Countdown, T -1

“Who’d Have Known” never charted in the US for Lily Allen, and probably only got noticed in the UK for lifting the entire chorus riff from a Take That song. But it may be the best account I’ve ever heard of the earliest days of first falling in love with somebody. Not just in the lyrics, but in the delivery – you can practically hear the involuntary smile behind “and today you accidentally called me ‘baby’ ” – and in the overall tone, reflecting those first days when you’re supremely conscious that your world has twisted ninety degrees and things are not as they were.

The thing you keep falling back to is that this is the new reality – that this person next to you is not a figment of your imagination, or a name in a chatroom, or a strange voice down the phone, but an actual tangible presence that can just as easily turn into a high-wire act, as you try to get to know them while simultaneously thinking “DON’T BOTCH THIS” and figuring out – who’s going to call? When? Morning and night or just email? How far ahead to schedule things? Couple that to the whole long-distance thing as mentioned yesterday and pretty soon you’re trying to land a 747 with three flaming engines on the deck of an aircraft carrier. In a blizzard.

But the thing is, you do it, because somehow, you know you can. New love is a stronger drug than crack, X, crystal meth, 18-year Bushmills and a national championship all rolled into one – it makes you think you’re twenty feet tall and can dodge bullets and walk through walls. And I think part of that is just from the alteration in your reality – well, as long as the world is topsy turvy, I’m going to lift this Buick over my head too…

Slainte, Steve…

So Himself is taking another medical leave of absence. Obviously I hope he makes it back healthy. He’s earned a nice quiet retirement, but I can’t see him ever taking it.

This is the part when I mention again that Apple may have the deepest bench of any tech company out there. COO Tim Cook, VPs Phil Schiller and Ron Johnson, Chief Design Wizard Jony Ive – there’s a lot of talent there and I strongly suspect AAPL will recover from the inevitable stock hit within a month or so. (Of course, I think $350 is running a little hot anyway. Of course, I was an idiot to sell at $210.) And Tim Cook is probably still over the moon from Auburn and their temporary national championship* so I’m sure things will hum right along for the foreseeable future.

Good time for it, if there can be such a thing – all the new stuff is out and right now we’re just in rev mode for the iPad and the like. I don’t know that the computers will take a big change now that the MBA has shipped except to get a little thinner and a little more SSD oriented. OS X 10.7 is underway, the iPhone is now on Verizon, it should be possible to switch to glide for a while without getting hurt. Now, if they can NOT switch to glide, then you have to feel really good about the future. If Himself has crafted a company that can run to the same levels of success without him, that would be his greatest feat at Apple.

Countdown, T -2

Not many people heard Snow Patrol’s “Set the Fire to the Third Bar” (featuring Martha Wainwright) when it came out in lats 2006. It came out too late for my purposes, but was evocative nonetheless, because it is – to my mind – the best song ever written about long distance relationships.

You spend a lot of time looking at maps. Or globes. Or airline websites. In a way, it’s almost better once you have to get on a plane, because then it’s merely five or six or seven hours, instead of driving for days on end. It’s easy to get fooled when you can get up in the morning and have dinner with your sweetie, then leave one sad morning later and be in your own bed that night. Only once you get in the car and drive it out – for a week or two – do you gain an appreciation for just how far you had to go to be together. Especially when making the relationship work involved her getting in a car and driving to Washington DC within two months of the September 11 attacks. I never got a satisfactory answer for what is the female version of “balls the size of church bells” but I know where you can find ’em…

Countdown, T -3

It’s not what you think. The image of San Francisco as America’s Gomorrah doesn’t really make sense once you get in there and walk around. This was once essentially the capital of Western America. Bank of America was here, the Pacific Stock Exchange, and heroes from Paladin to Dirty Harry to Lt. Frank Bullitt plied their trade here. It’s as East Coast a city as you can find in the West: Italian in North Beach, Irish through the pubs of the Richmond, actual subways, and a National League WORLD CHAMPION baseball team that was straight ganked from Upper Manhattan in 1958.

So when the Giants go to the final out, win or lose, you hear the immortal Tony Bennett and his hit of 1962 (the year of the Giants’ first pennant in the City), “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” – which is not an easy song to do for karaoke. Especially with the proprietors trying to run you out so they can seat a bunch of minors. (Dupont Circle is a dodgy place for karaoke anyway.) But whether you sing or hum along or just lean back with a grin as the cheers go up, it’s the anthem – because from here, the only way up is New York, London, Tokyo or Mars.

She loves it. I love it. Mostly, we love it.

Countdown, T -4

Seal’s “Love’s Divine” came out in 2003, but I didn’t pick up on it until the end of 2004. At which point I was faced with a terrible football situation, a terrible political situation, a job that was teetering on the edge of viability, and all the whiplash that goes along with packing up your life and moving 3000 miles away to make a fresh start. And yet, despite everything, I wasn’t falling apart. Largely because I knew I still had a whole lot of future in front of me, and a wedding on the way, and somebody who would prop me up the whole time…

don’t bend (don’t bend)

don’t break (don’t break)

show me how to live and promise me you won’t forsake

’cause love can help me know my name…

(NB: if you haven’t seen the pattern yet, just wait…)

Countdown, T -5

Nat “King” Cole’s “L-O-V-E” is really an appropriate song for a first dance at a wedding, when you think about it. It’s not some slow-drag number, where you can just do the junior-high full-body squeeze and just Frankenstein around the dance floor for three and a half minutes while the photographer shoots and everybody goes awwwwwwwwwwwww. No, it’s peppy, it’s upbeat, and it requires you to make an effort to work together to actually, you know, dance. Everybody’s looking, there’s pressure, you have to practice and get it right – and you have to be willing to take on the challenge in the first place.

As a metaphor for marriage, you could do worse. =)

Lock and load and find some cover…so to speak

So it appears that there was an armed citizen at the site of the Saturday shootings. He heard the shots, pulled out the gun, flipped off the safety, ran toward the commotion, and…almost shot the guy who had taken away the gun from the assailant.


Arizona is damn near the most gun-friendly state in the country, as you’d expect from the state that gave us Barry Goldwater and Joe Arpaio. You don’t need a permit for concealed carry and you can buy 30-round magazines for your Glock – two conditions not possible in California, for instance – so in theory, a place like Arizona is where the gunhugger theory about armed society and politeness would take its fullest effect. The flaw in this thinking is that it requires a person to make considered assumptions about the likelihood of armed response and the notion that anyone around him might be packing heat – and quite frankly, if everyone is capable of logic and reason, the need for everyone to be armed drops precipitously.

The problem is this: it’s not that we don’t regulate guns, it’s that we don’t regulate who has guns. In Switzerland, there are assault rifles all over the place, you’ll see a guy walking through the supermarket with a SIG 550 over his shoulder – but it’s because every man jack in the country has to do his military service and then keep the rifle at home thereafter, where two sealed boxes of ammunition wait against the day he’s called to defend the country. Meanwhile, for an administrative fee of 30 francs, an officer can retain his 9mm pistol after leaving active duty. But in both cases, you’re talking about a situation where the person has been trained, practices routinely, and is in every way qualified to use the weapon – and presumably knows when to.

Mr. Almost-Fucked-Up in Tucson has no military or law-enforcement background at all, by his own admission. He merely “grew up around guns.” Well, so did I. Hell, quite a few purchases have been financed through the gradual unloading of my late father’s personal arsenal. (Everything from tires to sportcoats, and I still have a little walking-around money unaccounted for.) In a lot of cases, the things hadn’t even been shot (the Colt Government .380 pistol, which I’m sure was bought in the mid-90s when his arthritis wouldn’t allow for a more powerful cartridge, was said last year by a dealer never to have been fired). The point is: yer boy grew up around firearms, and I learned things, like – all guns are always loaded, never put your finger on the trigger unless you’re pulling it, never point at anything you don’t want destroyed, and never shoot at anything if you don’t know exactly what’s behind it. And especially – if you have a gun, and you hear shots being fired, that gun is not a license to run toward the shots. They have people for that, and they’re called cops. If you’re packing, it’s for those times when somebody is pointing a weapon AT you, at which point your objective is to get away from them; the gun is there to impede them in their pursuit.

The problem in this country isn’t the guns. It isn’t even the people who have the guns. It’s the people who go armed all the time, who want to go armed all the time, because they want to need to go armed all the time.

Fifty years ago, before they went off the rails, the National Rifle Association was pretty much what the name implies: an organization devoted to marksmanship, shooting sports, conservation (!), and other things of interest to responsible gun owners. But when random civilian people are demanding 30-round clips, or the ability to walk through Starbucks with pistol on hip, or insisting on carrying rifles to political demonstrations, it’s pretty clear that the word responsible has taken a hike.

Hanging Out Tuesday’s Wash

* Auburn wins. Perfect ending to the worst football season in recent memory – they are officially the least bad team in college football for 2010, at least until the NCAA strips them of the title in 2013. On the bright side, not one other SEC fan was willing to rally behind them for the sake of conference solidarity – which hopefully brings an end to the “S-E-C!” meme. All that gushy “we should all support our conference’s teams in the bowls” nonsense is for hippie granola conferences. KIDDING HONEY.**

* Maybe now Oregon will quit trying to kid themselves. They got pantsed in Strawberry Canyon last November, and tried to make it go away by plugging their ears and screaming “FAKE INJURY FAKE INJURY” at the top of their lungs. Well how about this: if one guy taking one dive is enough to drag your offense down to 30 points less than its per-game average, your offense sucks monkey bricks. Auburn went to school on what Cal did, and as a result, Oregon scored…wait for it…30 points less than their per-game average.

* I will say this for the sake of conference solidarity: if you don’t have a two-back power game to use down at the goal line when you need points, don’t schedule an SEC team. That usually ends badly, especially if your back seven or eight can just spread wide and stay in lanes without having to worry about middle run support.

* So Verizon’s getting the iPhone 4. CDMA, not LTE, which means – as you are about to hear shouted from the rooftops – you can’t do voice and data at the same time. Yes, you will get Verizon’s super network, and yes, you can wi-fi your data connection out to 5 other machines, but the first time a call comes in? It all drops. I didn’t think Verizon would be willing to be exposed like that, but then, I didn’t think Apple would give them apps on the front page either. So we’ll see. I fully expect this to end in tears.

* Well, it looks like the Verizon apps are downloadable, rather than installed. Not surprising. I will be really curious how this all looks in eight to twelve weeks.

* I heard DJ Earworm’s annual mashup of the top 25 songs of the year, which one person described as “a brave attempt to make a gourmet meal out of 25 shit sandwiches.” I definitely buy into the notion that this year’s music is all about the mindless techno version of Masque of the Red Death. I also think that if “California Gurls” was supposed to be the response to “Empire State of Mind” then NYC clowned California and we should have Katy Perry hanged as an inadequate representative. But then I hear Russell Brand dimed her out on Twitter with no makeup, which sounds like punishment enough…

* I need to lay in some decaf coffee. I know, blasphemy, but sometimes you need the civilizing influence of coffee at 9 PM. I don’t have what I had.

* Speaking of, the high point of bowl season was the regular liveblog on EDSBS. And even though it’s hard not to feel like the Old Dude In The Club sometimes, it was still a hell of a lot of fun and made the best of what was a substandard BCS season. Again, it may be the finest sports blog on Earth; if you’re not reading it for all your college football needs, you’re missing out.

* So glad to have Craig Ferguson back on the DVR, even if he’s not doing the epic 20-minute monologues of days gone by, which honestly might have been the most epic thing on TV ever. This very bright guy, with a hell of a story and a hell of a lot of baggage, just baring his soul nightly at 12:30 on CBS? It was great, and HD isn’t quite enough to make up the difference.

* Shutdown time. Must remember to plug in the backup phone, even though I don’t think I’m going anywhere. Laptop in bag, Kindle to wireless-off (probably magazines tonight, to be honest), pen in pocket and pad within reach, scrambled eggs for dinner and Angostura soda for dessert…

** totally not kidding.***

***totally kidding. As far as you know.****

****insert Eddie Izzard nod/shake sequence here until it stops being funny, then continue 5 minutes

Championship eve

Well, the SEC was not up to scratch this year. Consider that the leader of the SEC East would have finished roughly fifth in the West, and you see how imbalanced the league was. Not one team in twelve was able to field an offense AND a defense that were both up to SEC competition standard. In a way, Auburn is a throwback to eighty or ninety years ago – vagabond tailback shows up for one year and runs the single-wing to a championship. In a normal SEC, a team built around one player – running, in essence, a high school offense, “just put the best athlete under center and let him handle the ball every down, and hope for the best” – would finish 8-4 at best. (And considering the near escapes against South Carolina and Alabama – not to mention the complete lack of credible defense – you have to think that given ten chances to repeat, Auburn couldn’t deliver an undefeated season again.)


Oregon is the closest thing to an NFL team out there – the bottomless money from Phil Knight has put them on a different level from anyone in sports. Their defense is slightly better, but their high-speed no-huddle spread option was very nearly shut down by a 5-7 Cal defense. (And spare me the caterwauling about “faking injuries” – if one guy taking one flop is enough to shut down your offense, your offense sucks.)

There shouldn’t be a championship this year. The SEC was the worst it’s been in a decade or more, and the Pac-10 was if anything worse. The only title the winner tonight deserves is “least godawful team of 2010 and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.”

File under “I wish I had written this”

Four years ago, on the eve of Florida’s first national title under Urban Meyer, the proprietor of Every Day Should Be Saturday – the finest of all college football blogs – posted an essay called “The Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione”. It may be the finest thing ever written about the last day of college football, on the eve of the national championship, and stands for me as proof that the blogosphere is every bit the equal of traditional media in the coverage of college football.

Go. Read. You can thank me later.