Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thinking Thanks and Masticated Mashed Potatoes

Like millions and millions of Americans, I did my giving of thanks Thursday. A lot of people call it rude, but I try to save up all my thanks for Thanksgiving day. I make a concentrated effort not to thank anyone for anything any other day. I try to never say "thanks" or "thank you" or even "gracias". And I definitely don't thank people "very much". I save all these thankings for one day. Then I thank in bulk. It's a lot easier that way. Like going to Costco or Sam's Club.

Anyway, like I was saying, I had the fam all huddled around on this great day of thanking. We had the wee tykes, the elders, the kin folk, and the rest. And we did what everyone else does.

We consumed cranberry sauce, swallowed succatash, gummed gravy, bit biscuits, masticated mashed potatoes, put away pickles, nibbled on noodles, chewed on cheese and mac, polished off pie, devoured dessert, and took in some turkey.

That's why I consider myself just a normal average guy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Visit to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar

A few weeks ago, during my overseas business trip, I had the pleasure of visiting the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. Opened less than a year ago, the museum is not only home to thousands of artifacts, from bowls and jewels to ancient Qur'anic texts, but it is also an architectural marvel, built by the same person who built the Louvre Pyramid in Paris.

Here is a video on the museum aired right before it opened:

To say I was impressed was an understatement. Honestly, I don't get out of the country much at all, so to have seen such a prominent display of culture and history was a treat. So if you are ever in Doha, do take the time to swing by the Museum of Islamic Art. It is well worth the visit. (That reminds me, it is also free admission.)

Is Rap Crap?

I was reading this article on Lil Wayne on CNN today when, against my better judgement, I browsed the comments. I'll admit this was a mistake, as comment sections are usually the sick ignorant underbelly of the Internet (except on this site, of course, where all my commentors are fine, upstanding pillars of community).

What shocked me in the comments was the people who claimed "rap isn't music"? Are we really still having these kind of discussions? 30 years after rock entered the mainstream, did we question whether it was music? What about jazz? Gospel? Blues? Even heavy metal gets more respect by the close-minded than hip-hop.

As much as I should disregard the incoherent babblings of ignorant CNN commentor, I do think that his or her opinion is far from unordinary. Here is a question: how many white middle class over-30 friends do you know who admit hip-hop is their favorite type of music? How many of them won't admit it for fear that they might get the "that's not white people music" look? How many of them fold like the dude in Office Space and claim they like radio-friendly alternative rock or country?

What do you think? Are we at a point yet in America where it is socially acceptable for middle class or even upper class white folks to be legitimate rap fans? Or are those people still seen as "wannabes" and "posers"?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stopping Driving While Old

Did you know old people are the 5th greatest cause of death on the roads?

Did you know the average old person drives 64% slower than the average driver?

Did you know old people are 51% less likely to pass a tractor driven by a chipmunk?

Like it or not, old people are a nuisance and should be categorically eliminated from our roadways.

Of course, I have a plan. I call it the "15 Year Plan". It's simple.

On their 69th birthday every driver has to take a driving test and renew their license.

On their 74th birthday (5 years later), they have to take another one.

On their 78th birthday (4 years later), drivers have to take a third test.

On their 81st birthday (3 years later), yet another test.

(Do you see the pattern yet?)

On their 83rd birthday (2 years later), drivers have to take another test.

Then on their 84th birthday and every birthday from there on, until they turn in their license, drivers must take yet another drivers test.

I think this could work. It might be a hassle for the department of motor vehicles. But they are trading their hard work for the common good.

Do you think this could work?

(By the way, those stats at the top might not be true.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cause of Death: Knocked Out By the Hero

Much to the chagrin of many people, I think too much. It happens all the time. Almost unconsciously. For some strange reason, whenever anything happens I can't just relax and let it go without having an opinion or attempting to fit whatever it is in my personal schema.

This includes movies. Even those that come with a disclaimer that "plot is sacrificed for the sake of explosions, porn, or kick-ass kung fu". Yup, even those I do too much thinking about.

Needless to say, an odd thought entered my cerebellum this weekend as I watched Star Wars: Episode III.

Did the Empire have a Casualty Notification process? How did they convey the news of the deaths of Imperial Officers and troops to the family they came from?

(I know most Stormtroopers were clones, at least through the Clone Wars Era. They didn't really have families, unless the Empire sent all the notices to Boba Fett, as he was their only next of kin. But the officers and other staff members had to have families. I don't think they were clones.)

I can't fathom the scope of the job of the Imperial Casualty Notification Office. Especially after the destruction of each of the Death Stars.

Here is how I think an Imperial death notice written after the Death Star explosion may have read:
"Dear Sir or Maam, 
Perhaps you heard, the Galactic Empire recent suffered a grave loss at the hands of rebel scum. Your son, (insert officer's name), was killed when these rogues destroyed our bastion of security, the Death Star. He, along with 31,622,963 fellow Imperial military members, lost their lives in the service our beloved Emperor.
In these sad times, be assured your loss is our loss. Your son was a valued member of our armed forces and the Emperor and Lord Vader have vowed to find and punish those responsible for his death. They will join us or be destroyed. 
Galactic Empire Secretary of War/Defense"
(By the way, on the subject of remembering those who perished in the Death Star explosion, check out this hilarious College video of Stormtroopers reminiscing.)

Of course, the idea of death notices should not be limited to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. What about the scores of other goons, henchmen, minions, and lackeys who were beaten, pummeled, or generally defeated at the hands of heroes? Who informed their loved ones? Did they have loved ones?

Take for example this scene from Bruce Lee's classic Enter The Dragon.

Bruce Lee knocked out 49 thugs in this 4 minute clip. Some just received a kick to the head, while others were flipped through glass, tossed into water, mauled by prisoners, or had their necks broken. It is, without a doubt, a cornucopia of kung-fu casualty creation.

But again I wonder, were the loved ones of these baddies informed of their unfortunate demise? Whose responsibility was it to write the families of these men and let them know their son, brother, husband, lover wouldn't be home for any more Thanksgivings, Christmases, or any other holidays? For whatever reason, I imagine a stereotypical middle-aged woman in a secretary role slaving over a typewriter filling out form after form after form and then getting them signed and put in the mail as soon as possible. I wonder what she would put as the cause of death. Knocked out by hero?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jordi 3:16 says ummm.....

There was an interesting post on the other day. It linked to a Forbes piece written by Monte Burke on the once-passe-but-now-reemerging phenomenon of holding up Biblical scripture signs at sporting events.

A while back, I was watching a DVD of the 1986 NLCS playoffs (Mets versus Astros) and I thought about the same thing. During that game, it was impossible to miss a John 3:16 sign in stands. I think there were roughly 3,412 of them, give or take 3,400. I was even thinking about writing a post over at ye olden site about that very phenomenon.  I had the title and everything. I was going to call it "Where have you gone John 3:16?". Amazing, I know. It rolls off the tongue.

What I didn't have, however, was anything more than the notion that you don't see those signs anymore. In his article, Burke did what I wanted to do, chronicle the rise and fall (and now reemergence) of John 3:16. He found the man who started the trend (a certified nutbar named Rollen Stewart - check out this video on just how loopy he was), then he wrote about how the signs disappeared for years, but have slowly returned thanks to Tim Tebow's fame and faith.

(Before I go any further, a word of warning: please do not associate me with Rollen Stewart just because he also had afro wig and was a charismatic fan who wore glasses and liked to do the thumbs-up sign. His afro was rainbow colored, ok?)

My one complaint about Burke's article was that it failed to mention a sharp turn in the life of 3:16 quoting. Soon after Rollen Stewart disappeared from the limelight and was subsequently locked in the clink for three life terms, an emerging pro wrestler named Stone Cold Steve Austin created his own version of 3:16 and used it as one of his main catch phrases on his way to wrestling immortality.

The timeline then goes a little something like this:
  • Rollen Stewart uses John 3:16 from 1980 to 1992

  • Stone Cold Steve Austin uses Austin 3:16 from 1996 to approximately 2004

  • Tim Tebow is sparking a John 3:16 revival in 2009
As you can see, it usually takes about four years after a 3:16 fad faded for it to reemerge. The way I see it, Tim Tebow can't play forever. I'll give him until 2020, tops. And that's if he makes the NFL (which I think he will) and has at least a solid career (to be determined).

So therefore, in 2025 or maybe late 2024 I have to be ready. Ready to pounce with a new 3:16 theme. A "Jordi 3:16". Or maybe an "Afro 3:16". Or maybe "The Man 3:16". Then there has to be a phrase that goes with it.

What do you guys think? What phrase should I use? And if I make the signs will you carry them around town in 2025?

We're talkin' global.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Metalocalypse and My Top Cartoons of the Last Few Years

In the last year, I've grown into a bit of a cartoon fan. I've been watching more and more animation than I ever have. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because the subject matter is usually less serious than anything else on television. Maybe it's because cartoons are where slapstick humor has gone. Maybe it is the creative vibe. Or maybe it is because cartoons are short and my attention span is slowly dwindling.

Whatever the reason, I have bought a bunch of cartoon DVD box sets lately. Probably my best purchase was the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 5. Absolutely classic Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the rest of the gang. And the bonus features tell a lot about the stories behind the cartoons. I never paid much attention to the directors, artists, and musical score writers before. Now I am a much more astute cartoon watcher.

I am discussing cartoons because tonight I finally finished another one of my better buys: Season 2 of the Adult Swim cartoon series Metalocalpyse (I finished Season 1 a few weeks ago).  For those who aren't hip to Metalocalpyse, it is the story of Dethklok, the world's greatest, most prolific death metal band. Think Spinal Tap meets He-Man meets Star Wars meets a grown-up version of Beavis and Butt-head. Absolutely hilarious.

(Apparently Season 3 just started a few weeks ago as well. This is good. However, I don't have DVR capability and I am absolutely terrible at timing my life around non-sports TV shows. I'll just wait until the box set comes out.)

By the way, Dethklok is also a great example of a cross-media venture. Not only are they the main characters in the Metalocalypse cartoon, but they are also a real band who are on tour right now. Of course, the faces are different, but the music performed on the show is the same. And that is a great way to keep the core fans interested. Kinda like the Monkees meets the Gorillaz, only cooler. Check out a recent interview with creator Brandon Small where he talks about this exact premise.

Anyway, having finished the Metalocalypse box sets, I started thinking about what I would classify as my favorite cartoon series. For someone born in the 70's, this was a tough question. I grew up on Scooby Doo, the USA Cartoon Express, the aforementioned He-Man, G.I. Joe, Transformers, and of course the classic Looney Tunes and Disney serials from previous generations. So I narrowed the question down to the last few years.

(I can do that. It was my question, asked to me. I could put whatever qualifier I wanted on it. Maybe someday I will expand the parameters, but not now.)

So, in no particular order:
  • The Boondocks

  • Metalocalypse

  • Afro Samurai

  • Phineus and Ferb
I know you are asking, "Phineus and Ferb, really?". Yeah, really. Those kids are hilarious. I can't watch cartoons full of action and adventure and death and destruction all the time, you know.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Would Selling Stock in the Seminoles Limit Booster Influence?

(Originally posted on

Last Thursday, Darren Rovell of CNBC and several other news outlets reported that the Boise State University Athletic Department was going to start selling stock certificates to raise money for the athletic department.  According to Rovell, "athletic director Gene Bleymaier announced the formation of a non-profit organization (Boise State Broncos Inc.) that is seeking fans to invest in future Boise State athletic projects."

Rovell reports that fans will pay $100 a share to receive "a stock certificate as well as voting power at board meetings, where it is decided how the money will be used." Not included in the purchase are rights any bowl game money, a share of concessions from game day, any dividends or appreciation."

Basically, a share in Boise State Broncos, Inc. is a vote on the dissemination of athletic department funds.

Personally, I like this idea. Although it is not without its dilemmas. First of all, what if a rich alumnus of Boise St.'s main rival bought all the shares? Second, could the shareholders choose to keep all of the money in the athletic department and withhold it from the rest of the university? What if they reinvested the money in the football program and let the other sports to wither from lack of funding?

Once these issues get fixed, I would like to see Florida State follow the lead of Boise St. I think selling stock in the Noles would eliminate some of the sway of the Seminole Boosters. However well meaning they may proclaim themselves as being, I have never trusted the booster program. Especially after what they did during the Jeff Bowden fiasco. I don't think any one group should be able to hold a public institution's financial backing hostage pending a decision by those employed by the institution. Especially if it is based on the actions of personnel on an athletic playing field.

Although I would like to see all booster programs eliminated and donations to the university given to the highest office and then vetted down to the departments by need, not by whim, I don't think that will happen anytime soon. In the meantime we might as well use stock issuing as a way to formalize the influence and benefits of the giving process. Perhaps making the Boosters official stock holders would make their influence more "official" and lift the veil on any dope deals, secret negotiations, and payoffs that might involve university employees. Not that boosters should have a say in those decisions anyway.

I guess in the real world money really does talk.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Eulogy for the Eliminated: The Serious Tip

Dearly Beloved,

Today we lay to rest this blog. Three years is a long time to write for one web site. Especially one as varied, unpredictable, and as one reader put it "mixed bag" as this one. And so it is with a heavy heart and just a wee bit of melancholy that I am closing down The Serious Tip and moving to

What exactly was The Serious Tip, anyway? Originally, this blog was going to be called "The Not So Serious Tip" - sort of a tribute to the old HBO show "Not Necessarily the News". But I figured the name was a little long and I didn't have a clue what I was going to write. I just had a name.

(For a lack of a prequel, consider this the start of my blogging history. I think I already told the story about how I read Jenn Sterger's blog and thought to myself, if she can do it, so can I. So I am not going to re-tell that part.)

So after I decided on The Serious Tip, I started writing. After a brief introduction, I actually began this blog as a humorous commentary on headlines and news events. That lasted all of one blog post. Then I started writing about sports. As a matter of fact, only four posts out of 36 during the rest of 2006 were on non-sports subjects. Writing about sports came easy, it was well-rewarded (many of my early posts were linked to on Deadspin and The Big Lead), and I always wanted to write sports commentary.

Throughout 2007 and 2008 I made a bit of a reputation for myself as a sports blogger. I cameo'ed on nearly a dozen other sites - from the small (If I Ran ...) to the successful and influential (Deadspin). I also made regular appearances at YaySportsNBA,, Pomp Culture, and Thunder Matt's Saloon. I met quite a few fellow sports bloggers, from the always verbose MC Bias to Cork Gaines of RaysIndex. I talked possibly freelance gigs and books with Jay Busbee and the possibility of interviewing the top of the NBA with Mike Tillery. I emailed back and forth with Will Leitch, Henry Abbott, Andrew Carter of the Orlando Sentinel, and countless others. I was part of the sports blog community.

Then 2009 happened.

If you haven't noticed, I have blogged less and less about sports this year. I don't know if my disinterest was because of the disintegration of the sports blog community or just a coincidence. I may be wrong, but it seemed that when Will Leitch left Deadspin and the new powers that be stopped reaching out to the little blogs, linking to their stories, and giving them a little shine, the air quickly left the sports blogging community. Gone were the links, the comments, and the love. Many sports bloggers around the country began scrambling to fill full time gigs at any half-brained website. Some made it to AOL, ESPN, Yahoo!, and the like, but most just faded into Mike Tyson's Bolivia. I was one of those.

But it wasn't only because the community was falling apart. I stopped writing about sports because I was getting bored. I am not a beat reporter, and I never have been. I am not an expert on economics, behavioral science, or race relations, and I am definitely not a statistician or medical expert. I had no angle to keep me in it. I was just a fan who got most of his sports from the very blogging community he was contributing to. I grew tired of looking for some niche, some angle, or some interesting perspective. Sometimes there was none. Other times I just didn't want to write, and that is the worst thing a writer can say. I didn't want to write.

Fortunately, right as my interest level fell to an all-time low, my company sent me on an overseas trip. That gave me time to think and play off the sudden drop in posts with the excuse that "I didn't have time" or "Sorry, I didn't have an internet connection". Both of which, if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, are not true in the least.

So for the last few weeks I've pulled out an old standby, the Eulogy for the Eliminated series. What was a fun and creative series last year, thinking up witty eulogies for eliminated baseball teams, became a drag on a site that became a burden. Or a burden on a site that became a drag. Either way, I was going through the motions.

And that brings us to today. Three years, two months, 555 posts, and probably close to a million (maybe?) words later, and we have finally reached the end of the tip. But all is of course not lost. I'll still be writing, still blogging, and still creating, just over at my new site, You can expect the same amount of irreverence, the same half-witted dry humor, the same attempts at satire, and the same random discussions on my varied tastes.

For my long term fans, however, I should warn you. I do intend on making two minor changes to my writing. My first goal is to make a bit more Tampa-centric. That means stories about my explorations and discoveries throughout the city I call home. My second change is I intend to write a bit more about me. I've always wanted to write about me more. To write about the people, places, and things in my life without reservation. Who knows, I might even slip in a post about my dating life, or lack there of. But don't bet on it.

Anyway, if you have enjoyed reading, perusing, or even belittling The Serious Tip over the last three years, I hope you follow me over to

In closing, before I say good-bye to this not-so-serious-yet-appropriately-named website, I would like to say thank you. Thank you to all the bloggers and writers who gave me advice and encouragement. Thank you to all the commentors - you folks made my day with your snide comments, put-downs, and occasional words of encouragement. And thank you, most of all, to the you, the reader. Although I would have still written without you, you made it worth while. Knowing that I averaged roughly 150 of you a day and that over the course of three-plus years over 250,000 of you from all over the world visited the site makes me quite proud.

And now, without further adieu, I present to you The Website. May you forever read and enjoy. And for The Serious Tip, may you, dear web site, Rest in Peace.

I'm out.

(Image created on request by Brian Spaeth of and the new web movie Who Shot Mamba?.)