Wednesday, December 21, 2005

'Tis The Season...For A Good Chainsaw Massacre

The Christmas spirit is alive and well at your local Sonic restaurants. When a carhop brought my lunch yesterday, I greeted him with a hearty "How's it goin'?" To which he replied,

"Oh, I'm here...course I'd rather be home...watching a scary movie...lying in bed..."

(Students of literature will instantly recognize this line as the original ending to Clement Moore's Twas the Night Before Christmas.)

I gave him an awkward retort about having a happy holiday, bid him farewell, and immediately checked to see what "extra toppings" he may have added to my burger. I'm pretty sure those were mushrooms.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Shop of Fools

To those of you who got up in the middle of the night to hit the stores for the best after-Thanksgiving-Day deals, I say,

You greedy, materialistic fools!

And also,

Stop shoving! I was here first!

Okay, so I was among the heathen venturing out this morning at 0-dark-30. But I was on assignment for the boone box. Make that Mrs. boone box and the boone box estate.

I pulled up to Best Buy at 4:55 a.m., five minutes prior to the doors opening. It was 40 degrees outside. I can't give you an exact count of how many people were already in line, but I can report that toward the back they had collected precious metals, melted them, and fashioned the bullion into a golden calf. (If you hurry, you can get the calf now for 75% off.)

From inside my truck, I waited the line out a good five minutes before searching for a bit of sanity, namely Starbucks, which had mercifully opened a half-hour early to caffeinate the living dead. From there, it was off to Wal-Mart where the rest of Abilene had surfaced.

Let me pause for a moment to recap the sartorial state of affairs. Most folks hadn't bothered to make themselves especially presentable. In their defense, it's tough to find clothes that match in the dark. There were a few of the female persuasion, however, that clearly had put some effort into their look. Which means they would've had to get up around dinner time the night before to get ready.

I should use this occasion to point out that no article of clothing signifies the give-up more than the visor, which yours truly was jocularly sporting. Wearing no headgear would indicate a lack of interest in what anyone thought of my appearance. The visor was actually flaunting my indifference. My hair - as I discovered from the reflection off a car window en route to join the Israelites - had a disturbing likeness to an electrocuted Chia pet. But somehow, in my pre-dawn cognition, I'd come to believe the visor was propitiation, covering over a multitude of misplaced hair, like a pated panacea. Not only was no one impressed with my effort, one lady actually gave me a quarter and wished me happy holidays.

Having finally gained entry into Best Buy, the salesman struggled to suppress his laughter when I asked if they still had any of the items I was after. They had just sold out...about 2 hours before.

Me: That's 4:30. I thought you weren't open 'til 5.

Sales guy: We weren't. But we handed out tickets to people in line who wanted that item.

Me: Were people here early?

Sales guy: The line began forming at 7 o'clock last night.

It's one of those tender Thanksgiving traditions that hearkens back to the original meal. After sharing their bounty with the Indians, Miles Standish led the pilgrims to the doorstep of Looms N' Things where they waited all night for the New World's first clearance sale.

As I walked out, I looked at the other customers and couldn't help but think again of Harry and Lloyd...

Harry: So you got fired again, eh?

Lloyd: Yeah...

Harry: I lost my job today, too.

Lloyd: Man, you are one pathetic loser.

I was dumb to get up that early. But dumber if I do it again.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The sign outside the church down the street from us reads:

Tell the truth. Then you don't have to worry about what you said.

See, I disagree. For example, if a wife asks her husband,

"Do these jeans make my hips look big?"

and he replies,

"I can't really see your hips because of your massive hiney,"

even if he's telling the truth, I think he'll still have something to worry about.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Desperate 'Haus-Wife

The marriage between Terrell Owens and the Philadelphia Eagles has - as you may have heard - gone the way of Chesney-Zellweger. After several months of petulant behavior and publicly dissing teammates and coaches, most recently saying in an interview that the Eagles would be undefeated if Brett Favre was their quarterback instead of Donovan McNabb, the team - surprise! - finally had enough and suspended their star receiver, telling Owens and the world that he wouldn't play again this season.

Harry: So you got fired today?

Lloyd: Yeah, they always freak out when you leave the scene of an accident, you know?

Tuesday, the NFL's version of Dumb and Dumber - Owens and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, a man with all the sincerity of a felonious televangelist - appeared at a press conference to express remorse (Owens) and outrage (Rosenhaus) that T.O. now stood for Time Out. Owens "just wants to play football" that he can't.

How ironic that this comes the week of a Monday Night Football game between the Eagles and Cowboys. I'm trying to remember what happened the last time these two met on a Monday night, but the FCC has erased it from my memory. Oh, yes! The infamous locker room teat-a-teat with an ostensibly naked Nicolette Sheridan of Desperate Housewives, which ends with Sheridan dropping her sopping wet towel and Owens telling the Eagles they'll have to do without him for that game.

Turns out, the idea of Owens bailing on his team wasn't sketch comedy but merely portents of things to come. In fact, had it been a woman for whom he had betrayed his team, he may have had a few more sympathizers. But T.O. is apparently in love with himself. And this time, his coach, Andy Reid, is the one throwing in the towel.

(Good luck today trying to ctrl + alt + del the mental jpeg of Andy Reid naked...)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Regarding Sodom: Who's Sane?

When I was broadcasting tournaments for The Golf Channel, we used to giggle at the prospect of Brian Gay, Dicky Pride, and Glen Day playing in the same group, thus giving us the Gay-Pride-Day threesome. Something tells me the gag would be lost on Fred Phelps.

He's the pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, and I use all of the aforementioned terms - he, pastor, and Westboro Baptist Church - loosely. That's the "church" which, under Phelps' direction, has understood the mission of Christ to mean picketing at the funerals of people like Matthew Shepard, the young man from Wyoming who was fatally beaten many years ago primarily because he was gay. Phelps and company used the funeral as an opportunity to inform grieving family members that Shepard was now in hell and that he had an eternity of suffering to look forward to. In fact, you can find a jaunty memorial to Shepard's entry into hell - complete with a running total of how many days he's been there and a sound file of someone pretending to be Shepard screaming in torment - on the church website, the address of which is

(Editor's Note: "Fag" is a favorite term of Phelps and his churchfolk, who are quick to note that these reprobates are not living a lifestyle that honors God, as laid forth in Scripture. What's interesting to me is that both "Matthew" and a variation of "Shepard" are found in my Bible. "Fag" is not.)

At that website, you'll also discover that Billy Graham is a modern-day Judas; find out that God is America's terrorist now, using natural disasters and other means to punish the U.S. for its collective sin; and learn of opportunities where you can join the church in picketing at the funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers to inform those families that their loved ones have also begun a slow burn. Mainly, though, the site and apparently Phelps, himself, are dedicated to the notion that homosexuality is the one sin that really gets God's dander up.

Phelps doesn't care what you or anyone else thinks about him. His mission is to "preach the gospel" at whatever cost.

Let me say this to those readers who already had a bad taste in their mouths about religion: please don't lump us in with people such as Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church who twist Scripture into whatever they want it to be and then use it as a weapon. We're not all like them. Some of us are worse.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Inquiring Minds Want To Know

The magazine cover featured two subjects, arm in arm and surrounded by water as the headline screamed,

"What Went Wrong?"

In times of national crisis, it is incumbent on America's journalists to ask the tough questions and discover the truth. Our forefathers died for the freedom of an investigative press. That and a dependable Best and Worst Dressed List.

That's why I salute People Magazine for getting to the bottom of the Kenny Chesney-Renee Zellweger marriage annulment. America thanks you.

Here's another question: did anyone really expect these nuptials to survive Daylight Savings Time? What went wrong? How 'bout Zellweger saying "yes" when Chesney first asked her out?

And did you see the reason given for the divorce? Fraud! Really? You mean these performers might have pretended to be people they really aren't? Didn't see that one coming. Whatever you do, though, please don't tell my wife that fraud is a legitimate cause for divorce. The judge would have his decision made before his robe wrinkled.

As we collectively mourn this national tragedy, we would all do well to remember the words of Patrick Henry, who once said, "Give me Liberty or give me death...or at the very least give me The 50 Most Beautiful People Latin Edition..."


When Obi met Barbie...

She's learned Bionicles and baseball by following her big brothers; she's learned pink and pretty by following her heart. Here's how Anna Claire resolves the two:

Amy: Anna Claire, what do you think you could be for Halloween?

AC (age 3): A princess!

Amy: What could the boys be?

AC: Um, maybe my bodyguards?


You may have read where several members of the New York Yankees questioned the Texas Rangers for taking their best players out early so they could get standing ovations from the home fans in the last game of the year against the L.A. Angels, a game the Angels won and, in so doing, clinched home-field advantage against the Yanks in the first round of the playoffs. Had the Rangers won, New York would've had home-field.

Memo to the Yankees: Your payroll is roughly the GDP of Belgium. Try mixing in an extra win here and there rather than asking a bottom feeder to do your dirty work.


Basic math tells me the difference between 6 and 36 is 30. But conversations like this one between a 6-year-old boy and his 36-year-old dad lead me to believe the distance is much greater.

Nicholas: We talked about things that are green today at school, and I said the Green Bay Packers.

Me (as I made a left turn): What else did you all come up with? A green light?

Nicholas: No.

Me: How about money?

Nicholas: No.

Me: What then?

Nicholas: Grass, leaves, a bush, and a frog.

Isn't jade a shade of green? I like his list better.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Gno Chiled Lepht Beehined

Jodie Foster stars in a new thriller called Flightplan, which according to the trailer is about a woman who can't find her kid on an airplane.

Here's a nugget the major entertainment outlets won't give you: this film was inspired by the time my family drove to Florida and left my sister at an Exxon. The working title of the film was Urinal, but I think they thought Flightplan sounded a little more, I don't know, antiseptic.


Kinky Friedman, the self-proclaimed Jewish cowboy who is running for governor of Texas in 2006, truly puts the guber in gubernatorial candidate. And if the election were held today, he'd get my vote. Some of my favorite quotes from his website,

I’m a Jew, I’ll hire good people.

If elected, I would ask Willie Nelson to be the head of the Texas Rangers and Energy Czar and Laura Bush to take charge of the Texas Peace Corps to improve education in the state.

I’d ask my Palestinian hairdresser, Farouk Shami, to be Texas’ ambassador to Israel. We’ve worked together to create Farouk & Friedman olive oil. The oil comes from the Holy land and all of the profits go to benefit Israeli and Palestinian children.

Our icons are being demeaned. Cowboys are no longer heroes for our children, but subject to derision. We are being laughed at instead of respected in the rest of the country. What has happened to our glorious heritage? This is the great state of Texas! We are not wusses, we are Texans. We will beat back the wussification of Texas if we have to do it one wuss at a time!

The professionals gave us the Titanic, amateurs gave us the Ark.

My new mantra is "Go Kinky in 2006!"


Saw something on a plane the other day that you almost never see: an elderly man with a goatee.


It was poetic justice that Jason Gore won the 84 Lumber Classic the other day. That was the same number he shot in the final round of the U.S. Open to fall from second place to 49th. At the time, he was a journeyman pro who became the people's choice to win at Pinehurst with a grin as wide as the Open fairways. Since then, he's won three times on the Nationwide Tour - which earned him an instant promotion to the PGA TOUR - and now his first PGA TOUR event.

On Sunday at Pinehurst, the darkhorse spit the bit. Last week at the 84 Lumber, Gore brought the wood.


It's a toss-up as to which has had a more deleterious effect on church growth: the people inside the church or the signs out front.

I've seen the following "marquees de sade" near our house in the last week:

Fight like a real man...
Down on your knee's in prayer

On your knee's? Your knee's what? Your knee's cap?

At least that church got its message out in a timely manner, thus parrying the thrust of this purl uv wizdum from another congregation:

Procrastion is the thief of time

Come again? A better question might be, "What thief stole the rest of the letters needed to spell procrastination?" They left out "t-i-n-a." Where's tina? Poor girl. Maybe she's with Jodie Foster's kid. Or maybe they know they misspelled the word and just haven't gotten around to correcting it.

Where were these people trained? Quayle Theological Simminairy?

And after 2,000 years are signs really the best we can do as the people of God? It seems a lot like Seinfeld's observation that men, as a species, have found nothing more creative over the last several millenia than whistling at women, vis-a-vis va-va-voom, if you know what I mean.

If you must resort to signage as a tool for evangelism, how about something like,

Can we have a mulligan?


For the record, we neither advocate Pat Robertson nor the assassination of the President of Venezuela.

Even Outback's catchphrase would work,

No rules. Just right.

And then maybe serve up free steak and a Bloomin' Onion as a peace offering. Just promise me you'll mix in a quick spellcheck and some decent punctuation. Call me crazy, but I don't think poor grammar and butchering the king's English are what Paul had in mind when he suggested we be fools for Christ.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Just Wince, Baby

Heading into the home stretch of the NFL season, my beloved Oakland Raiders have positioned themselves for an exciting playoff run. With just 15 games to go, the Silver and Black have moved to within a half game of first place in the AFC West.

They lost a tough one Thursday night to the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, 30-20. On the bright side, Randy Moss didn't smoke a single joint or fake moon anyone in the crowd. He's obviously matured a lot since two weeks ago when he said he was still, as the youngsters like to say, "burning lettuce."


Every time I'm in an airport, I'm reminded of how relatively few people in the world I really know. Today at DFW, for instance, the only people who looked even vaguely familiar were a guy wearing a fluorescent, lime green suit (just his face, I don't know any suits like that) and possibly either Siegfried or Roy. I can never keep those two straight. The one I think I saw is the effeminate one.


Again proving how much pull I have among golf's movers and shakers, Nancy Lopez heard my call to select teenage sensations Michelle Wie and Morgan Pressel as her captain's picks for the United States Solheim Cup team against Europe...and instead chose Beth Daniel and Wendy Ward. Both of those ladies are friends of mine and great players, but neither unfortunately will make anyone want to watch that wasn't already planning to. Which begs the question, if Europe falls on the golf course Sunday and no one sees it, will it make a sound? And this, if the two pregnant players in the competition - Laura Diaz for the U.S. and Iben Tinning for Europe - play each other, is it singles or doubles?


Like most of us, I'm always looking for ways to have fun at the expense of others. My latest diversion is actually just that. When a really attractive woman walks by, rather than going all Jimmy Carter on her, I instead focus on how other men in the room respond. Their reactions are as varied as the men, themselves...actually, there's not much variety there. Most guys are pervs.

Nonetheless, some have no shame and blatantly go "full ogle." Others attempt to be a bit more surreptitious and sneak their peeks. (These are usually your otherwise more upstanding citizens.) For me, it's the best of both worlds: not only do I stay clean, I get to see how stupid I used to look.

So, fellas, next time Lady Lust comes calling, keep your eyes on the guys. You might just spot a celebrity like Siegfried...or is it Roy?

Monday, September 05, 2005

Domino Effect

I keep waking up hoping to discover everything I've seen on TV the last seven days was a dream, like the ones where I'm in a musical and don't know any of the songs (as if that would be the only obstacle to my being in a musical) or where I'm sitting in a radio control room ready to read a sportscast, only to realize I have no copy so I make it up. (Many who used to listen me in real life had the suspicion I was doing just that.)

And I must admit some of what I've witnessed is no less weird than the stuff of my dreams. Fats Domino alights at the home of LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell? What?! The Fats Domino? He hasn't been dead for like 30 years? How have I not known he's been alive all this time? And how does he not have his own reality show? This sounds exactly like one of my sportscasting nightmares...

"With the latest sports, I'm Grant Boone. The LSU Tigers moved their game to Blueberry Hill today where quarterback JaMarcus Russell - usually called on to pass - found his thrill when he caught pop music legend Fats Domino...

...also I'm not wearing pants."

That surreal moment was topped only by Fox News reporter Molly Henneberg's interview Sunday night with Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden.

Henneberg: "I understand you have a VIP coming here to Baton Rouge tomorrow!"

Holden: "Yes, John Travolta will be here to help with some of the relief efforts..."

Henneberg, interrupting: "No, I meant the big visitor..."

Holden, realizing his mistake: "Oh, I'm sorry, Oprah's coming to do a show..."

Almost defeated, Henneberg: "Isn't the President coming tomorrow?"

Holden: "You're right, yes, Mr. Bush will be here..."

Hey, who's W compared to Vinnie Barbarino?

Here's hoping those left in the wake of Katrina and the Waves have sweet dreams tonight.


You've heard it a million times, but the old cliche is worth repeating: "Never relieve yourself in a friend's backyard unless you're sure he still lives there."


I don't know about you, but there is enough stress in my life without my electronic gas pump admonishing me to "Remove Card Quickly." Is it really that desperate?


I congratulate the creator of the automated hand dryer, but give me paper towels any ol' day. Except for the revolving cloth diaper gizmo. I just threw up in my mouth thinking about it.


I know what you're asking yourself, and the answer is yes: I do get a little teary whenever I hear "House at Pooh Corner" by Loggins & Messina.


Saw where the turf at Fenway Park was torn up by a recent Rolling Stones concert. Shouldn't we expect large quantities of grass to be consumed at such events?


Finally, I think some people take too seriously the metaphor of the church as a body. I met a guy Sunday whose behavior bore an unmistakable resemblance to a certain gluteal part of the anatomy. Ain't that a shame?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Safe Bet

Like most of you, I've been searching for that one, foolproof system for guaranteed gambling success. Today, in an exclusive to the boone box, I, Grant "Split Ace" Boone, am going all in to announce I've found it. (By the way, you've never experienced pain until you've had your aces split.) Discovered by yours truly one year ago Wednesday and developed over the past 12 months, this is the system the casinos don't want you to learn. The one that threatens to turn the world of gaming bandits on its one arm...

Abstinence. No, it's not one of those exercise machines to give you a flat tummy. Nor will Abstinence make your heart grow fonder for the felt-topped tables. You simply don't play. It's my own unique spin on Texas Hold 'Em. I hold 'em and don't ever let go of 'em.

The wee hours of August 31st, 2004 was the last time I tithed to any place of prayer, online or otherwise. Since that time, my gambling record is perfect: 361-0. No bets, no losses. But I haven't merely broken even, I'm actually way ahead when I consider the time and money spent on more nobler pursuits, such as watching Anchorman.

(A quick aside: whenever someone tells you he/she is "about even" for the night in a casino, that usually means "about even...since I lost that first $300." Lying about gambling losses is, for some reason, as common as someone answering the phone from stage 4 of non-REM sleep but pretending to be awake.

"Did I wake you?"

(in an exponentially faster and louder voice than normal) "NO! I WAS JUST CLEANING OUT THE GARAGE..."

"At 3 in the morning?"

If they sound asleep when they answer the phone, they were asleep. And when people say they're even for the night, they're down. Probably big. Luxury gambling hotels don't keep going up every other day because we're all breaking even. Casinos are not non-profit operations...except for you.)


Fans of the boone box have clamored for more golf coverage, and I'm happy to deliver. Lots of my media brethren and sistren have squawked about Tiger Woods' revelation that he was not at Baltusrol for the conclusion of the PGA Championship Monday morning despite the fact that he was the clubhouse leader at 2 under par. Most have decried his decision, but I haven't heard anyone say what you're about to read here.

I'm calling BS: a Baltusrol Snooker, if you will. I think the Striped One is pulling a fast one. He claims he split Sunday night to go back to Florida because he knew the guys who were 3 or 4 under with a few holes to play wouldn't all fall back to 2 under. And that he was practicing Monday morning at his home club in suburban Orlando when play resumed. I wouldn't buy that story with Tiger's own American Express card. For two reasons.

First, no one leaves New Jersey that quickly. For one thing, you can't turn left. Seriously. You have to execute what the locals call jug-handle turns in which you veer right onto a side street and loop around until you eventually get where you want to go. If Tiger left the golf course Sunday night at, say 8 p.m., after his final round was finished, the earliest he could've made it to the airport would've been approximately November.

Second, and more important, there is no way that a player whose only measure of success these days is the number of major championships won isn't there if 2 under plays off. As it turns out, the overnight rain and calm conditions Monday morning softened the course and proved Tiger's prediction correct that 2 under wouldn't be good enough. But had the rain not come and the winds howled, that course could've been so hard that 2 under might've won outright. Tiger knew that, which is why he would've been standing on the 16th tee for a playoff had there been one Monday.

I know for a fact that Tiger has felt as if the media has, by breaching confidentiality and overblowing the occasional downturn in his play, sent him up the river. Maybe he floated this whopper to give scribes a return trip.


Sunday night, Nancy Lopez will announce her two captain's picks to join the 10 others who earned enough points to make the United States Solheim Cup team. Publicly and privately, Lopez has said she won't consider 15-year-old Michelle Wie or 17-year-old U.S. Women's Amateur champ Morgan Pressel or anyone not currently a member of the LPGA. I applaud Nancy's decision. Unless of course the objective is winning.

I'm not sure how many American players are better right now than Wie or Pressel, but I am 100 percent certain there aren't 12. And while the European Ryder Cup team has proven anything can happen in match play, the Euro Solheimers are on paper the prohibitive favorite, if not for Annika Sorenstam alone.

Nancy is one of the greatest players in women's golf history and an even better person. She's trying to be true to the Tour she loves. But ignoring Wie and Pressel will ultimately penalize the LPGA. The Solheim Cup will be played Sept. 9-11, concluding on the first Sunday of the NFL season. (Note to self: send LPGA officials a calendar for Christmas.) Even if the teeny boppers played, it's not as if they'd pull Joe Beercan away from his pigskin. Or is it Joe Pigskin away from his beercan? Whatever. At least you'd have more people going picture-in-picture or wearing out their remotes to sneak a peek at how the two teenies were bopping.

It's too late for the LPGA to reschedule to, say, this weekend, prior to the start of the college and pro football seasons. (As a fan of both football and women's golf, my reaction to the LPGA's Solheim scheduling is pretty much the pronunciation of ACU's now-scrubbed homecoming musical.)

But Nancy, it's not too late for you to pick the two players who'll not only attract the most viewers but who just so happen to be the two most talented options, as well. In so doing, you might steal some of the NFL's thunder and catch for yourself a little lightning in a bottle. And maybe even a Cup.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Aida (ahh! eee! duh!): Casting Stones And Common Sense On The College Stage

In Adam McKay's epic motion picture, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, the members of the Channel 4 News Team vociferously protest to their news director the hiring of female reporter Veronica Corningstone. Weatherman Brick Tamland, whom we find out later will be told he has an IQ of 46, pounds his fist and screams, "Loud noises!"

I can relate to Brick - and not just in IQ - in the wake of the recent and incendiary developments at two Christian universities: Abilene Christian's scrapping of its much-anticipated production of the Elton John/Tim Rice version of Aida (see headline for pronunciation) and Harding's announcement that Ann Coulter will be a featured speaker in this school year's Distinguished Lecture Series. Somewhere, Brick is pounding his fists again and screaming. There are a lot of loud noises coming from seemingly every side.

ACU (my alma mater, for the record) pulled Aida because of pressure from minority groups and individuals who essentially branded the university and (implicitly) the leaders within the theater department as racists for casting a white student, Lara Seibert, in the titular role, one often played worldwide by a woman of color. The only black student who auditioned for the role, Jessica Owens, was one of those casting stones. Owens acknowledged she wasn't as good a singer as Seibert but was quoted in the Abilene Reporter-News as saying, "I don't think the ACU theater department is at a place where it can do colorblind casting on black shows. They need to recognize the problem." Apparently, the department has no problem being colorblind in casting white shows. Owens herself played the role (magnificently, I might add) of Julius Caesar's Caucasian wife, Calpurnia, in ACU's summer Shakespeare festival. Concerned that the cast and crew would be put in an unfair position, however, the theater department ditched Aida in favor of a musical based on the works of Dr. Seuss. Any full-blooded Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz is asked to contact the department immediately to audition.

(A final thought on the talented Ms. Owens: history doesn't typically identify heroes in any movement as those who demand double standards and preferential treatment but rather ones who endure hardship to gain equality. Rosa Parks didn't ask to ride the bus for free.)

Meanwhile, Harding University is taking some heat for its decision to bring Coulter to campus next March. The ubiquitous author and pundit is ultra-conservative in her politics but ultra-liberal in dispensing vitriol. Most disturbing to me is not Coulter's presence but rather the absence of anyone on the Distinguished Lecture Series who might approach politics from a different angle. If Molly Ivins or Michael Moore were brought in for the same series, for example, the university would have an opportunity to put divergent opinions under the microscope of Christ and see if there's a molecule of truth in either. Instead, Harding's definition of divergent is Zell Miller, the erstwhile Democrat last seen roasting his former party members over an open spit at the Republican National Cookout, who'll follow Coulter next spring. (Perhaps now that he's publicly called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Pat Robertson will be forgiven for promoting instrumental worship and cleared to kick off next year's series.)

Two decisions. Two schools.

ACU. Harding.

One correct answer in my book. (Hint: It's not the one on the Right.)

Many good things have happened at Harding. (Some of my best friends are Bison.) And ACU, like any of us individually, has botched its share of situations through the years. This is more about the choices of the individual decision makers at each place than one institution being greater than the other.

ACU could have, with a squeaky clean conscience and a preponderence of evidence proving its casting impartiality, proceeded with Aida; Harding was and remains free to bring to campus whomever it so chooses. But the way of Christ seems to point us away from demanding our rights and toward the service of our enemies, even political ones.

Do you know your ABCs?
Do you, do you? Tell me please!
Start with A and end with Z!
Tickets are, for both nights, free!

Listen first to Ann, then Zell!
That's the way to sidestep Hell!
Which starts with H like Heaven, you C?
There's a party up there, and it's G-O-P!

A-C-U and H-U, each
Big decisions did they reach!
A-C chose, not Elton, Seuss;
H plucked two from off Fox News!

There's no I in Green Eggs and Ham.
Nor should there when we serve the Lamb.
So when God, speech, and arts collide,
Seuss or Fox News? U decide!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Early Service

I woke up Sunday morning in Reno, Nevada (pronounced Nevada, not Nevada) in search of a church service. Not finding one anywhere near my hotel, I grabbed my Bible and made my way over to the most popular place of prayer in town, Harrah's Hotel and Casino. I wasn't there for the ceremony, just the sacraments; Harrah's housed the only Starbucks I knew of within walking distance. (En route, I saw a bumper sticker that read "My Boss Is Bruce Springsteen." Good stuff. I wouldn't try it on Judgment Day, but for now you get a tip of my cap. Clever.)

As I filed in with the other congregants a little past 8 a.m., I was struck by the similarities between the house of cards and many of the houses of God I've attended.

Both feature otherwise disparate people communing around a table.

Both rather shamelessly ask for your money, usually for the next building program.

In neither place do the people look remotely as attractive or interested as they do in the promotional material. (I've missed the church and casino billboards featuring people in wheelchairs, on oxygen tanks, and missing random limbs.)

Both are always looking for the latest technological or cultural innovation to draw people in.

You can usually get breakfast comped in the bigger, more upscale versions of each.

Both strongly encourage evangelism.

Both have promised fulfillment, failed to deliver, and driven people away in despair.

I could only discern three major differences, call it separation of church and casino:

1) at church, you have to go outside to smoke;

2) at the casino, people surrender their money sacrificially; and

3) most people at casinos are both happy to be there and hooked for life.

Perhaps the greatest irony is that casinos pretend they don't want to addict you but do, while churches promote a lifelong commitment but rarely get it.

As for my pilgrimage, I placed a single $2 bet that I'd get a cup of Gold Coast in return for my ante. And - cha-ching! - I won a 16 ounce share of the pot. Amen.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Birdie Boom, Birdie Bing: Mickelson Makes Good In Jersey

Glory's last shot, as the PGA of America melodramatically dubs its major championship, was a day late but not a dollar short. After threatening weather suspended play Sunday afternoon, Phil Mickelson returned to Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey Monday morning to win the 87th PGA Championship.

That they couldn't finish on time had less to do with the Almighty than the Almighty Dollar. The networks that air golf's U.S. major championships (and pay the big bucks to do so) - CBS for The Masters and PGA and NBC for the U.S. Open - want those events to end as their Sunday night prime time programming begins. So the organizations which run those respective tournaments and get rich off rights fees happily schedule the tee times to end at 7 p.m. Eastern, which they usually do. Except when dangerous weather butts in, as it did twice Sunday in Springfield.

Mark Twain was right when he said everyone complains about the weather but no one does anything about it. In this case, championship officials could've done something. Like move the tee times up a couple of hours to account for the forecast storms. Instead, they left the schedule as it was and kept its Sugar Daddy - in this case, CBS - fat and happy. (I do applaud the PGA for rebuffing network requests for "King of Queens" star Kevin James to play with Mickelson and Davis Love in the final group.)

The irony is that the PGA actually shortsighted itself. Every tournament organizer in the world and every network executive - no matter what they say publicly - wants Tiger Woods to win their event. For tournaments, it means the opportunity to put the world's most popular athlete on all of its promotional material for next year's championship. For TV execs, it's about the ratings, which are exponentially higher when Tiger's in contention than when he's not.

Tiger finished just ahead of the second weather delay Sunday, the one that ultimately suspended play 'til Monday. A furious final nine flurry that saw him birdie three of the last five holes and nearly birdie the other two left Tiger at 2 under par. Had tee times been moved up and the leaders been forced to play the last four holes in those brutally tough conditions, 2 under might've been good enough for at least a playoff instead of a tie for fourth. What would CBS have given to lead into its Sunday night lineup with a Tiger/Mickelson duel 'til the dark, if not death?

The notion that Woods would even figure in the final outcome seemed as unlikely as a self-serve Garden State gas station for most of the week. Tiger, whose voice is baritone at best, spent the first three days of the championship mimicking a Soprano, specifically Tony. Like New Jersey's most famous fictional citizen, Tiger specialized in Waste Management.

Thursday, he botched Baltusrol's only easy hole, the reachable-in-two par five 18th, when he jerked his tee shot into a hazard and made bogey. An opening 75 (par 70) left his place on the leaderboard at roughly the heat index: 113. Friday, he got greedy with a front pin at 4 and splashed his tee shot with a short iron en route to a scrambling bogey. Only a two-putt birdie at 18 allowed Tiger to make the cut and prolong his agony. Beginning Saturday a dozen off the lead, he played brilliantly through 16 but couldn't birdie either of the closing par fives - thanks to a three-putt from 25 feet at the last - and settled for a solid but wanting 66. Needing a fast start Sunday, he instead bogeyed 1 and 3. And only his unparalleled penchant for the impossible got him back into some semblance of contention.

So Tiger went 1st-2nd-1st-T4th in the major championships this year, the best cumulative finishes since (who else?) Nicklaus more than three decades prior. Unthinkable for anyone else. But if Tiger never realizes his dream of winning all four in the same year, it's hard to imagine him having a better chance than in 2005.

Meanwhile, Mickelson turned the tables on his season, going from major disappointment (10th Masters, T33 U.S. Open, T60 British) to major champion for a second consecutive year. In so doing, he turned back two past PGA champs - Steve Elkington ('95) and Love ('97) - and one Great Dane, the doggedly determined Thomas Bjorn of Denmark, whose Saturday 63 matched the low round in Baltusrol and major championship history and whose play late Sunday and early Monday reversed a trend of recent major meltdowns.

Nearly everyone had melted by Sunday afternoon from the weeklong steambath. Yet somehow, the guy previously voted Most Likely to Have His Gym Membership Lapse, kept lapping the field. Mickelson slept on at least a share of the lead not three nights but four because of the Monday finish. And he couldn't have cared less about the sleepover.

Because while he may not be a gym rat, Phil Mickelson knows his way around the Wait Room. He was 0 for his first 46 majors. One more day wasn't too much to ask to make him 2 for his last 8.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Jonesin' For Jim: Parachurch Group Followers Drinking Different Flavors Of Kool-Aid

In the last several years, a lot of people I know, love, and respect have more publicly - even defiantly - stood in opposition to the notion that the Republican Party is the only one in which a follower of Christ can truly be represented.

As terms like emergent and postmodern have turned up, so too has the volume by those suggesting the G-O-P is not G-O-D and that the way of Christ goes not through Baghdad but rather through the refugee camps in Sudan and the inner cities of the United States.

I wonder if another term might also be appropriate for these people: Democrats.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld says. The Democratic Party certainly needs redeeming, as does the GOP. I just don't understand the subterfuge. (I do, however, really enjoy that word. Good word.)

You won't hear Jim Wallis (Sojourners) openly declaring Democratic Party loyalty, just as James Dobson (Focus on the Family) won't say in so many words that God is a Republican. But neither disguises his preference very well.

In the previous Presidential election, Wallis' Sojourners proffered this print ad:

The sentiment is true enough, of course. But it's hardly coincidence that Republican precedes Democrat or that Democrat is in patently tinier type, as if the blue bumper stickers had gone to print and the bottom line added as an afterthought.

It would take such concerted efforts, however, for a group like Sojourners to begin pecking away at the substantial lead the Dobsonites have built on behalf of the Right throughout American Christendom.

What if both guys came out with the following joint announcement:

"We're against the legalization of marijuana." (Sorry, I couldn't resist. Let's try again.)

"Okay, folks. The charade is over. We've been shills for our respective parties, in case you hadn't already caught on. Also, Milli Vanilli was lip-synching. Anyway, We're coming out of the closet to openly declare ourselves a Democrat (J-Dub) and a Republican (J-Dob), not because it's God's favorite but because the issues they're trying to advance are the ones which most closely and respectively resonate with us as we attempt to follow Christ. We're sorry we've divided more than we've united. By formally declaring our allegiances, we hope to work within our parties to encourage our fellow members to 'act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly' with our God. And we pray our mutual efforts will result in both sides behaving more nobly."

I think there's a better chance of seeing Milli Vanilli on Broadway.


[On a side note, I'm a little disappointed in the rather benign response from Republicans to my call for Karl Rove's head in the previous post. A limp accusation of ACLU membership here, an innocent-'til-proven-guilty upbraid there. Really, the most havoc-wreaking rejoinder was Brandon Thomas' speedo bombshell.

I extracted considerably more vitriol from my friends on the left after I skewered President Clinton for not stepping down following the Lewinsky affair, his feral and finger-wagging denial in front of God and man, and the subsequent Moni-culpa.

It makes me nervous when one side screams louder than the other at my offerings. Makes me feel uncomfortably close to the side that's less riled up. Although after spending much of my life trying to get people to like me (to nearly no avail), I must say it's more fun when people disagree with my point of view. Like when they protest to their husbands about too much golf content.]

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Protecting The Family Jewels

Members of Auburn University's NCAA Championship men's swim team presented President Bush with a speedo during their triumphant visit to the White House last week. Bush said he wouldn't wear least not in public.

Still, my guess is that there's a better chance of seeing America's Emperor in his new clothes doing laps across the Potomac than there is of him firing his right hand man, Karl Rove.

I have no idea if Rove has committed a crime or if he leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the press at all, as many on the left suspect. What I do know is that Rove has been getting his W-2s from W all these years for one reason and one reason only: to make sure his boss looks good. And outing the spouse of a noted war critic is precisely the kind of cold-blooded hit a hired gun is there for.

The scruples (or lack thereof) of the Roves and James Carvilles are debatable, but what isn't is their ability to take America's pulse and get their men to push the appropriate buttons. I might, with some resistance, concede the concept that it's okay to do whatever necessary within reason to win an election so one can effect positive change. Where you lose me is when a guy who's only job is to make sure his man wins keeps his job once the candidate's a lame duck.

Mr. President - and don't pretend this blog isn't part of your morning briefing - you could strike a blow against the nasty side of partisan politics by relieving Rove of his duties right now. Not because he's necessarily done anything illegal or because he's intrinsically evil but because there are no other elections to win. Throw him a party if you want. Send him off with a gold watch. He deserves at least that. But don't keep him on your payroll or in your ear.

It has seemed to me at times that Bush so reveres the men in his father's inner circle that he's had trouble trusting his own instincts.

"If Rummy says wipe out Saddam, who am I to argue? Heck, I traded Sammy Sosa."

Rove was there when Bush I was Reagan's running mate in 1980. And he was there in the former's ill-fated re-election campaign of 1992. Any wonk of Dad's is a wonk of Dubya's.

But the President doesn't need to land a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier to state the obvious: Karl Rove's mission has been accomplished. He got Bush II an eight-year rental agreement on the classy side of Pennsylvania Avenue. It's time for the President to hand his attack dog's leash to the next would-be tenant of that property and concentrate on doing whatever good he can over the remainder of his final four-year contract with the American people, not on whatever Rove decides would spike the poll numbers.

For multiple reasons, Bush would be better off choosing to let Rove go now before a court of law chooses for him. It's increasingly clear that Rove's job (and his genius) has been to protect not America's interests necessarily but those of his employer. Politics - like speedos - always expose people in the end.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Money In The Bank: Indelible Images Of Woods, Nicklaus Left At St. Andrews

Poor Tiger. The closer he tries to get to Jack Nicklaus, the further Nicklaus moves away. The week Tiger notched his 10th career major championship - moving to within eight of Nicklaus' record total - the Royal Bank of Scotland unveiled some new Jack, specifically a series of five-pound notes stamped with the upper torso of Jack Nicklaus clutching the Claret Jug.

It's even money whether or not Woods will make or break 18. But the odds are against ever seeing a paper Tiger. Before Nicklaus, only royalty had graced Scottish currency.

It is on paper, of course, that Tiger has been the favorite at each Grand Slam event since he won the Masters by 12 in 1997. And now, for the second time in his career - with a second swing, no less - he's racking up the biggies in bunches. A five-shot victory at The Old Course gives Tiger two of three majors this year. The last time he took two out of three, it was merely the beginning of a stretch in which he won seven of 11.

That streak had both close calls and blowouts, and so does this one. Tiger coughed up a two-up-with-two-to-play lead in April at Augusta before DiFeating DiMarco in extras. At the 134th Open Championship, Tiger went wire-to-wire. But while opening rounds of 66-67 put him atop page one of the leaderboard Friday afternoon, he was nearly relegated to the agate type of the world's sports pages Saturday morning. Nicklaus missed the cut in his final major championship appearance but found himself in the lead of every story with a St. Andrews dateline.

That scene of 50,000 fans at the birthplace of golf saying goodbye to the player Tiger called "the greatest champion in the history of the sport" proved how unique this game is. Remember the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 1999 when they wheeled Ted Williams out to the pitcher's mound at Fenway Park to shake hands with some of that season's best players? It was an amazing moment, but Nicklaus playing The Old Course would be like Teddy Ballgame or Willie Mays or Reggie Jackson - 20, 30, 40 years past their playing days - stepping into the batter's box against Randy Johnson in his prime. It couldn't happen in any other sport.

Jack didn't just show up at St. Andrews, he played well enough to threaten the weekend. Needing a birdie-birdie finish Friday, Nicklaus instead bogeyed the famed Road Hole, and the final weepy walk up and over the sacred Swilcan Bridge was on, two days earlier than he'd hoped. Not one for long goodbyes, Nicklaus went ahead and birdied 18 for posterity, then walked off major championship soil for the last time. He said there was a small part of him that was glad to get it over with so the fans wouldn't have to come back out and cheer him on again Sunday. That makes one of him. You think any golf fan anywhere wouldn't love the opportunity to applaud the one they first called Fat Jack? Fat chance.

Sorriest to see Nicklaus go must surely be his heir apparent. Having already achieved the Tiger Slam by winning four straight majors from the 2000 U.S. Open through the '01 Masters, Woods accomplished the Grand Finale Slam Sunday: he won in Jack's final appearance in each of the four major championships.

Like the Golden Bear, Tiger's now won twice at St. Andrews. In pleasant conditions, The Old Course really isn't much of a test for Tiger, as evidenced by his 11 under par total through two tame rounds. When the winds kicked up for the next round and a half, the best player in the world - and to think we doubted - proved that defense wins championships in golf, too. Playing it safe, Tiger hit only one really bad shot over the final two days - his tee ball into the gorse Saturday on 6 - in rounds of 71-70, which turned back his Ryder Cup rivals, Colin Montgomerie and Jose-Maria Olazabal, each of whom crept to within one at various points over the weekend before fading on the back nine Sunday.

The golf cognoscenti will wonder why no one made Tiger work harder when it counted, which is merely one of three responses to any tournament he has a chance to win. That's what they say when he wins big. When someone does push him to the limit, as DiMarco did at Augusta, the media says he couldn't put the guy away. And when someone actually gets the better of him, like Michael Campbell at Pinehurst, the first finger is pointed not at the winner but at Tiger's inability to seal the deal.

Meanwhile, Tiger's piling up majors and laughing all the way to the bank where - in Scotland, at least - he needs look no further than that five-pound note to remind himself what kind of investment it will take to be the best ever. And in return, you can bet that account will interest Bear.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Open And Shut

While America sleeps Wednesday night and Thursday morning, golf's oldest championship, The British Open, will begin at the birthplace of the game, St. Andrews, Scotland. First played in 1860, The Open Championship - as its known everywhere in the world except on U.S. soil - predates the American Civil War. No, Jack Nicklaus didn't participate in that inaugural tournament. (According to extant archives, he failed to qualify that year.) But he is playing at St. Andrews this week in what he says will be his final appearance in a major championship, 18 of which he's won in his indescribable career.

Tiger Woods got halfway to that magic number in April when he made The Masters his ninth major triumph. That win, his second at the U.S. Open last month, and the fact that he won his only British Open at St. Andrews five years ago make Tiger the trendy pick this week. Not only will I not go out on a limb with my prognostication, I'm climbing down from the tree and going inside to watch the tournament on TV. Gimme Tiger.

Fuzzy Zoeller Couldn't Make It
Who says the curmudgeonly Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews doesn't have a sense of humor? The Open Championship's governing body paired Sean O'Hair with Danny Chia. The third member of the group is Patrik Sjoland, the Swede whose surname is translated "hairy, quasi-botanical creature usually given as a white elephant gift." (It's possible I may have made up that last part.)

Green With Envy
For the second consecutive week, 15-year-old Michelle Wie is a girl among boys and men. A week ago, the PGA TOUR's John Deere Classic made its cut - as a John Deere is wont to do - and Wie fell short by two. Some TOUR players continue to grumble that a high school girl takes up space in a tournament of professional men. Pretty lame, if you ask me, but at least those guys are trying to make a living.

Danny Green has no excuse. The talented Tennessean Volunteered to embarrass himself this week while competing against Wie in the U.S. Amateur Public Links. Amateur, as in not for prize money. Wie's the first female to qualify - and rightfully qualify, she did - for any men's championship run by the USGA. The winner has traditionally received an invitation to play in The Masters, which is Wie's dream and the reason she's playing the Publinx. At 48, Green is the oldest player in the field. He seemed downright Jurassic when he suggested Wie "should play in the women's tournaments because they don't let the men play in women's tournaments."

No, Danny, and they don't let you compete in the U.S. Junior or Senior Amateurs, either. But perhaps if you ask nicely, they'll let you play them all. Maybe I can pull some strings at The Golf Channel and get you a special exemption into the Drive, Chip, and Putt Competition. I hear the 3-and-under Division has an opening after one of the toddlers dropped out with diaper rash.

There's no crying in golf. Besides, would you really want to start qualifying your victories by saying you were the best men's player that week? Quit being babies, and just beat her. Of course, that's easier said than done. Wie was one of 64 players who played well enough the first two days to advance to the match play portion of the championship. And with a birdie at the final hole Wednesday, she won her first round match to move one step closer to Augusta.

She's still a longshot, but so are most of the contestants in this event. Winning six straight matches isn't easy, regardless of which locker room you use. By the way, Green's locker's now empty. He lost to a 22-year-old man in the first round.

He Hopes His Cell Number Is Unlisted
When the news came down that former WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers had been sentenced to 25 years in prison for engineering the biggest accounting fraud in U.S. history, my first thought was "There, but for the grace of God...." I mean, who among us hasn't been a misstep or two from bilking shareholders out of $11 billion of stock? Get those hands up. (Actually, $10 billion of that bilking came from government taxes, surcharges, fees, and running over his monthly allotment of minutes.)

The only bright spot for Ebbers is that he now qualifies for MCI's "Friends and Felons Plan." No incoming calls but one free call out.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Match, Met, 'n' Heaven

This post is brought to you by the letters F, U, and the number 36.

The only thing better than celebrating your birthday is extending the revelry to an entire week, which is about how long my sainted mother was in labor before delivering me into the world as a welterweight at a terrifying but even 11 pounds.

So it was that after friends and family feted me on the 36th anniversary of my rather obnoxious arrival on Earth, I boarded a plane Monday morning for what would prove to be a week of firsts, including maiden visits to Fenway Park and Shea Stadium...

(wait for it...)

That crash was the sound of Red Sox fans collectively chunking their chowder bowl through the computer screen. And in their defense, I'll admit that lumping Fenway and Shea into one experience - or even the same sentence - is like bragging that you've met two famous actors: Laurence Olivier and Pauly Shore. Same business, different league.

Fenway is Boston, and vice-versa. As long as you keep moving, everyone's happy. I'd made it approximately 90 seconds and 200 yards before my ignorance of this single rule of Mass. transit took its toll. Or tried to. A left-right-left out of the Avis lot led me to the on ramp of the Ted Williams Tunnel, a passage that required a $3 charge. I had exactly nothing. Like the tunnel's namesake, I froze. The guy in the booth grudgingly fetched a form and return envelope for me to send in my three bills. And as he did, a detail from the Boston Visitors Bureau was lining up behind me to welcome me with a staccato of hello honks and a collective point in the right direction with one big middle finger. It was comforting, in a weird way. You don't want to be told to fuhgeddaboudit by a waitress at a Chattanooga Cracker Barrel. And you don't want to hear "Howdy!" in the Hub.

Outside Fenway, I bought a ticket along the rightfield line and made my way in with a couple of friends who already had seats. As the Sox came to bat in the bottom of the first, my friends called and said there was one empty seat behind them and to come on down. "On down," precisely, was only the third row at Fenway Park. Hello, Mooch-a-chusetts! I was so close to the Red Sox on-deck circle I could've spit a sunflower seed into Johnny Damon's hair. And with that mane, I doubt he'd have ever known.

The whole experience was even better than I'd hoped. The sights, sounds, smells were unmistakably Fenway. The Green Monster. The Pesky Pole. The Citgo sign that's further beyond left field than it appears on TV. And a 2004 World Series banner that I suspect many in that park thought they'd never see.

Baseball isn't a game in Boston; it's a religion, complete with its own sacraments - franks (on white bread) and beer (which comes with the same instructions as shampoo: suds, rinse, repeat). And you're not just invited to partake, it's actually pointless to resist. More people offered to buy me a beer on the first day of my 37th year than in the previous 36 years combined. The scoreboard said Cleveland 7, Boston 0. But I was the clear winner on this night.

The next day wasn't bad either. After a quick tour of some Boston landmarks - the Old North Church, Harvard, Dunkin' Donuts - my friend and I teed it up at The International, founded in 1901 and billed as the longest golf course in the world at 8,325 yards. Not wanting to be rude, I played where my friend wanted. He likes his tee markers and his hot dog bread white. I didn't exactly bring the monster to its knees. But with a birdie at the 3rd, I did kick it in the shins really hard before signing for a 78, turning tail, and running away kicking and screaming like a teenage girl. Actually, 78 doesn't beat too many teenage girls these days.

The five-hour drive that afternoon from Boston to New Jersey where I was to broadcast the Women's World Match Play Championship for The Golf Channel took me down the Massachusetts Turnpike; through Hartford, Connecticut; across the New York state line; past West Point; and finally into New Jersey. I remember hearing Rodney Dangerfield one time deliver the line, "You from Jersey? What exit?" I always wondered if that was offensive to the people who lived there. It wasn't to me.

Jersey's an interesting place. It's one of two states (the other being Oregon) where it's mandatory for a filling station employee to pump your gas. This further proves Dan Quayle was right back in 1992 when he pointed to a "Help Wanted" sign at a Burger King on the campaign trail to prove there really were good jobs out there. Of course, the work is for men only. Murphy Brown and all the other moms should stick to pumping breast milk and everything will be okay.

The golf tournament's host city, Gladstone, is a cozy village and, as far as I could tell, unpopulated. I was there four days and didn't see a soul. Yet 45 miles to the east is arguably the most important city in the world, New York. And argue, New Yorkers did. In my one foray into the city, I was:

honked at in the Holland Tunnel
cut off by a cab in Manhattan
scalped at Shea Stadium
lost on Long Island
and flipped off of Manhattan as I headed back to Jersey.

It was great.

Back at the tournament, my good friend and Golf Channel colleague, Kay Cockerill, and I discussed the allegations by a former LPGA caddy that he had fathered the child of a player, who just happens to be one of the most well-known members of the tour's weekly Bible study. Kay said (with tongue somewhere in the vicinity of cheek), "You Christians are always the ones who seem the most screwed up and need God to solve all of your problems. And yet you seem to look down on people who have some sense of balance in their lives." I hate when she makes good points like that. It's true that calls for repentance ring kinda hollow when the callers' lifestyles aren't nearly as holy as the ones they're calling. Of course, angels are easy targets once they've fallen, and the only reason they fall so far is because they're aspiring for great heights.

The conversation and the cart path turned as we came upon the third hole at Hamilton Farm Golf Club where rookie sensation Paula Creamer was suffering through comments like this from one of the guys in her pro-am group after his buddy left a birdie putt short: "Hey, you oughta be playing on the ladies' tour!" The chauvinist pig promptly stepped up and yanked his attempt a good Buick-length left of the hole. And then Creamer "chau"-ed him a thing or two by ramming hers right in the heart to rescue the team from par.

This tournament aired on The Golf Channel Thursday and Friday but was produced by CBS, which carried the weekend rounds. That meant I got to again work with my friend and the head of CBS golf, Lance Barrow, aka "The Round Mound of the TV Compound."

Before our first telecast, we discussed ideas for the show. Sort of. When I tried to make a suggestion, Lance proved he wasn't cutting any slack to his fellow Abilene Christian alum by scoffing, "I don't know who you been working with, but you let me worry about what we're going to do." I assumed he was kidding, so during rehearsal I offered my own good-natured jab in his direction, only to have him fire back, "Watch it. I'll come up there (to the booth). Don't think I won't. I don't know who you been working with, but I'll come up there and take care of things if that's what it takes..."

Gulp. Lance is a former football player, who's still big enough to squish me in his loafers. At that point, I wasn't so sure he was kidding. But he was. I think. I hope.

The week ended with one final full-serve fill up and the check-in at Newark International Airport where the sign for all of the carriers running out of Terminal B listed Ethiopian Airlines immediately above Hooters Air. My first thought was that the passenger perks must be a tad different. My second thought was that Addis Ababa is either the capital of Ethiopia or what a guy at Hooters stammers as he simultaneously ogles his server and snarfs his wings.

Alas, I flew plain old American Airlines back home as my birthweek celebration concluded. But knowing such a beautiful wife and three precious kids were waiting for me when I walked through the door, I figured every day is like a birthday.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Three If By Sand! Miracle Birdie Makes Pressel A Bridesmaid, Kim A Ju-Yun Bride

The events depicted in this story are true. Only the name has been changed to define the champion.

Nine months after presciently conceiving her nickname, Ju-Yun "Birdie" Kim delivered. From the sands of Cherry Hills Country Club's seemingly impregnable 18th hole, Kim produced a bouncing, bunkered birdie - a miraculous shot and one of the greatest in golf history the moment it fell - to win the mother of all ladies' championships, the U.S. Women's Open. It's Kim's firstborn American victory, and oh, baby, is it a whopper.

A week that commenced with the most popular player in women's golf, Annika Sorenstam, already halfway home toward the Grand Slam ended with perhaps its most anonymous contestant on top of Cherry Hills. In truth, Annika had been upstaged long before Sunday afternoon. A gaggle of teenagers and college kids contending for the holiest of grails in women's golf made the week play more like a slumber party than major championship.

The sports world had conveniently used Annika's Slam quest to get another peek at 15-year-old phenom Michelle Wie, who didn't disappoint but did inspire a fresh layer of hyperbole. Opening with a 2-under-par 69, Wie worked her way into a tie for the lead through 54 holes and onto NBC analyst Johnny Miller's top five list of best swings in all of golf.

Wie has chosen to spend her middle and high school years testing herself against grown-ups instead of taking the critics' preferred path of "learning to win" by beating up on kids her own age. Her ultimate desire is to play against men in major championships. Sunday, Wie proved the plan isn't working by folding with a final round 82. Good players, especially grown men, just don't shoot 82 with a U.S. Open on the line. Instead, they shoot 81s and 84s like Retief Goosen and Jason Gore last week. Had Wie "learned to win" against her peers the way Rookie of the Year lock Paula Creamer did, maybe she would've matched Creamer's Sunday 79.

I say let her play against whomever she wants. Sure, she blew it Sunday while the nation's top-ranked female amateur, Morgan Pressel, hung in 'til the bitter end. But there's a big difference. Pressel, who's taken the conventional route of racking up junior titles, is merely an exceptionally talented young player with Hall of Fame potential. Wie, on the other hand, is from another world and could wind up in another Hall, as in the men's.

Annika, of course, is already in the LPGA Hall of Fame, but she was and is still is interested in transcending women's golf into the pantheon of sports immortals by achieving the Grand Slam. She was in good stead after an opening 71, but three straight bogeys Friday left Annika six shots back and in a major funk. Needing a weekend aggregate of 1-under 141, she instead signed for 73-77 and saw her Grand Slam aspirations fizzle into a pedestrian tie for 23rd. I suppose the fact that Annika left Denver with only two legs instead of three proves she's human after all.

As is so often the case in U.S. Opens, the final round was less about great shotmaking and way more about survival. Which helps explain how Lorena Ochoa came to the final hole at +3, needing a par four to get into a playoff but left having taken twice that many whacks. And why Natalie Gulbis with a birdie could've posted +4 but bogeyed instead for yet another near-miss. And why Brittany Lang, fresh off an NCAA team title with Duke last month, was such an interested spectator when Birdie's birdie fell at the last. Lang was the only player in the final 10 groups to match par, and her chances of at least earning the right to a Monday playoff looked good until Kim lived up to her name.

Pressel played beyond her years, too, though she's been doing that for nearly as long as she's had any years at all. You may recall four years ago she became the youngest to qualify for this championship. Pressel missed the cut then, but now at 17 and a grizzled veteran of three U.S. Opens, she finally proved she's capable of playing on the grandest stage of women's golf and whetted our appetite for the day she'll be out here full-time. And she should take home from Cherry Hills considerable comfort in knowing she didn't lose this U.S. Open nearly as much as Kim won it.

This was a weird event and one reflective of what happens when the USGA plays Marquis de Sade with a classic course. A half dozen of the best players in the women's game had so much to gain and in the end lost a commensurate amount. Annika's Grand Slam bid was left begging. Paula Creamer and Lorena Ochoa both missed opportunities to establish themselves as the best young player in the game. Michelle Wie surrendered 11 too many strokes Sunday and, thus, instant immortality as a 15-year-old major champion. Calendar girl Natalie Gulbis, now starring in her own eponymous reality show on The Golf Channel, could've ended any and all Anna Kourni-komparisons by winning her first LPGA title. Karen Stupples left some wondering which was the fluke: her eagle/double eagle start en route to victory in the final round of last year's British Open or the 78 she turned in Sunday playing with a share of the lead. Pressel could've upstaged Wie. Lang could've been the first amateur champion in nearly 40 years.

But somehow, the player with the least to lose gained the most. Birdie not only hadn't shown signs of being one of the best players on tour, she wasn't even the best player named Kim. She could've quietly shot 77 Sunday, picked up a top ten plus a nice check, and made a lot of people in the press tent happy by not requiring them to actually flip over to the modest half page she occupies in the LPGA media guide.

Instead, Birdie Kim now occupies a place in golf history more rarefied than Denver's mile high air. And that name, prophetically altered, now occupies space on the U.S. Women's Open trophy and may give new birth to the belief that what's in a name matters after all.

by Pulitzer Boone

Monday, June 20, 2005

Just Maori-ed! New Zealander Campbell Hitches Himself To U.S. Open Title

You can set your watch to it: every 42 years, a New Zealander wins a major championship. In 1963, lanky lefthander Bob Charles won the British Open. And yesterday, Michael Campbell survived the U.S. Open at Pinehurst's No. 2 Course on a day in which most of his opponents looked as if they were playing left-handed.

Of the final four players to tee off Sunday, three couldn't break 80: defending champ Retief Goosen (81), who squandered not only his three-shot final round lead but also a chance to cement his name in golf history; Jason Gore (84), who like his political namesake is likely demanding a recount; and Olin Browne (80), whose Sunday meltdown means Mr. Dutra, winner of the '32 PGA and '34 Open, remains the only major champion named Olin.

Campbell not only broke 80, he beat the U.S. Open's toughest perennial opponent, Old Man Par. A 1-under 69 gave Campbell, a 36-year-old native of New Zealand's Maori tribe, an even par, 280 total for the week and a measure of respect among his peers for staring down Tiger Woods that will last much longer. Tiger's spirited but shockingly fallible charge Sunday left him two shots short of continuing his quest to win all four majors in the same year. Now, he can only divert his Grand Slam aspirations to good friend Annika Sorenstam who's already won the first two legs of the women's Slam and goes for a third this week at the U.S. Women's Open.

In fact, after winning the LPGA Championship last week, Annika text-messaged Tiger, "9-9," to flaunt the fact that she'd matched his major win total at nine. He said his jocular rejoinder to her mobile missive can't be reprinted in polite company, and I'm guessing whatever he was thinking to himself as he stood on the 72nd tee Sunday can't either. No sooner had he clawed his way back from eight shots off the lead early in the final round with birdies at 11 and 15, Tiger bogeyed both 16 and 17. This pair of out-of-nowhere, unforced, eleventh-hour errors - reminiscent of the gifts he often received from would-be challengers down the stretch - would ultimately provide his own margin of defeat.

The name of this course now has new meaning to Tiger: the world's No. 1 player made a big No. 2 out of those two holes and now must wait another month for the British Open at St. Andrews for his 10th title in a Grand Slam tournament. Worse yet, as he waits he must wonder what's happened to his major mojo.

Once a lock in opportunities to win one of the big four, Tiger's fingers seem increasingly buttery. At The Masters in April, owning a two-shot lead on Chris DiMarco with two holes to play, Tiger bogeyed 17 and 18 and needed both DiMarco's birdie pitch to lip out (which it did) and his own dramatic birdie putt on the first playoff hole to drop (which it did) to finally win.

Sunday, after brilliant ball-striking put him in position to win his third Open in six years, Tiger couldn't get up and down from a relatively easy spot on 16 and then three-jacked the 17th to fall three behind Campbell. That remained the margin after Tiger's birdie at 18 was matched by Campbell's clutch 2 at 17.

During a week in which the ghost of Payne Stewart - Pinehurst's Open champion in 1999 - was eerily present, Tiger could only hope the specter from another '99 major would apparate on the 72nd hole. Only a Jean Van De Velde-ian triple could keep Campbell from redeeming the last decade of unfulfilled potential and validating himself as a player worthy of golf's biggest stage.

Instead, just a harmless bogey left Campbell at level par, two better than Tiger and now firmly and forever entrenched as a national hero among his Maori people and all of New Zealand, which is now on the clock with 42 years to celebrate its newest major champion.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Something About Mary

Knowing that Annika is a big fan of the boone box, I'd intended to keep the recap of the LPGA Championship at the top of my blog until she'd had a chance to read it. But circumstances compel me to submit the following post. (Annika, scroll down to the next story to see how I fumbled all over myself trying to describe how great you are.)

Our dear friends, Scott and Emily Glisson and their four children, have given up their little slice of the American dream to live in a Ugandan nightmare. Two years ago, the Glissons left everything - family, friends, SUVs, 401(k)s, normalcy - and moved to Mbarara, Uganda to join a small group of Americans who are serving the natives there through medical help, education, and friendship. No quid pro quos. No insistence that the locals come to church if they want help. Just lots of love in very tangible ways, including being the hands, feet - and as you're about to read - the arms of Christ.

June 6

Hi Amy,

Just wanted to tell you about the last couple of days I’ve had - - good ones for sure, but crazy busy…

The hospital called and said that there was an abandoned baby that needed a short-term foster home - - effective immediately. Our family has been SO interested in doing that and I usually go to the hospital on Fridays just to check in and to see if there is any way our family can help with those babies, but today was the first day the actually needed us.... Our kids were so excited about our first foster baby (we all were!) and I hoofed it over to the hospital to check it all out. Well, the baby is sick, so very sick. Her mother died this morning and there were no relatives to take the baby back home (and how do you even find them with small villages dotting the map?). She has pneumonia, malaria and is severely malnourished, and even though she is 8 months old, she looks like an alert newborn. It is so sad! She is not ready to be discharged yet, due to her ailments.... So we’ll just go and check on her every day (taking clothes, blankets, maybe even milk??) until she is released. And then we will love on her for a short time and help her get back on her feet before we deliver her to an orphanage an hour and a half away. On my walk back home, I kept thanking the Lord for such an awesome privilege to care for a baby who has absolutely nobody in this world thinking about her tonight. And I prayed for that anonymous lady who died all alone this morning. Who was she? What was her story? And does anybody even know that she is now gone?

Tonight, my four little ones are snug in their beds and I’m feeling exhausted physically....and a little melancholy for those babies who just don’t ever have a chance…



June 14

Hi there,

What really has me sad is our poor baby….she is the saddest thing you have ever seen! We call her “Mary” even though we don’t really know her name. Her mom was Mbabazi, and that seemed too hard for our kids to pronounce. She is 8 months old, but can’t sit up or even control her head very well b/c she is less than 8 tiny pounds! Her arms are the size of my index finger – just a poor little bag of bones. Anyway, I’ve been going up to the hospital once or twice a day to feed her or take her medicine (the hospital ran out) since she doesn’t have anyone to take care of her. One day last week, I held her for a long time outside in the sunshine and sang little songs to her, changed the sheets on her bed, gave her a sponge bath with my WetOnes antibacterial wipes, sat with her during her blood testing, and fed her some high energy milk. I was hopeful – I was seriously thinking about bringing her to my house to ensure that she has good feeding and care since the nurses just don’t have time. (There are 100 children and only 2 nurses!) I figured I could always go up there once or twice a day to get her injections and just keep her at home, setting my alarm to feed her every 2-3 hours. BUT when I went back the very next day, she looked absolutely awful…and she was gray and cold. Not a good sign. While I was there, the doctor moved her immediately to critical care and we started feeding her through a feeding tube in her nose since she was literally on her death bed. It broke my heart. (And then I passed out, which was not a pretty sight right there in front of 50 traditionally dressed Ugandan mamas and their snotty nosed kids.) And when I went back that afternoon, they had removed her from critical care and taken the feeding tube out of her nose and completely given up hope – she was in the last stages of AIDS. And so, she has moved even further down the line of priorities at the hospital. It has been a hard week as I contemplate the “whys” and “what nows” of life, and of baby Mary’s life specifically. But even then, I have felt a tremendous sense of fulfillment caring for this baby in her last days. No baby deserves to die alone. The last few days I have been dosing her up really good on Children’s Tylenol, and we all are praying that she rests peacefully and dies quickly. Did she ever have a mama who loved her – who delighted in her smile? Or has she been wimpering and moaning for her entire existence?

When the hospital called me on Saturday, I assumed they were calling to say that Mary had passed away. So I braced myself. But they were actually calling to say that there was ANOTHER abandoned baby who needed some TLC, and to please come quickly. This one was only a week and a half old and her mother had died of pneumonia the day before. This tiny baby is just that – tiny!! She seems to be in perfect health, but she weighs only 2 pounds. I fed her with a syringe in one of the rooms in the hospital while stomping my feet to keep the rat who was running from wall to wall away from me! When the doctor opened an official file on the baby, he asked me what her name was. Well…? I had just met her five minutes before and wasn’t really planning to name a baby that day…but I named her “Grace”. And I am praying that the Lord gives her plenty of it as she struggles to grow and thrive in this fallen world. After what feels like a million trips to the hospital over the weekend, I was able to bring baby Grace to our home yesterday afternoon. She is very alert and sweet and did I mention – tiny?? We aim to feed her 1 ounce of formula every 3 hours and she fits nicely inside a shoe box! I’ll have to send you pictures…

Meanwhile, I’m delivering baby Mary to the orphanage on Thursday. I know the Catholic sisters who run the place and I know they will give her lots of love and attention in what may be her last days. She is so sick and yet she knows my voice; when I sing to her over her bed, she reaches for my hand to pull closely to her face; her stiff and severely malnourished body relaxes completely when I hold her in my arms….I will never be the same after loving on her. Please pray for all of us as we make that tearful transfer on Thursday.

Love and Miss you,


June 16

Our sweet Baby Mary passed away last night…Of course, I am sad. But I am also so very thankful that she is now completely out of her pain and with the Lord Jesus - - his arms are much more tender than mine.

Thank you for your prayers.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Upper Crust

America's secondary education system is clearly failing us. Neither Michelle Wie, a sophomore at Honolulu's Punahou Academy, nor the newly-minted graduate of Pendleton High in Bradenton, Florida, Paula Creamer, could get closer than three shots to Annika Sorenstam at the McDonald's LPGA Championship. Then again, neither could anyone of drinking age. Sorenstam won her third straight Mickey D's, even though they switched venues from DuPont Country Club to Bulle Rock (pronounced "bully," as in what Sorenstam's doing to the rest of the LPGA).

Another Anni-kakewalk, her 6th in 8 tournaments this year and 62nd of her career, puts Sorenstam halfway toward her ultimate goal of winning women's golf's Grand Slam. And the fact that her closest competitors aren't old enough to know how to use a cassette tape irrefutably reveals just how wide the gap is between Annika and everyone else.

It's not unlike Tiger's run from 1999-2002 when he racked up 7 of his 9 majors while none of the rest of the best were playing at a consisently high level. For sure, Annika would be getting her fair share of trophies no matter how anyone else was playing. But this eye-popping stretch of 39 wins in the last 4 1/2 years and five victories in the last ten majors has either caused or coincided with a downturn in the careers of what had been her chief challengers: Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak, Meg Mallon, and Juli Inkster. Each has managed a major or two during Sorenstam's streak, but none has posed a consistent threat.

That's actually a very interesting question to ponder. Has Annika merely taken advantage of her peers' less-than-peak performances since 2001 or were those players simply unable to respond when Sorenstam took her game and her body to a higher level?

You could argue that Inkster, 44, and Mallon, 42, are a tick or two past their primes and, thus, unable to keep up with one of the most dedicated athletes, male or female, in all of sports. But the Webb and Pak cases are more curious.

Webb's still just 30. She was narrowly but decisively #1 from 1999 through the summer of '01, racking up 15 victories during that span, including five majors. But she's won only four times since, and none of those were majors.

Pak's even younger, just 27. She burst onto the LPGA stage in 1998 when she made the LPGA Championship and U.S. Women's Open her first two career victories, as a 20-year-old, no less. But after consecutive five-win seasons, Pak's won just four LPGA events (no majors) since 2003, which is great...unless you're one of the best players in the world.

It's an impossible question to answer, but I'd suggest Annika's work ethic has at the very least contributed to the others underachieving. Consider that in 2000, Sorenstam had won five times but had been upstaged by Webb's seven Ws, two of which were majors. That's when Sorenstam decided to take matters into her own hands, feet, abs, traps, delts, quads, etc.

Her first event of 2001 was the Takefuji Classic in Hawaii, which I happened to be broadcasting for The Golf Channel. We'd heard about Annika's off-season conditioning program and how she'd been in one, continuous abdominal crunch all winter. When I interviewed her on the putting green at Kona Country Club the day before the tournament started, I jokingly referred to the then-30-year-old Sorenstam as a "crusty veteran." As with most mentally stable people, she didn't get my joke. She quizzically countered, "Crusty? Why do you call me crusty? I'm not crusty." Oops.

Since that interview, Annika's been relentless, with me and more importantly with the rest of the LPGA. While never letting me live that dubious question down, she's hardly let other players up. Sorenstam has completely reshaped her physique - from skinny to sleek to superwoman - and her game, adding power to her trademark precision and making a conscious decision to hang out with her friends on the PGA TOUR, most notably Tiger Woods, to see what she could learn from them, which she has admitted was a lot. Now, she's without a doubt the most complete player in all of golf, men's or women's. And, yes, I'm including Tiger.

Annika gave Webb, Pak, and the rest of the LPGA her best shot, and no one's had a counterpunch. It tends to be a bit demoralizing when you know the best player in the world is also the hardest worker.

The only hope for the rest of the LPGA may be for Annika to quit pushing herself or for me to quit asking her dumb questions. I wouldn't bet on either.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Black Bart Steals The Show

CBS spent the better part of its broadcast of The Memorial golf tournament promoting "the funniest new reality show on television," Fire Me...Please! (It's apparently based on Gary McCord's performance at the 1994 Masters when he said about the 17th hole at Augusta National, "they don't mow this green, they bikini wax it," thus ending his Masters broadcast career.)

Still, the best reality show going is the PGA TOUR, itself. Impossible to predict week to week (now that Tiger is susceptible to kryptonite). And certainly no scripts, as evidenced by Bart Bryant's improbable victory at the Memorial in Columbus, Ohio.

If a reality show is hosted by, say, Jeff Probst, producers have some control over the outcome. With Jim Nantz, no way. Otherwise, everyone else would've been voted out of Muirfield Village except Fred Couples, Nantz's best bud and former teammate on the University of Houston golf team. But Freddie was sent packing in the tournament's final 45 minutes when he: missed a short eagle putt, couldn't get up and down from a greenside bunker at 16, missed a makeable birdie attempt at 17, and blew his approach to 18 halfway to Palau.

Couples is the gallery's most beloved player among those still active, but Tiger Woods is still the most captivating. And he had his chances, too. Three straight birdies put him within two of the lead until he double bogeyed a short par 3. That left him no room for error coming down the stretch, such as the bogey he made at 14 that left him with his pockets full but his trophy case undisturbed.

One by one, storylines the fans and media hoped to see develop never did. David Toms, humble and preppy, imploded. Jeff Sluman, the smiley veteran playing with borrowed credibility having been granted a sponsor's exemption by tournament founder and host Jack Nicklaus, faded. Even Bo Van Pelt would've sufficed. Unknown by most, for sure, but at least his dad played in the NFL. And they like their football in the land of The Ohio State University. But Bo still don't know winning on the PGA TOUR after splashing his approach to the par 5 15th and bogeying 18 when a birdie would've given him the clubhouse lead.

When it came to dotting Is and crossing Ts, no one was more efficient coming home than Bryant. His front nine scorecard looked like an argyle sock with three red numbers, three green, and three black. But an inward 32 - capped by a soggy, scrambling par at 18 after his tee shot found the creek - was enough by one to earn him his second TOUR title but his first with anyone paying attention. Bryant's maiden victory at last year's Texas Open happened opposite the Ryder Cup, which no one was watching on Sunday either, come to think of it.

As scripts go, Bryant certainly wouldn't have wished the one written for him the last 15 years on anyone. A native of Gatesville, Texas, about two hours east of nowhere, the 42-year-old Bryant has had as many injuries and operations as full seasons on TOUR. Hogan was said to have dug his success out of the dirt. Bryant's previous claim to fame was an older brother, Brad, known as "Dr. Dirt." Hardly the champion pedigree for the graycoats and bluebloods at Muirfield.

In fact, you'd sooner peg Bart as a plumber than PGA TOUR player. And he'd lived on similar wages for most of his career. But that par putt he drained on 18 earned him both a $990,000 first prize and a firm handshake from Nicklaus as he walked off the green. Talk about your pipe dreams.

As Bryant has discovered the hard way, sometimes reality bites. Give a guy credit when he bites back. And be glad the TOUR doesn't always work off the script we want. Bart Bryant is a real Survivor.


Congratulations to Annika Sorenstam. Her victory at the ShopRite Classic yesterday was not only her fifth of the year and 61st of her career, it also gets her halfway to the Grocers' Grand Slam. With a win at the Safeway in March already in the bag, Annika turns her attention to the Wegman's later this month and the second Safeway event in August in Portland. Remember Annika, more than 10 wins and you can't use the Express Checkout Line.


Finally, the Kansas City Royals got all hot and bothered Sunday when Texas Rangers' reliever Francisco Cordero glared into their dugout and grabbed his crotch after getting the final out of an 8-1 win. They thought he was showing them up after they'd complained about his hitting one of their batters in the 9th inning. But my sources tell me Cordero was merely showing his support to Michael Jackson, who'll find out this week if he'll be sent to the showers.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Red (Shirts), White, and Blue

Monday was Memorial Day. Said so on my 365 Days of Dave Barry calendar, so it must be true. Memorials, of course, are more memorable when you actually remember the person you're commemorating.

For example, I noticed my 6-year-old son, Nicholas, reading my t-shirt at breakfast this morning, the one emblazoned with "That Pat Boone Is A Lovely Man," an actual quote from Sharon Osbourne (wife of Ozzy) on that family's TV show in reference to their former neighbor and my still-current uncle. Here's how the conversation ensued:

Nicholas: "Where did you get that shirt?"

Me: "Mommy got it for me at Dillard's a couple of years ago."


Nicholas (incredulously): "Is Uncle Pat famous?"

Me (credulously): "Yes. In fact, he's a very famous singer."

Nicholas: "You mean like Kira?" (the yellow ranger who fronted a garage band in the TV series Power Rangers Dino Thunder...but you knew that already)

Me: "Well, she's a TV character. Uncle Pat is a real singer, one of the most famous ever."

(As I tried to make a connection, I realized he never listens to the radio and has virtually no clue what a recording artist even is.)

Me: "Have you ever heard of Elvis?"

Nicholas: "No."

Me: "How 'bout The Beatles?"

Nicholas: "Are they the ones who wear red shirts?"

Me (puzzled): "I think you're thinking of The Wiggles."

Nicholas: "No, they wear different colored shirts."

Me: "Oh, yeah."

Nicholas: "Are most of The Beatles dead?"

Me: "As a matter of fact they are."

Nicholas: "I think I saw them singing one time, and they all had on red shirts."

I'm sure the extant Beatle, Paul, would be pleased to know his group's legacy is secure with the next generation: the mostly-dead band with red shirts.

I hear a growing number of God-folk who are convinced war is summarily evil and that Bush is either the Antichrist or at the very least next of kin because he sent so many Americans and others into battle. I have serious concerns, myself. But there are those in uniform who actually believe it is the essence of Christ to defend the defenseless, even to the point of giving up their lives.

Better than a token "thank you" to those selfless souls, I hope all of us can celebrate this holiday by giving up our lives for someone else. No matter what they're wearing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Air Pollution

I may have to give up my hip hop music. The lyrics are getting quite bawdy.

This should be of great interest to those of you considering a romantic relationship with a rapper. He may not be willing to make a long-term commitment if the words of Ludacris in 2004's Song of the Year, Yeah!, are any indication:

Forget about game, I'm a spit the truth
I won't stop 'til I get 'em in they birthday suits

For those of you without street "cred," let me interpret. That last line includes not only disturbingly poor pronoun usage but also a not-so-veiled reference to nudity, a condition that afflicts all of us at some point and an attribute many "rappers" actually look for in filling out a "posse."

Yet these hip hop stars, what with their "bling bling," seem never in want of "shorties." Perhaps these women are the same ones who're attracted to the guy with the naughty mudflaps or the amateur mammographer. Don't say I didn't warn you if some night you ain't cuttin' and he puts you on foot patrol. Do you understizzle, my shizzles?


Move over, Bill Shakespeare. You've got company, and it's coming from an unlikely source: that's right, country music. Specifically, Gretchen Wilson. Her poetic genius abounds in this tasty lick from her hit song "Homewrecker":

Now, honey, I'm a Christian
But if you keep this up
I'm gonna go to kickin'
Your pretty little butt

Credit where credit's due.


I've held off on this next supposition for a long time. But having spent the better part of the last four months in airports, I'm finally ready to say it.

There are two kinds of men in this world: those who wear red pants, and those whom women find attractive.

Controversial? Perhaps. Accurate? Absolutely. Moving on.


Speaking of airports, it's always awkward to witness customers berating innocent employees, but the behavior of a woman I encountered at DFW the other day was especially appalling and merits public censure. Upon deplaning, this woman - 60ish and obviously not from around here - began badgering an American Airlines agent. She was all, "I'm flying to Zurich, but they told me my bags had been sent to Frankfurt!" Calm down, lady. Zurich, Frankfurt, what's the difference? Be glad you were among the fortunate few to step foot in the greatest country God ever made. The same American ingenuity that lost your luggage also rid the world of an evil dictator, who was probably plotting an invasion of Zurich or Frankfurt or wherever your luggage is erroneously headed. A lost bag is a small price to pay. In case you haven't noticed, we're still at war here. America is tightening its belt, such as opting for the Grande Latte over Venti at Starbucks and refusing to reduce our gasoline consumption despite the fact that it's roughly equivalent to the minimum wage. How 'bout a little sacrifice on your part?


The best commercial on television right now is the one in which the family tries to save its collective cell phone minutes by speaking fast, like an auctioneer. Very funny.

And it brings to mind some of my favorite songs about auctioneers. There's "The Auctioneer" by Leroy Van Dyke (no relation) and..."The Auctioneer" (instrumental version) on the flip side of that 45, just to name two. Good stuff.


America - nay, the world - will have its newest American Idol by night's end. It's down to the lead singer from Krokus and the girl who looks like a melange of each of the last 15 one-hit divas. Methinks Bach isn't nervous about losing his legacy.

You have to admit Idol is exceptionally emblematic of America, circa 20-aught-5. Let's sit around doing nothing except deciding who among those who actually got off the couch long enough to audition best tickles our big, fat fancy and who should go back to their jobs as cooks at a mini golf course. We've as a nation become the dudes from Mystery Science Theater 3000.


Finally, I've tried to get into Tejano music. I really have. But I think my inability to speak Spanish is a hindrance. Guess it's just not my "thing." Maybe some of the Tejano singers could rap! Then they could say whatever they wanted, and I wouldn't be offended.