over in time. If I keep treating him nicely, sooner or later he will come around and be happy." This is a nice thought, but it is false. Your "friend" is out to destroy you and your happiness, and you must defend yourself. If you don't, then one day you and your new wife will be relaxing on the sun porch, reading the comics, and her cell phone will ring and it will be your old buddy, telling her all the details about that time in Puerto Rico with those prostitutes and the mechanical bull, and she'll be on the phone to a divorce lawyer faster than you can say, "What happened?" You must protect yourself.

I suggest that you start now, planting hints with your lady friend that "Todd" cannot be trusted. Nothing blatant; be subtle about it. For instance, in the middle of a conversation over dinner, you might casually slip in a comment such as, "Todd doesn't seem like himself lately; I'm afraid his drug habit is getting worse," or "I really hope I won't have to put him back in the institution again," or "Did I ever mention that Todd enjoys having carnal relations with sheep?" Just something to plant the seed in her mind that all is not well with Todd. Make a big show of your concern, and just keep turning up the heat. Hire a private investigator to "prove" that Todd is purchasing heroin, or produce some doctored photos of Todd enjoying himself in the barnyard. By the time your former friend comes up with the bombshell that will derail your happily-ever-after, she'll believe in it about as much as she believes in the Easter Bunny. Trust me, lad, a stitch in time saves nine.

All this advice is invalid, incidentally, if you actually did bird-dog Todd and take away his lady friend. If that is the case, you are a disgrace to men everywhere and deserve to be beaten to death with sticks. If you're going to steal another man's lady, show some class and steal a stranger's lady.

Dear Uncle Millie,

I can’t believe I’m writing to an advice columnist about this, but I really need advice, and I don’t know anyone I can talk to about it. When I was a teenager, about 15 years ago, I worked in the sex industry. I wasn’t a prostitute or anything; I was in S&M videos. I only did it for a few months; I needed the money and I was going through a lot of troubles. Fortunately, I got into therapy and managed to turn my life around. I work as a school teacher now, and although I'm not proud of my past, I feel good about myself and the progress I’ve made.

I recently divorced (not because of my past; he found out about that early on and didn't hold it against me), and I’m starting to get back into the dating world. This is what I'm not sure about: I think honesty is important in a relationship, but do I have to tell my boyfriends I used to do this kind of work? I learned the hard way not to disclose this too soon to a potential partner. When is the right time to reveal my past, if ever?

Ashamed in Asheville

I'm sorry, my dear, but I'm a little baffled by your question. Do you honestly believe that, if you revealed your sordid past to a potential gentleman friend, he would be turned off by this? You actually managed to be married to a man for some number of years, and you still harbor this unfortunate delusion? How terrible for you. Fortunately, Uncle Millie is here to set you straight.

Believe me, my dear, any gentleman worth his salt would not be in the least put off by your past. To the contrary, he would likely find it most exciting! A kinky past like that, and you're a school teacher? Do you realize how many men harbor naughty-teacher fantasies, my dear? You are the woman of every red-blooded American male's dreams.

Now, Uncle Millie is certainly not suggesting that you blurt this out over the shrimp cocktail on the first date. Certainly not. That would be inappropriate. Besides, it's much more appealing if it seems like he has to pry the information out of you. But be not afraid, my dear. If you have been trying to conceal this information from your gentleman callers, you've really been holding yourself back. If you trying revealing your past instead of concealing it, I guarantee that you will never be lonely again. The truth will set you free!

That concludes the letters for this installment of my column. However, I did wish to close with a message to the erstwhile Aunt Beatrice. My good lad Fred tells me that you have not attempted to contact me since I returned to the advice-giving business. Although I have said nothing about this so far, the truth is that I am more than a little saddened not to have heard from you.

We had our ups and downs, my love, that is certain. Nonetheless, despite my carping, I always appreciated the companionship and structure that you brought to my life. When I needed someone to stand by my side and guide me through the choppy seas, you were there. While we were together, my life ran much more smoothly. My bills were all paid on time. I was able to remember most of my children's birthdays. I spent surprisingly little time in the custody of the authorities. And I never had to flee the country.

Had I known the fate that awaited me, I never would have left your side at the Super Wal-Mart where I lost you. There are a great many things I miss about America, but it's you, my dear, that I miss the most. Well, perhaps second to good Irish whiskey. But a close second, I assure you! I hope to hear from you soon.

To the rest of you lads, get yourselves some keister for Easter! Happy hunting!

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 09:41 AM | Comments (75) | TrackBack

April 03, 2007

Uhh... okay....

The best way to combat blog fatigue? Start a new one apparently. I've added a second blog my rather limited repertoire, this one covering the PCL Tacoma Rainiers.

Posted by Frinklin at 04:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 02, 2007

National Baseball Day

This is why they call him the King.


8 innings, 3 hits, no runs and 12 strikeouts. You will not see 10 better pitching performances all year. This is exactly how the Mariners needed to open this season. It may be all downhill from here, but for today... this is why we're fans.

Posted by Frinklin at 10:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 01, 2007

It's CON-Tastic!

I know. I couldn't resist.

A busy day for the Frinklin family today. I'll let the Missus (who has been blogging up a storm lately) explain Wayzgoose. I'll concentrate on our second annual visit to the Emerald City Comic-Con. Now in it's fifth year, Emerald Con has expanded again and next year heads to the Washington State Convention Center downtown. Or, The Show as the call it in convention world. No, I have no idea if they call it that. They should. That would be cool.

While Emerald Con hasn't hit the level of big conventions like New York or San Francisco (the Mothership shall never be touched), it does have easy access to a lot of creators. The biggest name this year was Brian Michael Bendis, who lives right down the road in Portland. Neither DC or Marvel has an official presence, and Dark Horse was mysteriously absent, but Slave Labor, Fantagraphics and Image all have nice-size booths. Expected attendance was between 8-10,000, which is a good size crowd for the Qwest Field Events Center.

I had a successful trip, even considering I was on a budget. I finally took the plunge on Noble Causes and DMZ, picking up signed trades for both, plus a Emo Boy trade. I met some fantastic creators like Gene Ha and Steve Rolston. One of the nice things about a smaller con is that it gives more time to actually talk.. I spent several minutes with Jeff Parker -picking up a signed copy of Agents of Atlas #1 and somehow promising to pick up the hardcover. This despite the fact that already own the entire series. Have to convince Marvel to let the series go on. It's also fascinating to watch some of the artist's work. I spent a few minutes watching Gene Ha work on a sketch, and he's just as meticulous as his artwork suggests.

Posted by Frinklin at 12:46 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack