"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy. A relocated New Englander formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of southwestern central Florida (aka The Gulf Coast). Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXV Court Jester Productions & Bamford Communications

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Busy weekend ahead... among other things.

On the lighter side: I've had this graphic (on the left) kicking around inside my computer for quite some time and thought I'd share it with y'all tonight. I couldn't successfully enlarge the graphic by itself, so you'll have to click on it to enlarge it. Do the work, have some fun. Cheers!


Don't forget that there's a fun little football game this weekend (Sunday @ 18:00 EST on FOX) taking place out in Arizona that you really should watch. My prediction for the game will come on Sunday before kickoff.


On to more serious business: This weekend my church is hosting a Prophecy conference with Jimmy DeYoung as the guest speaker. The schedule appears on the right (click to enlarge). I'll attempt to bring you some of the highlights of the weekend as best as I can.

I'd also like you to look at this. It is the itinerary for a trip that my pastor will lead this fall to Greece and Turkey. I'm not able to afford this trip yet but I would certainly love to go, and am trying to make it happen. It's trips to places like these that make me wonder how anyone can sneer at or doubt the historical accuracy of the Bible, in this case the New Testament. Makes me wonder what world they're living in. I went on a similarly detailed trip to Israel and Egypt in 1996 and I can tell you first hand how awesome it is to visit in places that you read about in the Bible and envision the events that happened there.


Right now, I'm watching the Democratic debate between Senators Clinton and Obama. It's very interesting for me now, especially since my candidate dropped out yesterday. I think it's encouraging that, while the candidates have differences in some of their plans for this and that, their disagreements don't seem as radical as the disagreements that the Republicans appear to have.

My favorite response came from a question asked by a 38 year old woman from South Carolina. She asked how Hillary could be an agent for change when, for the last 20 years (since she has been eligible to vote) that there has been either a Clinton or a Bush on the ticket. Hillary's response was classic. She said that it took a Clinton to clean up the mess left by the first Bush and that it looks like it will take another Clinton to clean up the mess from this Bush.

The debate was very cordial and the candidates stuck to the issues, which was refreshing. There were some light hearted jabs but nothing too injurious. The results of the Super Tuesday primaries will be interesting indeed.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My support was just not enough

I'm a little shocked that it came now instead of after Super Tuesday's 21 primaries. I am disappointed that John Edwards has decided to end his run for the White House in 2008.

Even I could see the writing on the wall that results in primaries held thusfar have yielded one second place finish and a whole lot of third place finishes. Senators Obama and Clinton have made the Democratic nomination what will be a historic two person race, no matter who wins.

I'm convinced, however, that we have not heard the last from Edwards, who is only 54. He will have other opportunities to run for President, if he wants them. Edwards will still impact this race for the Democratic nomination when he reveals whom he will endorse, giving that candidate a huge boost (assuming the majority of his supporters flow to the candidate he endorses). No matter whom he ends up supporting, he'll still have a voice in what the final Democratic platform will be come convention time. I'm sure he realizes now, that the most important thing is to do whatever he can to unite the Democratic Party in order to present the strongest possible ticket opposite whomever the cannon fodder is that the Republicans eventually nominate.

I do think that Edwards will eventually endorse Barack Obama, and I think he will do it before Super Tuesday. I don't think he'd be offered, nor would he accept another Vice Presidential nomination after 2004, but it's still within the realm of possibility. My hope is that he will be offered an important position in the Cabinet (or possibly Attorney General) for either an Obama or Clinton Administration. Either way, if Edwards really wants the White House in 2012 or 2016, more national exposure in a high profile position will be good for him.

You're probably wondering who I'm going to endorse now that my man is out, right? Some of you could probably guess, but you'll have to wait until Tuesday for the official word.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On the Way of the World

I probably found this on someone else's blog at one time or another and thought it was worth sharing.

I really wish I could take credit for this, but I am not its author. However, it perfectly demonstrates the stupidity and ridiculousness of the world with the simplest of metaphors:

You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.
You feel guilty for being successful.
Barbara Streisand sings for you.

You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.

You have two cows.
The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.
You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.

You have two cows.
The government seizes both and provides you with milk.
You wait in line for hours to get it.
It is expensive and sour.

You have two cows.
You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows

You have two cows.
Under the new farm program the government pays you to shoot one, milk
the other, and then pours the milk down the drain.

You have two cows.
You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one.
You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are
surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the
analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses.
Your stock goes up.

You have two cows.
You go on strike because you want three cows.
You go to lunch and drink wine.
Life is good.

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and
produce twenty times the milk.
They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains.
Most are at the top of their class at cow school.

You have two cows.
You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give
excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour.
Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.

You have two cows but you don't know where they are.
While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman.
You break for lunch.
Life is good.

You have two cows.
You drink some vodka.
You count them and think you have five cows.
You drink some more vodka.
You count them again and think you have 42 cows.
The KGB shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.

You have two cows.
They go into hiding.
They send radio tapes of their mooing.

You have two bulls.
Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.

You have one cow.
The cow is schizophrenic.
Sometimes the cow thinks he's French, other times he's Flemish.
The Flemish cow won't share with the French cow.
The French cow wants control of the Flemish cow's milk.
The cow asks permission to be cut in half.
The cow dies happy

You have a black cow and a brown cow.
Everyone votes for the best looking one.
Some of the people who actually like the brown one best accidentally
vote for the black one.
Some people vote for both.
Some people vote for neither.
Some people can't figure out how to vote at all.
Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which one you think is
the best-looking cow.

You have millions of cows.
They make real California cheese.
Only five speak English.
Most are illegal.
Arnold likes the ones with the big udders.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Summing it all up

This is pretty much how I feel today:


Saturday, January 26, 2008

SNMR 4.11: "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"

Tonight's SNMR feature is "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962, NR, 123 minutes, B&W), starring John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Edmond O'Brien, Andy Devine and Ken Murray. The film was directed by John Ford. This is the first time John Wayne and James Stewart appeared in a film together. The only other time was in "The Shootist" (1976) which was John Wayne's last movie before his death in 1979.

This is a film that I wanted to review last July when I did a month long tribute to James Stewart, but never got around to watching it until yesterday. Westerns have never been my favorite movie genre, but I couldn't resist a film with both James Stewart and John Wayne in it.

PLOT SUMMARY: Ransom Stoddard (Stewart), an attorney from the east is traveling out west by stagecoach. Naturally the stagecoach gets robbed by a gang of thieves, led by the notorious Liberty Valance who mugs Stoddard. Stoddard recuperates from his injuries in the nearby town of Shinbone and ends up settling there. He then discovers that this Valance character often terrorizes the town. Bent on revenge on Valance the legal way, Stoddard tries to organize the townspeople in the territory to apply for statehood. Stoddard becomes friends with Tom Doniphon (Wayne) and competes with him for the love of a waitress, Hallie (Miles). When Stoddard realizes he can't beat Valance without a gun he manages to find one but he's a poor marksman. Sure enough, Valance and Stoddard meet in the street to shoot it out. After wounding Stoddard, Valance himself gets killed from a gunshot wound, assumed to be from Stoddard. So the legend goes. But is that what really happened?

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS MOVIE: Going in, I wondered how a rough guy like John Wayne could coexist in a film with the hardly threatening Stewart. Now I know. This film has everything you want and expect in a classic Western; bad guys, good guys, gunfights, a small rural town in the middle of nowhere, conflict over a woman... but does so in an elegant fashion, typical of a John Ford feature. Coincidentally, Denver Pyle was in this movie too, but in a less significant role than in last week's film. Andy Devine brilliantly provides the cowardly, whiny voiced Marshal Link Appleyard. That whiny voice I've heard before - you may recognize it too - from something else I've watched in the movies or on television. For the life of me I can't place it right now.

WHAT I DID NOT LIKE ABOUT THIS MOVIE: There isn't much to dislike about this film, actually. The classic Western formula is used, so I suppose you could say the plot is predictable. You could also say that the use of a flashback is a weakness in the script if you were picky about that sort of thing. When I realized that was how it was going to be I wondered how they could have told the story without the flashback. Despite that reservation, the film isn't hindered by it at all.

This is an excellent film which is well worth the two hour investment of your time.

**** out of *****


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Jesus is watching you

My mom gave this to me the other day. You may or may not have seen it before or may have seen a variation on it. Still, I chuckled when I read it:

A burglar broke into a house one night. He shone his flashlight around, looking for valuables to steal. When he picked up a CD player to place in his sack, a strange, disembodied voice echoed from the darkness saying, "Jesus is watching you."

He nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked his flashlight off and froze. When he heard nothing more after a bit, he shook his head and promised himself a long vacation after his next big score. Clicking his flashlight back on, the burglar began to to search for more goodies. As he pulled out the stereo to disconnect the wires, clear as a bell be heard, "Jesus is watching you."

Totally rattled, the burglar shone his flashlight around frantically, looking for the source of the voice. Finally, in the corner of the room his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot. "Did you say that?", he hissed at the parrot.

"Yes" the parrot confessed and then squawked, "I'm just trying to warn you."

The burglar relaxed, "Warn me, huh? Who do you think you are anyway?"

"Moses", the bird replied.

The burglar laughed. "What kind of people would name a parrot Moses?"

The parrot quickly answered, "The same kind of people that would name a rottweiler Jesus!"


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Notable celebrity deaths so far in 2008

Recently, American Guy left this on his blog at the end of 2007. In the comments section, I morbidly wondered who the first notable celebrity deaths would be in 2008. Now we know:

Heath Ledger, 28, died today of a possible drug overdose in Manhattan, New York. The official cause of death is yet to be determined. Most notably Ledger starred in "The Patriot" with Mel Gibson in 2000 and "Brokeback Mountain" with Jake Gyllenhaal in 2005. Ledger was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role as a gay cowboy in this film. His first break in the US came in 1999, for "10 Things I Hate About You" with Julia Stiles. His profile page from imdb.com.

Suzanne Pleshette, 70, died on the 19th of respiratory failure in Los Angeles, California. She is best known for her role as Bob Newhart's wife on the 1970's television show "The Bob Newhart Show" (1972-1977). She also appeared in many other television shows throughout her career. Her profile from imdb.com.

Brad Renfro, 25, died on the 15th in Los Angeles, California. The official cause of death has not been released. His best known role was in "The Client" in 1994 with Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones. He also starred in "Ghost World" in 2001 with Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi. His profile from imdb.com.

As AG rightfully noted, I missed this one:
Sir Edmund Hillary, 88, died on the 11th in Auckland, New Zealand of heart failure. Hillary, along with his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay, was known for being the first successful climber of Mt. Everest in 1953. Hillary also did a lot of philanthropic work in Nepal, founding the Himalayan Trust sometime in 1960-61.

The most disturbing thing about these deaths is that two of the actors were under the age of 30. Tragic. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but I find it incredibly sad when anyone presently younger than I am dies.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

2008 NFL Playoffs - Conference Championships

{You didn't really think I would leave you pick-less for this weeks games, now did you? Of course not...}

It was the best of times and it was the worst of times. I do believe it's true.

Last week I went 3-1-0 SU but only 1-3-0 ATS. With three meaningful football games to go in these playoffs, I'm 6-2-0 SU and a blah 3-5 ATS. I need wins across the board this week, especially picking games against the spread. Good thing for me that I don't actually wager any money on these football picks of mine.

This week we have a pair of Week Two rematches for our Conference Championship games. Waaaay back in September, the Patriots kicked the Chargers butts at Gillette Stadium, 38-14 and the Packers came in to New York and stomped on the Giants, 35-13. How will the games play out this weekend, with reservations to Arizona for Super Bowl XLII on the line?

Let's take a look at the match-up in the AFC:

Sunday, January 20th @ 15:00 CBS - San Diego Chargers (13-5) @ New England Patriots (17-0) (-14, 46 o/u): The main story for San Diego is injuries. Both QB Philip Rivers and RB LaDanian Tomlinson sustained knee injuries last week at Indy. Tomlinson has practiced this week while Rivers has not; this leads to speculation that Rivers' knee is more seriously hurt than the Chargers are letting on. If Rivers can't go, backup QB Billy Volek will be pressed into duty. He did an admirable job leading the Chargers to (and scoring) the game winning touchdown. Because Tomlinson has been able to practice, he likely will play but the Chargers don't lose much when RB Michael Turner fills-in. Super TE Antonio Gates had two catches for 28 yards and was basically a non-factor. He's clearly still hampered by the toe injury from the Titans game two weeks ago. How effective these players are will largely determine how long San Diego stays competitive in this game.
On the Patriots side, players and coaches have stated unanimously that WR Randy Moss' legal issue will not be a factor for the team. You'd be hard pressed to find a more focused team than the Patriots under Bill Belichick. That's why they are only focusing on the Chargers and not this 17-0 business. Many of the veterans on this team have won Super Bowls and all but a few players participated in last year's AFC title game stunning loss to the Colts. The weather will be clear and cold with some wind. It remains to be seen how this will affect the game, especially the Chargers (game time temperature 23 deg. F, 11 deg. F windchill factor). Brady and Belichick are 7-0 in home playoff games. Make that 8-0 after this game. The Patriots will get out to an early lead making Tomlinson/ Turner useless and forcing Rivers/Volek to beat them throwing. The Chargers aren't designed to win shootouts and they won't be able to keep up with all of the Patriots offensive weapons. Sorry, Norv. My Prediction: @ New England 41, San Diego 17. Actual Result: @ New England 21, San Diego 12. This was a much lower scoring game than I thought on the Patriots side. The keys to the game were Patriots QB Tom Brady's three interceptions (one in the end zone) to San Diego QB Philip Rivers two interceptions and holding the powerful San Diego offense to four field goals. Rivers played on bad knees but RB Tomlinson only was able to contribute on three plays early in the first quarter. On to Glendale, Arizona two weeks from tonight.

Now let's look at the match-up in the NFC:

Sunday, January 20th @ 18:30 FOX - New York Giants (12-6) @ Green Bay Packers (14-3) (-7, 40 o/u): For the G-men, this game is going to be all about controlling the line of scrimmage and running the ball with RB's Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs and allowing Eli Maning to manage the game, as he has the last three weeks. In the last three games, Manning has completed 70% of his passes with eight touchdowns and only one interception. The Giants defense compiled the most sacks in the regular season and will be key if they can pressure Green Bay QB Brett Favre into mistakes. For the Packers, they will compliment Favre's excellent passing and WR's Driver, Jennings, Robinson and Jones with former Giants practice squad player Ryan Grant, who ran for 201 yards in last weekend's win over Seattle. Likewise, the Packers excellent defense will need to pressure Eli Manning into rushed throws and INT's. This game will also feature very cold temperatures (game time temp 3-4 deg. F with -9 deg. windchill factor). I think this will be a real close game (within 7 points) most of the way. Both teams will play well but Packers K Mason Crosby puts the game out of reach with a late FG. My Prediction: @ Green Bay 30, New York 21. Actual Result: New York Giants 23, @ Green Bay 20 OT. Well, this game was as close as I thought it would be, just that the wrong team won. The story of the game is K Lawrence Tynes missing 43 and 36 yard field goals in the 4th quarter of a tie game, then winning it with 2:35 gone in overtime with a 47 yard FG. The Giants owned a massive edge in time of possession and total yardage. QB Eli Manning once again played turnover-free football. Giants become 3rd Wild Card team to win three road games to advance to the Super Bowl (1985 Patriots, 2005 Steelers). On to Arizona in two weeks.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

SNMR 4.10: "Bonnie and Clyde"

Tonight marks the 100th movie reviewed on SNMR. Doesn't that bit o' trivia just give you goosebumps?

I didn't think so.

Tonight's feature is "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967, NR, 112 minutes), starring Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Michael J. Pollard, Estelle Parsons and Denver Pyle. The film was directed by Arthur Penn. The film won two Oscars in 1968 and was nominated for eight others

I've heard a lot about this movie over the years, how good it is and all. I've never watched this movie before tonight.

PLOT SUMMARY: This is the screen version story of the 1930's real life bank robbing duo Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty). It tells the tale of when they first met through their grisly deaths at the hands of Texas Ranger Frank Hamer (Denver Pyle) and about 1,000 rounds of bullets.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS MOVIE: Beatty and Dunaway give decent performances in the lead roles. I was amused to see Denver Pyle in a role other than the white-haired Uncle Jessie from the "Dukes of Hazzard" (1979-1985) television show. I liked reading the production notes included on the DVD to learn that the movie was filmed in the real Texas towns (and some of the actual banks) that Bonnie and Clyde actually visited when they were a robbing.

WHAT I DID NOT LIKE ABOUT THIS MOVIE: I really have no idea what all the fuss was surrounding this movie forty years ago. I suppose this film was groundbreaking back in 1967 but nowadays seems quite tame. Gene Hackman's voice in this movie just seemed weird to me. Maybe it's because he was a young actor here or maybe because his imitation of a Southern accent is so bad.

On the whole I was expecting more (what exactly I have no idea) and didn't get it.

**1/2 out of *****


Friday, January 18, 2008

Good idea... or not?

Sure. On the surface and in the short term, this seems like a good idea. We all could use a little extra money right now ~ I know I certainly could.

The responsible thing to ask though is: How will we (America) pay for it in the long run?
A report on CBS Evening News tonight suggested that whatever amount of money is requested from Congress - the rebates would be paid for by adding $150 billion more to the national deficit. That's like overspending the limit on your credit card; the interest and fees alone will hurt real baaaaad. Believe me, I have unwanted experience in this area. I don't know if I like where this is going.

I mean, if Congress wasn't grudgingly signing bills left and right to fund George Bush's War in Iraq....

Waaaaaaaaaait a minute! Hey, here's an idea!

Instead of fighting a never ending war that we can not win (admit it - the war in Iraq is this generation's Korea/Vietnam), the {next} President needs to tell the Iraqis to defend their own country so that we can bring the vast majority of our troops home soon. Then the government can use the money saved to help rectify America's weak-a$$ economy and strengthen our borders and airports to help protect against possible future terrorist attacks...

And while I'm waxing political, let me talk about jobs for a sec, OK?

Bush says he wants to create more jobs here at home and that's fine. All well and good. Right?!?!? But what kind of jobs are we talking about, exactly?

Is he talking about creating more minimum wage jobs that keep people with families fighting against the poverty line trying to make ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck OR is he talking about real jobs that pay enough to allow families to not only meet their monthly bills but get ahead (even if only a little) and maybe - save a little bit?

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

5-4-3-2-1... books!

I saw this on ee's blog (Life Unscripted) a long time ago and just knew that I had to do it... eventually. So tonight I did.

Next 5 books on your to be read shelf:

1. "Through Painted Deserts" by Donald Miller (currently reading)
2. "In the Beginning Was Information" by Dr. Werner Gitt (currently reading)
3. "To Own a Dragon" by Donald Miller
4. "The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible" by Robert J. Hutchinson
5. "The Incomparable Christ" by John R.W. Stott

Last 4 books you’ve read (cover to cover):
[disclaimer: since I read a lot of books, these may not necessarily be the last 4 that I've read, but I have read them in, say - the last six months or so.]

1. "Captured by Grace" by David Jeremiah
2. "Confessor" by Terry Goodkind
3. "The Case for the Real Jesus" by Lee Strobel
4. "Searching for God Knows What" by Donald Miller

Last 3 books you’ve borrowed either from the library or from a friend:

1. "Through Painted Deserts" by Donald Miller
2. "To Own a Dragon" by Donald Miller
3. "The Guardian" by Nicholas Sparks

Last 2 non-fiction books you’ve read:

1. "Evidence for Christianity" by Josh McDowell
2. "The Genesis Record" by Henry M. Morris

The 1 book you wish everyone would read:

1. The Bible (starting with the New Testament)

I'm tagging everyone who reads this post to do this as well...

If you do it, let me know so I can come and check out your answers!

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Awaiting the next storm

I'd say we got anywhere between 10-12 inches of the white fluffy stuff today, though I have not listened for the actual snowfall totals. The storm began in earnest around 04:00 and didn't let up until mid afternoon. I figured that V and M would not have school today. I did get up at 05:15 to look on this New Hampshire radio station's web site to get an early look at the cancellation list. When I saw that the schools in the town where V and M live were listed right at the top, I turned off my computer and blissfully went back to sleep. Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z.

I told K on Saturday that if V and M didn't have school today because of the storm, that I would keep them until whenever we could arrange to meet, since there was no way I was going out driving when the snow was falling the hardest. That turned out to be 17:45 at our usual meeting spot.

The secondary roads for the most part were decent, considering the amount of snow that fell. The highways were fantabulous, right down to the bare pavement. It made the drive to get to our meeting place all the easier.

For most of the day, V and M played with their video games, leaving me to go outside and shovel, etc. Naturally, it was around 15:00 that M declared that he was bored and wanted to watch a movie of over 2 hours in length. When I told him no because we were going to leave in an hour or so, he was disappointed. I had wanted to give myself plenty of time to do my errands and get there without having to rush and without knowing what the roads or traffic would be like. We got there fifteen minutes early.

It turned out to be a heavy, sticky snow - perfect for making a snowman.

Or for just plain getting clogged in the chute of the snowthrower I was using to clear the driveway, over and over and over and over and over again.

Now the weather gnomes are predicting another storm for Thursday into Friday. Early reports on one Boston area TV station says we should expect more of a mix than just straight snow.

And best of all.... it's going to be mighty cold this weekend in Foxboro for the AFC Championship Game. Hardly advantageous for a visiting football team from southern California...

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Another Nor'easter on the way

After a week with unusual warmth and lots of snow meltage, including smashing a 74 year old temperature record last Tuesday, we here in the northeast are bracing for another huge snowstorm. To the north and west of Boston up into Nashua and southern New Hampshire the latest snowfall estimates I've heard is between 10-14 inches. The the crucial questions now are: When will it start? How badly will it mess up the morning and afternoon commutes tomorrow? What kind of snow will it be?

The answers to these questions remain to be seen but it is supposed to start sometime after midnight. The weather gnomes are predicting 1-2 inches falling per hour at times, so it's probably going to royally screw up the morning commute.

As far as what kind of snow it will be, I'm hoping for the light fluffy kind because that is easier to shovel.

It was kind of weird this week in that I heard thunder and saw the glow of lightning outside my window, due to the springlike temperatures we enjoyed. That kind of weather is common for summer but very rare in January in this part of the country. But, this is New England and the weather is often weird and unpredictable. We just roll with the punches.


Esther and I continued a conversation today that we started several weeks ago. We talked it over and we have decided that we're better off as friends instead of being involved in a relationship. This was a mutual decision and not the result of either one of us deciding that the relationship wasn't going to work and breaking it off. No matter what happens in the future, Esther and I are and remain very good friends. That will never change. I have been blessed to talk to her and know her over these last five months. What you read on her blog is true and genuine; a small slice of a compassionate, caring, intelligent Christian woman.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

SNMR 4.9: "Dial M for Murder"

Tonight's SNMR feature is "Dial M for Murder" (1954, PG, 105 minutes) starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings, John Williams and Anthony Dawson. The film was directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

I watched this movie last night for the second time. I'd watch it again and have put it on one of my wish lists. Aaaah, one of these days I'll add this to my DVD collection.

PLOT SUMMARY: Alfred Hitchcock's screen version of Frederick Knott's stage hit "Dial M for Murder" is a tasty blend of elegance and suspense casting Grace Kelly (Margot Mary Wendice), Ray Milland (Tony Wendice) and Robert Cummings (Mark Halliday) as the points of a romantic triangle. She loves Halliday; Betrayed, her husband Wendice carefully and meticulously plots her murder because of it. But when his plans go all wrong, he tries to cover for it on the fly and then we learn that even the best cover up artist can make mistakes.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS MOVIE: This has quickly become my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film. The story is excellent and the direction is spectacular. Ray Milland is deliciously meticulous and evil in his plotting. Grace Kelly gives another excellent performance and would have had more of a brilliant career, had she stuck with acting and not given it up to become the Princess of Monaco. There have been other movies made since that have a similar storyline, the most recent I can recall being "A Perfect Murder" (1998) with Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow and Viggo Mortensen, but none compare to this original classic.

WHAT I DID NOT LIKE ABOUT THIS FILM: Robert Cummings gives a credible performance as the third wheel in the love triangle but could have been better. I think it's hilarious to watch the way stars kissed on screen in the 1950's. These "Hollywood kisses" are stiff and unconvincing. Also, I find it tacky and all too convenient that the victim, while trying to remove the scissors from his back, falls on them to push them deeper into his body.

***** out of *****


Friday, January 11, 2008

2008 NFL Playoffs- Conference Semifinals

Don't be confused, the NFL officially calls this round of playoffs the divisional round, which makes no sense to me. I call it what it is, the conference semifinals because Winners from each game this weekend will play in their respective conference championship games next Sunday @ 15:00 (AFC) and 18:30 (NFC).

I was roaming around the web this week, as I often do, and found this amusing piece from columnist Norman Chad. He may hate the Patriots, and you might too, but don't even tell me that there aren't 26 other NFL cities (with the notable exceptions of Indianapolis, Dallas or Green Bay) that would love to have such a dominant team as their hometown NFL franchise. That's why I hated the 49ers of the 1980's and the Cowboys of the 1990's so much, because they won the majority of their games and got to the playoffs every year (and won Super Bowls) while the Patriots mostly were horrible or incredibly average.

And if you like football related statistics, as I do, you'll like this from the Indianapolis Star.

Anyway, I digress.

I did put in a good showing last weekend, picking 75% SU (3-1-0) and 50% ATS (2-2-0; which could have been 75% ATS if the Jags had gone for the late touchdown instead of settling for the winning field goal). Let's see how well I do for this weekend's games:

Saturday, January 12th @ 16:30 FOX - Seattle Seahawks (11-6) at Green Bay Packers (13-3) (-7½, 42½ o/u): The main storyline in this game is Green Bay QB Brett Favre opposing his friend and old coach, Seattle's Mike Holmgren. Both have considered retirement over the last few years. Will either or both call it quits after this season? The Packers are the youngest team in the NFL based on average age and have very little playoff experience. Favre is enjoying one of his best seasons for the Packers. Not many people outside of the local fandom expected a 13-3 season. Seattle had much more playoff experience, getting to and losing the Superbowl two seasons ago. With a healthy group of Wide Receivers, including former Superbowl MVP Deion Branch, this game will come down to the Packers secondary stopping one of the most underrated group of receivers in the league. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs, the game ended on an overtime interception return for a touchdown by Green Bay. I expect a close game in this one too, possibly to be decided in overtime. My Prediction: Green Bay 27, Seattle 24. Actual Result: @ Green Bay 42, Seattle 20. What happened Seattle? After a phenomenal start, capitalizing on two Green Bay turnovers to take a 14-0 lead barely four minutes into the game, Seattle's offense went into deep freeze, getting outscored 42-6. What can you say about Brett Favre? Snow or not, simply one of the best QB's in NFL history. If Dallas wins tomorrow, Green Bay will play in Dallas. If New York wins tomorrow, they will travel to Green Bay.

Saturday, January 12th @ 20:00 CBS - Jacksonville Jaguars (12-5) at New England Patriots (16-0) (-13, 49 o/u): The Jaguars have been anointed the team du-jour to upset the Patriots quest for perfection and have as good a chance as any with their star running back duo of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. Experts are touting the Patriots giving up huge games to Steelers and Ravens RB's near the end of the season as a sign of a weakened and old defense. While it is true that the Patriots Linebackers are old by NFL standards, they have the experience factor on their side and arguably the best front three on the defensive line in football in Wilfork, Seymour and Warren to clog the middle of the field. But the main question is, how do you slow down the Patriots passing game? With temperatures expected to be in the mid 30's by game time with no precipitation and little wind in the forecast Patriots QB Tom Brady will not be hindered with his trio of WR's Randy Moss, Donte' Stallworth and Wes Welker. Add in an effective but not often utilized RB in Laurence Maroney and all purpose RB Kevin Faulk, the Jaguars secondary will be tested severely. Sorry Jags, this is not your night. My Prediction: Patriots 35, Jacksonville 14. Actual Result: @ New England 31, Jacksonville 20: 26 for 28, 262 yards, 3 Touchdowns, no Interceptions. Patriots QB Tom Brady broke Phil Simms playoff record of 88% completion percentage, completing 92.6% of his passes to 8 different receivers. WR Randy Moss only had one catch for 14 yards. RB Laurence Maroney had a huge game rushing for 122 yards and had 2 catches for 40 yards. Jacksonville played a great game despite only producing 66 yards combined for RB's Taylor and Jones-Drew. Their defense just could not contan the Patriots, who punted once in the whole game (with 40 seconds left). The winner of tomorrow's Chargers-Colts game will visit the Razor next Sunday at 15:00.

Sunday, January 13th @ 13:00 CBS San Diego Chargers (12-5) at Indianapolis Colts (13-3) (-8½, 46 o/u): I think this is the most intriguing game of the weekend. Colts QB Peyton Manning threw 6 INT's and Mr. Clutch K Adam Vinatieri missed a chip shot game winning field goal in a mid season loss at San Diego. San Diego has also beaten the Colts in Indy too, most recently in 2005 when the Colts were shooting for a 14-0 record. I've got no worries about the Colts offense which is always excellent in the playoffs under coach Tony Dungy. This game will be in the hands of Chargers QB Philip Rivers. The Colts will attempt to minimalize the effects of RB LaDanian Tomlinson and force Rivers to beat them with his arm, throwing to WR's Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson and RB Tomlinson out of the backfield. A big loss for San Diego is TE Antonio Gates, who hurt his toe last week against Pittsburgh and likely won't play. These are two excellent teams, but the Colts win indoors. My Prediction: Indianapolis 33, San Diego 23. ACTUAL RESULT: San Diego 28, @ Indianapolis 24: Turnovers taste real good. I like either raspberry or blueberry. Oops, wrong kind of turnovers. The playoff kind are bad. Especially when you throw two interceptions to halt scoring drives and fumble once to stop another. This is what derailed the Colts today, negating a 400 yard passing day by Colts QB Peyton Manning. Give San Diego credit. TE Antionio Gates played with a sprained/broken bigh toe and lost RB LaDanian Tomlinson and QB Philip Rivers due to injury. Backup QB Billy Volek and RB Michael Turner came in and carried the load. San Diego plays at New England next Sunday.

Sunday, January 13th @ 16:30 FOX New York Giants (11-6) at Dallas Cowboys (13-3) (-7½, 47 o/u): This is the Terrell Owens bowl. When he plays, the Cowboys have a much more fearsome offense than they do with out him. Dallas QB Tony Romo still had TE Jason Witten to throw to and an underrated pair of running backs in Marion Barber and Julius Jones. The Giants are brimming with confidence with QB Eli Manning played well in two losses to Dallas and is playing the best he's played all season in the last two games. The Giants defense led the league in QB sacks this season. The Giants look to avenge their only road loss of the season, Week 1 in Dallas. These fellow NFC East rivals know each other well and it will come down to turnovers and controlling the clock in this one. It's hard to beat a divisional opponent three times in one season. I'd love to see the 'boys win, but they won't. My Prediction: Giants 27, Cowboys 20. ACTUAL RESULT: New York Giants 21, @ Dallas 17: I don't know how the Giants won this game, but they did. They were outgained in yards by 106 and held the ball for 13 less minutes. They did not turn the ball over and Eli Manning managed the game brilliantly. The key drive for the Giants was at the end of the 2nd quarter when they scored a touchdown with less than a minute left after Dallas held the ball for over ten minutes prior. This allowed the game to go into the half tied instead of the Giants being down by 7. The Giants will travel to Green Bay next Sunday @ 18:30.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kitchen Improv

Well that was interesting.

Some of you know that I like to cook. Some of you don't. Some of you know it better than others.

When I cook, I do follow the recipe that I'm making, but I've also been known to improvise from time to time. Sometimes I'll add a bit more of this or a pinch more of that to whatever I'm making, just for fun. Sometimes it tastes good, other times it doesn't.

On the menu for tonight was hot dogs. Plain and simple hot dogs. But I was not in the mood for just an ordinary hot dog tonight.

"Houston, we have a problem...."

I went rummaging through the fridge and didn't find much that I could use, though I didn't know exactly what I was looking for, either.

Hot dogs? Yep. I'll have two of those.
Ahhh, eggs. I'll take two of those also.

Hmmmm, what else?

Oh! shredded cheddar cheese! Perfecto! (Cheese is a favorite improv item with me.)

What I did was really quite simple:

I put some butter in a frying pan and turned on the burner to medium high and let it melt. Then I sliced the dogs in half length wise. Once the butter had melted, I cracked the eggs and put them in the pan. One yolk broke, so I broke the other one. Then I took the dogs and placed them in the space not occupied by the eggs and let them fry for a minute.

After lightly adding salt and pepper to the eggs and dogs, I generously covered them both in cheddar cheese and put a lid over the frying pan. I let them cook for about four minutes on medium heat.

Meanwhile I got myself a napkin, knife, fork and mug; setting my place at the table. The plate I kept with me at the stove.

Back into the fridge I went for the milk and the Guldens Honey Mustard. Brought them over to the table and poured myself some moo-juice. After putting the milk back in the fridge, I went back to my frying pan and lifted the cheese-dogs and eggs, setting them on the table.

After I ate I scraped the fry pan a bit, put some dishwasher soap and hot water in there and let it set in the sink for awhile, for easier cleaning later.

I have no idea how I'll feel in an hour or three when my dinner concoction starts to digest and I start feeling its effects. Hopefully not too bad, but we'll see.

I must say it was a better combination than I thought it would be.

If you become daring enough to try this combination, let me know what you think.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Fort Sumter. Charleston, South Carolina

I know, I know.

Esther has been telling me for a few weeks that I ought to post some pictures of my latest visit to South Carolina.

So here they are. I'm not posting all of them, but just enough to give you an idea of what we did.

The day after Christmas is Esther's birthday and she thought it would be nice to show me some of Charleston. Since I had never been, I thought it was a fabulous idea.

Being that the Civil War is one of my favorite eras in US history, one of the places I always wanted to visit was Fort Sumter, out in Charleston Harbor. This is where the first shots of the Civil War were aimed, so that was our first tourist-y destination of the day.

These two pictures above show the approach to Sumter as you get off the ferry and onto the dock leading to the old fort.

Here's the official sign outside the entrance.

Inside the fort stands this monument, dedicated to Union Major Robert Anderson and his garrison, who were defending the fort against occupation by Confederate troops.

One of the cannon used at the fort.

Inside the walls of Sumter, near what used to be an opening for one cannon to shoot from. Sumter's exterior walls are lined with similar openings.

Another pic of me inside the walls of Sumter.

I really enjoyed visiting Fort Sumter. Aside from the cold, brisk wind, the main thing I didn't like was the amount of time that the ferry company gave to see everything at the Fort, which was only one hour. What dragged the time down was waiting for everyone to get off of the ferry and into the fort, so the Park Ranger could give his little presentation. Once that was done we only had about 30 minutes to see the rest of the fort. Of course we could have caught the next ferry but that would have meant three hours on the island instead of just one. I think allowing two hours on the grounds would have been just right. I despise being rushed and I definitely felt like I was rushed. Especially considering the cost of the ferry per person. Not cheap, I'll tell you.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Hampshire Primary 2008

Based on the results of the Iowa Caucuses last week, we have an early glimpse of who the "front runners" are for the Democratic and Republican parties.

Make sure you vote in your state's primary when the time comes. I did.

I was amazed to see that there were names of twenty one people on the Democratic ballot in New Hampshire who are running for President, most of whom I've never heard of. There were even two people running for the office of Vice President - two more names that I've never heard of. I really didn't get a close look at the Republican ballot to see how many names were on there.

BUT... It doesn't matter if you're registered as a Republican or Democrat, every vote counts. If you're not registered yet, find out when the deadline for voter registration is in your city and go do it.

Millions of people in many countries would love to be able to vote for their political leaders but don't have the opportunity to do so. We are very fortunate in the United States that we can vote and that our votes mean something. It's a privilege that should never, ever be taken for granted.

As I always like to say, you have no right to complain about the way the government is being run if you don't bother to vote.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

SNMR 4.8: "My Cousin Vinny"

Tonight's SNMR feature is "My Cousin Vinny" (1992, R, 120 minutes), starring Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, Ralph Macchio, Fred Gwynne Lane Smith, Mitchell Whitfield and Bruce McGill. The film was directed by Jonathan Lynn.

The first time I saw this movie was when it came out on DVD, the year I graduated from college. My girlfriend (at that time) and I rented it. Since then I've watched this movie a few times. Hot Marisa Tomei won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mona Lisa Vito.

PLOT SUMMARY: Two New York City boys (Macchio, Whitfield) are mistakenly arrested as murderers while passing through a small Alabama town. Since they have no money for an attorney, the family sends down a cousin who recently graduated from law school to defend the boys. Vincent Gambini and his girlfriend, New Yorkers with stereotypical accents come to save the day (Tomei).

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS MOVIE: I still think this movie is funny despite the overuse of the f-word and other profanity. Pesci and Tomei have good comedic timing and some of the situations and one-liners in this movie are hilarious. I also love the way that they exaggerate their Noo-Yawk accents. The late actor (most notably as Herman Munster) and children's book author Fred Gwynne, gives a very underrated comic performance as Judge Chamberlain Haller.

WHAT I DID NOT LIKE ABOUT THIS MOVIE: Well, I'm not a fan of excessive profanity, so that bothered me. I wonder if this movie would still be as funny if the writer used cleaner language.

*** out of *****


Friday, January 04, 2008

Let the real football season begin

As nice as the regular season was, what with my Patriots setting all kinds of offensive NFL Records, becoming the fourth team in NFL history to achieve an unblemished record (and first perfect 16-0 record). The real season begins tomorrow with the start of the 2008 NFL Playoffs, known as Wild Card Weekend. The top two seeds in each conference (AFC: Patriots and Colts, NFC: Cowboys and Packers) have byes this weekend.

With my 12th successful season predicting straight up winners (2007: 171-85-0 .668) and winners vs. the point spread (2007: 132-111-14 .541) in the books, I'm ready to offer you my thoughts on this weekends games:

Saturday, January 5th @ 16:30 NBC - #6 Washington Redskins (9-7) at #3 Seattle Seahawks (10-6) (-3, 40 o/u): Washington leads the all-time series, 9-5 and are 4-2 lifetime @ Seattle. These teams haven't played each other since the 2005 playoffs (@ Sea 20, Was 10). The Seahawks were very good at home this year, losing only by three to Cincinnati in September. Washington may be the hottest team in the NFC bracket, winning four straight to earn their playoff spot, despite the tragic shooting death of S Sean Taylor in November. Both coaches have won Super Bowls, so coaching is not a concern. Quarterbacks are the story here. Washington QB Todd Collins hadn't played a meaningful game in 10 years until replacing injured starter Jason Campbell in week 14. Since then the Redskins are 4-0 and have played impressive football. Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck has had a career year under the radar in the Pacific Northwest, setting career highs in yards (3,966) and touchdown passes (28) while only throwing 12 INTs. Washington will play at Dallas next weekend if they can win this game, sending the winner of the Giants-Bucs game to Green Bay. Expect a real close game the whole way through in this one. Prediction: @ Seattle 21, Washington 17. Actual Result: @ Seattle 35, Washington 14. Ahhh, turnovers, the great equalizer. Redskins QB Collins' threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns late in the 4th quarter to turn a close game into a blowout. Next week: at Green Bay

Saturday, January 5th @ 20:00 NBC - #5 Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5) (-3, o/u 39½) at #4 Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6): Jacksonville leads the all time series 11-8-0. Jacksonville is favored in this game due largely to their impressive 29-22 win at Heinz Field on Dec. 16. Since then the injury bug has bitten the Steelers, most notably RB Willie Parker and a pair of Smiths, one on offense and one on defense. A healthier Steelers team still gave up 421 total yards (224 rushing) to the potent Jags offense. With RB's Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew playing great right now plus an efficient passing game, it's hard to see the Steelers stopping the Jags offense. And that means that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger might have to throw lots of passes in order for this game to stay close. The Steelers want to avenge their only home loss of the season. Expect a close game only because the Steelers play well at home, but the Jags will win. If the Chargers beat the Titans on Sunday, the winner here gets the bonus prize of playing the Patriots on Jan. 12. I'd like to see the Steelers win, but I can't pick them here. Prediction: Jacksonville 27, Pittsburgh 21. Actual Result: Jacksonville 31, @ Pittsburgh 29. As I predicted, the Steelers made a competetive game of it, coming back from an 18 point deficit to take a brief 29-28 lead. The story of the night though is Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger - sacked six times, intercepted three times and lost one huge fumble to seal the deal for the Jaguars. You just can't commit turnovers in the playoffs and expect to win. Next week: at New England

Sunday, January 6th @ 13:00 FOX - #5 New York Giants (10-6) at #4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7) (-3, o/u 39½): New York leads the all-time series 10-6-0. This is the first playoff game between these teams. Giants last win @ Tampa was in 1999. The Giants and Eli Manning are coming off an impressive loss against the Patriots in the regular season finale. Manning threw for 251 yards and four TD passes with one INT. Which Eli Manning will show up? If the Bucs defense can put pressure on Manning he should revert to Mr. Inconsistency and that will help the Bucs. Make Eli beat you with his arm. The Bucs offense has sputtered the last four weeks, losing three of their last four. Tampa QB Jeff Garcia is 2-3 as a playoff starting QB but both wins have come against these Giants. Expect a low scoring, defensive game. Prediction: Tampa Bay 20, New York 17. Actual Result: New York Giants 24, @ Tampa Bay 14. Tampa Bay scored the first and last touchdowns of the game. Problem was that the Giants scored 24 unanswered points in between the Bucs' scores. Jeff Garcia played a flat, uninspiring game and Eli Manning, for the second straight week, played excellent, error free football. Tampa Bay lost the turnover battle, 3-0 on two interceptions and a critical fumble. What did we discover yesterday about turnovers? Next week: at Dallas

Sunday, January 6th @ 16:30 CBS - #6 Tennessee Titans (10-6) at #3 San Diego Chargers (11-5) (-9½, o/u 40): San Diego leads the all-time series 22-16-0. Chargers have not won a playoff game since 1995 and are 0-3 vs. Tennessee/Houston Oilers in the playoffs. The Titans however, haven't beaten the Chargers since 1992. The Titans beat Indianapolis backups last Sunday in order to get into the playoffs in a game that meant nothing to the Colts. Titans QB Vince Young hurt his knee in last weeks game so it remains to be seen how much of his mobility is lost. The Chargers are on a roll riding a six game winning streak (including a 23-17 OT win @ Tennessee on Dec. 9) going into this game. The Chargers rushing game, behind league Rushing champ LaDanian Tomlinson will be hard to stop. This is good, since Chargers QB Philip Rivers has been inconsistent this season. Tennessee's offense will have to score more than 16 points if they want any chance to win. It doesn't help Tennessee that their kicker, Rob Bironas, scored 44.2% of the Titans points this season (133 of 301). If the Titans win they travel to New England next Saturday and the Jacksonville/Pittsburgh winner goes to Indianapolis. Expect a physical game for the first three quarters but the Chargers, behind LT, will win this game handily in the end. Prediction: San Diego 33, Tennessee 13. Actual Result: @ San Diego 17, Tennessee 6. Well, I was right in that it was a close game until the 4th quarter, however it was a much lower scoring game than I thought it would be. San Diego QB Philip Rivers threw for 292 yards and a touchdown and the Chargers won their first playoff game since 1994. Next week: at Indianapolis.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Throwing my weight around

With the Iowa Caucuses tonight, the New Hampshire Primary next Tuesday, the Nevada and South Carolina Primaries fast approaching on the 19th and 26th respectively, and with Super Tuesday looming just about a month away the "Get King George the Heck Out of The White House" countdown has officially begun.

Since that's the case, it's time for this blog, "So Let it Be Written, So Let it Be Done" to officially endorse its 2008 candidate for the office of President of the United States of America:

Your humble correspondent actually went to a town meeting style session in Derry, New Hampshire for John Edwards on December 8, 2007 and actually got to meet and shake the hand of this Presidential candidate. As a bonus, the fabulous V got to meet and shake hands with Edwards, too. Quite a deal for a 10 year old future voter.

I had never been to one of these speak, meet and greet sessions before but thought that I'd take advantage of New Hampshire's importance in the Presidential Election process this time. The gathering was small, with less than 200 seats set up in semi-circle formation. All told I'd say there were, including media and standing room only attendees, probably 400-500 people crammed into that tiny Middle School cafeteria. V and I were there early and scored front row seats, just to the right of where Mr. Edwards spoke. Don't I look good in the pictures?

We were given handy little booklets with Edwards' positions on the various issues facing our country as well as some free buttons, stickers and a sign. So far, I like what I've heard and read from this candidate more so than all the others. Though I'd have to say that Barack Obama ranks a close 2nd so far, though I think he'd make for a better VP this time around.

I'm not thrilled with Hillary, even though I voted for her husband both times he ran. America, for all her bragging about equal rights, etc., etc., is not ready for a female President. Sorry, ladies but it ain't happening.

None of the Republican candidates have done or said anything to warrant my attention, either. Romney won't get elected because a) he's from Massachusetts [damn Ohioans always messing things up!] and b) he's a Mormon. Sorry Mitt, by and large this is a Christian country. If you were a Christian, you might have had a chance.

McCain has run too many times and failed to even get the Republican nod once, so why let him have it this time? John, you're too old and out of touch with the majority of voters. Plus, we've had an over 70 Republican President once upon a time...

Giuliani had his 15 minutes of fame in the aftermath of 9/11 and in his 15 second cameo in the film "Anger Management." Thanks for playing, Rudy. Good of you to come.

Huckabee? Don't really know much about him aside from his being a former Baptist minister and Governor of Arkansas. Isn't there a statute of limitations on former Arkansas Governors running for President or something?) Still, if he wins Iowa and has a decent showing in New Hampshire, then this will be the elephant to take seriously.

Finally, I really don't think the elephants have a chance in November anyway, no matter who runs. Not after the country stupidly electing Dubya twice, as if the first time weren't bad enough. Eight years of Republicans screwing things up is enough. Let's let a Democrat have a whirl at messing things up. At least if a donkey gets elected, he'll have the benefit of a donkey controlled House, for a while at least. What a plus.

Certainly can't get any worse, can it?

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