Monday, October 30, 2006

R.I.P. Red Auerbach

Amidst all the hagiography surrounding the death of Red Auerbach these past couple days, there's one fact that no matter how much it's said (and it hasn't been said very much) really seems to be underplayed.

We all know the story of how Branch Rickey broke the baseball color barrier by hiring Jackie Robinson. There's been at least two movies made about it that I can think of off the top of my head, and I bet you'd be hard-pressed ot find a high-school history book that doesn't mention it.

But Red did so much more than that. Red hired the first black basektball player, fielded the first-ever all-black starting five, and hired the first black head coach. On top of that, he did this all in Boston, a town which hasn't exactly had the best history in terms of race relations. Baseball currently is about 17% black (the figure drops to 8% if you're only counting American-born) while basketball is roughly 77% black.

So why is it that a sport which has only a tiny fraction of black players still celebrates at every turn the breaking of their color barrier, while a sport that is overwhelmingly populated by black players makes almost no mention of when and where their color barrier was broken?

I've been pondering this quite a bit lately, but I can't seem to figure it out. Could it be that baseball is still "America's game" and as such, it's a bigger deal? Or could it be due to the fact that basketball has come to be seen as a "black" sport, so breaking the color barrier there doesn't seem as momentous?

What do you think?

Wozniaks playing poker?

Had a coulpe of rounds of low-stakes poker with friends last night and when the chips were all counted and the beers all drank and the smack all talked, my sister-in-law and myself had walked away with all of the money, making it a clean Wozniak sweep.

While this may not sound like much to the casual observer, as far as I can tell, this marks the first time that Wozniaks have won anything ever.

As such, I feel as if we should both pull a Jim Brown and retire form the world of barely-competitive poker while we are on the top.

Not that that's going to happen, but I just think it should be on the record that I was strongly considering it when I come home next week with no money at all.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Politics, politics, politics

For those in the Minneapolis area...

There's this war going on. If you still think it's a good idea, you are either A) someone who has experienced a massive head trauma, or 2) are George W. Bush.

You don't want to be either of those things.

So come on out tommorow to the state capitol in St. Paul at 1:00 for a huge rally against the war. If you're so inclined, you can hang around afterwards to attend a civil-disobediance training, put on by Youth Against War and Racism.

What else do you have going on on a saturday afternoon? There's nothing stopping you. Besides, it's going to be a beautiful fall day, so you may as well come out and enjoy the weather.

Plus this way, years from now when this is seen as a more idiotic debacle than Vietnam, you won't have to shuffle ackwardly and stare at your feet when your children ask you why you didn't do anything to stop it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The screaming 13 year-old girl to their Beatles

Why is it that whenever you're in the presence of someone you truly respect, it is so very hard not to reduce whatever you have to say to the kinds of fawning questions a prepubescent girl would shout at a pop star?

Case in point, I went to a book-discussion/signing of "Destined for Destiny," the new George W. Bush autobiography, written with help from Scott Rikkers, Editor-in-Chief of the Onion and creative force behind It was a good and very entertaining presentation and a nice insight into what's undoubtedly the best printed satire of our time, the Onion.

However, when it came to the quesiton and answer session, I (as always) completely lost the ability to make an intelligent point. For example, one could have probed their decision to add a sports section, which like all good parody, requires a fairly deep understanding of the subject matter. Given that the Onion is read primarily by hipsters, punks, and bourgeois intellectuals (all of whom disdain sports), it seems like a pretty risky venture. But it's clearly done quite well by a writing staff that obviously pays a great deal of attention to developments in the sporting world. It'd be really interesting to hear the impetus for such a creation.

But instead, the best I could muster was some variation of "Man, you guys are so funny. How come you're so funny?" or something like that, to which he could only ackwardly mumble something and move on to the next person.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Oh Day of Days!

Happy Mole Day to one and all. Of course, those of you in the know have probably already had your celebrations, as the day officially starts at 6:02 in the morning.

For those who don't know, the mole is a unit of international measurement equaling roughly 6.02x10^23 molecules, a number which has become the base of most chemical measuring in the Western world. The number was discovered by the happy-looking gentleman, Amedeo Avagadro. Of course, you also know him as the man who hypothesized that equal volumes of gases at the same temperature and pressure have the same number of molecules, a quite revolutionary notion for his time.

The National Mole Day Foundation was founded 15 years ago in nearby Prarie-Du-Chien Wisconsin, by a highschool chemistry teacher and has since blossomed nation-wide. Growing up the son of a chemist, this was always a big holiday in the Wozniak household (sadly, I'm not joking). So make sure to have some mole-ases cookies (a joke that never gets old, apparently) and to hug a chemist, on this, their most important of days.

For more information and more hilarious pictures of the official Mole Day mascot, Burrow D. Mole, go to the official Mole Day website,

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Handy party drink mixes

The Farmer's Breakfast
Generous Helping of Jack Daniels
1 Egg
1 Unsuspecting West Coaster

Pour half a glass of JD. Crack raw egg into it. Mix Thoroughly. Convince friend that it's a Midwestern delicacy that every drinks. Laugh heartily as he drinks it.

The Nation Sweeper
Jack Daniels
Bailey's Irish Cream
International Coffee, French Sunset flavor
Whipped Cream
Chpped Nuts
1 Cherry (skinless)
The skin of the cherry, zested
Tangerine-Orange Listerene

Mix JD, Bailey's, Kalua, Coffee powder, and Grenadine. Top with whipped cream and nuts, and a slice of cherry (using a whole cherry will overpower the flavor of the drink). Add cherry zest to the top. Serve with a shot of the Listerine as a chaser.

The Terrorist Sweep
Same as the nation-sweeper, but you sink the Listerene shot into it and slam it all at once.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Today's inspirational quote found scribbled in an old notebook

Jokes can be noble. Laughs are exactly as honorable as tears. Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion, to the futility of thinking and striving anymore. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward--and since I can start thinking and striving again that much sooner

--Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Best Quotes from No Shame Weekend

--So I saw that new Bruce Willis movie 'Ho Stage' and there were no dancing prostitutes in it!
--It's called 'Hostage!'
--Seems to me you see a movie called 'Ho Stage' there oughtta be some Ho's dancing on a stage somewhere in it.

And then at my highly excellent party, Susan Fauldi comes up to me and says 'Hey Brett Deckers, isn't this just some macho fantasy in which business acumen is conflated with sexual prowess?' and I said 'Fuck no...darling' and then we fucked. But when Brett Deckers fucks you, he doesn't fuck you in the normal holes. No, he fucks you in a special hole only Brett Deckers knows about...

Your supposed Department of Mexicology is nothing but a fun house mirror. You hold up your distored view of Mexico and say 'this is Mexico.' Well for all of your fancy degrees and titles, you know nothing of Mexico. a woman.

I heard Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison had a suicide pact, but Johnny didn't keep up his end of the pact.

Dude, I heard the Tea bags there are about 100% THC...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Cover your breasts with something nice, like crumbled Oreo cookies, and your vagina with something not-so-nice, like rattle snakes

Just got back from BOBONS, the Best of the Best Of No Shame Theatre, and it was a damn good evening. Well, two evenings.

For those who don't know, No Shame Theatre started on the back of a pick up truck 20 years ago in the parking lot of the University of Iowa Theatre building and has since spread to over a dozen cities with a couple of international chapters. The only rules to No Shame are that all pieces performed must be original, under 5 minutes, and not damage the space or any of its inhabitants.

I came up through the much-less celebrated Cedar Falls chapter, but I think myself and fellow shamer Luke Pingel repped the CF pretty well. I would like to point out that the CF No Shame is now in its seventh season and going strong even though the 5 of us who started it are all long gone.

No Shame will always hold the most special of places in my heart. At the height of its run (for me at least) we played to packed houses of over 200 people a night, with kids in the aisles and sitting on the floor just to watch. Then the entire group would relocate to a college-y type party house to drink and regale one another with their humorous anecdotes. It reminded me of what I've heard Saturday Night Live was like during its prime.

The point is, No Shame will be the thing I look back upon most fondly when I'm an overwight middle-aged man who hates his life and desperately tries to re-live his best years. It was great to experience it again, as grad school leaves very little time for non-academic writing, and it's hard to find a venue like No Shame that lets anyone perform (with the exception of Open Mic nights, but let's all hope I never get that desperate).

All that said, though, there are underground rumblings of a Minneapolis chapter in the works, so keep your eyes open...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Big ups to the wounded harmoninja

A big shout-out to a good buddy, Ninja Master Sean (pictured above rocking out with Broken Arms, the world's premire political rock band), who just got back from Iraq via the intensive care ward somewhere in Germany and then Walter Reed out in dee cee. The big ol' welcome home party for him even got some good press, although it's funny to note they didn't deem it fit to publish his opinion of the war. Unless you count "mixed feelings" as his actual opinion of "it was a mistake from the start and we should never have been there."

But either way, after some scary weeks of only knowing that his humvee had been blown up and he was in intensive care somewhere, it sure is damn good to see him home and doing relatively well.

I'm reminded of what he told me once as we walked across a busy highway at 1 in the morning on a saturday night. I, being sober and quite scared, thought we should perhaps wait until traffic cleared. Sean, being a ninja master, merely replied "You go against the grain, Wozniak, and that's your problem. You see, some people go with the grain, and their life is meaningless. Some people go against the grain, and find meaning. But to truly live, you must realize you are the grain. For when you realize that, you become one with the universe. And if you are the universe, what can destroy you?"

Well, they ain't destroyed you yet buddy, but the universe sure got knicked up there for awhile.

Take care of yourself man.

Alternative Careers in Sociology, Vol. I

With apologies to Howzi, from whom I ripped off the idea

Last night I caught the Show Veronica Mars for the first time, a show that as far as I can figure out is about some spunky young lady who solves mysteries, ala Nancy Drew, but is bit more cynical and shows more skin than I ever remember Mz. Drew doing. Anyway, in last night's episode, there was a powerful guest spot from Dan "Homer Simpson" Castellaneta as a...wait for it...sociology professor. Now, for the record, he did not wear a leather jacket with tweed elbow patches on it, only to find out that it's supposed to be a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches, thereby ruining a perfectly good jacket (correction, two perfectly good jackets!).

In the episode, the hard-assed sociology prof tempted his students into spending a weekend recreating the Zimbardo prison experiment (well, they didn't call it that, but 'taint to many people who did that exact study) with promises of not having to do the final paper. This got me thinking about two interesting ideas for teaching. The first would be submitting students to studies that would never pass the IRB instead of making them do papers I have to grade.

But the other thought was about how you rarely see sociology profs portrayed on television, or hear about sociologists in general. As Uggen recently pointed out, there are many famous sociology majors floating out there, form Dr. King, to Joe Theisman, to Regis, to Pete Seeger, and even the Gipper himself, Ronnie Reagan. While every list you can find wih a quick and easy google search turns up the same list of names compiled by the ASA a few years back, surely there must be famous sociology majors missed by that one list. It has now become my mission to find those people, and out them for the sociologists that they are.

The sad thing is, I'm legitmately kind of excited about this. Sigh...