Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Don't Run A-Fowl of This Candidate

If you have paid attention to any news whatsoever lately, you realize that it's election season. Granted, this "season" seems to grow longer every election*, but political talk is everywhere.

*I believe current plans are for the two major parties to hold their conventions for the 2012 presidential election just minutes after our next president is sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009.

Do I have opinions about the current candidates?


Are those opinions going to be the subject of this writing?

There's no chance.

I'm leaving the political commentary to those who get paid to spend hours (and hours, and hours (repeat exponentially)) dissecting every word uttered, every glance given, and every handshake handshook by the current candidates.

No, I'm here to discuss an alternative candidate.

A candidate who would give new meaning to the phrase "ruffling feathers."

This candidate, of course, is... a duck.

A friend of mine mentioned today a book she had read to her young son, titled Duck For President. Imagine that... A duck that runs for president. Now some may lambaste the idea, saying that it's absurd (they obviously forget that we live in the "land of opportunity"), but would it be feasible (keep in mind that the duck is 35 and is a natural born citizen)?

I haven't read the book (and I'm unsure whether or not it's fictional), and I'm trying to steer clear of most of the reviews (in attempt to avoid spoilers), so I'm unsure as to whether the duck actually earned the votes needed to work in the White House. All I know is that I think this is a topic worthy of examination... What would it be like if we, the American people, elected a duck to be president?

Here's what we know...

The gun control policy would be extremely stringent.

This seems rather obvious. Innocent ducks are gunned down all the time in this country. What happens to the shooters? They're celebrated. This duck slaughtering is so glorified, there once was a video game focused on the very subject.
Sorry folks, but you can consider guns as good as banned if Duck is elected**.

**We can safely assume that Duck's vice president would not have any hunting accidents.

There would be deportations.
Who would be sent back to their homelands?
Illegal aliens?
People who didn't vote for him?
Wrong again.
It would be rabbits.
To be in the position he's in (top duck), Duck obviously is educated about the world around him. He's been witness to several things... and these things include Looney Tunes cartoons. Duck has seen how one "wascally wabbit" has constantly put roadblocks in the path of a fellow duck's life. Odds are that Duck's judgment on all rabbits would be swift: back to Spain with all of them.

The duck would run as an Independent.
As a veteran of the air, he values left and right wings equally. (Insert drum rimshot here.)

Jobs would be lost.
Are you an employee at a pillow factory? Better update that résumé. President Duck thinks down is for the birds, and he plans to keep it that way. All manufacturers that use feathers will be immediately put out of business.
Unemployment rates be damned, Duck won't stand for down-filled pillows.

American traditions would be re-written.
At elementary schools around the nation, The Pledge of Allegiance is recited at the start of the day. And prior to sporting events, you'll hear The Star Spangled Banner.
President Duck has a few changes in mind.
America's new national anthem? How about We are the Champions? It's the victory song at the end of Duck's favorite movie, The Mighty Ducks after all.
And what happens to the Pledge of Allegiance? Your new pledge is a simple, "quack, quack, quack..."***

***Because President Duck is such a huge fan of the film, we can probably guess the identity of his vice president. Congratulations, Emilio.

Finding alternative energy sources will be a priority... but wind won't be the answer.
Duck loves the outdoors, of course he's going to do all he can to help the environment. That said, Duck won't stand (or sit, swim, or waddle) for bird deaths by wind turbines. He reads**** the reports that mortality rates are exaggerated and that improvements have been made, but as long as a single bird is at risk, President Duck won't back such structures... Like most ducks, he's a stickler for details*****.
Fact is, President Duck would do away with our electricity completely, but he likes the idea of having a heated pool to swim in come wintertime.

****Can a duck read? If you paused for a moment upon reading that, remind yourself that this duck is running for the highest office in our nation, of course it can read.

*****Please note: I have no evidence to support that most ducks a sticklers for details.

Knowing what I do about candidate Duck, would I vote for him?

Again, I must be noncommittal.

While some of his policies seem pretty radical, he certainly does not suffer from the "downfalls" of the current candidates.

He's not an "elitist" liberal and he's not "old" conservative... He's a duck. He has a beak and webbed feet.

He doesn't suffer from "property amnesia"... He's a duck. He knows he owns zero homes.

He's not "the biggest celebrity in the world"... He's a duck, and he's not even the most popular duck referred to in this writing (see: Duck, Daffy).

Like every candidate, there are countless arguments to be made both in favor of and against Duck.

... I guess that's why election season is so long. Good luck choosing your candidate.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Cure for (or cause of) Football Fever

Every year around this time, my mind brims with optimism like a cup of coffee poured by a waitress with poor depth perception. As the football season nears, I begin to envision touchdowns and interceptions fueling my chosen teams to victories. The names on the rosters have never seemed to matter; this blind hope has always led me to believe "my teams" could compete for championships.

Apparently things change as you get older.

For the first time I can remember, I am markedly concerned about the chances at success for both the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas State Wildcats. Why is this the case?

Maybe it's the pessimism that comes with being closer to 30 than 20.

Maybe it's a vicious symptom of hayfever.

Or, maybe it's the fact that the two teams combined to go 9-19 last year.

Whatever the case may be, the squads are prime for examination.

The Chiefs

We'll begin with the more depressing case. How rough are things in KC right now? The Chiefs will use the fourth and final preseason game - a contest where the starters are normally on the field about as long as the Star Spangled Banner performer(s) - to actually determine who should be playing in the opener.

Things are so loopy that the Chiefs signed a veteran kicker in attempt to settle the position battle, but released him one day later.

Kansas City is set to start a quarterback that has never won a regular season game, a wide receiver that caught 18 passes last year, and an offensive line that created as many holes in the last preseason game as a quadriplegic mole.

Thankfully, on the defensive side of the football, the Chiefs have a legitimate playmaker who opposing teams need to prepare for in their gameplans... No, wait, he's now in Minnesota.

Because I don't think I've ever written anything as negative as this brief overview (at least they can't really under perform when compared to that dissection), it's probably time to move on (and it may also be time for counseling).

The Wildcats

What is there to say about the 2008 Wildcats?

... No, really, what is there to say? I really have no idea.

The team finished last season on a very disappointing note, dropping the final four games of the season when only one win was needed to earn bowl eligibility. Nevertheless, the team that takes Wagner Field on Saturday will have a significantly different feel. Different because a number of players expected to play significant roles in 2008 played as many snaps for the 2007 Wildcats as Kermit the Frog.

On the most recent depth chart, the Wildcats have three players listed at runningback. The three backs have combined for exactly zero carries in Division I football. Is this a sign of impending doom?

No. But it is a concern.

The number of junior college players the Wildcats brought in this season has been discussed endlessly. Will the class be the Wildcats' key to success? Will it be a crippling thwack to the program's spine that sets the squad back five years? Will it fall somewhere in middle ground?

I'd bet on middle ground, but who can be sure?

It's true, several of the JuCo players have impressive stat lines and come highly touted, but I can think of an ever-expanding list of players that arrived under similar circumstances only to ultimately make little impact. Then again, the Cats pulled Michael Bishop, Darnell McDonald and Jeff Kelly from the junior college ranks in 1997.

I want to get back to feeling positive, and spirits haven't been much higher around the Little Apple than when that '97 class was roaming the turf.

It's settled. I'm going to repeat "It's the class of '97 again" over and over while watching the following video (linked for the Facebook folk). Feel free to do the same if you need a pick-me-up.

Kansas State v. Nebraska 1998

Now I think I'm ready for some football.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lessons Learned

It's Saturday evening, and I'm in the midst of watching the Chiefs look particularly feeble in a preseason match up against the Miami Dolphins (yes, the same Dolphins that won just a single game last season). Naturally, I need something else to occupy my thoughts.

Today also marks the second-to-last day of my "vacation," as I return to the office on Monday. (Insert chorus of "boooooooo"s here.) With that in mind, I figured I should try to sum up things that I've learned over the past few days.

From the Olympics:

- Team handball is an excellent spectator sport.

- Platform diving is not.

- Marathon runners are shameless litterers. Sure, you're running a race, but can't you at least look for a recycling bin to toss that water bottle into?

From Mother Nature:

- Mind melting heat is not the only downside of the summer months. Even when it's not present, hordes of allergens can make you long for late October. (Notice I didn't mention looking forward to winter... You're still on my list, ice.)

From my calendar:

- I'm older.

From my four-week old niece:

- Days are best spent sleeping, with occasional breaks for eating or getting cleaned up.

- Passing gas can actually be cute.

- Words are not necessary for communication. All that's needed are a variety of facial expressions, combined with sighs, grunts, and cries.

- Dressing yourself is for suckers.

From the Chiefs game:

- Offenses can't be run if the offensive line cannot block. (Crazy thought, I know.)

- If this game is any indication, I may need to have things other than football occupy my thoughts for most of the Fall.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Greetings From... Home

I am currently on vacation. Yet, I'm sitting in the same spot where I spend 80-percent of my free time. While an abundance of people travel to interesting locations while "vacationing," I'm planted firmly on my couch. You could say I am vacationing to get away form work, and that might hold some merit. I am not in my office, after all. However, I live less than a football field away from my office, and continually find myself checking my work e-mail.

... It's good to be away.

Seriously though, it is nice to have a week that I can spend however I please. Unfortunately for anyone hoping to read exciting tales of intriguing travels, this vacation will contain nothing of the sort. So, what is in store? How about observations like:

- I've seen Bob Barker host The Price is Right. I've seen Bob Barker act. I've seen Bob Barker fight with Happy Gilmore. Drew Carey is no Bob Barker.

- There's something about The Price is Right that extracts the heights of human stupidity from the contestants.

- I just saw the greatest team handball shot that I've ever seen. Granted, I've never really watched team handball before, but rest assured, the shot was amazing.

- It's odd to have to get your purchase of Robitussin approved by the overlord of the self-checkout stations. It seemed like she was waiting for me to sacrifice a small farm animal before she'd punch in the magic code.

- Watching episodes of The Office from your couch groove is an excellent way to spend vacation.

- It seems fairly obvious that I'm just one step above being a bum.

What else will vacation teach me? Stay tuned.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Always High Aggravation... Always

There's a certain large chain store that I have grown to despise (I'm not here to name names, but you should be able to crack this case). Yet, through some stroke of temporary insanity, I ended up going there this evening.

At 5:30.

Being at this store at 5:30 p.m. any night is about as enjoyable as licking the whitewash off a splintery picket fence. On Friday nights, it's worse.

Imagine being stuck in rush hour traffic in a big city. Now, imagine that the honking cars and fist-clenching gridlock are replaced by the depths of human ignorance and rudeness... Welcome to (insert store name here).

The aggravation starts before you even enter the store. Searching for a parking spot is not only extraordinarily difficult, but the hunt is continually impeded by the lackadaisical gait of shoppers.

Folks, I realize pedestrians have the right of way, but you're pushing your limits when you traipse about in front of my car and make no effort whatsoever to saunter to the right three feet so that I can drive by.

Inside, things don't get any better. People are everywhere, cutting you off with their shopping carts, and nearly knocking you over when reaching for items they're purchasing. It's like a mild riot of people fueled by saving 18 cents on a bottle of NyQuil. All this, and nary an "excuse me," or "pardon me," to be heard.

Back in the parking lot, preparing to leave, it's time for the "Hey, I almost plowed into your car 500." Unfortunately, you're on the "almost plowed" end, as an SUV zooms past your bumper when you're halfway backed out of your parking spot.

What started as a quest to check out some video games ended as yet another lesson learned: low prices aren't worth it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Olympics and Bigfoot - Together at Last

-- In the world of South Park, Gerald Broflovski once had a dolphinplasty. It seemed like a fun, completely fictional idea... but now I'm beginning to wonder. After all, I've been watching a lot of Olympic swimming lately and it seems that world records are being broken a... well, record pace. (Is there a world record for most world records broken within a certain period of time?)

Is it possible that swimmers around the globe are being surgically or genetically modified so that they're now part dolphin? I'm not accusing anyone of anything. I just want to see how they all react if a bucket of fish is brought into the Water Cube.

-- Is it just me, or do Olympic gymnastics announcers get a little too excited? Sure, that double-tuck, triple-lindy, 23-skidoo roundoff* was neat, but there's no need to yell.

*It's at this point that you realize that I know absolutely nothing about gymnastics. If my gymnastics aptitude was tested, the score may actually wind up in the negatives. Then again, the test would probably be judged and not graded, so who knows how it would end up.

-- I'm not sure who the official DJ for the Olympic games in Beijing is (Jazzy Jeff would be my pick), but all the tunes heard in the background definitely have a United Statesian flavor. Not only that, but the song selection seems questionable, at best. Does Billy Squire's The Stroke really reflect feelings of international camaraderie or the spirit of competition?

-- If this does not excite you, you may want to head to a doctor immediately. No, I don't expect any sort of evidence that could actually prove that bigfeet (obviously, herds of bigfoot) exist. I just want to see what people are trying to pass off as a bigfoot.

On another note, what's with the laziness in naming the bigfoot? He has big feet, sure, I get it, but elephants have big ears. Giraffes have long necks. My head is much larger than it should be. Yet, these characteristics don't determine our names.** If people want bigfeet to be taken seriously, maybe it's time they got a more respectable name... You know, like the jackass.

**This marks the first time I have ever grouped myself with elephants or giraffes... Quite an historic occasion.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tales of obsessive announcers, the dark side of the Olympics, and a summer cold

Mid-August is a great time for vacations. Mine starts next week... Unfortunately, my immune system decided to take off a week early. As a result, I'm dealing with a sore throat and congestion in the midst of summer. Awesome.

My antibodies displaying as much fight as the Washington Generals aside, tonight marks an interesting Monday evening. Monday Night Football returns, and showcases the Packers' debut everyone will be talking about. Yes, I'm referring to the young offensive player trying to fill the clown-sized shoes of a legend. That's right, wide receiver Jordy Nelson will line up at wide receiver, with former Packer Koren Robinson nowhere to be seen.

Also on tap in these twilight hours will be a smorgasbord of Olympic events, direct from Beijing. In true American fashion, I know little about several Olympic events, but I'll root for my fellow citizens as if they are my next of kin.

On to the evening's thoughts...

- The Monday Night Football announcers follow the recent trend of anointing one particular former Packers' quarterback as the most significant person to ever stand on solid ground. I'm beginning to wonder if Aaron Rodgers has legally changed his name to "Brett Favre's Replacement, That Other Guy."

- Why didn't Don Majkowski get this sort of love? The guy was on Tecmo Super Bowl.

- There is a dark side to the Olympics, and it comes in the form of a Speedo. Listen, synchronized divers, the fact that you can jump off a high-dive and mimic the mid-air twists and turns of your teammate does not make wearing a skimpy pair of swimtrunks (minus the trunks) permissible. If the event was getting people everywhere to change the channel, you'd all win gold.

- Seeingly realizing the error of their ways, the National Broadcasting Company switched to women's beach volleyball immediately after I finished the previous paragraph... It's as if my voice has been heard. Thank you, NBC.

- Illustrating a previous point, the cameras at Lambeau Field just showed a fan's #4 Packers jersey with "God" written in the name block. This marks the first time I can recall readily expecting a stadium to be struck by lightning.

- On tap directly following women's beach volleyball? Men's gymnastics... You win some, you lose some.

- I continue to get the impression that popular opinion in the world of professional football is that Brett Favre would have created the heavens and Earth in just five days, and would have led a fourth-quarter comeback, won a hot dog eating contest, and rescued a puppy, a baby, and a geriatric from a house fire on the sixth.

- Meanwhile, judging from another self-promoting interview, Bengals receiver Chad Johnson may think that he could have accomplished all of that in three days, and then capped it off with touchdown celebration that sportscasters would spend pointless hours dissecting.

- This just in: Michael Phelps can swim pretty fast. Nonetheless, reports that he is related to Flipper remain unconfirmed at this time.

- Just heard on a professional wrestling program: a quote from Ronald Reagan... This is what you might call "not connecting with your core audience."

- Just heard during the football broadcast, "Favre-ity favre favre favre. Favrer, favre-ish, favre, favre, favre."*

*Quote may not be 100-percent accurate.

- In other news, the newest iteration of Madden Football is being released at midnight. News states that a former Packers quarterback is on the cover, but I want to go check to make sure there is not actually a picture of me gracing the case. It certainly seems like I'm in the middle of the "Madden Curse" right now.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Writing What Everyone is Thinking (and by "everyone is," I mean "only I am")

-- On a visit to the nursing home on Sunday, I made one particular observation. At the entrance to this care facility for the elderly, there was one of those signs that graphically illustrates the concept of "no firearms allowed." In my opinion, this is an excellent policy. I'm not really sure why anyone would ever need a firearm in such a setting (I don't advocate medication distribution at gunpoint). I agree with the line of thinking, although I have to wonder if it is really necessary. Are there a lot of nursing home visitors that bring their new 9mm to show grandpa? And if someone was "packing heat"*, would the Ghostbusters-style (I ain't afraid of no guns) sign make them turn around and put the gun back in the car?

*I have no clue where the phrase"packing heat" originated. All I know is that a Google search on the words shows that there's a website with that very name dedicated to tips on writing erotica... The more you know...

-- In sports news, there are some tube-top-tight pennant races going on in the world of baseball, and the Olympics start up in a few days. Further details are not available, because Brett Favre doesn't play baseball or do the long jump.

-- The word "celebrity" is being used rather loosely once again. This time around, the culprit is Celebrity Family Feud. Forgive me, but I have a hard time considering anyone from Son of the Beach a celebrity.

-- Down in the dumps about the way things are going for you? You can at least be pleased that you don't suffer from this condition. Imagine the chaos if she got a kick out of seeing others stumble and dated a klutz... Ice skating would be a bad idea.

-- Happiness is having the opportunity to draft a friend for your fantasy football team. Unhappiness is realizing that Brett Favre doesn't play fantasy football, so the season will probably be canceled.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

It's Hard to Type While You're Sweating...

This just in:
Apparently the Earth is about to crash into the sun. Granted, this has not been reported as "news" and there is no "scientific evidence" to back up this claim, but it is waaaaaaay too hot outside for things to be considered "normal."*

*I know I used a lot of "quotation marks" in that paragraph. I have no "good reason" as to why... It just "happened." Now this is starting to get pretty "irritating."

I'm not a fan of the hot weather. I guess part of the reason for this loathing may be the fact that I don't enjoy being soaked with sweat when I walk into a public place. People even give a few weird looks if you're dripping sweat in line at Burger King, and that place isn't exactly Harry's Uptown (local reference... those unfamiliar, please insert the name of the fanciest restaurant in your area).

Today, I combined the unenjoyable activity of being outdoors in triple-digit temperatures with another activity that has become a bane of my existence - buy gasoline. I have to think that paying for gas that costs more than it should in temperatures hotter than they should be nears the top of Derek's Big List of Things He Despises.

What follows is a list of things that may be less painful than paying for $3.59/gallon gas when the nearest thermometer has passed out from heat exhaustion...

- Having a root canal with habernero sauce injected as the local anesthetic.

- Sitting through an entrie episode of The Hills without making a single smart-aleck remark.

- Removing contact lenses with a pair of scissors.

- Watching another national sports segment on Brett Favre.

- Using a nostril as a candle snuffer.

- Running against the flow of bovidae traffic in Pamplona.