h o m e 't o o n s w o r d s c a m s t u f f r a d i o   f r e e   d o g p a t c h

daily dog archives 2005 2004 2003 2002

By Patrick O'Grady
Mad Dog Media

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New Year's Eve

  This wild winter weather you've been hearing so much about has been a delightful end to what has been in many ways a miserable year. I'd been in a bit of a rut, and this snow blew me right out of it. I bolted the road bike to the Cateye wind trainer with the notion of getting some exercise and then said to hell with it. We broke out the cross-county skis for the first time in four or five years, I rode my mountain bike twice (haven't done that since Moab in 2005), and I cooked up a few dishes I hadn't made before and didn't poison anyone. We had friends and neighbors over for dinner a couple times, went to a few parties, and generally had a high old time. The world was busily going to hell in a handbasket, just like always, but I paid less attention and feel better for having done so. You can't do that all the time — too many citizens napping on the job is what put the nation in its many present predicaments — but a guy who doesn't take a little downtime now and again is liable to start oiling firearms and pricing air travel to DeeCee, and not for a friendly hunting trip with Darth Cheney, either.

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One of these two psychos is hung, and it ain't W

  Well, Alfred E. Bush ("Worry") finally has had his little wet dream come all stickily true, the one about stretching old Saddam's neck. You know, the one that cost us 3,000 of us and who knows how many of them. The gift that keeps on giving, as long as you're not the poor sap doing the laundry. I'd sure hate to be the janitor who has to mop up in the Oval Office after Numbnuts screens that all-too-short snuff film. It'll make the Clinton years look like a Shaker sock hop.

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Oliphant on Ford

  My favorite editorial cartoonist, Pat Oliphant, offers his take on the passing of Gerald Ford here. It's quite a story. Give it a glance and then try to imagine him pulling that sort of thing off today. Above is an example of how Oliphant usually drew Ford back in the day, clipped from his collection "Oliphant: An Informal Gathering." Click the thumbnail for a larger version.

  Meanwhile, here in Bibleburg, the snow is back with a vengeance. I blew off hitting the grocery yesterday and paid dearly for my procrastination this morning, when a visit to the King Soopers wound up not unlike Napoleon's retreat from Moscow, or maybe a herd of journos hitting an open bar. The joint had been pretty well picked over by last night's crowd, but I managed to scavenge the makings of a heavy-duty beef-vegetable soup, plus more green chiles and other essentials for enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas and the like.

  I got lined up at the register just in time, too, judging by the queue that formed behind me. Don't any of these people have jobs? Are there no prisons, no workhouses? Thank JeezWhiz none of them eat real food or I could've been in trouble. You have to believe in an afterlife to eat the way some of these yahoos do. Sports drinks, Twinkies and frozen pizzas are not the foundation of a healthy diet. We ever find ourselves in a situation where cannibalism is acceptable, I may have to go vegetarian. Not even salsa would help me choke down a chop sliced off one of these gamy bastards.

  Late update: Today's on-again, off-again snow got down to business late this afternoon, with fat, wet flakes pounding down like God's own dandruff, so Herself and I broke out the cross-country skis again, this time shunning the local streets in favor of a neighborhood park (grass makes for a softer landing than asphalt when you do an eggbeater). It was spastic, frigid and big fun, too. We both fell at least once (my glasses iced up right away, so I pulled them off and thus was skiing both blind and dumb). But hey, a lack of technical skill means more exercise, right? Forty-five minutes later I felt like I was wearing someone else's ass, one that had been righteously kicked by a large and beefy individual wearing hobmailed boots.

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In case you forgot: Pro cycling sucks

  It's that time of year again, when everyone with a laptop, camera and/or microphone cops a look in the rear-view mirror and views with alarm for fun and profit. During today's "Morning Edition," NPR's Tom Goldman took a backwards squint at cycling 2006 and found it wanting. Give him a listen here.

  I wrote my own year-ender for Bicycle Retailer & Industry News back on Pearl Harbor Day, and with a little luck (and fewer blizzards) it should be sitting next to shop toilets everywhere by New Year's Day. Non-shop rats can read it here, illustrated by a 2006 cartoon from VeloNews.

  Meanwhile, as politicians and pundits eulogize former President Gerald R. Ford, it's worth remembering, as does The Nation's Jon Wiener, that he first set Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and George H.W. Bush on the national stage. As Wiener notes:

Those two Ford appointees [Rumsfeld and Cheney] worked together ever since. The Bush White House assertion of unchecked presidential power stems from the lessons they drew from their experience of working for the weakest president in recent American history. "For Dick and Don," Harold Meyerson wrote in The American Prospect last July, "the frustrations of the Ford years have been compensated for by the abuses of the Bush years."

  And if that doesn't do it for you, there's that whole Nixon-pardon thing, too. I was working for the now-defunct Colorado Springs Sun at the time, and the elation we all felt at seeing Nixon run out of office like an egg-stealing weasel turned to rage in short order. Ford could've spent his entire unearned term in office traveling the country from coast to coast, passing out thousand-dollar bills, and he still would've gotten beaten like a gong by Jimmy Carter. As his obit in today's Washington Post notes:

It was widely assumed that Ford had doomed his political career. By January 1975, his approval rating had plummeted to 36 percent. Not even two assassination attempts, both in California in 1975, generated significant popular support.

  It's a hell of a note when they're shooting at you and nobody outside the immediate family gives a shit. But all this having been said, I'd take a dead Ford over a live Bush any day of the week.

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Frosty the Snowdog

  The snow isn't even close to gone here in Bibleburg, but my achin' pups couldn't bear the thought of a third consecutive run, so when the temps hit the mid-40s I broke out a 'cross bike, slapped a new pair of Maxxis Raze tires on it, screwed some spikes into an old pair of Northwaves and went for a sketchy ride in the snow over at Monument Valley Park.

  O, the pain. Navigating this week-old snow was like riding through a walk-in cooler full of the styrofoam inserts pulled from electronics packaging. Crunch, pop, and I'd be jinking off this way; pop, crunch, and I'd be tacking off that way, all at about 6 mph. I did a couple spastic laps on my usual circuit, then surrendered to the conditions (and my lack of fitness, and the 200,000 or so calories I've consumed in the past three or four days), and rolled slowly north along the bike path to Woodmen and back for a total outing of about 90 minutes. I can practically smell that pro contract headed my way, can't you?

  I usually run Michelin Jets, a great all-rounder for the normally dry, hard-packed conditions in these parts. Come winter, I used to go to either Michelin Muds or Sprints, neither of which survives today, more's the pity. A Mud 2 is available, but I haven't tried it yet. And anyway, no tire would've been ideal for today's wretched conditions, unless they came as a quartet attached to a 4WD truck with a bed full of concrete blocks.

  Nevertheless, in the mud, through untracked snow, and on the icy streets between Dogpatch and the park, the Raze did just fine, even pumped to 40psi. It's easier to mount than Paris Hilton, fat as a Tia Sophia breakfast burrito and sticky like spider feet. Reminds me somewhat of the equally gooey Panaracer Crossblaster, which is both narrower (700x31 vs. 700x35) and slightly lighter (280g vs. 315g).

  More snow is on the way, according to my spies at the National Weather Service, so I'll report back as to how the Raze likes a fresh pile.

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Ho, ho, ho, yo

  Happy holidays to you and yours from the Mad Dog Media Communications Empire via The Drifters and Crooks and Liars (click the image at right). While you're enjoying your trip down a snowy Memory Lane, revisit SNL's alternate ending for the Frank Capra holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life." And get up offa that thing for the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business, who finally retired for good today. KRCC is playing his "Santa's Got a Brand New Bag"; you can stream it and get down. Huh!

  Outside our wrapping-paper-strewn living rooms, meanwhile, real life continues apace. The USS Eisenhower carrier strike group is said to have moved into the Persian Gulf, with a second carrier group led by the USS Stennis en route. Meanwhile, the American military claims to have captured at least four Iranians said to have been involved in attacks on official security forces in Iraq. If you're a paranoid looking for a Gulf of Tonkin moment that the Busheviks might use as an excuse to attack a defiant Iran's nuclear facilities, this is not exactly cheery holiday news.

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Multiculturalism comes to Bibleburg

  Listen up, all you Boulder fairies. Last night, right here in Nude Life Church country, we hosted a solstice celebration that involved the consumption of homemade northern New Mexican cuisine, French wine and American microbrew by two Jews, a Catholic, a lapsed Baptist, a vegetarian of indeterminate religiosity and Your Humble Narrator, a Zen Druid who spent his entire day in the kitchen when he should have been outside pissing on trees and telling them it was raining.

  I always forget what a giant pain in the ass it is to cook for a bunch of people until I actually start doing it, and thus the original scheme quickly unraveled. The major casualty was the beef enchiladas, which fell victim to the ticking clock. After assembling the salsa, roasting and peeling a mess of poblanos and Anaheims, then getting the beans, rice and green-chile sauce going, I said, screw it — I'll make a dozen chicken enchiladas and a dozen cheddar-and-chives. Turned out that was just ducky, backed up as it was by a Cuban tomato-and-avocado salad fetched over by Susan O'Stank, bride of teammate Michael "Recovery Ride" O'Stank. Tonight I'll do the beef enchiladas to augment the leftovers. Incidentally, if you like beans, try the recipe in the Santa Fe School of Cooking cookbook (page 134). Buggers take about four hours, but they're worth every second, especially if you enjoy farting vengefully at passing Republicans.

  Meanwhile, let's take a quick glance around, see what everybody's getting Baby JeezWhiz for his birthday. We have the top ground commander flip-flopping on escalating the war in Iraq, where the hits just keep on comin'.; Ethiopia attacking Somalia; Iran pressing on with its nuclear ambitions; the Limeys wigging about the chances of a terrorist attack on the Chunnel; and xenophobic asshat Virgil Goode Jr. screeching nonsense about Muslims in Congress. Yep. Same old shit. No wonder JeezWhiz hasn't been seen in these parts in two millennia. Why would he want to come back to this?

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Happy solstice

  The days are finally growing longer, the traditional Mad Dog rubber tree is hung about with cheap baubles, and the credit cards are on fire. Nothing quite says "happy holidays" like massive consumer debt. That, and the annual O'Grady Awards, hosted by the fine folks over at VeloNews.com. They're free, and worth every penny.

  In other news, Herself's run of snow days has expired, and off she went to work, snow-surfing via Subaru. It's not as bad as it sounds — if she survives, she's looking at 10 days off before school starts up again. Fat city. We should all have such gigs. My commute, meanwhile, is precisely 28 sock-footed steps from bed to coffeemaker to computer, and any day I don't work is a day I don't get paid, so here I am.

  I'll eventually have to get outside, too. We're running low on grub and grog, and my ass ain't getting any narrower squatting in this office chair. Food may be problematic, given the state of the state, but I bet I can still find booze, and exercise is always available, especially if you do your shopping on foot. When the white stuff is on the ground in Bibleburg, a wise man sticks to the sidewalk. These Bible-thumpers drive like the rapture is right around the corner.

  Later that day: Resupply is complete, including fresh stocks of red and white wine (it's French, too; suck on it, rednecks) and the raw materials for a Mexican feast straight out of The Santa Fe School of Cooking Cookbook — organic beef enchiladas in red chile sauce; organic chicken enchiladas in green chile sauce; cheese enchiladas starring the fabled Black Diamond cheddar; pinto beans with chile; Mexican rice; plus salsa fresca and guacamole, with chips for dipping. I'll be cooking all goddamn day, but it's cheaper than driving to Santa Fe and taking a room at the Hilton.

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Happy birthday, Frank

  It is the final miracle of the Festival of Zappadan: He has risen. Or maybe not, given the weather. Coming back to life on a day such as this would make a man yearn for Hell, maybe a bracing dip in the Lake of Fire. FZ dreamt of this day long ago, according to the Book of Apostrophe, wherein it is written, yea:

Dreamed I was an eskimo
Frozen wind began to blow
Under my boots and around my toes
The frost that bit the ground below
It was a hundred degrees below zero

  Verily, the Word he gave us then will serve us even unto today, as the snow continues to fall sideways and coyotes trot blithely along the city sidewalks, shopping for toothsome household pets:

Watch out where the huskies go, and don't you eat that yellow snow

  Postscript: In honor of FZ's birthday, I asked our friendly local NPR affiliate, KRCC-FM, to play their favorites from his songbook. They obliged with "Central Scrutinizer" from "Joe's Garage," "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast" and "Father O'Blivion" from "Apostrophe," and "Treacherous Cretins" from "Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar." Service like this is why we give them money, and lots of it, too. A big wowie-zowie goes out to our friend and neighbor Vicky for spinnin' the platters. Great googly moogly!

  Addendum: Herself and I went out for a jog through the snow into Monument Valley Park and back, astonished to find that the trail had been plowed, though the roads had not, and then broke out the cross-country skis and dicked around for a spell on the neighborhood streets. You want a good way to get attention, there it is. Drivers were grinning at us, passers-by addressed us kindly, and nary a dog chased us. Auto traffic had groomed the roads enough for skate-skiing, but it's been years since we were on boards at all, so we stuck to diagonal stride. Big yuks. Try it sometime.

  Coda: Happy winter solstice! As a Zen Druid, I will be hugging a tree, even though I realize that the tree and I are already one.

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By Odin's Fur-lined Jockstrap of Destiny!

  Ragnarok is upon us here in Bibleburg, no doubt the consequence of various short-arm shenanigans by the satyric shepherds over at Nude Life Church. It's snowing sideways, the NWS is talking in terms of feet rather than inches, and pretty much everything is as closed as The Waffler's mind. Seems Numbnuts still hasn't gotten the memo we sent him in the midterms. Or maybe he's just having trouble reading it, though that seems unlikely, seeing as it's mostly monosyllabic: "Get us the fuck out of Iraq!"

  Late update: Interstate 25 is closed from New Mexico to Castle Rock, I-70 is closed from Denver to Kansas, Highway 24 east to Limon is closed, Academy Boulevard is a parking lot, most flights from the Bibleburg Interdimensional Airport have been canceled, Gov. Bill "GWB Lite" Owens has declared a state of emergency and activated the Colorado National Guard (assuming any Guardspersons remain in Zone Interior) — woo hoo, ain't nothin' but a party.

  After enjoying a health-enhancing yet repellent breakfast of steel-cut Irish oatmeal, Herself and I donned all the Gore-Tex we own and mushed a block to Dogtooth Coffee Company for coffee, soup and pizza. Afterward, I shoveled a block of our street and a bit more of another in a pathetic attempt to counteract 52 years of karmic debt bordering on karmic bankruptcy while Herself troubleshot a neighbor's balky PC. Then I spent a little time upgrading my backup Steelman Eurocross from bar-end shifting to STI using a set of Tiagra-level eight-speed levers from BTI in Santa Fe (thanks, Preston). As I am an indifferent mechanic at best, this required the occasional do-over and much violent profanity, which distressed the cat. But, still, brand-new eight-speed STI, dude. I didn't even know such technology remained available in our 10-speed universe. And me a Titan of Industry, too. Go figure. Each lever weighs more than the frameset, but what the hell, at least I won't perform acupuncture on my knees every time I stand to climb a hill.

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Yappa Zappa doo!

  Now that Joseph Barbera has joined fellow animator William Hanna on The Other Side, it can be told: The original pilot of the TV cartoon series "The Flintstones" was based loosely on the life of Frank Zappa. In 1957, when MGM closed down its animation unit, the suddenly jobless Hanna and Barbera were wandering, half-drunk, around the MGM lot when they stumbled across the time machine used in George Pal's movie of the same name (which was a documentary, not a science-fiction film, as was popularly believed), and used the device to travel forward in time to 1966, just in time for the release of the Mothers of Invention's first album, "Freak Out." Envisioning a high-concept series based on a Stoned Age family of musicians not unlike the MOI, the animators returned to their own time and eagerly pitched their revolutionary idea to MGM execs, who immediately called security and ordered them permanently barred from the studio. Chagrined, Hanna and Barbera decided to dumb the idea down as a lame "Honeymooners" rip-off, sold it to ABC in 1960, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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Comp' time

  Cheers to Katie Compton for crushing all once again at cyclo-cross nationals. A tip of the Mad Dog cycling tuque, too, to Tim Johnson, who bounced back from a disappointing nationals to win the California Giant Strawberry Cup.

  Me, I'm stuck in Bibleburg once again. I haven't been to a nationals since 1999, at the Presidio in Gay Bay — but I did go out for an hour of frigid 'cross in the little ring this morning, my first actual running-and-riding outing since tweaking my back a couple weeks ago. It was bite-ass cold, in the mid-20s, with a bitter south-southeast wind taking the temp' down to about 14, and I was not impressive. But it was better than no 'cross at all.

  Elsewhere, Colin Powell crawled out from under his rock to nip The Waffler (Formerly Known as The Decider) in his shin splints, saying the Army "was about broken" and warning that another hefty transfusion of American blood is unlikely to save our Mesopotamian patient. Too bad he wasn't so chatty when it might have been possible to actually make a difference, foreign-policy-wise. Is this merely a snarky bit of the old "I told you so," a pathetic attempt to repossess his balls, or is Powell thinking about running for the White House in 2008? With everybody from Rudy the G to Newt Gangrenous lacing up the Nikes, we could be treated to a couple years of political theater that would make Max Bialystock look like an honest man.

  And thus, on this, Day 4 of the holy Festival of Zappadan, we take our text from the Book of Broadway the Hard Way:

With a big ol lie
And a flag and a pie
And a mom and a bible
Most folks are just liable
To buy any line
Any place, any time

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Busy, busy, busy

  Things got a little hectic around the DogHaus the past couple days, hence the lack of regular updates for the two or three of you who insist on reading this crap. Today, we take note that Ned Overend and Steve Tilford have added to their already-extensive palmares at 'cross nats out in P-town; a tip of the Mad Dog propeller beanie to both, may they continue to crush younger men under their wheels like so many colorful roaches. Tilly planned to race every race he could get into this weekend, while Deadly Nedly said the one would suffice, followed by beer. Good man.

  Meanwhile, The Waffler (Formerly Known as The Decider) bid adieu to Minister of Defense Ronald Dumsfeld with what should have been a firing squad, but instead was a Soviet-style military review, complete with a 19-gun salute. Launching the last of his fabled snowflakes in verbal rather than written fashion, Dummy warned: "Today, it should be clear that not only is weakness provocative, but the perception of weakness on our part can be provocative as well." Yeah, well, so can stupidity, Dummy old boy. Best of luck with the memoirs. Don't try shopping them to O.J.'s publisher, though — she's gotten the ax, too.

  Alas, while Dummy is finally gone, he is not forgotten. Word is that The Waffler is considering stuffing more grunts into the meat grinder. Oh, good. This doesn't remind me of Vietnam at all. This would give the lie to The Waffler's insistence that he gives the generals what they ask for (Gen. G.W. Casey has stressed stepping up the training of Iraqis and handing responsibility to them as quickly as possible, and Gen. John Abazaid says such a surge in troop levels would yield only a temporary advantage and might postpone the day when Iraqis "stand up so we can stand down."). This, mind you, as Gen. Peter Schoomaker says the Army is near the breaking point and the National Guard and Reserves are showing the strain, according to McClathy's Washington bureau. And a happy holiday season to you, too. Why the friends and family of America's military personnel haven't marched on DeeCee with pitchforks and torches is beyond me. Must be something good on TV.

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Some remakes don't work

  I've been trying to figure out which movie The Decider and his merry men remind me of — "Moby Dick?" "The Caine Mutiny?" "Pee-wee's Big Adventure?" — and I think I've finally got it: "Blazing Saddles." Think about it. Numbnuts is the insanely stupid, pointlessly belligerent Governor William J. Le Petomane, easily distracted by trivia and interested only in poontang and politics ("We've gotta protect our phony-baloney jobs, gentlemen!"). And Darth Cheney is the greasy scumbag Hedley Lamarr, the so-called brains behind the operation ("My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.")

  At right: Cheney, Bush and White House counsel Harriet Miers.

  Tell me this exchange between Lamarr and Le Petomane doesn't sound like Backseat dealing with Junior:

Hedley Lamarr: Meeting adjourned. Oh, I am sorry, sir, I didn't mean to overstep my bounds. You say that.

Governor William J. Le Petomane: What?

Lamarr: Meeting is adjourned.

Le Petomane: It is?

Lamarr: No, you say that, governor.

Le Petomane: What?

Lamarr: Meeting is adjourned.

Le Petomane: It is?

Lamarr: Here, sir, play with this. (Hands the governor a rubber ball and paddle set.)

  Meanwhile, we may have to revisit Dubya's moniker, "The Decider," 'cause the simple shit sure is having trouble pulling his thumb out as regards Iraq. The CEO President, the dude who has spent the past six years prodding a spineless Congress along at full gallop like so many turpentined sheep, now says he needs more time to reach the right decision. Well, the right decision, as is all too readily apparent, was not to stage-dive into this particular mosh pit at all. But since the Wayback Machine is still a few years off, I'd say he ought to listen to that much-ballyhooed Will of the People, as expressed in the recently concluded elections, and get us the fuck out of that place yesterday.

  And thus, as The Aristocrats herald our arrival at the precise midpoint of the Festival of Zappadan, the fabled Tipping Point foretold by St. Roxy of Elsewhere, we take our text from the Book of Zoot Allures:

Hey now, better make a decision
Be a moron, and keep your position
You oughta know now, all your education
won't help you no-how.

You're gonna wind up workin' in a gas station
Wind up workin' in a gas station
Wind up workin' in a gas station
Wind up workin' in a gas station

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R.I.P, Dong Ngo, 1952-2006

  Oh, hell; another brother down. Dong Ngo of The Denver Spoke is gone, and our sport, state and planet are the poorer for his passing. What he sold me in the mid-1980s still works; the fond memories he supplied for free will live forever. Catch a glimpse of the man at www.thedongman.com. More later.

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No blood for oil

  Writing in The Washington Post on the economic and political forces that led us into Iraq (and will bring us back, even if we leave tomorrow), David Rothkopf opines:

We must embark on the long-term but critical task of reducing our energy dependence on the Middle East. No strategy in any Gulf war could produce more lasting change in the region than a prolonged fall in oil prices. The only dependable formula for ultimate victory in the Gulf wars will come through innovation and conservation right here at home.

  There it is. We might be less inclined to spill blood all over someone else's desert if we didn't need all the oil underneath it to grease the squeaky wheels of the All-American 24/7 Perpetual Shopping Machine.

  And while we're on the topic, who thought it was a wise expenditure of the taxpayers' money to send Ronald Dumsfeld on a farewell tour of Iraq? Sure, we're talking fractions of pennies on the dollar here, given how much dough we've already flushed down the Mesopotamian toilet. Still, I think a one-way ticket, a retirement condo in Baghdad well outside the Green Zone and an "I ♥ The Crusades" T-shirt super-glued to his heartless torso would have been compensation enough for his years of service to The Decider.

  And therefore, yea, on this the 11th day of the holy festival of Zappadan, we take our text from the Book of Yo' Mama:

You aint really made for bein' out in the street
Ain't much hope for a fool like you
'cause if you play the game, you will get beat

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Where's the sacred beef?

  A survey of a thousand men in India has concluded that condoms made to international standards are a tad too large for the average subcontinental tallywhacker. This may explain why we've never had a porn star named Gunga Dong.

  Speaking of little wieners, The Decider is doing exactly what everyone expected him to regarding the Baker commission's report: ignoring it. During a Friday meeting with Democratic leaders, Numbnuts seemed more interested in comparing himself to Harry S Truman and got into a pissing match with Senate Majority Whip-elect Dick Durbin, who called bullshit on the prez. Bush, Durbin said, "reacted very strongly. He got very animated in his response" and emphasized that he is "the commander in chief."

  What an insufferable prick. Napoleon Bonehead is so focused on how history will portray him that he doesn't notice the blood puddling up around his wingtips. He knows neither humility nor shame. It's all about dick size, and he's deathly afraid this splendid little war he started is shrinking his to Indian-toddler status.

  Thus, on this the 12th day of Zappadan, we take our text from the Book of Bwana Dik:

My dick is a monster
Give me your heart
My dick is a Harley
You kick it to start
(chorus line)
When Bwana Dik speaks
The heavens will part

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WWZD? (What Would Zappa Do?)

  Happy thought of the day, from Leslie Gelb over at Foreign Affairs:

Six months or a year from now the (Iraq Study Group)'s report will be a memory and the ball will be back in the hands of the man who got the United States into the quagmire to begin with: the decider in the White House. At that point, Bush is likely to revert to his gut and heart, and decide not to be the president who lost Iraq. That honor he will pass on to his successor.

  A burnt weeny sandwich indeed, this pretentious and portentious pamphlet written for Junior by Daddy's brainy buddies. Thus, on this, the 14th day of Zappadan, we take our text from the Book of Dirty Love, yea, verily:

Give me
Your dirty love
Like some tacky little pamphlet
In your daddy's bottom drawer

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Happy Zappadan!

  The Zappatistas over at The Aristocrats are observing the festival of Zappadan, which runs from the date of Frank Zappa's death (Dec. 4) until the date of his birth (Dec. 21). This is a holy time in which Zappatistas strive to achieve Acetylene Nirvana through feasting on hot rats, mud shark and latex solar beef in lumpy gravy, with peaches en regalia for dessert, followed by meditations on the koans posed by the Grand Wazoo ("Who are the brain police?" "What's the ugliest part of your body?" And of course, "Don't eat the yellow snow.")

  Uncle Meat, the Duke of Prunes, Bwana Dik and I are celebrating this evening by listening to "The Mothers-Fillmore East, June 1971." Go thou and do likewise, Stink-Foot.

  While we're dealing with a musical theme here, a tip of the Mad Dog steel pot to Steve O'Dell for passing on this link to a "Daily Show" interview with and performance by Tom Waits. It's "Day After Tomorrow," a soldier's lament and prayer for a safe return home, from "Real Gone." And the really weird thing is, not only did Waits occasionally open for Zappa, but I was listening to that very CD when the e-mail arrived.

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Monday, Monday

  Busy day already, and it's barely noon. First, my buddy Bill Ramsay calls to say his Spike pro cycling team has lost its title sponsor, forcing him into a mad scramble to find a new sugar daddy for the 2007 season. Then Sean Weide and Kurt Jambretz weigh in with a story and photos of Steve Tilford stacking it into a not-quite-frozen-solid lake, pulling himself out of the drink and winning the KLM Marketing UCI Cyclocross in Kansas City. And Frank Rich wonders whether The Decider has started talking to the wall a la Nixon. Doubt it. At this point, not even the walls will listen to him. He has all the credibilty of a Britney Spears lecture on John Coltrane.

  Maybe we should run Tilly for president. The old boy is from Kansas, the American heartland, and he's tougher than whang leather. Plus he knows how to get out of a quagmire, or even an icy pond, if he happens to find himself in one. No bullshit about how leaving the pond will embolden international terrorism, or staying in the pond until the ducks ask him to leave, or bringing more people into the pond to help stabilize it. He just gets the fuck out of the pond and goes back to work.

  Meanwhile, the latest entry in the Forget About Iraq, Check This Out contest has to be NASA's plan for a permanent lunar base at one of the moon's poles. They've even found a base commander. Here's a picture, plus a link to his résumé.

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Enough awready

  My Power Mac G4 (AGP Graphics) has crashed on me for the last time. I unplugged the evil sonofabitch from its various peripherals, replaced it with Old Reliable — the G3 500 PowerBook dubbed "Pismo," and once again peace reigns in the office.

  I have no idea what's causing the crashes, and I don't care. I'm just here to drive the damn' things, not peer under the hood with a greasy bouquet of wrenches. All I know is that at some point during every working day, Mozilla locks up like W at a press conference, requiring a double force-quit that invariably queers my Internet connection. Quitting the other apps in preparation for a reboot triggers a freeze, followed by a reset, then a restart, an automatic check by Disk First Aid, the eventual phoenix-like rise from the ashes, and so on. Giant pain in the ass, is the short version. I'll lug the $50 piece of crap over to Voelker Research for a brain-scan or take it out in the country and shoot it.

  "But why work on last millennium's technology?" you ask. Same reason I ride eight-speed Ultegra. 'Cause I like it, that's why. Plus the VeloNews.com website tool has "issues" with OSX in much the same way that The Decider has issues with Jim Webb; bring the two of 'em together and you got yourself a barfight, Hoss. So rather than switch to the Windoze platform, I run the so-called "Classic" OS, in this case 9.0.4. I actually prefer it to OSX, though the little things about being that far off the technological back are starting to get to me, like web pages rendering incorrectly or not at all, even in iCab 3. The Denver Post's recently redesigned site is a guaranteed browser crash in Classic, and occasionally takes down the entire computer. Happily, this isn't a problem because there is nothing to see at the Post site, especially now that they've brought Woody Paige back on board.

  Speaking of horror, how's this? NASA chief Michael Griffin hopes to bring the solar system under humanity's "sphere of influence." Says Griffin: "In the long run, that's what the expansion of humankind into space is all about." Uh huh. 'Cause, like, we've done such a stellar job with the one planet we've already got. The Clampetts fleeing their polluted holler in hopes of finding an extraterrestrial Beverly Hills comes to mind. If I were God, I'd want a hefty damage deposit.

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Wanted: Tan lines

  Oh, bugger. It's snowing again. A balmy 22 degrees. In short, it's December in Colorado, instead of December in San Diego, Tucson or Cancun. My buddy Hal was thinking out loud the other day that he felt he could stand extreme heat better than extreme cold, but I recalled my brief time in Tucson back in 1980 and noted that during winter in Colorado, a guy can always pile on the layers, but come summer in Arizona you can strip down only so far before the cops take an interest.

  I hated Tucson. The Arizona Daily Star, where I worked, was infested by Reaganites, fascists and other evil spirits. And it was a 20-minute drive from my rental house off Orange Grove Road, in a 1973 Datsun pickup without air conditioning, in temperatures that routinely approached 110 degrees. The only upside was the University of Arizona pool, which offered bikini'd scenery that made the Catalinas look like a pile of mine tailings. Nevertheless, I only lasted a year before fleeing back to Colorado, then California, and finally Oregon, for another rotten newspaper gig at The Corvalllis Gazette-Times. Talk about shitty weather. William Least Heat Moon mentioned it in "Blue Highways":

In western Oregon it can rain a hundred and thirty inches a year, making weather so dismal that even a seadog like Sir Francis Drake complained about it four centuries ago when he sailed here on the Golden Hind in search of the Northwest Passage.

  A few years of that noise and I was back to Colorado again. I must not dislike snow all that much. Not as much as I dislike boiling heat and pissing-down rain, anyway. I hear they mostly don't get either down in San Diego. Or in Patagonia, a locale favored by author and poet Jim Harrison. This place also came up in a conversation with Hal, who apparently is suffering a mild bout of cabin fever. Right now Patagonia is 64 and sunny, according to Weather.com. Meanwhile, we're down to 13 here, with more snow likely.

  If I had any brains I'd be in Patagonia right now, working my way through a platter of barbecued Mescal Gap Ranch prickly-pear baby-back ribs at Cafe Sonoita, instead of jogging gingerly along unshoveled Republican sidewalks, wearing everything in the closet except the hangers, wondering which hidden sheet of ice will be the one to send me back to the chiropractor.

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Ho, ho, ho

  Another month down the rathole. Christmas looms like a red-and-green Hummer piloted by a drunk Republican. And there's a fresh rant up at VeloNews.com. You're welcome.

  Speaking of VN.com, I occasionally edit the letters column, and today I slapped a cheeky editor's note on the bottom of a self-confessed gearhead's letter bemoaning the rising cost of componentry, asking him to send us his castoffs 'cause we're still riding eight-speed Ultegra. This in turn brought the following from a reader: "Bull &8#*!!!  When is the last time any one of you rode Ultegra 8. Maybe on your beater bike; unlikely. Get Real and Honest to your readers." Ho, ho. I wrote him back, noting that I have not one, not two, but three 'cross bikes running eight-speed Ultegra — two of them with bar-end shifters — and a mountain bike running eight-speed XT/SRAM. I only went to nine-speed Ultegra on the road bike so I could use its eight-speed Ultegra on a 'cross bike, f'chrissakes. All due respect to the propeller-heads at Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo, but fuck a bunch of nine- and 10-speed. Who needs it? Today's chains snap like dry fettucine. I want to be off the bike and running for short stretches only.

  Meanwhile, a study of psychiatric outpatients suggests what many of us have suspected for years: that there is a demonstrable link between being a batshit, whacko, tinfoil-beanie-wearing, blue-helmet-fearing, come-to-JeezWhiz nutjob and supporting The Decider. Christopher Lohse's study, backed by Southern Connecticut State University psych prof Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, "found a correlation between the severity of a person's psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush." In-bred, blue-blooded fucktards, meanwhile, favored Kerry. OK, so I made that last bit up. Thanks and a tip of the Mad Dog propeller beanie to Carson Stanwood.

  And now, Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," from "The Nutcracker Suite," as performed on bicycle parts. Thanks and a raised glass to Big Jonny at Drunkcyclist.

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What reality-based community?

  "Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim." George Santayana wasn't talking about The Decider when he penned this observation in The Life of Reason, but if the shoe fits, eh? Piss on the midterms and the Iraq Study Group — Numbnuts has snapped right back to his old stay-the-course, complete-the-mission, content-free talking points. What, exactly, constitutes "success" in Iraq, with the bodies stacking up, the government crumbling, the smart folks (those who haven't already fled the country) getting assassinated, and the militias running the show? Don't ask W, 'cause he doesn't have a clue. But he's plowing remorselessly ahead just the same. It only looks like jogging furiously in place.

  Speaking of dysfunction, Microsoft has released its new operating system. Can the first patch be far behind?

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Poge vs. jarhead

  Ho, ho. Freshman Senator Jim Webb told The Decider to go fuck himself at the White House the other day. Not in so many words, of course — but that's what it boiled down to, according to The Washington Post:

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

  The Decider apparently lacked a suitable talking point for that unscripted encounter. If I were Webb, whom The Hill said "was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief," I'd start wearing a flak jacket and hire a food taster. He doesn't have to worry about the Chickenhawk-in-Chief getting all up in his grill, of course, but he might have some of his frat buddies jump the ex-Marine, Vietnam vet and former Navy secretary in a dark alley. They'd better pack a lunch.

  In other good news, the fucktards running the Loma Linda Homeowners' Association in Pagosa Springs have resigned amid a firestorm of local criticism and national press over their decision to order Lisa Jensen to remove a peace-symbol-shaped holiday wreath from the exterior of her house. Two of the nitwits have disconnected their phones, the third isn't returning calls, and the town is planning its own peace wreath, to be installed on a bell tower in the center of town. Maybe America is finally waking up from its long nap. Here's the Durango Herald's follow-up article on the controversy.

  Meanwhile, winter has returned with a vengeance. It's snowing here in Bibleburg and colder than the other side of Ann Coulter's bed. We've surpassed today's expected high of 19 by a single degree, and I'd be burning the furniture if we had a woodstove to stuff it into. Could be worse. My buddy Hal up in Weirdcliffe had to spend his morning chiseling the ice off a horse's hooves. Ain't nothin' but a party.

  Late update: Man, nobody wants to be seen with The Decider. Jordanian King Abdullah II and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki blew off a joint meeting with the Cheerleader-in-Chief, with a spokesman saying: "The Jordanians and the Iraqis jointly decided they did not feel it was the best use of time." Hey, I can dig it. Dude is always going, "Yo," at you and talking with his mouth full. Let 'im ride some laps around the palace or boink Condi on Air Force 1. Don't suppose it has anything to do with national security adviser Stephen Hadley's memo calling the PM either a liar, a fool or a pussy.

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Bush whacked

  The Decider should not be allowed out of the White House without an alert keeper, clad in a white uniform, carrying a net and a grease gun full of lithium. Speaking at the University of Latvia before a NATO summit (must not be any good mountain biking in those parts), this jabbering asshole declined to acknowledge that Iraq has descended into civil war or worse, blamed al-Qaeda for the anarchy that is taking hold there, tried bullying NATO in accepting "difficult assignments" in Afghanistan and bellowed: "There is one thing I'm not going to do. I am not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete." Is this complex insanity, simple stupidity or code for, "Fuck this noise, I'm out of here in two years, gonna build me a presidential liberry to hold all my old Sgt. Rock comix. Let someone else mop up the blood."

  Whether you call it a civil war, an insurrection or simply "bloody confused" (and what a masturbatory semantic argument that is), the wiseguys say there is little the 140,000 troops we have there can do with the $2 billion a week we spend on military ops. Says Andrew Bacevich, a Boston University professor and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point: "We're not in control any longer." Even the Marines are pessimistic, Sweet. Rummy must be getting set to collect a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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Eurobike aborts Portland show

  Sheeeeeyit. Bicycle Retailer & Industry News reports that Eurobike has bailed on its plans to challenge Interbike with a rival trade show in Portland, Oregon, and will instead partner with Sea Otter honch' Frank Yohannan to do . . . something. Says Messe Friedrichshafen CEO Klaus Wellmann:

"We do visualize a spring and a fall show, the first of which is the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey in April," he said. "With Sea Otter being one of the world's largest cycling festivals, we feel that both organizations complement each other. Our aim will be to serve the industry's changing needs without a lot of bureaucracy."

  Too bad. I was looking forward to visiting Portland on someone else's dime. Still, Eurobike is one of the sponsors for Sea Otter 2007, slated for April 12-16. And BRAIN will be taking on some additional chores at the Otter this year, too. Sounds like I need a spring road trip.

  Meanwhile, it was pleasant to learn that Bibleburg didn't get all of Colorado's tinfoil-beanie, black-helicopter, come-to-JeezWhiz nutbags. There's at least one in Pagosa Springs, where the Loma Linda Homeowners' Association has ordered Lisa Jensen to remove a peace-symbol-shaped holiday wreath from the exterior of her house. Says LLHOA Mullah-in-Chief Bob Kearns: "The peace sign has a lot of negativity associated with it," he said. "It's also an anti-Christ sign. That's how it started." Uh huh. Somewhere, Christ, Buddha, Allah, Yahweh, Vishnu and Coyote are all laughing their ethereal asses off.

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'Cross and The Times

  The New York Times has a nice writeup and slide show on last weekend's U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross finale outside Portland, Oregon. Local 'crosser Matt Slavin lays it down thusly:

"Every race, you want to vomit, you want to quit, your bike's not working, and then you come up a run-up and everyone's cheering and you get pepped up. As soon as you're done, you can't wait for the next race. It's kind of like a cruel drug — addictive."

  Speaking of which, I laid out a nice new training course at a local school Saturday morning. It's 1.7 miles long, looks like an anatomy text's layout of the small intestine, and has a lot of grass, plus two short run-ups on stairs and two longer ones on grass, a short stretch of parking-lot asphalt and a couple sections of concrete sidewalk, a log-hop and a trip around a pulverized-gravel running track, a notion I swiped from the Sea-Tac course in Washington state. I was turning eight-minute laps on it and glad I wasn't wearing a heart-rate monitor. This would make a fun race course. I'll bet someone who was less enamored of the Seven Deadly Sins would be zipping around the sumbitch in six, seven minutes.

  Feeling a tad fried, dyed and whipped to the side after yesterday's exertions, I scheduled a short trail ride on the 'cross bikes today for me, Herself, Big Bill McBeef and Mikey O'Stank, just out to the border of the AFA and back. The Soma got a solid review from Herself on their first real ride. McBeef will be test-driving a new ride, too — he went away with my Bloo Voodoo Wazoo post-ride because O'Stank had to repo' the vintage Steelman CC he had loaned him (the StankMan needs a pit bike for the next couple weekends of racing).

  The day's multitudinous bike swaps required no small amount of measuring and wrenching — pulling Egg Beaters off the CC and replacing them with SPDs so McBeef could ride that bike today, then pulling the SPDs back off the CC and putting them on the Wazoo so he could ride that bike the next time around, first removing its Time ATACs. The Egg Beaters, natch, went back onto the CC. All this grand-doo and fooferaw required two different pedal wrenches and had me genuflecting like a bog-trotter at St. Peter's Basilica; naturally, as a consequence I popped my back out of whack for the first time in several years. So some chiropractor will be getting my next week's wine money tomorrow, 'cause ibuprofen, stretching, a hot bath and booze are falling woefully short as palliative care.

  Extra-credit reading: The Oregonian on Portland's bicycle-business boom.

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Shannon's Soma

  OK, here she is: Herself's brand-new Double Cross from Soma Fabrications. It isn't perfect yet — I'm probably gonna swap out the gack-box handlebars and seat post for a Salsa Poco bar and a zero-setback Thomson post; I may have to order up some R600 reach-adjustable STI levers; we may drop the bars a spacer or two down the steerer tube; and the Candys may give way to plain-vanilla Egg Beaters. But it's rideable as is, and I'll report back with a ride review as soon as she takes it for its inaugural voyage.

  Post-ride report: Herself's initial opinion of the Soma Double Cross is: "Zippy. Very light. Responsive. Fabulous trail bike." She's getting used to the Candys (her mountain bike has a pair of thousand-year-old Ritchey SPD knockoffs), and she is becoming acquainted with the joys of riding narrow clinchers without suspension (the Monument Creek trail is rutted all to be-damn from fucktards who insisted on riding it while it was soaked to the bedrock by our only real snow so far). Haven't got her to leap on and off the bike yet, a la Sven Nys, but it's early days yet. And with a low gear of 34x32, she may never need to get off the bike. I'm working with a 36x26, about 75 more pounds and seven more years, so I get off a lot, if only to wheeze and spew.

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Black Friday

  Nitwits nationwide are going batshit for bargains today, and oh aren't we glad that we don't work in a mall. Herself did, once upon a time, and life has become so much sweeter now that she is a librarian instead of a retail manager. Black Friday and the day after Christmas were bleak days indeed around the DogHaus back then. She still has to work today, but not behind a cash register.

  Speaking of traditions, we missed a Thanksgiving Day mainstay yesterday — KRCC's annual airing of Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant." We were out for a ride with Big Bill McBeef when the tune "came around on the guitar," as the man says. So I hunted it down on the 'net today, and if you missed your annual helping of holiday humor, you can find it in MP3 format here.

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"That was absurd, let's eat dead bird." — Robert Downey Jr. in "Home for the Holidays"

  Another turkey bites the dust. I can't wait for leftovers, which as you know are the best part of Thanksgiving dinner. I've been casually picking at the carcass ever since my sister and her husband hit the trail back to Fort Collins, and it being just 5:30 p.m. there may be time for a hobbitesque second dinner before bedtime, once Herself (at right) has dealt with the consequences of preparing the first one.

  I'm talkin' organic Oregon turkey from the Whole Paycheck, plus stuffing; giblet gravy; an arugula salad with slivered almonds, mushrooms and mandarin oranges, drizzled with Badia a Coltibuono olive oil; green beans dressed with garlic and sesame seeds in soy sauce; spuds mashed with butter, cream, garlic, salt, black pepper and chives; cranberry sauce; and pecan pie with coffee for afters. And a bottle each of 2005 Schug Carneros Pinot Noir and 2004 Clos Pegase Mitsuko's Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, which was surprisingly tasty, since the local grog shop was blowing it out at half price. We've been drinking it all week. I had intended to uncork a sparkling rosé, a Vin du Bugey-Cerdon La Cueille that bears the Thomas Jefferson quote, "Good wine is a necessity of life for me," but spaced it out, the same way our national "leadership" has spaced out Thomas Jefferson.

  But before we tie on the feedbag again, it's time to give thanks. I'm thankful that some of you enjoy what I do for a living, and that some of you don't. Both sorts keep me at it. Herself is thankful for her health, her husband (that asshole), her family, a home in Colorado, and Ike the Cat. And Ike is thankful that our house guests have left. She enjoys company the way Darth Cheney does a nice on-the-record chat with Seymour Hersh.

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Beat it

  Jesus H. Christ, these dildos still don't get it. A Pentagon group is using puerile sporting terminology to describe a trio of plans for the actual war going on in Iraq — Go Big, Go Long, or Go Home — and The Washington Post is likening a combination of the first two to notorious weirdo Michael Jackson's moonwalking. Isn't it time we all got serious about this shit? I don't think Capt. Stephanie Bagley feels like she's enjoying a football game or a sock hop.

  Late update: Shit, now they're even killing the funny people.

  Still later update: My man Chris from Old Town Bike Shop just phoned to tell me that Herself's new bike is ready for fitting. It's a Christmas present of sorts, in that I decided she wanted and needed it, the same way I decide you want and need whatever I think is funny. So what is it? A cyclo-cross bike, naturally — a Double Cross from Soma Fabrications of San Francisco, in British racing green.

  Finding a steel 'cross frame for a 5-footer is no day at the beach, and I was thinking in terms of a full custom job until a little research (and a lot of common sense) took me to Soma, which designs a 42cm frame, welded up in Taiwan, with a Tange Prestige front triangle (a tip of the Mad Dog cycling cap to Jim Porter for the assist). The top tube is a little long, but with luck Herself's position on the Double Cross should be smack in the middle between her road-bike and mountain-bike setups, especially if I sneak the STI levers up the bars a tad the way the cool kids do these days. Top-mounted Salsa brake levers should help further diminish the fear factor on those evil descents.

  I went with 105 STI levers, an LX rear derailleur, an FSA Gossamer Compact front derailleur, a Sugino Swiss Cross compact crank with 48/34 rings and an LX 11-32 cogset (ordered up with a big assist from velo-bro Preston at BTI), so she should be able to climb trees with the little sonofabitch.

  In point of actual fact, Herself now has the only nine-speed 'cross bike in the family, which puts her only one iteration behind current technology. Like all its retarded eight-speed country cousins, however, it is something of a Frankensteinian amalgamation based not so much on advanced engineering as on economic necessity. I swiped the Mavic Cosmos wheels off her Cannondale road bike for the Double Cross, replacing the Cosmos on the C-dale with the elderly Mavic/Ultegra wheels I'd hung on my Bianchi Castro Valley, in turn replacing those with the Bianchi's original wheelset. The seat post (Titec), handlebars (Scott) and brakes (Suntour canti's) are out of the Mad Dog gack box, and all will be replaced by better stuff, eventually; probably some ultralight zero-setback post, Salsa Poco bars and Spooky or Shimano stoppers. Tires are new Michelin Jets. Pedals are Crank Brothers Candys. Saddle is a Terry Butterfly. The headset is not from the illustrious Chris King, but should be serviceable; the stem, whose manufacturer's name also eludes me, looks like a Civil War mortar parked at the county courthouse adorning an HO railroad setup.

  We'll hit Old Town for the final fitting tomorrow, after Herself gets off work. I'll post a few shots for your edification, and mine, unless she or Chris beats me to death with a pedal wrench.

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Rats flee sinking USS Shrub

  Ho, ho. Henry Kissinger, John McCain, Richard Perle and Kenneth "Cakewalk" Adelman are all putting as much daylight as they can get, Iraq war-wise, between their ratty little selves and the Maximum Rodent. Quoth Adelman: "This didn't have to be managed this bad. It's just awful." The poor dear. I expect his faith in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy has been shaken as well. Maybe we could take his mind off his troubles by issuing him a steel pot, a flak jacket and an M-16 and sending his sorry ass off to show the Iraqis how a Yankee chickenhawk dances.

  I was doing a little two-step myself today, up and down the hilly paths through Bear Creek Regional Park to Gold Camp Road and back, with Herself, Big Bill McBeef and Spike Professional Cycling Team director Bill Ramsay, who like me was on a 'cross bike, a fresh-out-of-the-box Raleigh RX 1.0. The Spike honch' claimed to be overweight and undertrained, but I notice he stayed ahead of me, turning over a low gear of 39x26 while I minced along in a 36x28. Don't nobody do fat and out of shape better than me, Bubba. McBeef had an altimeter going and it seems we picked up a couple thou' of vertical on this little out-and-back. This may explain while I feel like having a glass of wine or six and going to sleep.

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  Brother Dog Michael O'Stank, Dennis "Constructo" Collard and I spent a couple hours chasing each other around the single-track in Palmer Park today. Well, they did, anyway. I hung off the back — well off the back — in hopes of staying out of their way and alive. Lord, do I suck on the technical bits these days.

  It was fun and all, don't get me wrong. But we were on trails I hadn't been on in quite a while, and I was riding the Voodoo with an Alpha Q carbon fork, so I had this squishy rear end and a stiff front end (damn, that sounds dirty), and what the hell, I could've been riding a Moots YBB with a full Dura-Ace group, a RockShox post and Zipp carbon wheels and it wouldn't have made a lick of difference. O'Stank cleaned a rock garden that I've tripped over running, and Constructo just made us both look silly until O'Stank got out in front of him to slow his ass down.

  They're both racing tomorrow, at the Red Rocks series event in Golden, but I'm not. No way, no how. I needed a retard helmet and a white cane out there today. Maybe I'll go back to Palmer Park instead and lay down a few practice runs, see if I can remember where I left my chops.

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In vino veryfast

  Finally, some good news. Resveratrol, a minor component of red wine, may be a miracle substance capable of transforming the average fat-assed, bald-headed cycling journo into an immortal athlete, without the need for all that talent-and-training nonsense. Naturally, there is a downside, according to The New York Times:

Though resveratrol has long been known to be an ingredient of red wine and other foods, its presence there is minuscule compared with the doses used in experiments.

Dr. Sinclair dosed his mice daily with 22 milligrams of resveratrol per kilogram of weight, and Dr. Auwerx used up to 400 milligrams. No one can drink enough red wine to obtain such doses.

  Haw. Clearly the author has never seen me in action. Maybe I'll drink a case of dago red tonight and go kick ass at the Red Rocks 'cross tomorrow.

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Even a blind dog finds a Milk-Bone now and then

  So I'm running through the light snow frosting the trails in Palmer Park today, and I see this skinny tire track running everywhere. Looks like a slick, too. Either that or the sun melted whatever minimal knob spoor there was. Dude was taking some innovative lines, especially on the rocky, technical bits, and I'm thinking, no way am I ever racing cyclo-cross again, not as long as this dude has both legs. He could shoulder an angel off the good line across the head of a pin while upshifting and nibbling a Clif Bar. And then I notice the dog tracks bracketing the track. Shit. It's a dog, dragging his leash, probably while running with his human. Does this mean I have to license up for 2007?

  Elsewhere, as the Elefinks prepare to stand down while the Donks stand up, the top American military commander in the Middle East told a Senate committee today that ordering a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq is a bad idea and suggested that he might need more troops to step up the training of Iraqi forces and, in the words of The New York Times, "prevent the nation from tearing itself apart." A little late, that, with the cold meat stacking up in quantities that ConAgra would have trouble processing, even if there were a market for long pig.

  So what do we do? Seems to me the recent elections unearthed a strong sentiment for pulling our troops out. We wrecked the place, it's true, and one could argue that we have a responsibility to pick up the pieces, no matter that we were stampeded into this clusterfuck by a pack of REMFs chanting a cadence count full of lies. But while our proxies are busily weaving a noose to hang the guy W had the creepy, Ted Haggardesque hard-on for — the only dude all the other Iraqis apparently were scared of — they certainly aren't scared of us. They know we're leaving, it's just a question of when. Sticking around is just postponing the day when all local scores are settled. In the meantime, they'll use American flak jackets to sight in their AK-47s and American vehicles to perfect their IEDs. And this notion of beefing up Baghdad as a bastion against the onslaught of "Islamofascism" has a strong sense of the Maginot Line about it, or Khe Sanh, even Saigon, with helicopters pulling people off the U.S. Embassy roof.

  As a certain Vietnam vet said back in 1971, before he acquired a taste for his own shoe leather, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" The answer may be another question: "How badly do you want cheap gas?"

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Veterans Day

  Seek out the grunt, squid, jarhead or zoomie of your choice and buy him or her a beer or six. Promise to elect better civilian leadership in 2008, the kind that won't go swaggering around like Rambo cubed, blowing giant holes in Third World dictatorships and filling them back up with dead Americans just because some propeller-head REMF has notions about "bringing democracy" to someone, the way you might deliver a pizza. Let's wait 'til they order the damn thing next time so we know what kind they want.

  Meanwhile, Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi has some interesting post-election observations. Actually, "hysterical" is more like it. You gotta like a guy who fantasizes about Leatherface chasing Jeff Greenfield off the CNN news set, brandishing a chainsaw.

  Got an hour of lackadaisical 'cross in this afternoon over at Monument Valley Park, which has been bisected by a fenced-off-road leading to a massive drainage project in the creek to the west. This fucks with my usual course more than somewhat, so I spent the first 15 minutes just rolling around, trying to devise a suitable alternative. What I came up with took about four minutes per lap at fat-bastard pace, so I'm going to have to get a little more creative to stave off boredom, 'cause this project's scheduled completion date is something like May 2007.

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If your mama had a dick, she'd be your dad

  Ho, ho. The Monday-morning quarterbacking has commenced with a vengeance, according to The Plank, which cites a Time piece as saying the Elefinks were that close to holding onto the House and Senate. Uh huh, yeah, right. Y'know what we call "second place" in bicycle racing, Karl old man? "The first loser."

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Bye, partisanship?

  Hardly. Though he lost both houses of Congress for the Elefinks on Tuesday, The Decider is trying to ram both John Bolton and Robert Gates through the lame-duck Senate before the Donks take charge. But a member of his own party, Linc Chafee — who lost his Senate seat on Tuesday — says he will continue to oppose Bolton, and The Washington Post predicts the Walrus is harpooned for good. Says Chafee:

"The American people have spoken out against the president's agenda on a number of fronts, and presumably one of those is on foreign policy. And at this late stage in my term, I'm not going to endorse something the American people have spoke out against."

  Meanwhile, Robert Parry doesn't think much of Gates, who like James Baker is another one of Bush 41's fixers, recruited to keep 43 from getting any more Florsheim prints on his pee-pee. Neither does Ray McGovern. Both men say Gates is a master chef when it comes to cooking intelligence to suit the tastes of whoever is seated at the big table, waving the Amex card. Swell. When does the Deecee fire marshal step in to say, "Sorry, but this town has exceeded its capacity in terms of lying assholes. Some of you will have to return to looting the private sector instead of the Treasury."

  Meanwhile, we're already off and running toward 2008. Iowa Gov. Tom "Who the Fuck Am I?" Vilsack has announced that he is a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

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It's morning in America

  Or not. The Jackasses have the House; now let's see what they do with it (and what the GOP does to it before they turn it loose). Thirteen House seats have yet to be nailed down one way or the other, according to Talking Points Memo, and the Senate remains too close to call, with Montana and Virginia hanging fire, but the Donks holding onto narrow leads. Nevertheless, The Decider is already making bipartisan noises, which for the Donks must feel not unlike a prison sissy getting a dry peck on the cheek from the jocker who's been boning him up the ass for six years. I can't wait to catch his act in this afternoon's press conference.

  I clearly did not drink enough evil-spirit repellent last night, as Doug Lamborn, an empty suit topped by a mouth full of GOP talking points and a forked tongue, defeated Jay Fawcett in the Fifth Congressional District race to replace Joel Hefley. But hey, this is El Paso County. There ain't enough beer in the world to send every race the Democrats' way.

  The president's presser: "I thought we were gonna do fine yesterday. Shows what I know." You fuckin' A, Bubba. The Decider looked like a chicken-thieving weasel backed into a corner of the coop, staring at a shotgun. He's finally tossed Donald Rumsfeld over the side, about five years too late. No doubt the son of a bitch will get a multimillion-dollar book deal and the rubber-chicken tour, but he should be sent to The Hague for a war-crimes trial, or maybe Devil's Island. It's a bit early to be awarding prizes, but I think it's fair to say he has been the finest instrument for the extermination of young Americans to be devised so far this century. Ask Joe Galloway what he thinks. Then step back and put a couple of fingers in your ears if you want to keep your skull from exploding.

  After enjoying a few moments of Numbnuts alternately squirming and fulminating before the cameras, I clicked off the idiot box and went for a ride. It was far too nice a day to stay indoors listening to Bubble Boy trip over his tongue, trying to describe his hallucinations. Almost 80 here, and sunny. I rolled north toward the Air Force Academy and back, smiling and nodding at joggers, strollers and dog-walkers, thinking of lids blown off, wriggling vermin exposed, retribution exacted. I live a rich fantasy life.

To read the DogPage's election-night ramblings, click here.

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Throw the bums out

  I don't have any illusions about the honor and virtue of the Democratic Party. The Donks have aided and abetted this administration's evil deeds at home and abroad, and if they have been marginalized in governance as a consequence, well, the punk-ass bitches had it coming.

  That said, I think we have no choice but to hold our collective noses and pull the lever for the Ds right on down the line. Michael Schwartz lays it out pretty well over at TomDispatch.com in his "One-Stop Guide to Election Night 2006." While he notes that the Donks' strategy "has been to 'lay low' and let anger towards Bush sweep them into office" (a strategy best described by Mark Twain, who said, "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."), he concludes:

If the Democrats prevail, however narrowly, against a world of massively gerrymandered seats, Republican finances, blitzes of dirty ads, the presidential "bully pulpit," and well-planned campaigns of voter suppression, American — as well as world public opinion — will interpret it as a repudiation of Bush administration war policy. And this will become a mandate for those who oppose these policies to speak and act ever more forcefully.

  The country can't afford two more years of one-party governance, if that's what you want to call what the Elefinks have been up to. It's been like watching your drunk Uncle Vernon, the one with the steel plate in his head where the horse kicked him, going to work on your cherished '57 Chevy, the classic ride your granddad left you, with a bottle of Beam and a claw hammer. "Now don't you worry none, boy, I was workin' on cars when you had pot rings on your ass. Pass me that Constitution, we got an oil leak here."

  If this is what happens when the adults run the country, I'd say it's time to give the children a chance. Keep the belt handy and take 'em to the woodshed as necessary. Remind 'em daily that as long as they live under our roof, on our money, they'll do what we say and like it or get the fuck out and get honest jobs.

  But first we've got to throw this current crop of bums out. Do it now. Your own children will thank you.

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Tick, tock

  The clock is ticking down to the Big Day tomorrow, and finally we'll be awash in endless, pointless, full-throated analysis about what did happen instead of what might happen. Oboy. Then we can dig right into the 2008 presidential election, which should have all the gentility and statesmanship of a satchel charge in a septic tank.

  I wrenched myself away from the shit monsoon to watch a little bicycle racing this weekend in Longmont and Boulder, and man, was it a nice change from business as usual. I jotted down a few disjointed musings on the events; you can read them here, here and here. If you drink enough beer they'll eventually start to make a twisted kind of sense. Or not.

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  I spent Saturday shooting a few pics and collecting a few notions at the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross stop outside Longmont, on behalf of the fine folks at VeloNews.com.

  I call this piece at right, "OK, Pay Attention, I Want to Do This In One Take, All Right?"

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A ''New Life' indeed

  Holy shit, as the saying goes. The Associated Press is saying Ted Haggard has copped to some of the charges against him, and NPR says New Life Church has confirmed as much in an e-mail. The Gazette here in Bibleburg quotes acting senior pastor Ron Parsley as telling KKTV that there "has been some admission of indiscretion, not admission of all the material that's been discussed, but there is an admission of some guilt." My, that Satan is a busy fella, isn't he? I expect that any day now, James Dobson will announce that he is a Cylon sleeper agent and Ann Coulter will be caught in The Nation's men's room, peeing while standing up and perusing a copy of Noam Chomsky's "Keeping the Rabble in Line." The only way this story could get any better is if Haggard had been trysting with a 17-year-old illegal alien with a penchant for dressing up like Laura Bush.

  ¶ LATER THAT DAY: Ho, ho. Now our boy has copped to scoring methamphetamine from the hooker, but continues to deny playing hide the hot dog with him or even horning the crank. Uh huh. I wonder how that plays with all the wingnuts who found Bubba Clinton's "I never inhaled" nonsense so risible. Meanwhile, KRCC is being under-the-radar snarky, playing tunes like The Killers' "When you Were Young" and Depeche Mode's "Blasphemous Rumors." Good thing the pledge drive's over.

  ¶ BLAST FROM THE PAST: Yesterday, while engrossed in the Haggard story, I overlooked what has to be the Quip of the Day, from Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., regarding Darth Cheney:

"He's such a real son of a bitch, he just enjoys a confrontation," Rangel fumed, describing himself as "warm and personable." Rangel said Cheney may need to go to "rehab" for "whatever personality deficit he may have suffered."

"When you have those sorts of problems, you're supposed to seek help," Rangel advised. "He acknowledged that he has problems with communication."

Asked whether he was resurrecting over-the-top charges he made last year that he believes Cheney is mentally ill, Rangel cracked, "I don't think he's shot anyone in the face lately, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt."

  It can't be long before these guys start caning each other and fighting duels. Thanks and a tip of the Mad Dog propeller beanie to Russ Vandermark and The New York Post.

  ¶ INSPECT THIS, BITCH: Speaking of caning, whoever queered the military authorization bill to croak the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction needs an ass-whuppin' with the fat end of a really big stick. Dig this passage from The New York Times story on the matter:

Investigations led by a Republican lawyer named Stuart W. Bowen Jr. in Iraq have sent American occupation officials to jail on bribery and conspiracy charges, exposed disastrously poor construction work by well-connected companies like Halliburton and Parsons, and discovered that the military did not properly track hundreds of thousands of weapons it shipped to Iraqi security forces.

And tucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago is what some of Mr. Bowen's supporters believe is his reward for repeatedly embarrassing the administration: a pink slip.

The order comes in the form of an obscure provision that terminates his federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, on Oct. 1, 2007. The clause was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference, and it has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation.

  Naturally, politics played no role in the decision, and everyone is shocked, shocked, that such a thing could happen in our representative democracy just because one party runs all three branches of government: Money, Television and Bullshit (see Parliament of Whores, P.J. O'Rourke). Round up the usual suspects.

  ¶ Last, and most definitely least: There's a fresh bit of nonsense from Dogpatch up at VeloNews.com.

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You'd never catch Merle doin' this

  "Take, eat; this is my body. And here are a couple of C-notes for your trouble. Same time next Friday?"

  OK, so I couldn't stop myself from cracking that joke. I'm no Christian. And I have no use for smug, sanctimonious sons of bitches prone to issuing pronunciamentos on all and sundry, unless, of course, they're me. But still, this rap against our lesser local Elmer Gantry sounds a little too good to be true. A gay hooker claiming a three-year relationship with New Life Church's Ted Haggard on the eve of an election with an anti-gay-marriage initiative and a domestic-partnerships proposal on the ballot? I know God has a sense of humor — I mean, look at the anteater; the giraffe; Rush Limbaugh. But this is a bit over the top, even for Him. The Bibleburg blat has a slightly more extensive story here. It had 241 comments when I checked it at 8:45 p.m. local time, and some of 'em were real howlers.

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  Well, it was another disappointing Halloween here at the DogHaus. Maybe it was the bitter cold; maybe it was that I relish spending warmer days drinking gin on the front porch in a tattered bathrobe that I casually let flap open as children pass while brandishing GOP campaign literature and screeching, "Bush über alles!" Whatever the underlying cause, we got all of seven trick-or-treaters, which means we have a few metric tons of sugary goodies left over for Herself to transport to work.

  These kids today. When I was a sprout, we spent Halloween out in the frosty dark clad in elaborate homemade costumes, experimenting with cheap booze and/or dangerous drugs and destroying private property. Now their parents buy them cheap Chinese-made plastic disguises modeled after Hollywood movies and take them trick or treating at the nearest mall, which is just shopping in silly clothes.

  ¶ ONE MORE REASON TO DRINK RED WINE: Besides numbing oneself against the absurdities of the midterms madness, that is. Researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the National Institute of Aging report that "a natural substance found in red wine, known as resveratrol, offsets the bad effects of a high-calorie diet in mice and significantly extends their lifespan." This is, of course, that one wants to continue living under a succession of Bushes — King George I, Emperor Jeb I, Princess Jenna (as advised by Regent Neil); and so on. 'Course, we could always get ourselves all wined up and start building tumbrils and guillotines. Hey, it worked for the French.

  While we're discussing wine and bloody revolution so enjoyably, let us take up the question of whether the 2003 Terre Rouge Syrah, Les Cotes de l'Ouest (pdf), is drinkable. Oh yes indeedy. A couple drams of this tasty California wine and you just can't wait to topple a tyrant. Or over, one or the other. Rush right out and buy yourself a few cases before I corner the market. Thanks and a tip of the Mad Dog chapeau to Scot Nicol.

  ¶ Jackboot, meet genitalia: First the Senator from Easter Island steps on his dick with a hamhanded gag about how dim The Decider is. Now The Decider has trodden upon his own withered wee-wee, saying in an interview that he wants Darth Cheney and Donald Rumpot to stick it out through the end of his shift two years hence. Does nobody want to win this election? Can we get a third Stooge here to make this shit funny?

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Be afraid — be very afraid

  It's Halloween, and The Fearmonger's Shop is open for business. "However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses," Bush told a crowd of Georgia Elefinks on Monday. Meanwhile, Darth Cheney tells Faux News that the evildoers are timing their outrages to "break the will of the American people" and thus queer the midterm elections in favor of the Donks.

  You'll have to do better than that, boys. Nothing is as scary this Halloween as the thought of your spending the next two years continuing to misuse and abuse what has become unchecked executive power. Nothing is as horrifying as the realization that the Brits could withstand The Blitz and prevail, the Japanese could dig out from two atomic bombings to become a global economic powerhouse, and Manolo Saiz could walk away with a 2007 ProTour license after getting busted with 60,000 euros in cash and a cold bag full of controlled substances, but the United States surrendered its birthright in a hot New York minute over two destroyed skyscrapers, a dinged-up Pentagon and fewer casualties than we take in a month on the nation's highways. They got lucky, we got scared, and five years later here we are, swimming upstream in a river of blood. Time for a change.

  While we're on the topic of scumbags, some evil swine ripped off two bikes belonging to U.S. national cyclo-cross champ Katie Compton and a third belonging to her husband on Sunday night. Mike Creed's TIAA-CREF car got broken into, too. You can read the whole vile story over at VeloNews.com If you're a Bibleburg resident and happen to see some meth-head riding a custom Primus Mootry 'cross bike around Acacia Park, call the cops.

  One final note: There's a new rant up over there, too, in case you're drifting off there in the old cube farm.

  Another final note: Today being Halloween, it seemed a propitious day to cast my ballot in the midterm costume ball. So I did, in the process running into Alison Dunlap, apparently struck by a similar notion. She was dressed up like a semiretired bike racer and coach. I was dressed up like a baldheaded asshole. We chatted briefly about this and that, and then my name was called and I voted resolutely against everything the Elefink holds dear. Go thou and do likewise. We need every Donk, independent, Libertarian, commie, Green Party-er and disaffected Elefink we can get to counteract the bellowing of the insanely tone-deaf John Kerry, who has been caught singing off key again.

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Finger-lickin' bad

  Gourmands everywhere rejoice — KFC is switching from partially hydrogenated soybean oil to low linolenic soybean oil for the preparation of its culinary gems. Clucks KFC President Gregg Dedrick: "We've tested a wide variety of oils available and we're pleased we have found a way to keep our chicken finger-lickin' good - but with zero grams of trans fat." But before you dash out for a bucket of the Colonel's extra-crispy, consider this: My buddy Hal, who has made a study of such things, warns that much of the polyunsaturated fat in soybean oil easily oxidizes at high heat, "thus creating cancer-inducing and LDL-precipitating free radicals." He says lard would be the way to go. Me, I think the Colonel oughta fry his pullets in reclaimed 30-weight from Grease Monkey and serve 'em up in recycled-plastic replicas of Willie Nelson's Tour bus, with a pint of Iowa gasohol to wash the sludge down and hemp napkins for the post-pig-out cleanup.

  Elsewhere, the folks who run Eurobike have announced plans to launch an American show to compete with Interbike. The show is slated for mid-September 2007 in Portland, Oregon, and if the Eurobike folks pull this off I am so going there instead of Vegas. If there is an anti-Vegas, Portland may very well be it. The local cyclo-cross series draws nearly 800 webfeet per race, the place fairly reeks with bike culture, and it's not fuckin' Vegas, which I consider the prime selling point. I'd rather go to Lubbock than Vegas.

  Speaking of worthless pieces of Texas shit, The Denver Post reports that The Decider and Darth Cheney are on their way to Colorado stump for their fellow Elefinks. And Bubba Clinton is not far behind, lobbying for the other team. There goes the neighborhood.

  Whether anyone is paying attention is up for debate, because newspapers are in the toilet instead of next to it. Lots of spin out there in the industry, but my personal take is that newspapers are sucking wind because most of them are as relevant as George Allen's review of a 30-year-old James Webb novel. For years, your local daily has been neglecting its newsroom staff in favor of filling the holes around the ads with cheap wire-service copy, and the upshot is a country full of newspapers that all look like USA Today, which (funniest thing) is the No. 1 newspaper in the country. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it sure makes for shitty journalism, especially with the rise of the Internet. My own local cage-liner is responding to this challenge by asking its own readership to write stories and shoot pictures for a thing called YourHub at ColoradoSprings.com. Got to be a whole lot cheaper than hiring pros, and fun to edit, too. Whatever happened to hiring a newsroom full of cantankerous whiskey addicts with a penchant for barking unpleasant questions and a working familiarity with the English language?

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Ghost dog

  I dreamed of my dead dog Fuerte last night. She was curled up atop on a bed in some house we used to live in, and greeted me amiably as I wandered in. Jim Harrison wrote in the essay "Going Places" from "Just Before Dark" that he hoped one day to discover an old gray farmhouse wherein he'd find "all my beloved dead dogs and cats in perfect health . . . ." This could be less than a pleasant homecoming if a guy, especially Harrison, also encountered all the animals he'd eaten over the years. The crowd he had gobbled up and crapped out would be considerably larger than the one he'd stroked and petted and might be understandably upset about the bias shown, especially the bear I had a taste of back in Weirdcliffe. Nothing like a restless night to disorder the old thought process.

  And while we're on the topic of dogs, restless nights and disordered thought processes, let's examine this interview in The Observer with the below-mentioned Tom Waits, who apparently has been off the sauce for 10 years now and credits his wife for all the good things that have happened in his life, as must we all. He's written another antiwar song, called "Road to Peace," but like me he has doubts about the efficacy of art in the face of animality. "It's kind of like throwing peanuts at a gorilla," says Waits. It's an interesting read. Check it out.

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I can't Waits

  ANTI.com is running a sneak preview of the new Tom Waits three-disc set, "Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards." What you get online is three weeks of 30-second clips from each song in the set, which is said to include "30 new recordings, plus two dozen more songs taken from Waits' various collaborations with artists in film, literature, and music ­ equaling over three hours of rare and never-before heard music ­ along with a 94-page booklet." Look for it in stores come Nov. 21.

  I first listened to Waits in the Seventies, even saw him live a couple of times in Denver. I first listened to George McGovern back then, too, and voted for him in my very first presidential election. A shame more of us didn't. Happily, The New York Times says he's still out there, spreading the word.

  And while we're on the topic of spreading the word, m'man Scot Nicol of Ibis Cycles (who lives in Waits Country and is also a fan) has seen the latest screed over at VeloNews.com, which mentions the tasty and inexpensive table wine Reds from Laurel Glen Vineyards, and he recommends another California red to my attention — the 2002 Terre Rouge Syrah, Les Côtes de l'Ouest, from Terre Rouge Wines. The winemakers say, "We find the wine is very forward and drinkable shortly after bottling, making it a great everyday Syrah and perfect as a restaurant glass pour." Scot says, "All I can say is 'Yum.' Did a wine tasting here at the house last year and this was the standout winner of probably 30 wines on the table." I ain't exactly Robert Parker or nothin', and all I could find here in Bibleburg was a couple bottles of the 2003 (pdf), so I'll have a few drams of that and get back to you.

  It's a fine October afternoon for drinking wine, too. The temperature hit the high 60s/low 70s today, and didn't I feel like a putz for wearing jeans for the weekly grocery-and-grog shopping. That snow we got Thursday is melting away faster than The Decider's grip on both houses of Congress (knock on wood), to say nothing of his tenuous hold on his own mental health. The MSM are just now starting to figure out that he's stark raving bugfuck batshit, which tells you all you need to know about the Fourth Estate, which has been more like a fifth column in the battle for the electorate's hearts and minds. Blind pigs and acorns, as they say.

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It's worse than you think

  Follow Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi as he chronicles the doings (or not-doings) of The Worst Congress Ever. Best of all, two of the Stone's top-10 worst congressmen are from Colorado: xenophobe Tom Tancredo and homophobe Marilyn Musgrave. I feel so proud.

  Another overfed hog at the trough: Pennsylvania Rep. Curt Weldon, of whom the McClatchy Newspapers DC bureau says: "It's often difficult to tell where Weldon's official business ends and his family's and friends' personal business begins." McClatchy and the FBI may give us a hand with that little project.

  More good news can be found in the latest earnings report from Chevron, which scored a $5 billion profit in the third quarter. Chevron made its greatest gains at the pump, according to analyst Fadel Gheit. "They really cleaned up there," he said. The Chicago Tribune reports on the costs of staying the course. And there's fresh silliness from yours truly up at VeloNews.com.

  But the feel-good story of the day has to be the Vice President for Torture stuffing his flabby tit into a media wringer with his advocacy of water-boarding. Let's quit jerking off here, y'all. We are talking about a practice dating to the Spanish Inquisition, used by the Japanese on American POWs during World War II, in which the subject "is strapped down and his head is held under water or his mouth and nose are smothered by a cloth soaked in water to induce a sensation of drowning." The only question you need to ask yourself about this despicable business is this: Would you want someone doing this to your wife, one of your kids, the guy across the street? Would it be torture then? If so, it's torture now.

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Snow day

  Nothing says "Colorado" better than a 65-degree ride in bibs and a short-sleeve jersey on Wednesday followed by a ton of snow on Thursday. That, and the news that The Vice President for Torture will visit Bibleburg to stump for Doug Lamborn, a far-right, Bible-thumping shyster whose Fifth Congressional District contest with Jay Fawcett is closer than the Pachyderms would like — especially when you consider that Elefinks outnumber Donks better than 2-1 here. Notes Fawcett campaign manager Wanda James: "If you need any more proof the campaign is in serious trouble, they have to bring Dick Cheney out for a seat that for 20 years has been solid Republican." It hasn't helped that outgoing GOP Rep. Joel Hefley declined to endorse Lamborn, calling his primary campaign "sleazy and dishonest." Plus Lamborn is the numbnuts who got I-25 renamed "Ronald Reagan Highway" in El Paso County. And the dude has a journalism degree from the University of Kansas, but there's a typo in the lede of his bio. Sorry, Doug, we're full up with flag-pin-wearing, highway-renaming neocon numbskulls in Congress. If you're so into roadwork, buy a snow shovel and make yourself useful.

  Meanwhile, back at Frantically Trying to Change the Subject (No. 235,788,506 in a series), The Decider has signed H.R. 6061, the fabled border-fence bill. The measure includes no money to actually build said fence, but reality is rarely a consideration in Potemkin-on-the-Potomac (maybe Exxon Mobil can kick down a few bucks). Mr. Subliminal prefers that you fret about legions of filthy beaners slithering across the border to top-dollar stoop-labor jobs in the agricultural industry and back-seat dates with your blonde daughters, and bringing Osama bin Whatsisface along with them. Maybe we could render the sneaky devils down for their oil. The Cheerleader-in-Chief has also weighed in on gay marriage, hoping to rouse his nutcase base. Hmm. How many Marines will gay marriage kill, I wonder.

  Post-shoveling update: Son of a bitch, I should've gotten out there earlier. This snow has beaten the mortal shit out of my poor apple tree. Two, three, maybe four sizable branches have had the schnitz. This is heart-attack snow, man. I bet more than a few fat bastards go to meet Jeezwhiz today in mid-shovel.

  Post-power-outage update: Ho, ho, that was amusing. After a succession of blips that kept croaking my DSL modem, the power blinked off at 2:30 and didn't come back on until I'd reassembled the old Weirdcliffe emergency kit from the depths of various Bibleburg closets and vehicles (propane heater, portable dead-car jumper-slash-flat-tire inflater-slash-power source, battery-powered radio, candle lantern, kerosene lamps, flashlights, propane stove, massive comforters, and so on). That would be, uh, six o'clock or thereabouts. We're probably better equipped for this sort of weather emergency than many of our neighbors, in that we have all this crap plus four-wheel drive, various firearms and no religious or moral objections to dining on "long pig," if that's all we can get. But damn, a woodstove would sure be nice. Cooking haunch of honky over a Coleman two-burner would be quite the project.

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Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!

  Why does Dick "The Organ Grinder" Cheney keep sending his monkey out to do press conferences if he's not gonna say anything? He's "not satisfied," Rumsfeld is doing a heckuva job, ook ook ook chee chee chee. Jesus H. Christ. Remember when it was the White House instead of the Primate House? It can't be long before he devolves to waving his dick at us and throwing shit.

  I'm not the only guy who thinks The Decider was wasting the nation's valuable TV time this morning. Dan Froomkin at The Washington Post says Monkey Boy was reprising the old Jim Carrey talking-out-of-your-ass bit in today's gaggle. Noting that Numbnuts said, about three thousand dead Americans too late, "I think I owe an explanation to the American people," Froomkin counters with this:

But Bush didn't have much new to say today, other than endorsing yesterday's already largely debunked announcement in Baghdad of a "new plan" that sounds very much like the old plan.

And after an hour of familiar sound bites, the public would be forgiven for feeling it still hasn't gotten that explanation he promised.

Among the things that remain unexplained:

— Why does Bush believe that staying in Iraq will make things better, when the evidence suggests that it keeps making things worse?

— Why does he believe that progress is being made, when the evidence suggests that Iraq is sliding deeper and deeper into civil war?

— Why does he remain confident in Iraq's central government, when the evidence suggests that the center is not holding?

— Why hasn't anyone in his administration been held accountable for all the things that have gone wrong?

  That last one's a winner, isn't it? If Rumsfeld mismanaged a Mickey D's Fry-O-Lator the way he's fucked up the Iraq war, he'd have been gone before his first shift ended.

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Karen Hornbostel, R.I.P.

  Karen Hornbostel lost her last race today, according to an e-mail from Lennard Zinn. Cancer first jumped her back in 1993, if memory serves, and it came after her two or or three more times after that, but each time she sent it packing — until today. I wasn't her best pal or anything, but I always enjoyed bumping into her, and occasionally raced against her back in the day. Sweet as pie and tough as nails, she occasionally took on the guys for training and flogged any number of us, including me. I recall losing a sprint to her on The Wall, on the old Morgul-Bismark course, about a jillion years ago. We'd been shelled by the big dogs and rode in together, but she wasn't about to coast across that line, no, sir. She wasn't one to give up, no matter who (or what) was lined up against her. And now, goddamnit, she's beaten me again, this time across the line to The Other Side. My sincerest condolences to her family and friends. She will be missed.

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'Fresh' from the Baker? Hardly

  Hee haw. Billmon reveals the deep thinking in the White House about a "change of course in Iraq" for what it is — a clueless, self-serving, pre-election, save-our-seats stream of runny bullshit on a par with Tricky Dicky's "secret plan" to get us out of the war in Vietnam. Tick, tock, assholes, here come the midterms; better hotwire those Diebold voting machines for all they're worth, a bunch of pissed-off voters are coming for you. Or not. All depends what's on TV. I hear "Battlestar Galactica" is really good.

  Later that day: Our boy Billmon scores again, with the help of Think Progress and Moon of Alabama, chronicling the The Whopper of the Day — the notion that neither the Cheerleader-in-Chief nor any of his merry men has been insisting that we "stay the course" in Iraq. These people really are shameless, to say nothing of pathetic. Have they never heard of Google? Jesus, it's like watching a cat frantically trying to cover up on a tile floor.

  Meanwhile, here in Bibleburg, the twice-a-year panhandling has commenced over at KRCC, so we're listening to KCME until the NPR weenies make their nut. We may start redirecting some cash toward KCME, which is a truly independent classical station (no NPR affiliation), because KRCC has been going through a personality disorder ever since sacking Mario the station director. Good move: adding "The Writer's Almanac." Bad move: adding "Marketplace." How about "Democracy Now," you liberal pussies?

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The knights who say 'Nys'

  Caught a few laps of the second UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup on cycling.tv this morning. Holy shit, Sven Nys makes racing 'cross look like a Sunday spin. Dude zips over the barriers like a stiff breeze, and when he wishes to go away from someone, all they can do is wave bye-bye.

  The site continues to have video issues for us Mac geeks (or me, anyway). Even on my stylish new MacBook, it's kind of like watching a battery-powered midget TV with tinfoil-wrapped rabbit ears somewhere deep in the mountains during an electrical storm; fuzzy, blurry, choopy. Still, it's watchable, especially since it's the only cyclo-cross you're likely to see on TV short of moving to Belgium.

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A day late and a dollar short

  Well, I screwed the pooch on that deadline. Don't let anyone tell you I don't know how to be a thorn in the side of the working man (or woman, in this case). I got all the way through an anti-Vegas screed (No. 327,392,057 in a series) and decided it sounded long-winded and peevish when what I was after was deep visceral disgust. So I started over. You can read the discarded original here, if you're so inclined.

  Meanwhile, The Old Gray Lady has just gotten around to profiling my man Kinky Friedman, late of The Texas Jewboys ("The Ballad of Charles Joseph Whitman," "Asshole from El Paso," "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed," et al). The Kinkster was funny when I was in college, and he still is, even while running for governor of the Lone Star State. Lots funnier than Rick "Goodhair" Perry, The Decider or any other politico to come out of Texas since Sam Houston swiped it from the Mexicans.

  And the chattering classes continue to speak of the pending humilation of the Elefinks at the hands of the downtrodden Donks, something that gives me the creeps. We know how Democrats are; feckless, lazy rascals bent on hedonism at all costs, as long as the State is picking up the tab. Give them the idea that victory is inevitable, why, they'll spend Election Day sprawled on their couches, smoking crack between bouts of gay sex, appeasement of foreign despots and a total, sneering disregard for proper lawn maintenance. "Fear not," they will slur, their languid exhalations redolent of French wine. "Someone else will see to it that these dastardly Repugs get the whipping they so richly deserve." And the Pachyderms will hold onto their majorities in both houses of Congress by the skin of their bloodstained tusks, leaving The Decider free to continue editing the Constitution down to a few paragraphs of suggestions with all the authority of a letter to the editor.

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Busy, busy, busy

  Deadlines beckon. Rants to write, 'toons to draw, pixels to push. Things need doing. Many, many of them. Still, one must pause, if only briefly, to view with alarm.

  First, the local cage-liner reports that 173 Fort Carson soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the Chickenhawk-in-Chief decided to seize Saddam's sandbox. That's about as many racers as we used to draw to our Bear Creek cyclo-crosses, which sort of puts it in perspective for me. We always felt that was a pretty sizable crowd, and it is, especially when they're all in flag-draped aluminum caskets.

  Our losses are one thing, but the Iraqi casualties are something else altogether, and all were preventable, as Billmon reminds us.

  And finally, if you thought the walls had ears before, well, now they have handcuffs, billyclubs and waterboards. An analysis by Robert Parry over at Smirking Chimp indicates that the Emperor can disappear his subjects just as easily as he does the furriners, thanks to the newly signed Military Commissions Act. So if you don't see any fresh postings for a spell, send cigarettes in care of the CIA.

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Counting chickens, pre-hatching

  Interesting post over at TomDispatch.com, one of many I've read lately warning Donks and fellow travelers to "be careful what you wish for." In this one, Greg Grandin recounts how the Donks screwed the pooch in 1986 and suggests that their mishandling of the Iran-Contra scandal led directly to the imperial nightmare we enjoy today.

  Elsewhere, we find that McClatchy's Washington bureau has just discovered that the middle class is taking it up the pooper despite the Busheviks' much-ballyhooed "strong economy." Rising health-care and energy costs, coupled with flatlined or declining wages, are said to be among the culprits. Do tell. Jeez, nothing gets past the media these days.

  Speaking of which, The Washington Post reports that the Emperor "has signed a new National Space Policy that rejects future arms-control agreements that might limit U.S. flexibility in space and asserts a right to deny access to space to anyone 'hostile to U.S. interests.'" Rumors that Darth Cheney will be tasked with construction of a DeathStar remain unconfirmed.

  And now, from fake tough guys to the real deal: Smokin' Joe Frazier is "ten pounds heavier, but millions of dollars lighter," according to The New York Times, having lost a fortune "through a combination of his own generosity and naïveté, his carousing, failed business opportunities and a deep hatred for his former chief boxing rival, Muhammad Ali." What a sad story.

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The warning signs of Bushism

  Seems Don Imus is going off on a Texas Republican for squatting on an bill on autism research already passed by the House. Well, I'm all in favor of anyone going off on a Texas Republican, even Imus, but frankly, I don't see what all the fuss is about. According to the story:

Signs of autism include difficulty starting or maintaining a conversation; aggressive behavior; problems communicating needs; crying or laughing for no reason; repeating words or phrases rather than having a conversation; throwing tantrums; preferring to be alone; not wanting eye contact or cuddling; and having no real fear of danger.

  So unless I'm greatly mistaken, as I read it, a person suffering from autism can grow up to become the president of the United States, if he picks his parents carefully. At least the poor devil will have decent health care.

  Late update: Looks like we're getting our first taste of winter. The day started out chilly and gray, then drifted into sprinkles, which is when I sneaked out for an undistinguished hour of cyclo-cross in Monument Valley Park. My neighborhood 'cross-park is suffering some odd kind of construction project in the creek bed that slices my course smack in half, forcing me to adjust on the fly (if you lacrosse weenies notice any tire tracks in your greenery, it wasn't me). Then I chucked my muddy kit in the washer and dashed out for the makings of a largish green-chile stew and a couple bottles of Frog wine before finishing the November cartoon for VeloNews, which is No. 264,537,583,901 in my Doping Series. Maybe it's time for a second cartoon collection: "Why Do You Think They Call It Dope?" Maybe not.

  Anyway, now the stew is simmering, the wine is disappearing a glass at a time, and it's snowing. The honkies must have been bashing into each other with a will on Interstate 25 during the drive home from work. Plenty work for the laws tonight. They will be far too busy to jug the likes of me and test-drive the sort of "tough questioning" approved by The Decider today. "Seven hundred years of common law out the window," as a buddy of mine noted. He's all smart and shit, going to law school and everything. But you don't have to be a Brainiac to know this law is wrong, wrong, wrong. All you have to ask yourself is, "Do I want this smirking asshole ordering one of my kids, cousins, friends or neighbors picked up and air-freighted to Waterboardistan for a little chat with a spook who thinks the Spanish Inquisition trumps the Magna Carta?" Because that's what's down this crooked road, Bubba. You may think it only applies to them, but the Center for Constitutional Law is among the outfits saying the Military Commissions Act is broad enough to apply to us, too, if W or The SecDef deem us "enemy combatants" because we dress funny, vote the wrong way, or run snarky websites.

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Stay the (Inter)Course Department

  Oh, here's some good news out of Iraq. According to the McClatchy Newspapers Washington bureau:

In the five months since Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki became Iraq's leader, the parliament and his ministries have formed hundreds of committees to address problems on everything from how to disarm militias to whether tainted meat caused a group of police officers to fall ill last week.

No one knows precisely how many committees have been formed - one estimate puts the number at 400. Yet only one committee has brought its findings to the parliament.

According to the interior minister, the government is issuing 15,000 passports a week, many to residents who say they're desperate to flee; school populations have dropped; and some Iraqi neighborhoods have become so sectarian that some areas are divided up street by street. Services, such as electricity, haven't improved.

  But wait, there's more! Each of these committees gets more than $13,000 a month to finance its dithering as the stiffs stack up like cordwood — a hundred Iraqis are sent to Paradise daily as neighborhoods fragment along sectarian lines, according to McClatchy. This lends weight to Heinlein's description of a committee as a beast with a hundred bellies and no brain.

  "None of the plans have reached the Iraqi street," said Saad Assim al Janabi, a former member of government loyal to Ayad Allawi, whom the United States appointed interim prime minister of Iraq in 2004. "They say everything. They do nothing."

  Well, whaddaya know? The Busheviks have finally delivered on a promise. They've delivered Democracy, American Style, to Iraq.

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The Skirt Rides

  I don't recall which of the Mad Dogs coined the term, but "skirt ride" has long been the pejorative that describes a leisurely ride with one's significant other, as opposed to a sweaty, leg-lifting, territory-marking outing with the K-9 Korps. I did two of 'em this weekend, back to back, while better men were racing the 24 Hours of Moab or the Brecktobercross. So sue me. O'Stank traveled from Bibleburg to Moab and back to get one lap's worth of the 24 Hours, and I've raced the Breckenridge Nordic Center course before, when I still had legs. I'd rather sit at home drinking domestic lager and hitting myself in the head with a cast-iron skillet.

  She Who Must Be Obeyed lacks a cyclo-cross bike, but has a oldish Barracuda mountain bike, so we spent a couple pleasant hours on Saturday noodling south down the Fountain Creek trail, then west through Bear Creek Regional Park to Gold Camp Road and back. Today we meandered north to the north gate of the Air Force Academy and back, another enjoyable outing. We saw a sizable percentage of helmetless cyclists, otherwise known as "organ donors." I stop every time I see one crumpled on the trail, bleeding from a head wound and sniveling about calling 911, but only to go through his pockets for folding money or strip useful parts from his twisted machine.

  Speaking of casualties, we're losing more than 3.5 of our countrymen a day in Iraq this month. And those guys had their helmets on, I bet. But there's nothing to worry about, 'cause the Iraqis are killing themselves faster than they're killing our guys. It can't be long before The Decider cites this as "progress in the War on Terra."

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Teenie terror

  Posting a picture of The Decider with "Kill Bush" scrawled across the top on your MySpace page isn't what I'd call smart — but when the culprit is a high-school freshman, does it merit an aggro' visit from the Secret Service? I mean, jeez, Bush is a chickenshit and all, but I bet even he isn't scared of a 14-year-old girl. Another example of extreme nannyism in the name of security: Confiscating a rock carried for three years without incident by a traveling geologist. Further idiocy, should you require it, is on display in Rajiv Chandrasekaran's "Imperial Life in the Emerald City," a book chronicling the Busheviks' insane mismanagement of conquered Iraq. New York Times books maven Michiko Kakutani says the book "often reads like something out of 'Catch-22' or from 'MASH.'" Continuing, Kakutani writes:

"While Iraqi hospitals, coping with the toll of being looted, still lacked basic medicines and equipment, officials were talking about anti-smoking campaigns. While Baghdad residents were worrying about the safety of venturing out into the city's chaotic streets, officials were working on a traffic code suggesting that 'pedestrians walking during darkness or cloudy weather' should 'wear light or reflective clothing.'"

  Jesus wept. Apparently the only requirements for landing a gig in this clusterfuck were a "Bush-Cheney 2004" T-shirt and a brain tumor the size of a softball.

  Meanwhile, I'm happy to report that Mad Dog Michael "Faceplant" O'Stank has successfully completed his first lap in the 24 Hours of Moab, though this is not a guarantee that he kept the rubber side down throughout same. Granny Gear Productions provides excellent online updates of all the action — all you need is the name of the silly sod careening through the cacti and hey presto! You can track his or her performance. O'Stank's outfit, Saddle Up Again, is sitting 29th in the 5-Person Coed competition.

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The numbers racket
    "Out of all the numbers, two got to mean shit. Why didn't they pick 13? They didn't like that one anyway. That'd be easy to remember: 'Thirteen means shit and bad luck.' Right, I got it." — George Carlin, FM & AM

  Holy shit. Friday the 13th. An inauspicious day for sending Brother Dog Michael O'Stank off to race his first 24 Hours of Moab, on my mountain bike, a DBR Axis TT that just may be (wait for it) 13 years old. Hope he survives the experience. He's already crashed the bugger at least once that I know of, during a test ride in Palmer Park. Snapped one of the Control Tech bar ends off at the weld and collected the usual abrasions and contusions.

  And my friends have not distinguished themselves on the trails of Moab. Regular readers may recall my visit of October 2005, which ended with one buddy breaking a wrist in about a zillion pieces and the other collecting some biohazardous class of evil meat-eating bacterial infection. I alone escaped unscathed because I ride so slowly that when I fall off it doesn't hurt, especially if I arrange it so I land on something fat, which is pretty much everything. That's us, over there, before we paid our little visit to the Moab ER.

  In solidarity with my absent Brother Dog, I went for a 'cross-bike ride in Palmer Park this afternoon. For the record, I neither distinguished myself nor fell off. And while the Cross Crusade boys may be getting nearly 800 people out for their series in Portland, Oregon, 'cross definitely has a lower profile in Bibleburg, despite my best efforts. Three people applauded my testicular fortitude for riding a "road bike" on the trails, and two of them were on mountain bikes and should've known better.

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Feeling 'cross

  Since it's cyclo-cross weather outside again (damp, gray and 30-something), and because I've gotten a few requests for it, I'm reposting the cyclo-cross primer I wrote back in 2000. You can find it here, along with a couple of vintage pix taken by Casey Gibson in Monument Valley Park, where we Mad Dogs ran our 'cross races back when we and the world were young. Retro-grouches will appreciate the steel Pinarello frameset, seven-speed bar-end shifters, Weinmann canti's, toeclips and straps. If memory serves, I was still riding sewups then, too . . . usually Wolber 28 Cross Extra on the rear with a Vittoria Mastercross up front.

  Come to think of it, barring an upgrade to clipless pedals (the now-obsolete Time ATACs), not much has changed in the intervening decade and a half. I'm still riding steel bikes — but while I'm running STI on my favorite Steelman Eurocross, it's eight-speed Ultegra, a couple iterations off the technological back. The other two bikes, a newer Eurocross and a Voodoo Wazoo, sport bar-end shifters and ancient Shimano 600 aero' brake levers (mostly 'cause I had 'em when the STI levers croaked, as they do). The brakes themselves are mostly Paul's Neo-Retro and Touring canti's, an update of the old Weinmann and Mafac stoppers (the Voodoo has a pair of Shimano's BR-R550 canti's, which I don't like nearly as well but find a damn sight cheaper). And the wheels are old Excel Sports Cirrus — no-nonsense 32-hole Mavic Open Pro clincher rims laced to Dura-Ace hubs. I lost all the disco aero' whizbangs after Steelman told me that decent hubs and hoops, assembled by a good wheelbuilder, was all I needed to make his bikes go places.

  As I recall, that low-tech approach was the original approach to 'cross — build up your bikes with whatever's handy, 'cause you're gonna thrash the livin' piss out of 'em — and it's the one I still use today, because I'm a cheap, lazy sonofabitch. I've never gone to the hassle and expense of installing nine- or 10-speed on a 'cross bike because I had a few sets of bar-ends, eight-speed cassettes and derailleurs handy in the parts box as the shamefully unserviceable STI shifters failed one by one (I can even build a seven-speed bar-end bike once I run out of eight-speed stuff). And I prefer steel to carbon fiber and aluminum for its cost, ride quality and longevity, though I've seen some mighty pretty aluminum bikes, including that nifty Masi CXR over there at right.

  If I were still racing, and deadly serious about it, I might have some full-zoot, featherweight, 10-speed, deep-dish wonderbike for race day and use the old stuff for training. But maybe not. There's a big, broad streak of Luddite in me, and there's something to be said for not having any more bike under you than you can handle. There's nothing that shames a guy quite like displaying 10 cents' worth of talent on a $10,000 machine.

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Good enough for government work

  From the website Arms Control Wonk, following a discussion of the North Koreans' dampish nuclear firecracker and our own technological miscues:

I close this discourse about operational confidence by noting that the United States has built a missile defense that does not work, to defend against a North Korean missile that does not work, that would carry a nuclear warhead that does not work.

This is all very postmodern.

  Meanwhile, as usual, it's all Clinton's fault.

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Frantically trying to change the subject: Part 290 in a series

  With his poll numbers taking the express elevator to the sub-basement and things rapidly going sideways in Iraq, Iran and North Korea, The Decider strides boldly forth to . . . to . . . offer his sympathy at a national summit on school violence in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Must be too chilly outside to go for a mountain-bike ride.

  It sure is here. Drizzle all day yesterday and a skiff of snow this morning, with the temp pegged right at freezing and more drizzle in the forecast. Where's my balmy fall weather, suitable for those long 'cross-bike rides into the foothills and beyond? The weatherman says Friday, maybe, the evil sonofabitch. He must work for the White House, which has no objection to creative adjustment of the truth.

  That first unpleasant day always commands more of your attention than it should. Thirty-two and damp, not even tights, glove liners and a light jacket keep the chill off your bones — for the first few minutes, anyway. Then as you break into a casual jog the core temperature inches up and 45 minutes later you're sweating under your watch cap and wondering if you should push it out to an hour. Nah. You're old, with a bum Achilles' tendon and a fat ass. Go home, do situps and drink tea, survey the global situation, view with alarm.

  By afternoon, naturally, it's warm enough to rake leaves in shirtsleeves. Five bags to date, gone to a neighbor for mulch. The record of 11 bags, set last year, is definitely in peril after a wet summer. Hell, the lawn is still green, and a final mowing is not out of the question, if the North Koreans don't drop a wobbly kimchi-powered nuke on Cheyenne Mountain and spare us all our horticultural preoccupations.

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What now, Dear Leader?

  North Korea claims to have tested a nuclear device. Oh, goody. Just what a guy likes to see. The crazy bastard who spends his days slumped against the Dumpster, arguing with his invisible pals, has managed to construct a death ray using a wire coat hanger, a magnifying glass and a discarded cell phone battery. Meanwhile, the cop on the beat is bogged down in a domestic squabble at the falafel stand down the street.

  Speaking of which, clap your peepers on this cheery piece from Chris Hedges, former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. He gets right to the point:

The aircraft carrier Eisenhower, accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio, guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage, guided-missile destroyer USS Mason and the fast-attack submarine USS Newport News, is, as I write, making its way to the Straits of Hormuz off Iran. The ships will be in place to strike Iran by the end of the month. It may be a bluff. It may be a feint. It may be a simple show of American power. But I doubt it.

  Ay, Chihuahua. More of the same here at Smirking Chimp. The strike group that includes the 29-year-old Eisenhower, which recently underwent a major overhaul, is said to be sailing to relieve the USS Enterprise, which left Norfolk on May 2, accompanied by the cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, the destroyer USS McFaul, the frigate USS Nicholas and the attack submarine USS Alexandria. But some uncharitable folks are muttering about an "October Surprise." Gee, you think The Decider would launch an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation, just 'cause he thinks it might bring Jeezwhiz back a little quicker or help keep the House and Senate under Repug control? Get serious.

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Jail to the thief

  David Swanson makes the case for impeachment over at TomDispatch, arguing that if the Democratic incumbents in the House "all stood for impeachment now, the Democrats would win a majority in a landslide. In fact, they might even persuade the necessary 15 Republicans to join them and impeach Bush and Cheney pre-election. Rep. Ron Paul has spoken up for impeachment. Only 14 more are needed, and there is no law that says Republicans can't put their country ahead of George W. Bush."

  Swanson, a former newspaper reporter who served as press secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign, works for ImpeachPAC, which is supporting pro-impeachment candidates. I find him overly optimistic on the topic, since the Democrats have spent the past six years devolving into a new species of invertebrate that strives to conceal its moral cowardice behind a flag lapel pin, while Republicans have done little else but put party first and country last. Still, The Washington Monthly has found a group of prominent conservatives to argue that the GOP has a good ass-kicking coming to it, thanks to the excesses of the faux conservatives running the national show. And it's a pleasant daydream on a brisk fall Sunday, isn't it?

  And brisk it is. The foliage is going all yellow and red on us (check the vine on the back deck), and the balmy 70-something temps of yesterday have been supplanted by the mid-40s and a light drizzle. Undaunted, my Dog brothers Big Bill McBeef and Michael O'Stank ventured out for a short 'cross ride, but I'm stuck indoors, waiting on Paris-Tours copy and photos for the VeloNews.com website. That's one for the "who gives a shit" file. About two thirds of the field bailed at the feed zone.

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Plane talk

  People wonder why I mostly decline to fly. I wonder how an American can stand still for the indignities and outrages that go hand in hand with air travel, especially after my most recent experiences with United Airlines.

  Herself and I found ourselves on an overbooked flight this summer, despite making our reservations months in advance, and scored a couple of "free" travel vouchers as a consequence (incidentally, that plane trip made a cross-country drive look like a stroll along the beach). Alas, as Heinlein wrote, TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch). Herself used her voucher to fly east to see her dad while I was at Interbike, and she reports that the journey revised and extended the definition of "clusterfuck." I can confirm this grim assessment through bitter personal experience, having spent the past couple days trying to transfer my travel voucher to her so she can make a return visit in November.

  United, which slithered out from under a Chapter 11 reorganization in February, has outsourced at least half of its U.S.-based customers' calls overseas, according to The Los Angeles Times, which explains why our half-dozen attempts to get a clear understanding of how we might handle this travel-voucher reassignment were directed to India each and every time. The first customer-service person Herself spoke with told her that all we needed to do was have me travel to the Bibleburg Interdimensional Airport, I.D. in hand, and have a new voucher made out in her name. Wrong-o, sahib. Do not pass New Delhi; do not collect 200 rupees. The Yankee clerks at BIA told me I had to make the reservations first and then present the voucher. Not what I was told, sez I. That's they way it is, sez they. Dunno when she wants to fly, sez I. Tough titty, sez they. Much snarkiness ensues, with my parting shot being, "This is why I drive everywhere," and theirs being tittering laughter.

  More phone calls to India. My two shots at getting an explanation ended with me hanging up, completely unable to communicate with a clearly confused Berlitz dropout on the other end. Herself reported similar ill fortune until last night, when a solid English-speaker helped her make the reservations and supplied her with a confirmation code. So today I was off yet again to the United counter at BIA, where the scene was utter chaos. Seems United is mishandling not only its own customers, but Lufthansa's as well, and after watching this Mack Sennett movie for a while I finally forced my way into the melee and collared an exasperated ticketing agent, quickly explaining my plight. "Did your wife speak speak with an American or an Indian?" he asked. "Indian. A whole village full of 'em," I replied. He rolled his eyes and started working the computer, giving me a sotto voce play-by-play on everything that was fucked up about this transaction, Indians, UAL, outsourcing, and our respective futures.

  Long story short, I finally got the tickets. But the fun ain't over yet. Seems the Indian who assisted Herself over the phone misspelled her name while arranging the reservations, and thus it is misspelled on the tickets as well, which should guarantee a lengthy and entertaining check-in process — especially since there will be no cheery United employees working the check-in counter. That chore, too, has been outsourced to a subcontractor, and the eye-rolling gent who assisted me today will be out of a job at month's end, as will his tittering co-workers. Here's hoping they and the fucksticks further up the corporate food chain find the sort of careers they deserve: pumping out septic tanks in Walsenburg; mopping up behind the onanistic patrons of an adult bookshop in Commerce City; or answering customer-service calls from Indian Airlines customers who speak only Hindi. "What? Can you speak up, I'm having a hard time understanding you. Huh? Teri gaand main kute ka lund? What the fuck does that mean? Jesus Christ, don't you people speak English?"

  And I will be delighted to fly United again — just as soon as they deploy a fleet of winged swine.

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A change of criminals

  "Don't vote — it only encourages the bastards." Remember that old bumper sticker? For all the talk about how the Elefinks are in decline and the Donks in ascendancy, I wonder whether the electorate takes note, beyond simple voyeurism, or even cares. "A plague on both your houses" may be the message they send to DeeCee this November by staying home in droves.

  I read an interesting piece this morning over at Smirking Chimp, reviving the old argument that the Donks "are just as linked to the military-industrial, free-trading, elite establishment as their Siamese twin, the GOP; albeit they put a better face on imperial stewardship." Mike Whitney posits that the Donks "have not promised to revoke the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, or withdraw the troops from Iraq," and that "the only path back to personal liberty and the rule of law is by organizing a nation-wide, labor-based movement that pits the interests of the average working slob against their corporate rulers."

  Hard to argue with that, isn't it? Why working stiffs often side with elites intent on doing them harm has always mystified me. What's so awful about "class war," the catchphrase elites bray whenever someone asks why the rich consistently get their rocks off while the poor get nothing but scabby knees and elbows, along with that fabled burning, itching sensation? What common interests have a janitor and a CEO?

  The downside to this viewpoint, of course, beyond the certainty that sooner or later people in suits and coveralls will be staring at each other through peep sights, is that there is no quick fix, something Whitney acknowledges:

"Many of us are still sitting on the sidelines, wringing our hands and hoping the Democrats will lead us back to the land of milk and honey. It ain't gonna happen. Politicizing the public is a long, arduous and, yes, boring task. It's particularly hard for a society that suffers from media-induced Attention Deficit Disorder and who are unaccustomed to taking their lives in their own hands and shaping the future. That's what it's going to take."

  All too true. But in the meantime, it can't make matters any worse to turn the present rascals out. Send the Busheviks and the Liebermans packing. Just don't think that's the end of it and go back to watching "Lost" on your iPod. You' may have run the wolf off, for now, but there's a coyote lurking around the stoop. So don't celebrate — agitate.

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Mission accomplished redux

  You just can't make this shit up. The New York Times reports today that "tucked away in fine print in the military spending bill for this past year was a lump sum of $20 million to pay for a celebration in the nation's capital 'for commemoration of success' in Iraq and Afghanistan." Not a lot of chickens hatching from those rotten eggs these days. But hope springs eternal, especially among the feeble-minded in the Pentagon. Notes a spokesman: "As the funds were not used in (fiscal year) 2006, the authorization was rolled over into F.Y. 2007." Next up, 2008, 2009, 2010. . . .

  Late update: Meanwhile, GOP Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut calls for Donald Rumsfeld to resign. Is this a crack in the Stay the Course Memorial Dike, or was it green-lighted by The Decider 'cause Shays is in a tough race with an antiwar Donk and the party needs every seat it can get? "Say whatever it takes, Hoss, and it'll be business as usual come November 8. We'll have ya down to Crawford, cut a little brush." Thank Jeezwhiz I got home in time to catch a little fall color (as seen at right) to counteract all the black news swirling out of DeeCee and elsewhere.

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Booty call

  How 'bout Rep. Mark "Short Eyes" Foley, eh? As has become traditional in modern scandal, Page-Boy has checked into "an alcohol and behavioral rehabilitation program." Yeah, that should do the trick. Your average adult male would never consider boning a teen-age boy, unless he'd had a couple Bud Lights and there was one handy, and he was like all cute and stuff. No more for me, barkeep, that page is starting to look like Heather Locklear.

  Naturally, nobody knows nothin', especially House Speaker Denny "More Taters, Paw" Hastert, who has managed to step on his dick so often since this story broke that it looks like a dirty slice of baloney instead of a manly tube steak. He must be counting on the fabled 15-second American attention span . . . say, what were we talking about again?

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Vegan vituperates

  Hee haw. A cycling adviser to the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce takes issue with my description of his hometown, noting that there are many first-class hotels, stellar bike trails and attractive persons of both sexes to be enjoyed, if one will only make the effort to leave The Strip. This is like arguing that your pleasant suburban neighborhood is not besmirched by the whorehouse on the corner. This miserable shithole in the desert wouldn't have drawn flies were it not for gambling, the quickie divorce and the military-industrial complex. Hell, lose the first two, toss in a couple hundred thousand Baptists for flavor and you've got Bibleburg, only hotter.

  Being a wanderer by nature, I always find it amusing when people defend their hometowns against aspersions the way they might defend their women against molesters. Look, ace, you can believe that Las Vegas is a smart, sexy showgirl all you want. To me she looks like a one-titted hooker with a colostomy bag and a hacking cough. If it makes you Vegans feel any better, Bibleburg looks like a skinny spinster with a perma-frown, a facial mole with a big black hair in it, and a gig playing tambourine in a Salvation Army band. At least here we make the smokers stand outside in the wind, rain and snow so they can shuffle off this mortal coil and meet Jeezwhiz that little bit faster.

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The last waltz

  COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Not many updates this year, hey? Just one of those Interbikes, I guess. The thing got sideways early, with no room at the Riviera for yours truly after 12 hours of driving, and it never really got completely back on track. It's a hell of a note to realize you've just driven a thousand miles to help cover something you don't give a shit about in a place you despise.

  I'd planned to skip the first day of Outdoor Demo, 'cause it's usually fairly quiet, and by the time we sorted out the lodging issues, there was no point in driving out to Boulder City for day two, then rushing back to lend a hand with the Show Daily. Then it was beer, dinner, Scotch, fitful sleep, arise, break fast, work, repeat. And suddenly the whole damn' thing was over and I had nothing to show for it but a few cartoons, a couple of half-baked screeds and a metric assload of credit-card receipts. The podcasting and my debut as a jabbering asshole on VeloNews TV will have to wait for another time and place. The best-laid plans, and so on.

  I spent most of the final day wandering the floor, trying to glean some useful cyclo-cross intelligence and chatting with various people, some of whom were strangers kind enough to tell me that I'm less retarded than they had heard. Others were old pals, fellow scribes and business acquaintances who know exactly how retarded I am but don't mind, or at least have learned to overlook it. Then I drove to Kingman, bought a sixer of Mirror Pond Pale Ale, some cheddar and crackers, and watched Blondie and Black Sabbath being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on VH1. You haven't lived until you've seen Metallica doing "Iron Man." Jesus. No wonder my parents wanted to send me to military school.

  With Herself out of town and myself behind schedule, come Saturday I hightailed it for Santa Fe, skipping the Tour de Fat in Flag' (sorry, Big Jonny, I'll catch you next time through) and rehab'd my shattered carcass with a combo plate from La Choza, smothered in green chile, and a couple of Santa Fe Pale Ales. This cleansing regimen continued well into Sunday with coffee and a giant green-smothered breakfast burrito on the patio of the Guadalupe Cafe, another, longer, more serious stint at Ten Thousand Waves, and a chile-and-cheddar burger and fries from Second Street Brewery. Then I rolled north toward Bibleburg, this time taking the scenic route through Taos, enjoying the colorful cottonwoods and aspens whenever I wasn't too busy applying my even more colorful lingo to the traffic. There was some leftover vegetable-beef stew in the freezer and a couple of Anchor Porters to be had in the fridge down below. Ike the Cat meowed and burbled and finally settled down to purring. Home again.

  If you like, you can read Screed No. 1 here. Screed No. 2 can be found here. The few readers who commented on them appear to have missed the funny bits, as you may, and I'll confess that neither is exactly what I'd call deathless prose, particularly in light of the recent discovery of an unpublished Robert Frost poem. I'll slap up a series of "Show Talk" cartoons sometime in the next couple of days. Enjoy 'em if you can, because I'm thinking this was my last trip to Sin City, unless I can hotwire a B-52 with a full bomb bay.

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The circus comes to town

  LAS VEGAS, Nevada — It beats me how they always manage to assemble this monstrous show in time for opening day, especially considering that some outfits can't even arrange a hotel room for barnstorming libel artisans. After sorting out my living arrangements for the next four days, I hit the show floor shortly before lunch to scope things out and it looked like that final scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," where some menial is parking the Ark, boxed and stenciled, in a giant warehouse filled with a few jillion other stenciled boxes. Here the Teamsters handle the boxes, the parking, and if you slip them enough money, the quiet assassination of a publisher.

  It wasn't all booth assembly and body odor at the Sands Convention Center on Tuesday, though. Chris Zigmont at Pedro's was contemplating a bit of guerrilla marketing that involved stealing wheelsets from the next booth over, which belongs to his old employer Mavic, and giving them away two at a time with every purchase of the new enviro-lube Chainj.

Meanwhile, Soulcraft's Sean Walling, the man behind last year's revival of the Golden Toiddy Awards from the Society of People Who Actually Make Their Own Shit (SOPWAMTOS), announced he had moved beyond, or perhaps slightly below, guerrilla marketing to "baboon marketing." He didn't elaborate, and I don't have any idea what it means, but it apparently doesn't involve displaying his giant purple ass and flinging shit at passersby, if only because there are so many Teamsters around.

Photos: (Above) Remember, we want a nice, clean carpet for people to drop slobbery PowerBar crumbs on. The Big White Box Company (below) specializes in (what else?) big white boxes.

  Tonight brings the annual challenge to digestion that is the Bicycle Retailer & Industry News staff dinner at Gordon Biersch, a miserable excuse for a brewpub whose offerings approach the lofty standards set by Coors, or perhaps Grain Belt. The only known antidote is plenty of Scotch; happily, Ruth's Chris is but a short stroll away. Besides, we've already gotten into the Guatemalan rum.

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Blue skies and white lines

  SANTA FE, N.M. — The Forester's thermometer reads 52 degrees as Colorado Springs dwindles in the rear-view mirror. Just a handful of cottony clouds in the sky. Who the hell goes to Vegas on a day like this? Well, me, for starters. Interbike doesn't officially start until Wednesday, though the Outdoor Demo kicks off this morning in Boulder City, but I always hit the road early, because I don't fly to Vegas — I drive. There's no tedious lining up at security, you can carry on all the firearms and flammable liquids your little heart desires, and your mechanicals mostly take place at ground level. Just kick the tires and light the fires.

  This year's show will be Lucky No. 13 for me, and if I've learned anything at all from this annual gambling with my mental and physical health, it's this: There's no need to hurry. The unofficial motto of Interbike is, "Same Shit, Different Color," and with Bugsy Siegal's Fun House being what it is, a sort of Bizarro World Disneyland for overgrown children, I like to ease gradually into the experience, like a guy slipping inch by inch into a hot bath.

  In fact, that's the traditional kickoff for me: a hot bath. I drive south, not west, stopping at Santa Fe and the Japanese-style, clothing-optional bathhouse Ten Thousand Waves, where a guy can sweat out the toxins accumulated during a long season of cycling journalism while meditating on the multitudinous reasons why some people, especially those with multiple chins, piercings and/or personalities, should always remain fully clothed.

  This cleansing process is augmented by the judicious application of green-chile dishes, locally brewed beer and Herradura Añejo tequila from outfits like Tia Sophia, The Shed, Guadalupe Cafe, La Choza and Second Street Brewery. Unless your idea of haute cuisine involves drive-up windows and clowns, Interbike requires taking a giant step down from healthful daily fare, and the wise show attendee fortifies himself accordingly. Green chile has lots of vitamin C and alcohol kills cooties.

  This being a trip to America's gambling mecca, I shouldn't have been surprised when I crapped out my first day on the road. The Shed, the Guad' and La Choza all were closed when I went looking for chile Sunday evening, so it was off to Second Street for fish and chips. Not exactly a traditional dish in local terms, but a couple pints of killer IPA helped ease the pain. And lest you think Santa Fe is only for the beautiful people like you and me, one of the three rotund females at a nearby table had to sit down in layers, like a wedding cake. I counted five distinct strata, but couldn't imagine a miner hardy enough to drill her.

  There wasn't a single local beer available at the Hilton's bar, and nothing at all on tap, so it was off to the Eldorado for a dollop of Herradura to tamp down the fish. The bartender was enjoying her first quiet evening in a seven-day work week and gave me a pour suited to Charles Bukowski. Two fingers in a juice glass. Be still my heart. I have a website to update, and it helps to be able to see what I'm writing.

  Tia Sophia didn't let me down, not like those other lame-o dives. They were open bright and early Monday morning, and a couple staffers and I shot the shit over coffee and a breakfast burrito the size of a Mt. Zefal mountain-bike pump; eggs, spuds and sausage all smothered in a lake of green fire. Eating here is like sitting down to a meal in your mom's kitchen, if your mom grew up in the San Luis Valley or Española. The staff asks how you've been, and how's the weather in Colorado these days, and can you believe these allergies this year? And when you get up to pay the check they tell you gas is down to $2.55 at the Allsups, have a good trip, and come back and see us soon. Come to think about it, this is better than mom's house.

  Later that same day: Ten hours later, I'm in Las Vegas and the Riviera says they never heard of me — until tomorrow, that is. Ay, Chihuahua. And people wonder why I hate Interbike. After a few snarky phone calls to publishers, editors and colleagues, I stuffed my shit back in the Subaru and went guess where? The fucking Fairfield on Paradise, where the BRAIN trust has stayed for years until it suddenly got "too expensive." Walked right in and scored myself a room. All it took was American money. The next stop was at Ruth's Chris Steak House next door, where Mistri the Bartender was not available but the 10-year-old Laphroig was. They wanted American money too. I had some. More tomorrow.

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  The 2006 Colorado cyclo-cross season kicked off this morning in Bear Creek Regional Park after a full day of solid rain, which saw to it that there was a little mud to contend with for a change. I chose not to compete, since an old war wound was acting up (pulled a muscle dodging the draft back in '72), but I did pop by to shoot the shit and take a few photos.

  The usual suspects were out front in my crowd, the Masters 45-55 category: Bret Wade (right), Brook Watts and Frank Hibbits, with former Mad Dog Russ Asleson just off the podium in fourth. I got tired just watching from the sidelines, chatting with former USCF tech director Andy Bohlmann, chief ref Al McDonald, brother Dog Michael O'Stank and a few other onlookers. Between wheezes, old rival Lee Waldman chided me for spectating. "How come you're not out here?" he shouted as he lumbered through the muddy bits. "Because I'm a pussy," I replied. Hey, I call 'em as I see 'em.

  Anyway, congrats to Dennis Collard and the rest of the Pikes Peak Velo crew for putting on the season-opener, and chapeau to Nancy Hobbs and the El Paso County Parks Department folks for providing the venue. For a few more pix, click here.

  A tip of the Mad Dog propeller beanie also goes out to the Qwest tech who got Dogpatch back online yesterday afternoon. Turns out the culprit was a bum modem. Qwest wanted to stick it in a little deeper, saying they'd get a new modem out to me in a few days, and this dude said uh-uh, our man has been without DSL for three days and we already screwed the pooch on one appointment — lemme see if I got one on the truck. He did, it worked, and Qwest still has me as a customer. For now.

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Return to Son of Beyond the Valley of a Dog's Life

  There's nothing quite like sitting on your ass waiting for a technology repairman who never shows up, is there? Can't make no money, can't get no exercise . . . can't even slip out to fetch a bottle of wine or a sixer of ale to make the time pass more enjoyably, because you know that if you do, the guy will be knocking on your door 60 seconds after you drive off. Miss him once and you're liable to see Jesus, Vishnu and Buddha playing backup for Marilyn Manson in Mohammedan Square Garden before Mr. Wizard comes back around with his magic toolbox.

  So I squat in the DogHaus like a hairless toad between 1 and 5 p.m. as instructed by Qwest, waiting on their fixit guy, and when he has failed to appear by 5:15 I telephone to inquire how come. After being transferred hither and thither for the better part of quite some time, the designated shit-eater replies that Mr. Wizard made his appearance sometime yesterday morning, a couple hours early, while I was enjoying the benefits of trying to work in a coffee shop full of chattering females, screeching children and officious nitwits yammering into cellphones. Didn't leave a note? Deprived you of four hours of your life that you will never get back? Sorry 'bout that. May we send him out again tomorrow? Hell, buddy, I don't even believe he was here today.

  So we enter Day 3 without Internet access at home, the chores stacking up like traffic in ski country, and thus it's back to Dog Tooth Coffee. After 15 years of free-lancing, it's a reminder that not everybody gets to sit around in his or her skivvies, listening to Tom Waits, drinking whisky and posting the occasional vicious libel on the Web, during business hours. Some folks have to get up, groom themselves and toddle on off to some unattractive place full of annoying people where they must behave under penalty of dismissal. You have my deepest sympathy. I've spent three days trying to work in the presence of other people, and I'm already thinking about jogging back home to fetch a pistol. But it's too soon to start thinking about shooting people who piss me off. Hell, I'm not even in Vegas yet.

  Still, I'd much prefer to be working at home without all the bad background noise. The old Airport card "sees" a couple of other networks in the vicinity of the DogHaus, but the poachable one has fewer bars than Tehran; the other is password-protected. Seems the neighbors don't want me downloading porn on their nickel, the cheap sonsabitches. So much for doing a little pre-Interbike research and getting an early jump on weird and/or stupid stuff to jabber about from the road. Guess I'll just have to barge on in there short on intelligence, wit and wisdom, and just make the shit up, like always.

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A Dog's Life: Day 2

  This morning commute is a bitch. Instead of crawling out of the sack, staggering to the coffeepot and thence to the Mac, I actually have to get dressed, stuff a laptop and cellphone into a backpack and march down the alley to Dog Tooth Coffee. O, the humanity. Could be worse, I suppose. Could be motoring around in the high country, where it is said to be snowing. Just wind, rain and cold down here in God's Country®. So far, anyway. Chairman Meow isn't exactly looking forward to winter, and neither am I.

  Anyway, it's good training for Interbike, where cycling journos flit around like so many spastic hummingbirds, dipping their wee beaks into this WAP and that, disseminating misinformation, bullshit and falsehoods like so many brain-gobbling viruses. Christ only knows what the 51-year-old Riviera Hotel & Casino has going on in the way of "technology." Probably rotary-dial phones, a Xerox Telecopier and a clattering UPI teletype. At that, it's bound to be better than what I have at home right now, which would be bupkis, though I notice that the bills keep rolling on in just the same.

  With the cable TV shut down, the DSL crashed and Herself working the late shift, I found myself at loose ends last night, so I tried to remember how to assemble a podcast, a pastime I flirted with earlier this year and let slip through my fingers. All my how-tos were online, naturally, so I had to sift through my crumbling memory to get that dog to hunt, which was like rooting through a moldy footlocker of rusty bike parts in a pitch-black basement, hoping to unearth a full 10-speed Dura-Ace group. But I finally pulled it off, after a couple dozen takes, using yesterday's post for a script, and I may take a whack at something fresh later today if I get a minute. It is kinda fun, but I'm damned if I want to spend my morning snarling into a laptop in the corner coffee shop. I get enough sidelong glances from the neighbors as it is.

  Elsewhere in the news, David Broder argues in The Washington Post that a new centrist force is emerging "to resist not only Bush but also the extremist elements in American society — the vituperative, foul-mouthed bloggers on the left and the doctrinaire religious extremists on the right who would convert their faith into a whipping post for their opponents." Maybe so; I'll believe it when I see it. Plenty tinfoil-beanie wingnuts with Hummers sporting Bush-Cheney 2004 stickers still at large in these parts. And as a representative of the International and Honorable Brotherhood of Vituperative, Foul-Mouthed Bloggers on the Left, Local 666, I take issue with Broder's inexplicable fondness for Joe Lieberman, an aisle-crossing, back-stabbing fink who deserves to get bent over like a punk-ass bitch in the voting booth come November for his insistence on assuming the position before the Busheviks instead of taking a position consistent with that of his constituents.

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A Dog's Life

  The DSL modem is down. And a good morning to you, too. Jesus, I'm fresh out of the sack, haven't even booted up my brain stem with the first cup of mud yet and already I'm talking to some East Asian about how my Action-Tec Wireless-Ready DSL Gateway in Bibleburg has had the schnitz, a bit of arcane slang he fails to appreciate. We can gather no useful intelligence here, I say. I am a working journalist. Deadlines approach, with fangs bared. We can have a technician out to you between 1 and 5 p.m. tomorrow, he says. Thank you so much. Off to the coffee shop we go, even though the DogHaus coffeemaker is fully functional.

  As the world's woes go, this one is way off the back, with two flats, a broken chain and the E. coli. Still, there are chores that need doing — pre-Interbike cartoons for BRAIN and VeloNews; world-championship coverage for VeloNews.com (congrats to world TT champ Kristin Armstrong, bronze medalist Christine Thorburn and 10th-place Amber Neben); a dog's work is never done. So neighborhood java stops with free wireless Internet access definitely enhance the old property value. And the joint is called Dog Tooth Coffee, which has to be a better omen than the black cat that crossed my path yesterday. If they had a flatbed scanner I'd cancel the Qwest, shoot the coffeepot and spend my mornings here. I've already bought an official Dog Tooth Coffee mug and agreed to exchange T-shirts with the boss. Want a Mad Dog Media T-shirt of your very own? Find me at Interbike and you may just get lucky. No, not in that way, you sicko. I'm saving myself for marriage.

  Speaking of sartorial elegance, damn, are the new Team USA skinsuits ever butt-ugly. I figure we got three women in the top 10 this year because they were in such a hurry to get out of the goddamn things.

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From fall to summer

  Thirty-something this morning. Fall is definitely early. The shorts and sleeveless T stay on the floor and on go the sweat pants and Wallace Beery shirt. Coffee, please, and plenty of it. Pour it on my hands and feet.

  Actually, this has been going on for a couple weeks now. The furnace clicks on at regular intervals during the night and early morning, and rides almost always include knee and arm warmers at the minimum. Sunday's 'cross outing to the north gate of the Air Force Academy and back demanded a long-sleeve jersey, long-sleeve polypro undershirt, bib shorts, knee warmers, wool socks and long-finger gloves. I even stuffed a tuque in a pocket, next to the minipump. After a few weeks of this, the Vegas heat may actually feel pretty damn good.

  Or not. No, it won't. Definitely not. That's my forecast and I'm sticking to it. Today's high in Bibleburg will be a pleasant 74, perfect for the wildflowers in Palmer Park and a ride thereto. In Vegas, it will be 93. I ain't ready for that, not after a cool, rainy summer, and certainly not while walking around with a rucksack stuffed with electronics, getting bombarded with equal parts UV and bullshit.

  Speaking of which, The Decider will be delivering a harangue today at the United Nations General Assembly. No word on whether he'll bang on the lectern with a cowboy boot a la Khrushchev, another renowned whacko with a short fuse. The McClatchy Newspapers Washington bureau has a preview:

"He will talk about, and I think really challenge, all of the other countries assembled there, and the United Nations as an institution, to take some responsibility in its role - and step up to the role of encouraging ... the forces of moderation in this struggle against extremism," National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters Monday.

  Ho, ho. That's rich. "The forces of moderation in this struggle against extremism." Exactly how I would describe the Busheviks, if I had a skull full of cheap smack, tumors and bullet wounds. As to taking responsibility, well, that would be a first for this outfit, too. They've shown all the responsibility of a 14-year-old delinquent in a whorehouse with a fake ID, a stolen credit card and ADD.

  The New York Times has a squib about Numbnuts laying yet another warning on Iran pre-speech, including a bunch of pointless "Today" show-style blather about whether the two men might have a chance "hallway confrontation" en route to lunch or the shitter, and who is taller than whom. This while some more serious folks are war-gaming a strike on Iran. Jesus Christ. No wonder newspaper readership is in a tailspin. Why, our local cage-liner is trolling for Colorado Press Association awards by running a series on drunks and the costs they impose upon decent, sober, God-fearing taxpayers, and it hasn't mentioned me once.

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Something wicked this way comes

  Yep, it's that time of year again: I'm gearing up for the annual descent into the maelstrom that is the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas. My personal program is all screwed up this year because of a variety of misfortunes, the worst being the relocation of the Bicycle Retaiiler & Industry News crew from the Fairfield on Paradise to the Riviera Hotel & Casino, which means a longer walk to the show, the first part of it through a clangor of chain-smoking bluehairs pissing away their Social Security and coughing up blackened chunks of lung.

  But there's a local angle, too — the only hometown cyclo-cross this year is this Saturday, the day I'd originally planned to hit the road. So I'm sticking around for that, then blazing south to Santa Fe for the traditional brain-and-body cleansing before roaring west on Monday toward Bugsy Siegal's Funhouse.

  Tradition dictates a stopover in Flagstaff en route to Vegas, but there will be no time for that this year (on the way out, anyway). Maybe on the way back. I'd like to check up on my boy Big Jonny of DrunkCyclist.com and see how he's coming along after being turned into a low-earth-orbit satellite by a drunken driver.

  The usual pointless jabber about the trip will find its way online at some point, either here or at VeloNews.com. I'll keep you posted. I'm done with playing utility infielder during the Vuelta coverage and am slowly but surely developing a flickering, half-hearted interest in writing again. I'm fueling that latent urge by killing the cable TV. Three months of that inane bullshit was plenty, believe you me. Six hundred channels and nothing worth watching. Adelphia is sending a guy by tomorrow to collect the box, and tonight we'll be watching the last cable TV I will ever spend American money on. Tomorrow, we'll be back to watching the fourth season of "Northern Exposure" on DVD. Now that's what I call must-see TV.

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A Sunday meditation

  The next picture in this series, of course, is the Great Dane shitting an entirely intact, terrified Chihuahua off a cliff.

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E. coli . . . it's what's for dinner

  They're running us down on the highways, poisoning us in the groceries and lying to us in Washington. In short, it's business as usual here in the Benighted Snakes of Amerika.

  Speaking of business, boy, that industrial farming sure is working out nicely, hey? Nothing like sitting down to a tasty spinach salad and then spending the next few days shitting all over the place like a howler monkey full of cocaine and Ex-Lax. Bluto is probably taking this opportunity to beat Popeye like a gong as he squats there on the pot, squealing like Olive Oyl. And there's noplace to hide. Natural Selection Foods of San Juan Bautista, California, which bills itself as the largest grower and shipper of organic produce in North America, packages spinach for more than 30 companies, among them Bellissima, Cheney Brothers, Coastline Compliments, Cross Valley, D'Arrigo Brothers, Dole, Earthbound Farm, Emeril, Fresh Point, Green Harvest, Jansal Valley, Mann Mills Family Farm, Natural Selection Foods, Nature's Basket, O Organic, Premium Fresh, President's Choice, Pride of San Juan, Pro-Mark, Rave Spinach, Ready Pac, River Ranch, Riverside Farms, Snoboy, Superior, Sysco, Tanimura & Antle, The Farmer's Market and Trader Joe's. What's the difference between President's Choice and Cheney Brothers? Does the Cheney spinach take over the refrigerator and send the President's spinach out to do all the talking? What do all these outfits actually do to earn their money? Toss the packages onto a truck? Jesus, no wonder I drop a couple Cs everytime I walk into a Whole Foods.

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Ever heard of drafting, Paddy me boyo?

  UCI president Pat McQuaid is probably not stupid, but he must think we are. In a second-day story detailing some of the reactions to Frankie Andreu's doping revelation, McQuaid told The New York Times today that teammates using performance-enhancing drugs might not have helped Lance Armstrong win his seven Tours.

"It's debatable whether the lead rider is any faster because his teammates are doping," he said.

  Uh huh, yeah, right. I'm no genius myself, but I've often wondered whether it might be more sensible to dope the water-carriers instead of the stars, given the tactics of modern racing, which see an entire team drill it up the lower slopes of some monstrous climb in order to spring the leader free. The star is already an exceptional athlete (that's why he's the star, no?), but if you give him a half-dozen doped-to-the-headlights tow trucks to follow when the going gets tough, his job — winning races — is going to be made a good deal easier. And the tow trucks are not gonna get tested nearly as often as the stage winners.

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The day after

  My, it was pleasant to skip the Puppet-in-Chief's little skit last night. The best thing about being a free-lance cycling scribe is you don't have to watch some lying sack of shit in a thousand-dollar suit with a flag lapel pin as he shovels out the old bovine exhaust with a will. Cycling's liars mostly wear Lycra, and their fibs are of less import. Both crowds, of course, despise the French.

  I'm good and sick of them all, if you want to know the truth. I used to enjoy politics, but this crowd running the country these days has taken all the fun out of that sport, for participants and spectators alike. And the dopers who have turned cycling journalism into police reporting are quickly draining all the life out of a sport that I quit real journalism to follow.

  Now Frankie Andreu has copped to doping in preparation for the 1999 Tour. Jesus Christ, who isn't (or wasn't) on The Program? Andreu's wife, Betsy, blames Lance Armstrong for her husband's departure from the straight and narrow, telling The New York Times that Andreu "didn't use EPO for himself, because as a domestique, he was never going to win that race. It was for Lance." But Frankie must not have gotten that memo, because a statement he released said, in part: "I took EPO to help myself, not to help anyone else."

  I'm not certain what value this confession has, seven years after the fact. Even Frankie has his doubts: "Are my remarks going to make the sport better? Are my remarks going to clean up the sport? Probably not." I'd like to hear a few more details, myself. How he got the stuff, what he paid for it, who supplied it, who administered it, whether he was encouraged in this activity, and if so, by whom — you know, something that would actually help evict the money-changers besmirching our temple.

  Maybe guys like Frankie Andreu and David Millar are the real deal, stand-up guys who've seen the error of their ways and are striding boldly forward to help clean up cycling. But Millar had to get nailed, big time, before he came to Jesus. And Frankie no longer works in professional cycling, unless I'm mistaken; he was sacked by Toyota-United earlier this summer and participated only minimally in OLN's coverage of this year's Tour. According to his website, he offers coaching and camps, and does motivational speaking.

  Now would be a great time to do some motivational speaking. Say, to USADA, WADA, the UCI and USA Cycling. Give Paul Kimmage a jingle. Drop some fuckin' dimes, Frankie.This ain't no 12-step program here. "Hi, I'm Frankie, and I'm a doper" ain't gonna cut it.

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In memoriam

  KCME-FM is dedicating this morning to a remembrance of the terrorist attacks of five years ago. Right now it's playing "Adagio for Strings" by Samuel Barber, a truly dolorous piece of music. You may recall it as part of the emotional foundation in Oliver Stone's "Platoon." It was also played after the deaths of Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy. This particular version is from Leonard Bernstein, conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic; you can download another version here. As I listen, contemplating all that has been done (and undone) since Sept. 11, 2001, I hear a vocal harmony: Mother Jones, shouting, "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!" and Joe Hill, warning, "Don't waste any time mourning — organize!"

  Incidentally, we will not be listening to or watching The Decider's harangue this evening. Why waste a few moments of a life which has been proven to be all too short watching a serial liar using the Oval Office for partisan purposes, erecting yet another façade of falsehood atop the bones of our brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors, mothers and fathers, all in the hopes of queering a couple more elections? It makes pissing on a grave look genteel by comparison.

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  Congrats to my sister, Peggy O'Grady, and her husband, Howard Liber, who tied the knot on Saturday at Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins. It was a small ceremony — the happy couple and the mutual friends who introduced them; the groom's brother and nephew; Shannon and I; and the bride's best pal since grammar school. We enjoyed an informal service and an Italian meal, drank a few toasts, and spent a wonderful day with new friends and family. My Gaelic is a little weak (read: non-existent), but I unearthed a toast that seems appropriate:

Mille failte dhuit le d'bhreid,
Fad do re gun robh thu slan.
Mo ran la ithean dhuit is sith,
Le d'mhaitheas is le d'ni bhi fas.

  Which translates to:

A thousand welcomes to you with your wedding veil,
May you be healthy all your days.
May you be blessed with long life and peace,
May you grow old with goodness, and with riches.

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Just when I thought I was out . . .

  . . . they pull me back in. It's damn' hard not to pay attention to the Vuelta, especially when a guy gets paid to do so by a certain journal of competitive cycling, which shall remain nameless. Anyway, Discovery Channel wrote a nice little tear-jerker during today's stage, sending Egoi Martinez out on a series of breaks that culminated in his winning the day in honor of Steve "The Crocodile Hunter" Irwin, a Discovery TV stalwart who got croaked by a giant sting ray on Monday. The Disco ducks were all wearing black armbands on their right sleeves in remembrance of Irwin, who was nearly as entertaining as the fabled Monty Python "Bruces" skit and usually seemed to be having more fun on the job than the rest of us, which is probably why it killed him.

  And watching Irwin, the Pythons or even a bunch of shaven-legged sissies in Lycra chasing each other around Spain beats the shit out of watching The Decider try to pull off some sinister riff on Catfish Hodge ("Boogie Man Gonna Git Ya"). Puh-leeze. I wouldn't believe this pendejo if he told me my nuts were on fire and I could smell smoke. Especially with an election coming up. He's polling somewhere between Hannibal Lecter and Tom Cruise, GOP candidates are treating him like he has West Nile, Ebolla and the blue munge, and Fart Blossom tells him the CIA told Robert Novak to tell him that the galleys of the first history books to discuss his administration are sprinkled liberally with the descriptive "fucktard." In California, anyway.

  The whole sordid affair has depressed Ho Chi Meow, who has taken to the tall grass to meditate on the pure white light of stupidity as discussed in the works of Medium Rare, mystic chef and guru. And who can blame her? Me, I'm drinking Spanish wine — lbariño Burgáns Rias Baixas 2005 — in hopes of growing some Spanish legs. There's a cyclo-cross race coming up, and I'm riding like a maricón. Not that there's anything wrong with that. . . .

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Install a conscience while you have him on the table, please

  SecDef Donald "Squinty" Rumsfeld underwent surgery to repair a rotator cuff torn, apparently, while patting himself on the back for his success in making a total hash of the Iraq war. He did not undergo a general anesthetic, choosing instead to bite on a piece of shrapnel torn from the corpse of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. His recovery period is expected to be short and should in no way hamper his ability to order his fellow Americans' children, spouses, friends and neighbors to their deaths for the remainder of the Bush administration.

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Good enough for government work

  While we're celebrating our only national holiday honoring the working class and the amazing gains made by same of late, let us consider the kind of job the ruling class is doing with its War On Terra. It seems that yet another "deadly plot" against our freedom, as outlined by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, "was virtually the pipe dream of a few men with almost no ability to pull it off on their own" and raises questions about the FBI's role in keeping the scheme alive through the heavy use of stoolies and cash.

  "Not only did government informants provide money and a meeting place for (Narseal) Batiste and his followers, but they also gave them video cameras for conducting surveillance, as well as cellphones, and suggested that their first target be a Miami FBI office, court records show," according to Walter Pincus in The Washington Post.

  The feds played these bozos like kazoos — money-whipped them until they were dizzier than Paris Hilton, gave them plenty of electronic toys and a place to play, even suggested targets — and then decided they were a threat to the Republic. If the IslamoFascistsTM are this stupid, it's time to declare victory on that front and go after the real enemy — which appears to be our own government.

  Meanwhile, despite all the bad news from DeeCee, it was another top-notch day in Dog Country. A couple of my Main Mutts and I took a 'cross cruise out into the Air Farce Academy and back yesterday, just dicking around; today, Big Bill McBeef, Herself and I took a lackadaisical ride to Manitou to snicker at hippies, artists and tourists. We stumbled across Other Bill and his better half, caught up on the latest gossip, then went our separate ways. Our original trio met later for dinner at Paravicini's, which was . . . OK. The calamari fritti appetizer and its accompanying sauce were tasty, but my veal Parmigiana was unimpressive, and the salad was your basic honeymoon style (lettuce alone). Herself's ravioli was better, but if these are considered "large portions," well, shit, I'm a Republican. Still, our server was enthusiastic and friendly, if less than proficient with a cork-puller, and the atmosphere was pleasant. And it was a Monday, and Labor Day to boot, so the place is probably worth a second look, if someone else is picking up the tab.

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The green, green grass of home

  Well, we can forget about fleeing to the mother country, if The Washington Post has this right. The bog-trotters have a housing bubble going on that makes ours look like a mouse fart. Oh, well, there's always Vancouver.

  Speaking of damp climates, 'tis a fine soft morning in Bibleburg. A light mist is falling and it's all of 48 degrees outside. The furnace just kicked on for the first time in months, and Ike the cat (a.k.a. The Puddin', Chairman Meow, Ho Chi Meow, Mary Tyler Meow, et al) is incubating under the end-table lamp. The Forces of Evil have pissed on my regularly scheduled cyclo-cross workout for three consecutive Saturdays now. They must work for the bicycle industry, which clearly wants me to buy more chains, cogsets, chain rings, brake pads, lube and cleaning products to counter the dip in business caused by Lance's retirement and the subsequent positive doping tests that have befallen everyone else. I've already done pads, cogs, chain and rings on the No. 1 Eurocross, new rubber on the No. 2, and a set of Shimano cantis on the VooDoo, which could do with a new wheelset, too. This may be why I'm once again laboring on Labor Day weekend.

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Good News Department Redux

  Just in case you haven't been rendered suicidal by the media's various Katrina retrospectives, as Sept. 11 approaches you may be surprised to learn that five years later, we're still not safe, according to the McClatchy Washington bureau. And this despite things going so darn well in Iraq. Is it any wonder that The Decider is sounding more and more like Captain Queeg? I keep waiting for him to snap and throw a punch at someone, but the Frat Boy-in-Chief refuses to party on the public patio where the cameras are, preferring closed fund-raisers in private homes. So if he's smacked anyone, it was probably a drunk woman or a crippled kid. It all brings to mind a bumper sticker I saw the other day: "I Never Thought I'd Miss Nixon." Thanks for the art and a tip of the Mad Dog cycling cap go out to fendergal.

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This just in: Rich get richer

  More than 46 million of our fellow Americans are doing without health insurance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau as reported by the McClatchy Newspapers Washington bureau. That would be nearly 16 percent of us, for the mathematically challenged among you. Meanwhile, full-time male employees saw their earnings dip in 2005, as they did in 2004, while their female counterparts took a similar hit for the third straight year. "It's a bizarre situation where the pie is growing pretty dramatically but most people's slices are getting smaller," says Harry Holzer, a visiting fellow at the Urban Institute and former chief economist for the U.S. Department of Labor. It's not bizarre, Harry — shameless, maybe; heartless, certainly; greedy, without a doubt. But that the rich get the gold mine while the poor get the shaft is not exactly bizarre, not with the GOP running the country.

  I don't have what you'd call much in the way of health insurance. I carry a catastrophic policy that will pick up whatever's left of me after the $5,000 mark, which means I pay full retail for visits to the doc, opthalmologist and dentist, and for most prescriptions and eyeglasses, too. I fit into the declining-income gang, too, because although I am getting bigger checks these days, I'm also working more, mainly at chores I don't enjoy all that much. At least I can do 'em indoors, in the shade, where the beer is. But I notice that isn't getting any cheaper.

  Coming up: A long list of things that annoy me.

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Meanwhile, at the Pentacle ('scuse me, Pentagon)

  Asshat-in-Chief Donald Rumsfeld has cracked his smelly piehole yet again, this time telling the American Legion's national convention that his critics suffer from "moral or intellectual confusion." No, Don, we just think you're full of shit to the sideburns and belong in one of your own nameless prisons, is all. Quoth Rummy: ''Can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America — not the enemy — is the real source of the world's troubles?'' Jesus H. Christ, this elevates fucktardery to the level of an art form. It's matched only by the recycled Vietnam War non sequitur "Would you rather fight them over there or in downtown Colorado Springs?" Let me know when they get here, boys, and I'll break out the household arsenal. In the meantime, shut the fuck up.

  Meanwhile, my boy Big Jonny at DrunkCyclist is back in the saddle, post-wise, after getting speared by a drunken driver. Stop by and say howdy. The most recent post includes a couple of notes from other victims enjoying lengthy recoveries. Makes me want to ride the old 'cross bike on trails for the rest of my days.

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La Vuelta a Whogivesashita: Part 2

  I remember when civilians used to ask me how a rider was doing, not what he was doing. How I have a faint hope of explaining. What I got no training for. I got a B.A. in journalism, not a Ph.D in sporting pharmacology. My drug use was confined to the Seventies and Eighties, conducted strictly on an amateur basis, and detracted from, rather than enhanced, performance.

  Happily, no one (other than lawyers and doctors) is paying attention to the Vuelta. Except me. Because it's, like, kind of, like, part of my job and shit. Buggers ran a 219km stage in 100-degree heat today and what a snoozer it was. Break, chase, catch, sprint. You could've sold it as a sleep aid. Trust me — I plunked down a few euros to watch the bugger on the Internet, and I've seen bigger crowds at a child molester's funeral. Ever watch a bike race on a 12-inch iBook? It's like trying to watch the Baptists across the street screwing after church on Sunday by peering through the keyhole in the front door. While standing on your hands. With your reading glasses on. While drunk.

  And let's return to the subject of child molesters for a moment. Who among you thought John Mark Carr poked and croaked JonBenet Ramsey? Please surrender your voter-registration cards, driver's licenses and organs suitable for transplant at once, because you're too fuckin' stupid to live. Herself and I called bullshit on this noise as soon as we heard about it, and guess what? So has the Boulder district attorney. But not before the media, God love 'em, sold a shitload of advertising pimping this improbability. I've always thought that the poor kid's parents should have been sentenced to life in a Turkish prison for turning their preteen offspring into a sex object, but then I have occasionally been accused of lacking a certain something in the sensitivity department. Along those lines, I'm having a tough time wrapping what remains of my mind around the notion that the taxpayers flew this crazy fucker back to the States from Thailand, fed him and housed him, sprayed him all over the front pages like the money shot in a snuff film, and will eventually prosecute him for some lame-o kiddy-porn bullshit, only to come up with . . . what, exactly? Beats me. What's a box of .22 longs cost these days?

  On the upside, KRCC-FM is running an insanely eclectic set this evening: The Ventures ("Walk Don't Run"); the Mothers of Invention ("Trouble Every day"); National Lampoon ("Deteriorata"); Devo ("Freedom of Choice"); Tom Waits ("Whistling Past the Graveyard"); and other weirdo tunes as well. There is hope for humanity, even in benighted El Paso County, where my favorite NPR affiliate just wrapped up a little Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner ("The 2013-Year-Old Man"), followed by Iggy Pop ("Lust for Life"), a clip from The Firesign Theatre ("Everything You Know is Wrong"), a Bushism, and John Prine's "Illegal Smile."

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La Vuelta a Whogivesashita

  The Vuelta is on, and I couldn't care less. The dude who won the last one, Roberto Heras, made the old Dope-O-Meter go aaaaooooogah. The winner of this year's Giro, Ivan Basso, got smeared in the Operacíon Puerto inquiry. And the winner of the Tour, Floyd Landis, is said to have a giant manmade testicle secreted somewhere about his person. For my money, the only reason to pay attention to the Vuelta (besides Spanish podium chicks) is to see whether the Guardia Civil raids the sonofabitch. Let's see more perp walks and fewer champagne showers. Unless the champagne showers involve Spanish podium chicks, of course. How do you say "wet T-shirt contest" in Spanish?

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  God damn, poor old George Hincapie can't get a break. He crumbled like a thousand-year-old Clif Bar in the Tour, and now he's lost the Eneco Tour of Benelux in the final 100 meters, by a single second, hooked and crashed by that dastardly krauthead Stefan Schumacher. And me with a couple bottles of Gerolsteiner in the fridge, too.

  Still, things could always be worse. For example, George could be an "inactive" Marine reservist recalled to active duty for the other George's splendid little war in Messypotamia. McClatchy's Tom Lasseter wrote about The Decider's troop troubles in late July, quoting anonymous military officials as saying (surprise, surprise) there just aren't enough boots on the ground to handle all of Georgie's chores (find WMD, bring democracy to the Middle East, defeat terrorism, hasten the return of Jesus Christ, etc.). Well, now we're feeding 2,500 more jarheads into The Decider's meat grinder. Me, I'd rather be sprawled on the Belgian tarmac any old day, no matter who was going up the road without me.

  Speaking of The Decider, the feel-good story of the day is Katrina survivor Rockey Vaccarella driving a replica of his FEMA trailer to a meeting with the prez at the White House. Quoth The Decider: "He decided to come up to Washington, D.C., to make clear to me and others in the government that those people down there are still hurting." Vaccarella, for his part, told CNN that he had a "fantastic meeting" with Bush and that the two men had a "good 'ol Southern conversation." And no wonder. Because far from being a Spike Lee-style rabble-rouser, Vaccarella is a GOP shill and successful heat-it-and-eat-it bidnessman who ran for a seat on the St. Bernard parish commission in 1999. Here's the kicker: Vaccarella thanked the president for meeting with him, then added, "You know, I wish you had another four years, man. If we had this president for another four years, I think we'd be great.'' Time for a brain scan, Rockey; you've taken too many shots to the head. Thanks to Jason Zengerle at The Plank for the tip.

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Doing the right thing

  I'm not sure how to describe the first half of Spike Lee's examination of the Katrina debacle, aired tonight on HBO. Paul Brownfield of The Los Angeles Times describes "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts," as "a mural of sorts, protest art erected in ironic dismay over the governmental embarrassment and social disaster that New Orleans remains today." Yeah, I'd say that about covers it. If nothing else, it's a stark reminder of how pathetically little government can (or will) do for you, and how terribly much it can (and will) do to you, especially if you have chosen your parents unwisely (hint: go for rich and white). The Decider and his merry men come off especially badly, as they should. I imagine that anyone from the Big Easy who flies to D.C. these days gets one of those "random" security screenings involving a back room and a bullet-nosed flashlight. Part two airs Tuesday. Be there.

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Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then

  Some right-wing asshats are finally starting to discover what the rest of us have known for at least six years now, according to The Washington Post — George W. Bush is too stupid and lazy to be president. During the 2000 presidential election, I read "Shrub," the capsule history of The Decider's early political life by Molly Ivins (with Lou Dubose) and had my gut instincts regarding this towel-snapping frat boy confirmed in horrific fashion. Writes Ivins:

Where Bush is weak is on the governance side of politics. From the record, it appears that he doesn't know much, doesn't do much, and doesn't care much about governing. . . . Trouble is, when you aren't particularly interested in the nuts and bolts of governing, you end up with staff-driven policy.

  Ivins adds that it is "helpful" if our unengaged chief executive does not regularly "take a couple of hours off in the middle of the day to work out and play video games." She continues:

It's a curious thing about Bush, who is an observably competitive and almost hyperactive person, that the word lazy is used to describe him. You get no sense of laziness from watching him — if anything, he seems to have a rather short attention span and often seems impatient to move onto the next topic or project, leaving an impression of restless energy.

  This is all from the introduction, mind you. Ivins and Dubose went on to support these conclusions. But the really scary part, the one all you Bush-Cheney numbskulls should have tattooed on your sloping foreheads, comes near the end of the intro:

For an upper-class white boy, Bush comes on way too hard-ass — at a guess, to make up for being an upper-class white boy. But it's also a common Texas male trait. Somebody should probably be worrying about how all this could affect his handling of future encounters with some Saddam Hussein, but that's beyond the scope of this book.

  Indeed it is. That's something that all of us, especially the far-right fucktards who packaged, marketed and delivered this defective product, should have been thinking about way back in 2000, if not earlier. It's a little late for a recall now. The damage has already been done.

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Guys (and Gals) With Bigger Balls Than Me: A Continuing Saga

  "Ah, Jaysis, 'tis a fine soft day for a cyclo-cross workout so," Michael O'Schenk seems to say as he besmirches my sodden lawn with his knobby presence on a rainy Colorado Saturday. It has been pissing down for the better part of quite some time, as in all night long and well into the morning, and the rest of us have abandoned the weekly 'cross workout for indoor pursuits, like day drinking, masturbation and watching stupid shit on HBO. But not O'Schenk. His woman was out for a road ride in this drizzle at dark-thirty and she will not hear of him lolling about the house, watching old world-championship videos, snarling at the kiddies and clogging up the old dialup connection with porn downloads. So out he goes. Could be worse. He could be running the Pikes Peak Ascent in this soup. That and a tinfoil beanie will put a guy into the express lane to the Pearly Gates before you can say, "Looks like lightning."

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  Finally, at long last, someone outside the sport of cycling makes headlines for allegedly ringing the old Dope-O-Meter — track sprinter and five-time Olympic medalist Marion Jones. But of course, the leakers and scribes have to drag poor old Floyd into the story too, just in case we weren't paying attention over the past few weeks:

Should Jones be charged with a doping violation, she would become the third prominent American athlete to face such charges in the last month. Cyclist Floyd Landis tested positive for exogenous testosterone after winning the Tour de France. Sprinter Justin Gatlin, a three-time Olympic medalist who shares the world record in the 100 meters, tested positive for a steroid at a track meet in April.

  Can't wait to hear Dick Pound wax philosophical about Nazi frogmen and excrement on this one.

  Meanwhile, all you pussies with your shin splints, saddle sores and ITB/OTB issues should take a lesson from my man Cliff. An old bike-racing bud from New Mexico, Cliff chewed up and spit out a brain aneurysm last February and after three skull surgeries is already back on the bike. Herself and I enjoyed some pizza and a few drams with Cliff and his wife, Kath', this evening, and he looks better and makes more sense than I do. This is not exactly a high bar to hop, it's true, but then the brain mechanics haven't had my hood up yet, either. I could probably do with a tuneup. Herself sure thinks so, and so do most of my editors.

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Rihs-ski business

  See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya — that's what Phonak honcho Andy Rihs said today as he announced that cycling would not have the Phonak cycling team to kick around beginning in 2007. "As a passionate cycling fan, I am bitterly disappointed that the sport of cycling has apparently become a synonym for doping," Rihs said Tuesday during a press conference in Zürich. That was a 180-degree turnaround from his position during the Tour, before Floyd Lazarus returned from the dead on Stage 17. On July 21, he told Sebastian Moll:

"In terms of cost and effect, cycling is the best marketing tool you can find. Just to make the name of my company known in the U.S. the way I am with Floyd, I would normally have to spend $200 million for five years. The cycling team costs $7 million or $8 million a year and it makes my company known worldwide. . . . Doping does not diminish that effect at all. In a way I am glad that there is so much talk about doping in cycling, because it deters big corporations. If they would invest in cycling I wouldn't be able to afford it anymore. . . . I am against legalizing doping, because then people would die. But by and large, in professional, mass-media sports, I think we will always have to live with doping."

  Meanwhile, I take a grim sort of amusement from the shrill playground banter between The Decider and Hezbollah's Sheik Hassan Nasrallah over who "won" in Lebanon. Certainly wasn't the Lebanese. But at least it got Iraq off the front pages for a while, eh?

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Bad news

  Man, the news just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it? The Israeli blitzkrieg rolls onward in Lebanon, the only thing you can take aboard a commercial airliner anymore is a finger for picking your nose, and Lance Armstrong urges Floyd Landis to shut the fuck up. A little late, there, Tex. Not much point in corking the old test tube when the genie with the three grapefruit-sized, Day-Glo testicles has escaped.

  Worse yet, the only cyclo-cross race in Bibleburg this year will be run on the day I am to hit the road for Vegas and Interbike. Actually, that's not quite not as bad as it sounds, because where cyclo-cross is concerned, I suck like a toothless crack whore hunting her next rock. I did my first actual 'cross workout of the 2006 season on Tuesday, and I felt OK, if slightly spastic, but today I hit the same practice circuit with a couple of buddies and I got shelled like a Lebanese village. Remember the chase scene through the trees in "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back," where Luke hits the binders on his crotch rocket and shoots backwards like he's popped a drag chute, dropped anchor and blown the engine? That was me today. After a couple of go-rounds, I looked down at the heart-rate monitor, picked a range of numbers in three figures that I thought I could live with, and just rolled around until the other guys got bored. At least I wasn't doing the Race to Replace at the Brickyard. It looked more like the Dash for Donuts, post-apocalypse. I haven't seen that many fat bastards since the last time I looked in the mirror after a couple or three bottles of wine.

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Big Jonny back home

  The Potentate of Potables & Poon, the larger-than-life Big Jonny of DrunkCyclist, has been discharged from the hospital after a brief tour of duty as a hood ornament on a wastrel's car. Comrades Big Pun and the Gnome advise that The Big Man " is healing quickly from two compression fractures in the L3 and L5 vertebrae and all X-rays and MRI scans up to this point have been negative for fractures or other major injuries." Good news indeed. So is the word that the driver of the sedan that turned Big Jon into a meat loaf with eyes, a tosspot who blew between 0.120 and 0.116 when the coppers found him, was booked into the county slammer on charges of aggravated DUI and felony hit-and-run. Less pleasing is the word that he had checked out of the graybar hotel by last Monday. Let's hope that his next visit is open-ended.

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Meanwhile, in American sports news . . .

  Floyd Landis looks pretty damn tame after a peek at former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett. A highway chase that led to a row with the fuzz — including a stun-gun shot foiled by a bullet-resistant vest, a good Macing, and the subsequent discovery of four weapons and a half-empty bottle of potato juice — concluded with a night in the pokey for the 22-year-old whackjob, who was awaiting trial on two counts of aggravated robbery, four counts of robbery and one count of carrying a concealed weapon in a separate case. But never fear: Clarett's contract to play indoor football for the Mahoning Valley Hitmen in Youngstown, Ohio, is not in jeopardy, according to Hitmen coach and owner Jim Terry. ''We gave him a chance and now we'll wait to see what happens,'' he said. ''I've seen far worse situations than this.''

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Man down

  Sonofabitch. Some scumbag has run down my boy Big Jonny of DrunkCyclist.com and put him in the hospital. Nailed him from the rear at 55 mph while he was riding in the bike lane and then took off like a scalded cat. The bad news: multiple lumbar fractures and enough road rash for five Tours de France. The good news: no paralysis, and the motorist has reportedly been charged with felony hit and run. I'll post more as soon as I hear it; naturally, the local newspaper has no online story that I am able to find — although Big Jonny will be amused to learn that it does carry a story citing a study that says music with raunchy lyrics causes teens to start doing the old in-out, in-out, at an earlier age than those who prefer less suggestive tunes. Raise a glass to Big Jonny this evening (or hell, right now, if you're so inclined) in hopes of a speedy recovery.

  Meanwhile, in unrelated news, Your Humble Narrator came in for an out-of-context mention in a Miami New Times story about the trials and tribulations of Matt DeCanio and David Clinger. A portion of a January 7, 2005, Foaming Rant on their respective cyclo-clownishness, with gratuitous edits that include an unnecessary ellipsis and the addition of a space between "Velo" and "News," is quoted thusly:

Cycling media had a field day. "There has been no end of the old viewing-with-alarm lately, thanks to the madcap antics of Matt DeCanio and David Clinger," wrote Patrick O'Grady, an editor and columnist at Velo News. "Once clean-cut, happy young men ... the kind a lucky team director could feel good about taking home to meet the sponsor, they have wandered far from the straight and narrow, the first assuming the persona of an insomniac Eliot Ness and the second the façade of a Polynesian warrior."

  Why, that makes me sound like a fat, grumpy, baldheaded old fuck. Which I am, and don't you ever forget it. But a tad further down in the rant I spoke less harshly:

So I say let 'em ride. As bad examples of sportsmanship go, these cyclists look like Mormon missionaries next to the likes of Ron Artest and Todd Bertuzzi. Webcor will get much more ink out of Clinger's adventure in Argentina than is presently decorating his face, and DeCanio seems likely to develop his own individual look as he and his colleagues debate their differences, one involving missing teeth, blackened eyes and scabby knuckles.

  You can read the entire blast from the past here, if you're bored with downloading porn in the old cube farm.

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Beer and whine

  Anyone desperate for more pointless nonsense regarding the ongoing Floyd Landis drama can find some over at VeloNews.com, where a fresh rant has been shoehorned in among the insanely strobing ads. One or the other is certain to trigger seizures among those with delicate constitutions. I nearly had one myself today when I went to gas up the old rice-grinder, thanks to BP, which apparently stands for "Bum Punchers," as that's where I felt the pain most acutely. If you ever drop your wallet around an oilman, be sure to kick it all the way home before you bend over to pick it up, unless you like the idea of using a roll of paper towels as a man-pon for the rest of your days.

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Dumb and dumber

  It's not exactly news that a recent Harris Poll found that 50 percent of Americans believe Iraq had WMD when the U.S. invaded in 2003. What is news is that a major mainstream-media outlet, The Associated Press, has written a story telling those 50-percenters how full of shit they are. Here's an excerpt:

"I'm flabbergasted," said Michael Massing, a media critic whose writings dissected the largely unquestioning U.S. news reporting on the Bush administration's shaky WMD claims in 2002-03.

"This finding just has to cause despair among those of us who hope for an informed public able to draw reasonable conclusions based on evidence," Massing said.

  The culprits, according to the story, include the neocon propagandist Faux News; GOP lawmakers/soulless robots Rick Santorum and Peter Hoekstra; The Decider himself (who either has an amazing capacity for self-delusion or just enjoys lying for its own sake); and our own inability to pay attention to anything for more than 60 seconds at a stretch, even when it's killing our countrymen, draining our treasury and blackening our national soul even as we proclaim ourselves the proverbial city on a hill.

  And it ain't over yet. Another excerpt:

As Israeli troops and Hezbollah guerrillas battled in Lebanon on July 21, a Fox News segment suggested, with no evidence, yet another destination for the supposed doomsday arms.

"ARE SADDAM HUSSEIN'S WMDS NOW IN HEZBOLLAH'S HANDS?" asked the headline, lingering for long minutes on TV screens in a million American homes.

  C'mon, folks. Pull your heads out of your fat asses and take a deep breath of fresh air. Then take my simple three-question test to determine whether you are too stupid to live:

  • Do you have a Bush-Cheney 2004 sticker on your SUV?

  • Do you continue to smoke tobacco, even though it's on a par with giving a blowjob to a Shiite's AK-47 while wearing a yarmulke?

  • Do you consider any American cyclist who flunks a doping test to be the victim of a French conspiracy?

  All finished? If you have answered, "Yes," to any (or, God forbid, all) of these questions, please kill your wife, any descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.), and as many of your blood relatives as you can before the SWAT team shows up, and then kill yourself. Think of it as adding a little chlorine to our cloudy national gene pool. And you'll be supporting the troops, too.

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From A to B

  As expected, Floyd Landis' "B" sample also made the Dope-O-Meter go aaaooogah today, and Phonak gave him the old heave-ho. Check out the story from Charles Pelkey and Andrew Hood here. You also can catch Scott Simon's interview with Pelkey this morning on NPR's "Weekend Edition Saturday," or stream the bugger here. If you miss it, don't worry. We'll be staring down the barrel of this bad boy through Thanksgiving at least, and maybe into the new year. Plenty of time to read stuff that pisses you off.

  Christ. I'm just about over this whole anti-doping thing. Diana Nyad raised the notion of letting 'em dope during a recent edition of "Marketplace." Here's an excerpt:

You know what? I'm in the minority but I've been here for quite a long time. And that is that I think we should just open it wide up. I don't think we really can control it anymore. And I think that the even playing field that everybody else talks about, taking no drugs, I think we should make it the even playing field of you experiment to your heart's content . . .

  I found her logic a tad skewed — CEOs who make sponsorship decisions won't accept illegal doping but will accept legalized doping? — but still, it's a topic worth discussing ("Marketplace" ran from it like it was drooling, naked from the waist down and packing a chainsaw). Why should we give a fat rat's ass if these silly shits want to swell up on synthetic testosterone, human growth hormone or freshly squeezed pineal-gland smoothies? Pro sport is entertainment, and nobody cares how much marching powder Robert Downey Jr. horns or how many shots of Mexican cactus whiskey Mel Gibson pours down his anti-Semitic piehole — until they overdo it and trample all over their own dicks in public, which often provides better entertainment than anything they do in front of the cameras for too much money.

  Does the War On Drugs In Sport make any more sense than the War On Drugs for Fun? From a spectator's vantage point, both seem like hopeless efforts, doomed to failure, that nevertheless mean a ton of income for a whole bunch of enterprises, from drug testers to anti-doping organizations to prison systems. Tobacco's legal; why not marijuana? I can't write without strong black coffee; if you believe the lab rats, Landis can't ride without a skewed T/E ratio. Why not decide that all drugs are created equal and let people take whatever they want or need for work or pleasure? You like psilocybin, I like red wine, Joe Smoothlegs likes speedballs — whip a hefty per-dose tax on the three of us and leave us the hell alone to enjoy our substance abuse. Just think of the bucks that would pour into the federal treasury. And we're gonna need every dime we can raise to repair the damage The Decider and his henchmen have done to our country over the past six years.

  Speaking of Numbnuts, does anyone else find it odd that the news hook is not that he is taking yet another Texas vacation while the world descends into chaos around us — he's spent an entire year of his six years in office dicking around in Crawford — but rather that he's only taking 10 days instead of a full month? This New York Times piece, incidentally, is a despicable piece of puffery better suited to the perpetually drunk publisher of a punk-ass weekly shopper in some inbred oilpatch trailer town. With "journalists" like Sheryl Gay Stolberg keeping us apprised of our national governance, it's no wonder the national tit is perpetually in the wringer.

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Back in the saddle again

  In case the two or three of you who insist on reading this nonsense are wondering what happened to the semi-regular updates, Herself and I were off on a little vaca' jaunt to the People's Republic of Kalifornia to help an old pal celebrate the wedding of his eldest son. I did the last update from a Holiday Inn Express in Winnemucca, Nevada, and then pretty much found myself without Internet access for the rest of the week, barring a quick visit to a cyber-cafe in Mendocino. Seems they're still communicating via log drum, smoke signal and carrier pigeon in Hopland, where the answer to just about any question, be it about technology, good places to ride or eateries where botulism isn't considered an appetizer, is, "Hey, man, this is Hopland."

  Happily, Hopland being a burg the size of a Little America gas-and-grease stop in Wyoming, we quickly found everything required for basic life support. We stayed at The Hopland Inn, broke fast at the Bluebird Cafe and drank at the Mendocino Brewing Company whenever we felt like beer instead of wine. The aforementioned old pal lives at the Jeriko Estate vineyard, so we had plenty of the grape within easy reach, especially after we did a drive-by on Navarro Vineyards & Winery during our day trip to the coast to see if The Decider had sold the Pacific to the Saudis since our last visit.

  I even managed to get a nice ride in. Two other old comrades — the same ones I went to Moab with last year, post-Interbike — took me on a 63-mile roller from Santa Rosa to Hopland for the wedding fiesta, dinking around on some narrow, hilly lanes through the wine country. Fat city. We trained for it by drinking tequila with former Salsa mainstay Lo Esparza, who apparently uses Chamucos for blood and has a titanium-and-carbon-fiber liver. For some reason we rode about as ferociously as Floyd Landis did in the last few klicks of Stage 16. Happily, nobody was pee-testing us for Mexican cactus whiskey afterward.

  Keen observers will note from the photo that we were not riding Trek Madones, Cervélos or any other flavor-of-the-month machinery. We were riding steel, baby, steel. I was on my favorite Steelman Eurocross, tricked out with new Continental road rubber, a pair of heavily scarred, Eighties-vintage Dura-Ace road pedals and two water-bottle cages. Merrill was astride an ancient Trek 610 sport-tourer, with downtube shifters and a rack, that he keeps at his mom's house in Merced for when he flies out from New York for a visit. Chris had the newest bike among us, a last-year's Specialized something-or-other with a triple crankset. Naturally, we punished him for this crime against cycling (New bike? A triple?) on the hills.

  En route to Hopland, we came across a group of Phoenix-area triathletes checking out a course to be used in a race the next day. We passed them with polite hellos, and naturally this outrage — being passed by geezers on garbage wagons — caused a couple of the more sensitive types among them to pass us right back, and at speed, too. I thought about breathing recycled Chamucos on them as they shot past, but decided a homicide rap might disrupt my vacation.

  Late update: Just in case you've forgotten (yeah, right), the word on Floyd Landis' "B" sample is due out tomorrow. Expensively dressed people with briefcases made of unicorn nutsacks and watches that cost more than your house, ruthless types who can't go out in daylight and show no reflection in mirrors, are banking (for real) on more bad news. Stay tuned to VeloNews.com for the latest in horrible shit you don't wanna know about.

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Press the meat

  I'm watching Floyd Landis's presser in Madrid on CNN, and it is indeed a clusterfuck extraordinaire. Dude looks like a cat in a clothes dryer full of weasels. His argument, apparently, is going to be that his testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio is naturally off the charts. "I am not in any doping process," he says, asking the media to avoid treating this as a doping case (ho ho ho, yeah, right, that's gonna happen). He's requesting the B-sample test, will undergo further examinations in hopes of proving his elevated testosterone levels are natural, and wants neither to be judged nor sentenced by anyone, especially those of us in the press. His Tour win, he adds, was due to "many years of training and my complete devotion to cycling," and didn't have anything to do with doping or the two beers and four shots of whisky he's said to have had the night before the big stage. "I'm proud of the fact that I won the Tour because I was the strongest guy there," he adds. Well, good luck, Hoss. Myself, I'd like to know why this elevated-testosterone deal never came up earlier in his career, which includes five Tours and wins in some top-shelf UCI races. But Landis is referring all medical questions to his attorneys.

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  Floyd Landis rings the Dope-O-Meter for an over-the-top testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio. Find your own URL; the story is all over the place, from the cycling press to The New York Times. I was on the road when I got the word via NPR and didn't get plugged in until late, so I won't be adding my little low-wire act to this latest media circus. But I'm definitely feeling like the clown who follows the diarrhetic elephant in the parade. It's hard to keep that silly-ass grin plastered all over your face.

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Tear it down and see what happens

  That's how Thomas Ricks, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and senior Pentagon correspondent for The Washington Post being interviewed on "Fresh Air," just described The Decider's master plan for Iraq, a recipe for chaos that he deemed worth of the late Yippie Jerry Rubin. Ricks, author of "Making the Corps," has a new book about Iraq out, called (wait for it) "Fiasco." Dig this passage:

Mr. Ricks argues that the invasion of Iraq "was based on perhaps the worst war plan in American history," an incomplete plan that "confused removing Iraq's regime with the far more difficult task of changing the entire country." The result of going in with too few troops and no larger strategic plan, he says, was "that the U.S. effort resembled a banana republic coup d'état more than a full-scale war plan that reflected the ambition of a great power to alter the politics of a crucial region of the world."

  And mind you, this is from a dude who thinks it's not only still possible to win, it's crucial.

  While Ricks and Terry Gross were chatting so depressingly about the slim odds of anything good happening in Iraq anytime soon, George W. Snerd announced that the U.S. military would be shifting troops from elsewhere in the country to Baghdad. The grunts must be loving this. "OK, troop, here's your water pistol, and there's Hell. Put it out." And Condi Rice makes a "surprise" visit to Beirut, where she ... uh ... shit, what exactly did she do? Oh, yeah, she tried to draw a few eyeballs away from Israel's meticulous destruction of southern Lebanon, which until today had managed to push even Iraq off the front pages. As the famous gyrene Gomer Pyle was fond of noting, "Soo-prise, soo-prise, soo-prise!" Hezbollah, unvisited by The Decider's workout buddy, passed the time jerking off over its press clippings and firing rockets into Israel. Ain't nothin' but a party.

  Meanwhile, a new Harris poll finds that "half of Americans now say Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the United States invaded the country in 2003 — up from 36 percent last year," according to Kevin Drum over at Washington Monthly. Where is Dean Wormer when we need him? "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

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Race of truth

  Holy shit. Sergei Gontchar crushes early with a 1:07:45. T-Mobile won't be firing him anytime soon.

  tick ... tick ... tick ...

  Floyd Landis hits the first time check a skosh faster than Gontchar.

  tick ... tick ... tick ...

  Landis hits the second time check a tad slower, but still second fastest on the day — and more important, eight seconds into the virtual yellow jersey.

  tick ... tick ... tick ...

  Carlos Sastre isn't exactly tearing it up out there. Oscar Pereiro is slugging it out, but he's losing time.

  tick ... tick ... tick ...

  Andréas Klöden is smokin'. Home in 1:08:26. Second for now.

  tick ... tick ... tick ...

  Landis third — and that should do it, if he just keeps the rubber down en route to Paris, and nobody breaks tradition and attacks him on the final stage.

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Mmm ... beer

  Fresh Foaming Rant up over at VeloNews.com, in case you're trapped in the cube farm with nothing to read. Meanwhile, Floyd Landis remains 30 seconds out of yellow going into the Tour's final time trial, and race leader Oscar Pereiro doesn't sound confident of finishing in The Big Shirt if Floyd gets all beered up and crazy again. Me, I ain't makin' any predictions. This Tour has been crazier than American foreign policy.

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I'm not dead yet

  Too bad I'm not a betting man. Yesterday, while IMing with VeloNews web guy Charles Pelkey, I noted that it would be funny if Floyd Landis bounced back from his collapse at La Toussuire to win today's stage. Well, a bunch of the guys he dropped en route to Morzine probably aren't laughing. Dude jumped himself right back up from 11th to third overall, 30 seconds off the lead, with a nice, long time trial coming up. In the first TT, Landis put more than a minute on Carlos Sastre, who now sits second overall, and even more on the yellow jersey, Oscar Pereiro. The fun ain't done. And I'd sure love to get me a sixer of whatever beer Landis was drinking last night.

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Understatement of the day

  Ladies and gentlemen, the new leader of the Tour de France, Oscar Pereiro: "This is a totally crazy race." Floyd Landis blew up like a thousand-year-old rubber on the climb to La Toussuire, dropped right out of the top 10 and pulled a Lancie-Pants post-stage, diving into the team car and refusing to speak with the press. The fabled One Bad Day that every Tour contender fears. Sucks to be him. Sure is a fun race to watch, though. To his credit, Landis relented after taking a time out and called a press conference to discuss his astounding meltdown. Big Tex, who was riding in the lead Discomobile, also chipped in his two cents' worth. Dude just can't leave it alone. Meanwhile, the baked boys of the 2006 Tour have more of the sucky-sucky on tap tomorrow. And some people wonder why they take dope.

  Elsewhere, the House votes to keep the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. God was not immediately available for comment. The security-conscious coppers in Davenport, Iowa, confiscated the sticks protesters were carrying during a visit by Deadeye Dick Cheney (that the sticks had American flags attached was apparently of no consequence, since they were not being burned). And The Decider issues his first veto, saying the stem-cell measure "crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect," while giving a big thumb's-up to the continued Israeli bombardment of Lebanon. And they said irony was dead.

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Handle with care

  Floyd Landis didn't ride any harder than he had to on today's stage to L'Alpe d'Huez, and he took some shit for it in the press scrum post-stage. Seems Floyd don't like takin' no shit, according to VeloNews, which quotes the race leader thusly:

"Bicycle racing is a tactical game. To my way of thinking I would like to save my team as much as possible, right up until the last day if it's possible.

"With that in mind, I will do what I can do to race conservatively, and let other people win stages. I think it shows confidence in me and in my team. I'd like to win a stage, but I don't have to. If I finish the race without a stage win but with the yellow jersey, I will be more than happy."

  Well, yeah, sure — especially with Wednesday's stage looking like something you might sentence a child molester to ride, on a big-box BMX bike with two slow leaks and a backpack full of stove bolts. Still, Landis's return to yellow lacked a certain bad-ass theatricality. There was no fabled "look," followed by the foot-through-the-firewall, out-of-the-saddle acceleration that looks so damn' good on TV and so bad when it happens in front of you when you're redlined, out of water and deep into a lactic-acid flashback. It's a lose-lose situation — if Landis loses the Tour because he rode too conservatively on L'Alpe d'Huez, people will call him a wanker. If he wins the Tour, especially without taking a stage, the same people will accuse him of lacking panache. Me, I think he rides pretty damn' stout for a dude with a bum hip.

  I got out for a 90-minute ride my own bad self today, riding the gradual climb up Mesa to 30th, then dipping down to the Garden of the Gods for a brisk lap and a half among the tourists, and finally scooting back to Dog Central to clock back in at VeloNews.com and check on Herself, who is recovering from a Lasik procedure (I will be happy to let somebody near my bloodshot eyeballs with a laser just as long as I can keep one white-knuckled hand on his nuts). I felt surprisingly good in the Garden, and nobody laughed, so maybe I'm gaining ground in the Battle of the Bulge. Or maybe I just had a rotating tailwind for a change.

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Drum roll, please

  Will it be the Charge of the Light Brigade tomorrow on L'Alpe d'Huez — shattered bodies stacked in every one of the 21 hairpins on that leg-breaker of a course as the big GC guns start firing — or is it gonna be more of a measured effort as the contenders look forward to Wednesday, which looks (if such a thing is even possible) even uglier? Beats me. You want wisdom, go read John Wilcockson, who's covered something like 39 Tours. He sees at least six candidates for The Big Shirt in Paris and expects equally big doin's tomorrow. Me, I'm just a fat bastard with shaved legs who'll be watching it on TV like everyone else. And I love L'Alpe d'Huez. It may be my favorite Tour stage, if only because I've seen so many sweaty, grim faces with eyes bugged out like Volkswagen Beetle headlights, zipping around one corner only to see another one up the road.

  Floyd Landis picks many of the same favorites Wilcockson does, including Rabobank's Denis Menchov. And there are rumblings in the sporting press of an alliance between Discovery Channel and Rabobank that would give the Disco' boys a stage win if they helped keep Landis on a short leash in the mountains; rumors also hint at bad blood between Phonak and Rabobank, the kind of tension that made the end of "The Godfather" so entertaining.

  But I can't imagine the Dutchies need Discovery's help. As Daniel Friebe notes in the Telegraph, Landis was all by himself on the final climb to Pla-de-Beret on Thursday, surrounded by three Rabos, including the alarmingly toothy Michael "Gary Busey" Boogerd. If memory serves, the Discos had all been punk'd by then. The best-placed Disco duck on that day was José Azevedo, 15th at 4:10. Help like that you can pick up at the corner bike shop if you promise to buy the Gatorade. Maybe Big Tex will punch in and lend a hand, if the Frogs don't mash him into paté de Plano for calling their football team assholes.

  Late update: Hotter than the hubs of Hell one minute, hailing the next. I expect that Allstate will be spending some money on O'Grady Subarus at Black & White Auto Body here shortly. A quick assay of my new-used '05 Forester during a commercial ("Sons of Katie Elder," Hallmark) revealed a rooftop that looked like Edward James Olmos's cheeks.

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No more for me, thanks

  Did you see Rik Verbrugghe, David Cañada and Matthias Kessler bite the bag in today's stage? I actually hollered out loud, as if I were right behind them ("Holy fuckin' shit!"). Verbrugghe is out for the season and due for pins in a compound fracture of the leg, Cañada collected a collarbone (been there, done that, got the clavicle brace) and Kessler actually got back on a bike and finished the stage. Big manly points for him.

  The Dogs and I were manly as well, albeit to a lesser degree, breaking the 'cross bikes out and flogging ourselves around Bibleburg, the Air Farce Academy and points east in 90-degree-plus heat. We had to stop at Big Bill McBeef's fitness club on the homebound leg to load up on cold water 'cause what little was left in our bottles tasted like warm flu. McBeef was bitching again, laying down something about the Irish and their twisted idea of an easy route home, so O'Stank and I dragged him on an extended detour through the deep sand in Palmer Park to bestow upon him the Zenlike serenity that characterizes our approach to training.

  Now it's 103 outside and nearly 90 indoors and I feel like a pot roast left overlong in the oven. Happily, there is an overlarge glass of icy French wine keeping me company here in the office (a 2005 Domaine des Cassagnoles Vin de Pays Côtes de Gascogne that I think is mainly French Colombard), and soon we will be dining at The Blue Star, where they have air conditioning and people who will do the cooking and washing up afterward, if only we will supply them with American money. Sounds like a deal to me.

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Here, man, hold this shirt for me, will you?

  It wasn't that stage 13 was unlucky for Phonak — Floyd Landis just decided that his nifty yellow jersey was a little too heavy to be dragging around France in this heat, at this time, so he handed it off for safekeeping to ex-teammate Oscar Pereiro (Long-Ass Team Name-Hate to Carve It On a Tombstone). Pereiro gets to lug the bugger up a couple of Cat. 2 and 3 hills to Gap tomorrow, sleep with it on Monday's rest day, and start with it on Tuesday, when the peloton tackles L'Alpe d'Huez. Who gets to wear it after that ugly mother is anybody's guess. Giving up the jersey is a crapshoot, Landis concedes, but in theory it relieves him and the team of the primary responsibility for playing Kenworth tractor to the peloton's trailer. Tomorrow, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday should be big fun. If you're watching the race on TV, that is. I'd hate to be watching the sumbitch from a saddle.

  Speaking of which, Big Bill McBeef and I made it out three days this week, and that's damn near training, AARP style. We're going for No. 4 tomorrow. That there Floyd Landis fella ain't got nothin' on us.

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The Disco' ball spins once more

  Where the hell have I been? Watching the Tour, of course. Hey, you want a website with regular updates, subscribe to The New York Times. Anyway, here's the latest from France on Bastille Day: After getting dropped like a bunch of empty bidons in the Pyrenees, the Disco' ducks finally came to life today and stuffed Yaroslav Popovych into a winning break. Woo hoo, ain't nothin' but a party. Read more about it here, courtesy of Jason Sumner at VeloNews.com.

  The wise guys are all calling this the weirdest Tour they've seen in years, and I can't disagree. Today a neighbor asked me, "Who's gonna win?" I said, "I have no idea. Could be a howler monkey on a pogo stick for all I know." And I like it that way. Every morning I get up, grab a cup of mud and plunk down in front of the tube without a clue as to who's gonna try to do what to whom, and that's what I call must-see TV.

  Meanwhile, if the continuing devolution of the Middle East into an Old Testament clusterfuck of warring clans has you thinking about emigration to Pluto, consider this: A pair of self-styled trolls who had been demanding money to cross "their" bridge in Boulder are in the clutches of the mailed fist of justice. I'd love to be a fly on the wall when they try to explain themselves to their cellmates: "What am I in for? Uh, see, I'm a troll, and this asshole cop who tried to cross my bridge wouldn't give me a dollar, so I whacked him with a golf club, and ..." You can just hear the sound of unzipped prison coveralls falling to the floor.

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Floyd's hip

  Floyd Landis is one hard dude. Seems the guy who sits No. 2 in this year's Tour has been kicking all that ass with a bum hip. Kudos to Dan Coyle for trotting this one out, and to Floyd for making Popeye look like Olive Oyl.

  Meanwhile, it seems I'm not the only guy interested in RVs these days. I'm just the only guy who doesn't want one the size of an aircraft carrier. Check out this action over at The New York Times. "It used to be that you would do this to get away from it all," said Stew Oleson, the host of the cable TV show 'R.V. Today.' "Now you take it all with you." And my wife thinks I'm a wastrel for being casually interested in a VW Eurovan. I should show her one of these bad boys and buy the Eurovan with the insurance, right after she explodes.

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Johan makes a Discovery

  Big doin's at Le Tour. As Discovery Channel's Johan Bruyneel noted post-stage: "It's lucky Jan Ullrich is not here, otherwise the Tour would be over." In other words, spank, spank, Spanky McSpankyspank. The guy who came off worst today was Bobby Julich, who slid out in the first two klicks, ate a curb and left the race in an ambulance. No busted bones, but damn, that's gonna leave a mark. If you haven't seen the clip, check around online, it's bound to be out there somewhere.

  I'm surprised an old hand like Bruyneel would make a comment like that to a reporter. It's just the sort of rap in the nuts that a dude like Floyd Landis might use for motivation ("Thank God we're only racing the wankers this year, or we might be in the shit."). And it can't do much to boost George Hincapie's morale ("We haven't got a leader capable of beating a real contender."). Then again, maybe it's just a mindfuck ("Oh, we're so weak, we couldn't possibly contend for the overall, we'll just try to sneak a couple of stage wins between here and Paris.") Anyone who's ever toed a start line has heard that one before. The dude with the legs that look like polished mahogany looks over at you with a smile full of teeth and says something like, "Me? Oh, no, haven't been training at all. Busy at work. Kids sick. Saddle sore the size of a regulation softball." Yeah, right. And then he laps you before you even get clipped in.

  The dude I'm curious about is Levi Leipheimer. He took the kind of beating I'd like to see Karl Rove get in the next two elections. Six minutes down in 96th place? We're talking two seconds up on my boy Stuey O'Grady, who's riding with a busted vertebra. For chrissakes, Tom Boonen flogged him by two minutes . . . I know the yellow jersey gives a guy a little something extra, but sheeeeeeeeyit.

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Sniper in the class war

  When I come up for air in the ocean of velo-insanity that is the Tour de France, I go looking for inflammatory political rhetoric to flush out my headgear. Here's some. Thanks and a tip of the Che beret to Smirking Chimp.

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Fourth of July

  "God bless America. Let's save some of it."

— Ed Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang.

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The man with the hammer

  Thor's back in The Big Shirt, and he got it the same way George did, by riding smart. Doping scandals aside, this Tour is proving to be fun to watch — I love desperate, last-minute breaks that get gobbled up at the line, probably because I've been in so many of 'em. This last one got me so wound up I actually broke out the string trimmer and shaved my legs so I won't look quite so much like Sasquatch on the revived Tuesday and Thursday rides with Big Bill McBeef. Plus I'll be a couple of pounds lighter on the climbs.

  In related news, a colleague chides me for periodically trolling the newsgroup rec.bicycles.racing, but one occasionally finds a nugget in that dungheap. Paul Kimmage, the author of "A Rough Ride," is at the Tour for The Times. You can read his July 2 piece here. Thanks and a tip of the Mad Dog cycling cap to Brian Lafferty.

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By George, I think he's got it!

  All the Discovery Channel chamois-sniffers are peeing their Livestrong panties an even deeper shade of yellow at the news that George Hincapie has become just the fourth American to wear the maillot jaune, thanks to a savvy move in midstage that netted him a couple extra bonus seconds and paid off in gold at the finish line. Good for George; he's been rowing for years and it's nice to see him on the bridge for a change.

  Meanwhile, the weirdness continues. Prologue winner Thor Hushovd gets slit open by some dipshit fool's big cardboard hand during the final sprint and loses a few pints of the red stuff, and some other yahoo was throwing water balloons at Tom Boonen. Word from the lads in Frogland is that spectatorship is down; maybe everyone's still hungover from celebrating France's 1-0 defeat of Brazil in the World Cup.

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Thunder god wins prologue

  Big George Hincapie fell just about two-third of a tick shy of winning the 2006 Tour de France prologue time trial today. That honor went to Thor Hushovd. Great name, eh? But not as good a cycling name as Marco Velo (144th at 44:25). Floyd Landis got a late start, thanks to a cut tire and a wheel change, or he might've won the bugger and slipped into The Big Shirt. Happily, it's a long race, and if everybody stays out of the Bastille it may yet provide a little excitement of the sporting variety.

  Meanwhile, amid all the grand-doo and fooferaw, I forgot that I'd mentioned in my last Bicycle Retailer & Industry News column how much I was looking forward to seeing Basso and Ullrich duke it out in this year's Tour. Way to make a sap out of me, guys. I console myself with the thought of them trying to fight their way out of the shower in some Spanish slammer. At least I was right about this much:

This Tour will have everything a Nielsen family could ever want — pro sport, doctors, cops and lawyers. Toss in a dash of Oprah and a pinch of "American Idol" and you could start your own network, just off this one race.

The elastic will be snapping in the mountains, and the handcuffs will be snapping in the team hotels. Talking heads with sober expressions will interview retired athletes regarding "this plague of doping" while a jillion drunken Belgians line the hairpins of L'Alpe d'Huez, pissing on their own shoes. I¹m telling you, it doesn¹t get any better than this.

  Look for the rest of the column lying crumpled near the toilet in a bicycle shop near you.

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Tour de Farce

  Oh, shit. Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Oscar Sevilla, Francisco Mancebo — out of the Tour. And more ejections may be on the way, thanks to fresh dope (you should pardon the expression) from Spain's Guardia Civil regarding its Operación Puerto. "There are so many names on the list, and so many of them are here," race director Christian Prudhomme told Samuel Abt of the International Herald Tribune.Three of the top five from last year's Tour will watch this year's race on TV. Sure am glad I hooked up the cable for this one. It's gonna be like staring into a toilet, watching turds chase each other around the bowl.

  Later that same day: Well, the shit monsoon continues unabated. And me without my umbrella, too. The entire Astaná-Würth team is out, including Alexandre Vinokourov, which means four of the top five from last year are now sidelined:

1. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel
2. Ivan Basso (I), CSC, 04:40
3. Jan Ullrich (G), T-Mobile, 06:21
4. Francisco Mancebo (Sp), Illes Balears, 09:59
5. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz), T-Mobile, 11:01

  Meanwhile, the whole scabby affair forced me to rewrite a rant I'd done yesterday for VeloNews.com, and it definitely lost a few steps in the process. Maybe I need some pharmaceutical assistance. Shoot, I don't know any crooked doctors. I'll just have to stick with the booze.

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How many divisions does the Supreme Court have?

  Goddamn activist judges. Another mission unaccomplished. Can't you just hear George W. Stalin screeching, paraphrasing President Andrew Jackson following the high court's ruling in Worchester v. Georgia, "John Paul Stevens has made his decision; now let him enforce it." For an interesting analysis of the scope of this decision, click here. Thanks to Josh Marshall for the tip.

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Videocy, Part 2

  Someone at Adelphia must be reading this thing. When I turned on the box last night to watch "The Daily Show," I got nothin' but bad noise and no picture. Jesus. No wonder they're bankrupt. I hope Comcast and Time Warner know what they're getting into, buying this bucket of bolts. Whaddaya get for $17.6 billion, two tin cans and some waxed string?

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  Oh. My. God. It's even worse than I thought. If Americans really are watching more than four hours of TV daily, it's no wonder the country's circling the bowl. Meanwhile, from the Good News Department, Rush Limbaugh has apparently traded up from pain-killers to Viagra. Jeez, from the way he runs his mouth you'd think he was a real hard guy, too.

  Meanwhile, a passage from the upcoming self-help book, "Governing for Dummies":

"Sometimes it just seems easier for people to say, we'll deal with it later on."
President Snerd, who today revived his push to privatize Social Security

"That, of course, is an objective. And that will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq."
President Snerd in March, after being asked if there would come a day when there will be no more U.S. troops in Iraq

  There really isn't such a book, of course. But goddamnit, there ought to be.

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Fuggin' flaggots

  Once again our Congress strides boldly forward to tackle one of the pressing issues of the day: flag-burning. 'Cause, y'know, like, there's just so darn much of it goin' on. And if we don't fight the flag-burners over there, why, we'll have to fight them over here.

These colors don't run.

  Now, I find flag-burning a pointless form of protest, myself. I would prefer to see the disgruntled lighting up cynical congresspersons, because their fat asses make for such a cheery flame (note to the NSA: satire, parody, yadda yadda yadda. Go follow Ann Coulter around for a change). But I can see where torching Old Glory might prove useful. Say you've stuck your Dodge pickup in a snowbank on Tennessee Pass late some wintry February night, and you're running out of gas, which means no heater and freezing to death in the dark. But there's a flag handy, that big rascal you've affixed to the pole in the truck's bed, and you just happen to have a couple wooden kitchen matches — well, hell, I say light the sonafabitch up. Unless you're riding with Bill Frist, in which case I recommend you open him up with your Buck knife and use him as an overcoat until help arrives (law enforcement, please reference the editor's note above).

  Meanwhile, the cable guy is plugging me into the digital sewer as we chat so enjoyably. In mere moments, for only $50 a month, I will be able to see this clown act in living color and hear the bloviation in surround sound. Somebody tell me why this is a good thing.

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The F-bomb

  Here's an amusing column from Joel Achenbach over at The Washington Post. It concerns the fabled "F-word," its glorious history and present-day overuse. I found it particularly interesting for a number of reasons, not least of which was a coincidental note from a correspondent who said he'd read my travelogue on Frederick, Maryland, passed this URL on to his family — "mom, grandma, great-aunts, everyone who's still in the area" — and only afterward noticed my reference to Karl Rove porking a puppy in the pooper. Ouch.

  I strive not to be gratuitously profane in conversation, especially with young people, old folks or anyone I don't know well (like the crowd at the wedding in Frederick). But I occasionally overuse George Carlin's fabled seven words while constructing imagery on this site, despite it being a sort of one-sided conversation that can be "overheard" by anyone, from pre-teens to the pope. The F-bomb in particular, as Achenbach notes, "is a very good word . . . a solidly built word of just four letters, bracketed by rock-hard consonants (that) explodes into space from a gate formed by the upper incisors and lower lip. . . ." When linked to the comparatively harmless "butt," in a construction my correspondent euphemized as "boofing," it really packs a punch (especially if you happen to be a puppy around Fart Blossom).

  My correspondent wasn't particularly worried about the B-F bomb I laid on him and his family — "Oh well, my GOP-lifetime-membership granny needs a little shock to get the blood going every now and again," he noted — but still, his note and Achenbach's column have given me something fresh to fuck fool around with.

  What my correspondent was concerned with was my relentless viewing-with-alarm of late, noting gently, "It was good to hear you write about something other than politics." Truth to tell, it was nice on this end, too. So for anyone else who's finding the politicking a tad stale, take heart: I have two more wedding fiestas to attend this year. And the Tour starts on Saturday, which means we can all start raving about the freakin' dopers instead of the friggin' dopes.

  And now for something completely different: It seems that some yuppie geekboys are becoming disenchanted with their PDAs and have taken a giant step backward — to pen and paper. No surprise to me. I feel like a wiener fetching a laptop around, pretending to be a writer, so whenever I feel like being elsewhere to jot down a few twisted thoughts, I slip a reporter's notebook in a hip pocket, head for the pub and scribble, scribble, scribble. Alas, some of my fellow neo-Luddites can't dispose of their Sharper Image fashion sense as easily as they shed their Treos. This crowd favors the "legendary" Moleskine notebook, "used by European artists and thinkers for the past two centuries." Me, I go for the Ampad Recycled Reporter Notebook. This wirebound, cardboard-shod jobber from Plano, Texas, isn't nearly as stylish as an Italian-made, leather-clad $10 Moleskine, but you won't cry yourself to sleep when you lose one, either.

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He said, she said

  This endless "Lance is/isn't a doper" debate has become a saga on the scale of "Beowulf," or Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey." Or maybe "Groundhog Day." Every day, I wake up, grab a cuppa mud, check the computer for news and there it squats, big as life and twice as ugly. The guy is retired, f'chrissakes, and he's still getting twice the press of anybody who's still tugging on the chamois and going to work. Not exactly the kind of press a guy wants, mind you, but press nonetheless. Remember your Oscar Wilde: "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." Or was that Monty Python? Never mind.

  Meanwhile, I've stooped to a new low and ordered up cable TV for the Tour. I used to refer to television as The One Big Eye, but I'm starting to think it's more of a Mouth, simultaneously sucking your brains out and vomiting bilious idiocies all over your living-room rug. We get plugged in on Monday, and it's going to be a real struggle to keep my hairy nostrils above the subsequent electronic tsunami of what the wife calls "cultural literacy" and I call "stupid fucking shit." It's been gratifying these past four or five years, when someone mentions "American Idol," "The West Wing" or "24," to sniff, "I wouldn't know. We don't watch TV." Now we'll be wallowing in the dung with the rest of the swine. O, the shame.

  Speaking of TV and events made for same, I can't begin to tell you how much safer I feel now that the feds have corraled a Florida dingbat and his merry men, who are said to have planned to blow up the Sears Tower, hijack Tyra Banks's breasts and commit various other atrocities just as soon as their local al-Qaeda representative — who turned out to be a government informant — could supply some uniforms to replace their ratty bathrobes. ''Left unchecked, these homegrown terrorists may prove to be as dangerous as groups like al Qaeda,'' trumpeted Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Uh huh. Osama's just dyin' to recruit jobless 30-something whackos who wander around Liberty City in their PJs, talking shit. This is a script so lame that not even Aaron "The Mod Squad" Spelling would buy it.

  Not to be outdone, President Snerd is jabbering about getting the line-item veto again. Let's see if I've got this right: The GOP has the White House, both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court, and it still can't put the nation's budgetary house in order without demanding that Congress cede yet another Constitutional power — the power of the purse — to a guy who's ruined every private-sector business he was ever connected with? A human paperweight who has yet to veto a single outrageous spending bill, or indeed a bill of any kind? Puh-leeze. I have three words for you bozos: "President Hillary Clinton." Let those three words, hand in hand with "line-item veto," wander around the empty space between your ears for a while. Then change your Ronnie Reagan boxers, give yourself a good wipe with a wet washcloth and shut the fuck up about this nonsense.

  Late update: Cut and run! Cut and run!! CUT AND RUN!!! FYI, this doesn't have anything to do with the 2006 and '08 elections. Would this White House value political advantage over human life? Even if there were available — right now, today — a way out that would appear to satisfy all parties concerned? Really, I'm ashamed of you for even thinking about it. Just because the Iraqis have a plan doesn't mean we have to have one.

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Man of steel (and plastic, and now money)

  And you thought you had it hard.

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We'll be right back after this massage

  Ho, ho. I wish I'd said this:

Rather Gets Boot In Ass; Anderson Interviews Cher
On the same day that CBS pushed Dan Rather down a flight of stairs and out the back door - one would assume with a gold watch complete with Katie Couric's face on it - CNN breathlessly sent out an e-mail proclaiming "Prime-time exclusive interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper and Cher."

Welcome to the end of real news.

President Snerd says his is bigger than Kim Jong Il's. I'd make a "peckerwood" joke here, but it seems redundant.

  Meanwhile, the respective Dear Leaders in Pyongyang and D.C. are waving their nuclear pee-pees at each other in a rousing game of "Mine Is Bigger Than Yours." President Mortimer Snerd is jerking off in Vienna, but veep Edgar Bergen has reportedly ordered the national missile-defense system activated, which is about as reassuring as stationing a 150-year-old Civil War veteran with a musket on the Golden Gate Bridge with orders to shoot down anything that smells of kimchi. Quoth Robert G. Gard, a retired Army lieutenant general and a senior fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation:

"The system being declared operational is no more than a scarecrow, incapable of fooling anyone except perhaps some members of the administration who want to pretend to be defending the country against a North Korean missile attack."

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Mr. Porky goes to Washington

  I haven't been paying much attention to politics lately in part because of travel, but mainly because there hasn't been any, only bad theater, on a par with a Broadway musical based on "Porky's." Democrats dither like so many Barney Fifes, fumbling for the silver bullet in their collective shirt pocket ("Is it Kerry? Murtha? Biden? Hillary? Oh, Christ ...."), while Republicans repeat talking points like meth-addled parrots ("Cut and run, cut and run, awwwwk!"). The few among them who are smart enough to be crooked are robbing us blind, and they sure as shit ain't giving the loot to the poor.

  Waiting on that overhaul of the nation's immigration laws? With the midterms looming you'd get better odds on Jesus coming back, and I ain't talking Hay-zoos climbing fences along the Mexico-Arizona border here, ese. Eager for good news out of Iraq? Sorry. The "friendlies" are fragging our guys, and the insurgents are kidnapping and torturing them. And Dan Rather has left CBS (Courage).

  Meanwhile, Ron Suskind's new book, The One Percent Doctrine, is said to reveal what many of us already knew: that W is Charlie McCarthy to Dickless Cheney's Edgar Bergen (although I think W's closer in spirit to Bergen's No. 2 puppet, Mortimer Snerd), and it has cost us dearly in blood and treasure. This one sounds like a must-read. Don't take it on any planes, though, unless you're eager for a cavity search with a bullet-nosed flashlight. It's too bad the midterm ballots won't offer the choice, "None of the above." Since we're not getting any service from this gang of thieves, time-servers and mental defectives, we could lay a few of them off.

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch

  Home again, at long last. Air travel sucks like a crack whore with an empty pipe. We left Frederick for the Baltimore airport at 10 a.m. local time and finally made it to Bibleburg around 8 p.m. Colorady time after a fun-filled day of botched seat assignments, security queues that looked like a line for Stones tickets, and not nearly enough beer. That last I resolved by driving straight to Jack Quinn's for a couple of pints of Pub Ale, an IPA from Bristol Brewing Company. It was longtime bartender-server-utility infielder Joy's last day before an extended road trip that will take in Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica and Canada, so we left an extra-large tip. Another server, Kathleen, a former neighbor, had been set afoot by one of her kids, who needed the car, so we gave her a lift home. Support your local Irish pub, that's what I say.

  Earlier, we had been distressed to find the two bars in O'Hare's Concourse C packed to the rafters with golf aficionados watching Phil Mickelson fuck the duck at the U.S. Open. A man who will watch golf on TV, drinking $6 bottles of mass-produced domestic lager, is likely to do anything, so we limited ourselves to one quick drink apiece to dim our memories of the Baltimore airport, with its slashed upholstery, malfunctioning technology and surly employees, who apparently learned their customer-service skills at Abu Ghraib. The United people in particular should drop the masquerade, slip on the armbands and jackboots, and start goose-stepping around, cracking swagger sticks against their jodhpurs and barking orders in German. At one point I seriously wondered whether we were being readied for a plane flight to Chicago or a cattle-car trip to Buchenwald. These are the people who have made air travel what it is today, an experience analogous to that of a Hereford being prodded down a feedlot chute toward a not-too-distant McDonalds.

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Ode to joy

  FREDERICK, MD — Well, the wedding is history, along with a not-inconsiderable chunk of my ever-dwindling supply of brain cells, and I have a new brother-in-law. Good wedding, woman pastor (don't tell the pope) and the happy couple's children serving in place of best man and maid of honor. The reception was at Darren and Beth's house and probably didn't cost much more than a space-shuttle launch, a presidential photo op' in the Green Zone and a Pentagon toilet.

  Some of the young people in attendance seemed a tad tense, no doubt wishing they were off playing with their iPods, MySpace accounts and prescription drugs, but the adults were all well behaved. Too much so, my other brother-in-law Bill and I agreed later over a couple of pints of German beer. Nobody getting hammered and mistaking the pool for a toilet, then trying to flush it by jumping up and down on the diving board; nobody trying to pick up someone else's spouse in plain sight of the better half; a distinct lack of beery, teary singing. What the hell has happened to weddings in the 21st century? we wondered. In my day, if you didn't wake up under a vehicle not your own in a strange driveway, with a throbbing headache, your pants on backwards and about a pound of frosted lip gloss in various locations, you didn't have a good time.

  When I woke up this morning, I noted a copy of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" on the nightstand and oh, how appropriate it seemed there. Through the looking glass indeed. I'll have to draw some parallels as soon as I get back in my own time zone, where anyone who might take offense can't get to me without losing their luggage to United's rapacious baggage mishandlers. But right now it's time for another delicious hotel breakfast of trans fats, simple sugars and carcinogens, followed by explosive diarrhea and a high-speed drive to the Baltimore airport. More as it develops.

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Beer, barbecue and a bathing suit even the Taliban would approve

  FREDERICK, MD — Famous Dave's wasn't half bad, for a chain joint. The brisket and chopped pork were tasty, washed down with a pint of Yuengling Traditional Amber Lager from what is said to be the oldest brewery in America, and I even managed to keep the sauce off my shorts. The only sartorial mishap came later, when I put my hand into Shannon's wine glass during a lean-back while soaking my tootsies in Darren and Beth's pool. That's right, a pool. "How come we don't have one of these?" I asked Shannon. She just looked at me as though I were a smelly panhandler who'd just blown his nose onto one of her shoes.

  Darren has been busting his hump trying to get the place ready for all the various clans, factions, sects, cults and interest groups planning to eat and drink him into bankruptcy at today's post-wedding reception, and last night he was ready for a little R&R — when he couldn't talk the mom-in-law into taking a swim with him, he shot out of his deck chair and into the pool solo, and also fully clothed, save for shoes.

  Meanwhile, for all my readers in the NSA, I was motoring about in the vicinity of Camp David with a 20-pound propane canister yesterday afternoon. Sure, it was for the big 'til-death-do-you-part cookout. But still, I mean, really.You bozos need to get on the ball. Quit listening to my phone and start following me around, f'chrissakes. Show a little initiative.

  And finally, the local fish-wrapper is chronicling the adventures of Fredric Scire, who is cycling from Seaside, Oregon, to Yorktown, Virginia, following the Louis and Clark Trail to St. Louis and the TransAmerica Trail thereafter. Sure beats driving around Maryland with a hatchback full of boom, hunting a decent pint of beer.

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Hot time in the old town(s)

  Here's the latest on the Tyndall Gulch fire near our former mountain compound outside Weirdcliffe. More from the local rag, the Wet Mountain Trombone, can be found here. When last we heard, our friends Hal and Mary hadn't had to evac' their jackasses, young son Harrison and other valuable comosellamas off their 35-acre ranchito near Bear Basin. But it's hot, dry and windy, and if there's anything God hates more than sin, it's a free-lance journalist, so Hal remains alert. Happily, right now the fabled Crusty County winds are blowing in a useful direction for a change — straight back at the fire. Nevertheless, I recommended that Hal drink plenty of beer and piss all over everything as a precaution.

  Meantime, we have evacuated eastward, all the way to Frederick, Maryland — the ancestral coop of the Pigeon family — for a wedding. Shannon's sister Beth is tying the knot with fiancé Darren this weekend and we have been compelled to attend. Well, I have been, anyway; Shannon loves this sort of thing, being a normal human who was not raised by wolves, or maybe purple-ass baboons. So we are surrounded by Pigeons, Bratzes, Whites, and other kinfolk, which is a shock to my system, as most of my relatives are deep in the ground where they can no longer interrupt my regularly scheduled cycling, grumbling and drinking.

  The trip out was your usual aeronautical nightmare. Shannon made the reservations with frequent-flier miles back in January, so naturally she didn't have a seat when we checked in at the Bibleburg Intergalatic Airport for the flight from Colorado to Chicago to Baltimore. So we accepted two free round-trip tickets to wherever, plus seats on another flight, this one changing planes in Denver instead of Chicago, and naturally our luggage didn't come along for the ride. So we sat around the Baltimore Interdimensional Airport & Shopping Mall for the better part of quite some time, waiting for this monster suitcase to arrive from the City of Big Shoulders. You could put a body into this friggin' thing, I ain't woofin'. Just none of the bodies I saw in DIA or anywhere else during the trip. I don't know how United gets all these fat bastards airborne without using dynamite.

  If you haven't flown in a while, I recommend fetching your own grub along unless you wanna pony up five bills for a "snack box" packed with saturated fat. Water is still free, as are airborne viruses and lame movies (Harrison Ford in "Firewall," which sucked even with the sound off). Movies and TV spare the aircraft commander from having to deliver a travelogue while driving: "Ladies and gentlemen, if you'll look out the left side of the plane, you can see Karl Rove butt-fucking a puppy."

Jennifer's, home of the Frederick Pedalers.

  The toilet is still free, too, and as a consequence our Airbus smelled like the graveyard shift at the fart-canning factory. Those snack packs must just settle down in there and percolate. Save the walk to the crapper and shit in your seat, is what I say. The smell is gonna follow you back there anyway. More as it develops.

  Late update: Went for a run in Baker Park. Saw a string of young women pushing strollers — looked like the start of the Procreation 500. Next up was a giant African-American transsexual walking an itty-bitty Pomeranian. This, naturally, led directly to thoughts of strong drink, so Shannon and I had lunch at Jennifer's on West Patrick, where the special was a delicious crab-cake sandwich and the beverage was a pint of Smithwick's. Jennifer's is a pleasant little pub and apparently a hangout for the Frederick Pedalers. Dinner will be at Famous Dave's. I have grave doubts about anyplace that misspells "barbecue," but what the hell. Right now I'm sipping from a bottle of Wild Goose India Pale Ale, a product of the former Frederick Brewing Co. This local brewery has been bought up by Denver's Flying Dog, an outfit that, despite its connections to the late Hunter S. Thompson and the very much alive Ralph Steadman, makes largely undistinguished beer, and this weak-sister IPA should slot nicely into that product line.

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No news is good news

  The Pentagon's response to news reports that three prisoners at Gitmo committed suicide? Why, kick the press out, of course. Not nearly as inspired a riposte as the one from Giblets over at Fafblog. And we wonder why they hate us. Meanwhile, John Kerry seems to have figured out his position on the Iraq war (he's against it — today, anyway). And a couple hundred acres near our former mountain compound in Weirdcliffe are on fire. Wind's out of the south at 25 mph, gusting to 35 mph. That ain't good news for our former neighbors. The whole damn hill is drier than a popcorn fart, and that piñon-juniper-Gambel's oak mix burns like jet fuel in napalm sauce.

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How did you spend your summer vacation?

  The Decider does a touch-and-go in Baghdad's Green Zone. Ho, hum. Things are going so swimmingly in Iraq that Numbnuts didn't dare tell prime minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki he was coming until he was already there. I'm thinking having Mr. Mission Accomplished pop in unannounced to tell you you're doin' a heckuva job might not give ol' Nuri much of a boost in the polls. And I'd love to know what it costs to fly this yoyo and his entourage halfway around the world for a photo op'. He sure wasn't this eager to cop that free trip to Vietnam that so many of his contemporaries took.

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To every turning point, turn, turn, turn

  Here's a nice zinger from Joshua Holland over at AlterNet. Our own terrorist mastermind (you know, the one in the White House) still thinks no one is paying attention. The scary thing is, he's probably mostly right.

  Meanwhile, I feel like driving my wife insane by buying something we don't need and can't afford. We just unloaded the Pee Wee (a feeble 1978 Toyota Chinook pop-top camper that had become a wasp condo with three flats and one slow leak), and now I have cast my rapacious glance upon a VW Eurovan camper. Cute lil' thing, ain't it? Buggers have a stove, icebox, furnace, bed and all the other comforts of home, barring a shitter and shower (there is a rear sprayer/shower for exhibitionists). No four-wheel drive, though. And I've never owned a VW of any sort. Anybody out there have any experience with these rascals? Drop me a note at ogrady at maddogmedia dot com and fill me in. A cheapo alternative might be dropping a pop-up camper into the bed of the White Tornado, my faithful '83 Toyota longbed, but that sucker's already slower than a giant tortoise on crutches and is liable to need some serious mechanical work shortly, a grim day which can only be hastened by making it lug a thousand-pound camper around.

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OK, lessee, that's one for us, and . . .

  While the MSM, GOP and other alphabet-soupers feverishly jack off over the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, you might cop a squint at this piece in The Atlantic. Bad man, si. Four-star boogeyman the administration has made him out to be (and which he wished to be), no. Major success in the insurgency in Iraq or the War on Terra? Nuh-uh. Kudos to the working stiffs who sent this scumbag to Paradise (which should be a little hotter and less well stocked with virgins than he had been expecting), but how about a little less "white hunter kill lion" breast-beating from the brass, whose fat asses are parked in the rear with the gear where there is no fear, OK? It's unseemly, coming as it does from a crowd that has never heard a shot fired in anger. And say, whatever happened to that tall dude lugging the dialysis machine around who used to be No. 1 on the Busheviks' hit parade? Thanks and a tip of the Che beret to Jason Zengerle at The Plank.

  On a lighter note, check out this MySpace.com page purporting to be from Jan Ullrich. It's not exactly breaking news, but if you're off the back like I am, it's worth a look, with gems like these, under "Jan Ullrich's Interests":

General: "I like to ride the bike. I enjoy crushing the weak. I enjoy driving my enemies before me and hearing the lamentations of their women. I enjoy triumph. I also like puppies. To eat."

Television: "I enjoy watching myself ride the bicycle on TV, crushing the souls of the weak. I do not enjoy watching the OLN on the TV, where the announcers swing from Lance Armstrong's testicles as if they were a trapeze."

  Think the Chuck Norris facts on two wheels, with a dash of Conan the Barbarian for flavor. Good times.

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Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast . . . .

  Ladies and gentlemen, for your reading pleasure on this day of days: Bush Is the Antichrist.

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Hey, let's put on a show!

  Our national legislature, in a stunning display of courage and vision, will soon face down two burning issues that threaten the very existence of the Republic — gay marriage and flag burning. Forget the war in Iraq, honey, we've got a couple real problems right here at home! A cynic might think this has more to do with shoring up the Pachyderms' crumbling Nazis for Jesus base as the midterms approach, and he'd be right. Not even the Repugs are buying this shoddy bit of window-dressing, as the Knight Ridder Washington bureau reports:

  Other Republican operatives say the strategy is a waste of time when most Republican voters are angry or divided over the Iraq war, high gas prices and immigration.

  "Those are the issues that are dominating people's dinner-table talk," said Scott Reed, who managed Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign. Reed dismissed (Senate majority leader Bill) Frist's plan, saying: "If you're a gay who likes to burn flags, it's going to be a long year."

  Meanwhile, Don Rumseld is popping off about a growing threat to motherhood and apple pie arising in the Middle East. This time, of course, it's Iran. And of course, we should believe him, because he's gotten everything else right in the past six years, from winning hearts and minds to building a model democracy.

"(N)o terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people than the regime of Saddam Hussein and Iraq."Rummy circa Sept. 19, 2002

Iran is ³one of the leading terrorist nations in the world.²Rummy circa June 3, 2006

  If anyone can give me a reason why I should listen to anything this puffed-up ivory-tower REMF has to say, I'll be happy to give it a glance. But until then, I think he should be in a federal prison with the rest of the chickenhawks, awaiting trial on war crimes.

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What's happening?

  Here's a gem from Donald "Eschew Obfuscation" Rumsfeld, who was here in Bibleburg for the Air Force Academy graduation ceremonies yesterday. Asked about allegations that a group of Marines snuffed a couple dozen civilians Nov. 19 in Haditha, The Donald replied sagely: "There's two investigations going on. One is to determine what happened, and the second is to determine what happened after whatever happened happened." That's vintage Rummy, and thus he reclaims the traveling "I'm So Full of Shit that I Fart Through My Mouth" trophy from Marine Gen. Peter Pace, who when asked on Monday by Reuters why it took nearly three months for the Pentagon to find out about the massacre, told Reuters: "We do not know yet why we did not know."

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  No sooner does one trip end than another beckons. I got the word today that come September, the Bicycle Retailer & Industry News mob will be shifting from the usual Interbike digs, at the Fairfield on Paradise, to the Riviera on The Strip, a mausoleum that's a year younger than I am. Liberace cut the ribbon and Joan Crawford was the mistress of ceremonies when it opened in 1955. Dwight "Beware the Military-Industrial Complex" Eisenhower was in the White House and Mickey Mantle was in center field. The fabled '57 Chev was two years off. Jimmy Hoffa is probably interred under the bed in whatever hideous shithole of a room I have been consigned to. Anyone out there stayed in the Riv'? Longer than it takes to bang a wrinkly hooker, that is? Send me your horror stories. I need to prepare myself for this adventure, which probably means fetching along a cooler, a coffeemaker and my own special blend of Resurrection Java, a USB scanner, a jumbo can of Raid, earplugs, an industrial-size flagon of single-malt, heavy-duty hiking boots for the forced march to the Sands Convention Center, my lightest laptop and at least two speedloaders full of silver bullets for the old .357 Magnum hand-cannon in case Zombie Hoffa gets the wanderlust during the night. Mistri the Bartender at Ruth's Chris Steak House on Paradise is going to miss us and our expense-account drinking. I'm certain she already has the Interbike schedule marked up in red on her calendar.

This is what that flag Numbnuts is so fond of waving looks like after it's been draped over a soldier's coffin.

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Memorial Day

  Here we are at Memorial Day again already; this year is vanishing faster than our civil liberties and The Decider's political capital. Me, I'm fresh back from a brain-cleansing road trip to Santa Fe, where I spent a few days eating, drinking, cycling and soaking with the rest of the weirdos at Ten Thousand Waves. I had been feeling a tad crazier than usual and decided a change of venue was in order. Everybody else must have felt the same way, 'cause the place was packed, and largely under construction to boot. Both the Hilton and the Eldorado were getting facelifts, and the hillsides are sprouting tumorous seven-figure fauxdobe casitas despite a drought that just won't quit. A guy can always drink beer when the water runs out, but it makes for a sticky shower.

  The Plaza was overrun with the kind of tourists Jim Harrison has called "bologna-eaters" — skinflint geezers in T-shirts, shorts and black socks who window-shop, peer disapprovingly at the prices on menus posted outside restaurants, and buy mostly nothing. The Dale Ball Trails, meanwhile, were largely deserted, which suited me and Matt Wiebe of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News just fine, as we were riding like sissies and didn't need anyone watching to make matters worse. We'd both been sick, and it didn't help that we were riding cyclo-cross bikes on trails better suited to mountain bikes (or mountain goats). The good news was that neither of us fell over, and that we got our ride in before the authorities could decide to close the trails for fear of fire, an action Matt expects shortly, as the whole place is drier than a popcorn fart.

  A few quick reviews for you: The Shed's grub was stellar as always, and the Santa Fe Pale Ale ice-cold, but the service was snooty. Tia Sophia's breakfast burrito (eggs, sausage and potatoes smothered in green chile) remains excellent and the service is top-notch, especially if Yolanda (late of the Guadalupe Cafe) is working your corner of the room. Second Street Brewery's IPA is killer, and so is their burger. Order that bad boy with cheddar and green chile and have another IPA to wash it down. The staff is pleasant and attentive without being overbearing. The Hilton is insanely overpriced, charging for parking and wireless Internet, although that courtyard pool is a damn nice spot for slamming your morning java and putting your thoughts in order. Plus you can walk everywhere from there, including to the Eldorado next door, where Herradura Añejo can be had for way too much money and you can spend an enjoyable evening watching conventioneers getting pie-eyed and hitting blearily on the wait staff. And Ten Thousand Waves remains one of my favorite places — an excellent, unobtrusive staff, a soothing ambiance and everything a guy needs to wash away the previous night's sins. The downside is that not everyone looks good naked, especially a thousand-year-old nudist with a ton of jewelry and a shaved whatsis.

  Oh yeah — before I forget again, in case any of you have been pounding on my digital doorbell and getting no answer, my email address has changed again as part of a DSL speed bump here at Dog Central. The new one is ogrady at maddogmedia dot com. Sorry 'bout that.

  And last, but not least, take a break during your barbecue today and give a thought to the men and women in uniform. Voting for idiots is hazardous to their health. Let's all try to make smarter choices in the next few elections, and maybe next Memorial Day they can be lounging around in their backyards, drinking beer, grilling steaks and playing with the kids.

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Anda la puta que te pari, senadores

  Gee, can you tell it's an election year? The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and the Senate has voted to designate English as the national language. Here's hoping the measure includes funding to hire a tutor for The Decider, 'cause he doesn't speak it any too well. Um, isn't there any actual work that needs doing, pendejos? Wars to end, budgets to balance, that sort of thing? Keeping tabs on the national government any more is like an endless visit to the primate house at the local zoo, only the monkeys spend less time jerking off and flinging shit at each other.

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Ay, Chihuahua

  Just when you think our national "leadership" can't get any dumber comes The Decider's latest brainstorm: Line the U.S.-Mexico border with National Guard troops. Who takes this sort of song-and-dance act seriously? Maybe the Kluxers who've been screaming, "We cain't have all these goldarn Meskins here!" Certainly not the employers whose bottom line depends on having all these goldarn Meskins here. For sure the Guardsmen whose shuttles back and forth to Iraq and Afghanistan will now include stops in domestic desert wonderlands like El Centro, Nogales and Laredo. Jesus Christ. If we weren't all so eager for cheap shit, scumbag employers might be less eager to hire illegals to pick, build and maintain it for us. And then we could turn the National Guard to some useful purpose — like protecting us against the endless waves of stupidity emigrating westward from DeeCee.

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Is this the party to whom I am speaking?

  Say what you will about Qwest, the folks who handle voice and data services here at The Mad Dog Media Whirled Hindquarters: At least when the National Security Agency came calling, demanding to collect its customers' phone-call records in the name of The War on Terra, Qwest told them to go piss up a rope — "the lone holdout among the big telecommunications companies," according to Leslie Cauley in USA Today.

  Cauley describes this military-industrial interaction thusly:

  In one meeting, an NSA representative suggested that Qwest's refusal to contribute to the database could compromise national security, one person recalled.

In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest's foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government. Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.

Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest's lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused.

The NSA's explanation did little to satisfy Qwest's lawyers. "They told (Qwest) they didn't want to do that because FISA might not agree with them," one person recalled. For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest's suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general's office. A second person confirmed this version of events.

  Notes Cauley: "The NSA's domestic program, as described by sources, is far more expansive than what the White House has acknowledged." No shit, said Sens. Arlen Specter and Patrick Leahy, albeit more eloquently.

  As reported by The New York Times, Leahy, the Senate Judiciary Committee's ranking Democrat, expostulated: "Are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with Al Qaeda? It's our government, our government! It's not one party's government, it's America's government!"

  Specter, meanwhile, "expressed his frustration" at The Decider's refusal to provide Congress with details of the government's window-peeking and said he would call executives of AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon "to see if we can learn some of the underlying facts that we can't find out from the Department of Justice or other administration officials." No doubt he and we are once again to be told that the disclosure of such information only aids The Enemy, boogity boogity boogity. And in any case, it's classified, and you don't have the proper security clearances, nyah, nyah, nyah nyaaaaah, nyaaaah.

  Sorta makes a guy want to go back to log drums or smoke signals, doesn't it? Remember the old gag about two preindustrial types listening to a drum chat? Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. First dude asks, "What him say?" Second dude explains, "Oh, him say, 'Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom." Tap that, motherfuckers.

  Late update: It appears our long-distance provider, Working Assets, has actually gone Qwest one better and signed onto the ACLU's lawsuit seeking an injunction against The Decider's warrantless eavesdropping program. Thanks to Glenn Greenwald for the tip.

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Stone cold

  Goddamn, this bug I've got is one tenacious sonofabitch. The PA I saw last week said it wasn't a sinus infection, but a virus, and what a virus it is. For starters, it's restless, camping out first in the sinuses, then relocating down the throat to the bronchia, then moving back up to the snoot, where it delights in hurling weighty boogers out the nose-holes to the detriment of sheets and pillowcases. It also suffers from insomnia. When I want to go to sleep, it prefers to be up and about, flinging gobbets of multicolored mucus first this way and that like some viral Jackson Pollock. Finally, it's a thief, too. This morning it stole my voice. I can only hope it sold it to buy drugs. Our friends Hal and Mary up in Weirdcliffe have been dealing with something similar for a few weeks (!) now. I'm only two weeks in, so it appears I have a ways to go before I reach the outskirts of congested Snot City and the wide open spaces that lie beyond.

  This sort of thing makes it tough to take care of business for various bicycle magazines and keep abreast of all the shenanigans in DeeCee, where The Decider is hell bent on handing the CIA over to a blue-suited window-peeker, a move that has some of his own minions barking, "Whafuck?" This bozo is all about nut-cutting chicks and tough guys in uniform. Wonder what that says to a shrink? No, don't tell me. I don't wanna know.

  Meanwhile, even the dummies are starting to get it: This guy doesn't know what he's doing. He's thrashing around like that seven-pound perch he's so proud of catching, and about as smart, too. No, scratch that. Unlike the perch, Numbnuts has thus far managed to avoid the hook. All the more reason to keep fishing, with a big skillet on the fire.

  This just in: Bush sucks, according to the latest NYT-CBS poll. And so, apparently, do Kerry and Gore. Is it time to strike? Torches and pitchforks for everyone, and a shoulder-to-shoulder march on DeeCee? Be sure to pick a night when "American Idol" is on hiatus, all you revolutionaries.

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Chinga de Mayo

  Being a citizen of this country is becoming more and more like attending a raucous party with a huge red, white and blue piñata dangling from the ceiling. Blindfolded and given a too-short stick, we are told of all the fantastic prizes that lie within if only we can clip it a good one. And hijo, madre, we're in there swinging for the fence, like Barry Bonds. But the piñata hangs from one of those rotating racks used by dry cleaners, and it flits about the room like a giant miller moth. Plus someone keeps lowering the floor and raising the ceiling using powerful, silent hydraulics, putting the piñata just out of reach if by blind luck we manage to lunge within striking distance. The worst part is hearing all those rich people laughing and shouting, "Oooh, you almost had it that time!" And it's probably just as well. If we managed to break the sonofabitch open, we would be drenched in bird flu, $10-a-gallon gas and the blood of a couple thousand senselessly dead GIs. Those cackling rich folk don't play no steenkeeng blindfold games — they scammed anything worth taking out of that piñata a long time ago.

  Meanwhile, our ADD-afflicted national media finds itself distracted by the usual dog-and-pony shows: Zacarias Moussaoui, who will be checking into the Graybar Hilton down Florence way; Patrick Kennedy, who's headed back to rehab; and Porter Goss getting it in the neck from his old pals in the White House as part of what NPR and The Disassociated Press have been calling "a shakeup" in the administration. Bullshit. Are Daffy and Fudd still atop the organizational chart? Then don't talk to me about shakeups, please. As for Moussaoui and Kennedy, we can send al-Qaeda wanna-bes to the joint and hammered Kennedys to rehab until Hell freezes over without finding a functional alternative to our overindulgence in dinosaur wine or bringing a single soldier home. So who gives a fat rat's ass? Focus, please, you bozos. Lay off the gin for once, can't you?

  If I sound cranky, well, shit, I guess I am. Some vicious upper-respiratory bug has me by the sinuses with a downhill pull and it's making me crazy. You ever seen boogers that look like butterscotch drops with raspberry centers? I have, and plenty of 'em, too. This must be the same bug that got hold of my buddy Big Bill McBeef a while back. Laid him out for the better part of quite some time, let him get back on his feet just long enough to remember what health felt like, then knocked him back down again. The upside is, I can get some serious distance with a farmer's blow, 'cause these boys have some heft to 'em. When one exits my snout at speed it sounds like a dart leaving a pygmy's blowgun.

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'We are not amused,' say King George, court jesters

  Much chatter in the blogs of late about how the mainstream media have largely ignored Stephen Colbert's skewering of The Decider and the MSM during the White House Correspondent Dinner this past weekend. What, you expected maybe that the Fourth Estate, W's co-conspirators in every crime he has committed since that first inauguration, would be delighted at some Hollywood type's portrayal of him and them? Puh-leeze. You'd be better advised to take note of how palsy-walsy these people, the politicians and the press, are with one another. It's tough to call your drinking buddies on their bullshit, in public, anyway. And like it or not, that's what we pay them for. Less tittering and more typing, if you please. This relationship needs more of an adversarial flavor to be palatable. Unless you like a steady diet of kings, fools and imperial adventures.

Our Glorious Leader, Fido Castro

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¡Viva la revolución!

  Comrades, today is May Day, when we celebrate the Glorious Revolution that led to the establishment of our People's Republic of America, a beacon of peace and hope that serves as a shining example to the rest of the world. And then I woke up. Shit. You mean we still have the moneychangers running our temple? Screw this, I'm going back to bed. Whoops, look at the time. Got to get to work.

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Gas pains

  OK, it's official: Our national "leadership" is either retarded, insane or both. The New York Times reports that a GOP "relief package" for a public "dismayed by rising gasoline prices" involves a $100 "gas-tax holiday" in the form of a rebate check for each and every American family (including, presumably, their own families). This, mind you, after The Washington Post's Dana Milbank reports on three Democratic senators who drove a block from their Senate offices — in separate vehicles — to hold a photo op' at a gas station during which they railed against Big Oil. Are we really as stupid as they think we are? Maybe so. And if it's true, that we're all of us, man, woman and child, dumber than a sackful of red-white-and-blue hammers, why, then, by God, we deserve this kind of cheapjack, paternalistic, condescending theatricality instead of the bold and decisive leadership we thought we had been paying for all these years.

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We distort, you decide

  It's official — the Bush PR machine and Fox News have finally merged with the hiring of Tony Snow as White House press secretary. Wonder who rammed this one down The Decider's throat, given Snow's penchant for occasionally pulling his swirling tongue out of W's ass to say he doesn't care for the taste?

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Up(right) in the air, Junior Birdmen

  Just when you thought air travel couldn't get any better, along comes word that Airbus has been pitching a standing-room-only option to Asian carriers as a means of enhancing revenue in a time of increasing fuel costs. According to The New York Times, "Passengers in the standing section would be propped against a padded backboard, held in place with a harness, according to experts who have seen a proposal." Others would be strapped to the wings and fuselage, injected with amphetamines and ordered to flap their arms. This segues nicely into the Joke of the Day, from Needlenose via Kevin Drum.

  Elsewhere, The Decider has decided to order the Energy and Justice departments to investigate whether gas prices are being "artificially manipulated," a bold, courageous act on behalf of millions of struggling consumers that will phaaawwww haww hawww haww haww. Sorry, I just couldn't pull that one off with a straight face. This is like Tony Soprano asking Christopher and Paulie to investigate whether Silvio is porking the Bada Bing dancers. And don't expect any relief at the pump courtesy of oil from Al Fatah.

  And finally, MacWeenies may get a giggle or two out of Jon Carroll's ode to the Apple Stores in the San Francisco Chronicle. Myself, I am less amused by Apple's antics of late. Steve Jobs, a.k.a. The Great and Powerful Oz, has just uncorked a 17-inch MacBook Pro, a $2,800, 7-pound "laptop" with a screen the size of a Yukon windshield, and I'm still waiting for the consumer-level, 13-inch-screen, any-color-other-than-white Intel-based MacBook, long rumored to be in the pipeline by various Cult O' Mac sites. With Windows XP installed alongside Mac OS X "Tiger," it would be the perfect workhorse for herding pixels over at the old VeloRanch. Which is probably why it will remain as elusive as courage and honesty in Washington, D.C.

President Bush urges Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to get to work

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Hey Moe!

  The quote of the day, from Bill Whalen, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, as reported in The Los Angeles Times:

"The president has to be like Moe Howard: At some point in every 'Three Stooges' short, Moe slaps both Curly and Larry and says, 'Get to work.' There's a window of opportunity to get things done, but the window is getting smaller every day."

  Well, I don't know as I would've put it that way. For starters, The Decider seems more likely to be watching The Three Stooges (moving his lips and misunderstanding many of the gags) than emulating Moe, a natural leader with an instinct for problem-solving. Plus if he ever slapped Cheney he'd sprout boils from wrist to armpit and probably lose the hand. And finally, he's just not funny.

  Something that is funny is the news that come September, the Outdoor Life Network will start calling itself "Versus," not to be confused with "Verses" (The Bible Channel); "Purses" (The Home Shopping Network); "Hearses" (The Funeral Channel); or "Nurses" (EnemaVision, filmed in ProctoScope!). I'm no marketing maven, but "Versus?" C'mon. It sounds like a combination condom and Band-Aid for people who'd rather fight than fuck.

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Sunshine Sunday

  Over at The Los Angeles Times, the editorial page calls for the sacking of Dick Fudd and The Donald, while Time's Joe Klein is doing a Diogenes, looking for a pol with a pulse just as Osama bin Laden pops up again like a malignant Jack-in-the-box.

  Meanwhile, The Decider was helicoptering around California jabbering about energy conservation (no irony there). And some resellers are offering Windows XP pre-installed on the new Intel-based Macs, which is like stuffing a plastic sack of runny puppyshit, fish heads and Guinea worms under the hood of a Mercedes S600 sedan. And I have another goddamn sinus infection. But at least there's plenty of work to be done, which should keep my fingers on the keyboard and out of my nose for the foreseeable future.

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More fuelishness

  Gas prices in Beverly Hills have topped $4 a gallon, reports The Los Angeles Times. It's a bit of a fib — to get that price, a guy has to go for the premium fuel at the full-service pump — but still, that would hurt when you had to fill up the old Escalade for a trip to the spa, no? No is exactly right. Anyone who lives in Beverly Hills and drives an upholstered suburban battlewagon can buy $4 gas all day long, the way a chain smoker buys cut-rate Marlboros from the Indians. Here in Bibleburg we're paying $2.79 for 85 octane (or we were yesterday, last time I saw a gas station). That's a dollar per gallon more than we were paying in 2003 for 87 octane, when I wrote this, but still well short of the $6 a gallon that the Bagni Hypothesis deems crucial for getting the fatties out of their cages and onto bicycles. Amazing how little things have changed in three years. Still, some people are getting it. Karen Keen, whom The Times found gassing up her 50-mpg Toyota Prius hybrid, bought 8.8 gallons costing $27.30. "I sold my SUV for this car. I actually did the math and figured I'm now saving over $400 a month in gas. I was filling up the SUV every third day," Keen said. Meanwhile, Kevin Drum provides some interesting figures on what rising gas prices might mean for the average Joe here.

  And finally, a couple time-wasters for you: The Decider and DemBalls.

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Kerry 2008?

  John Kerry says he's "thinking hard" about running for president in 2008. Ho, ho. He must have found a few nifty faces he didn't use last time around, fighting the dust bunnies for space in the closet, jabbering insanely how he was for/against this or that. I'm all for recycling, but damn, some of the trash just has to get tossed.

  Elsewhere, John Dean predicts an October surprise from Fart Blossom and his merry men — perhaps the resignation of Dick Fudd, to be replaced with either Rudy Giuliani or Condi Rice; or maybe the capture of Osama bin Goldstein; or maybe, just maybe, a unilateral strike on Iran. Gosh, I wonder which of those options Mr. Mission Accomplished might select after a quick check with Jesus? Are you ready for $10-a-gallon gas, daily terror alerts and the Two Minutes Hate?

  Meanwhile, here's a shot of Fudd in a rare moment when he is taking a break from his labors on Satan's behalf and is, albeit briefly, not a threat to the continued existence of humanity as we know it.

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Smoke 'em if you got 'em

  Yes, it's 4/20, as all good stoners know, or used to know, but things've kinda gotten, y'know, a little foggy lately for some reason, and why ain't there anything to fuckin' eat around here, anyway, y'know, like maybe some BBQ-flavored Doritos and bean dip? Huh?

  I'd be out back burnin' one right now if I had one, 'cause it's been nothing but bike journalism, allergies and in-laws around here lately, and the booze isn't getting the job done. Went to Weirdcliffe for a day for a little distance, perspective and peace and what do I get? Nothing but heartache. Realtors, electricians and a wind out of the west that apparently relocated the Great Sand Dunes National Monument to Kansas. It made the Dust Bowl look like a stoner coughing out a bong hit. I already owned 43 acres in Weirdcliffe and now I have another six up my nose, straight from the San Luis Valley. I'll probably have to pay property taxes and a 6 percent sales commission on 'em, too.

  Meanwhile, The Decider is distractedly rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic while asking his Magic 8-Ball what to do about Iran (reply hazy; try again later), and Costa Rica is looking better all the time.

  And finally, a shout out to my "nephew" Harrison Walter on the occasion of his second birthday. His dad is baking a cake in his honor, according to the usually unreliable sources, and mom no doubt has a Forester full of presents en route from Pewblo. Uncle Weirdo, as usual, sends only his love, the cheap sonofabitch.

  Late update: OK, turns out I'm not done yet. With the airwaves full of nothing but bad news times a thousand, KRCC-FM laid a little Eugene McDaniels on me: "Compared to What," the live version from pianist Les McCann and saxman Eddie Harris, recorded in 1969 at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and I'm sharing it with you, just like I did back in 2003. Made my night, I can tell you.

    Another night a night of love
    Hangin' on, we push and shove
    Possession is the motivation
    That is hangin' up the Goddamn nation
    Looks like we always end up in a rut!
    Everybody now, try to make it real compared to what!
    C'mon baby!

    Slaughter house is a-killin' hogs
    Twisted children are killin' frogs
    Poor dumb red-necks rollin' logs
    Tired old lady, kissin' dogs
    I hate the human love of that stinking mutt!
    I can't use it!
    Try to make it real, compared to what!
    Come on baby, now (WOW!)

    The President, he's got his war
    Folks don't know just what it's for
    Nobody gives us a rhyme or reason
    Have one doubt, they call it treason
    We're chicken feathers all without one gut
    Goddamn it!
    Try to make it real compared to what!
    Sock it to me now!

    Church on Sunday, sleep and nod
    Tryin' to duck the wrath of God
    Preacher's fillin' us with fright
    They all tryin' to teach us
    What they think is right
    They really got to be some kind of nut!
    I can't use it!
    Try to make it real compared to what!
    Oh baby!

    A-where's that bee,
    And-a where's that a-honey?
    A-where's my God,
    And a-where's my money?
    Unreal value is a crass distortion
    Unwed mothers need abortion
    Kinda brings to mind old young King Tut!
    He did it now!
    Try to make it real compared to what!

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Stoned again

  The good news is, Jesus rolled back the stone today. The bad news is, he saw his own shadow and thus we can expect six more weeks of winter. That is all. Don't forget to drop a twenty into the collection plate on your way out. You can't expect to get quality preachin' like this for free.

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IRS means 'I Really Suck'

  OK, so it's a cheap joke at the Infernal Revenue Service's expense. So audit me. But I keed, I keed. I love you guys, really, the way a hooker loves the crabs. I have the income of a 19-year-old assistant fryolater operator at KFC and the deductions of the dead and I still pay more taxes (as a percentage of my income, you Republican fucks) than Dick Cheney. But I'm cool with that. My butt hardly even hurts any more, as long as I keep standing. Really. Pass the Preparation H.

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Political science

  OK, spring break is over. Your assignment for today is to read and consider this. Then do the same with this. I will expect a full report on your senator's desk by first thing Monday morning. Remember, spelling counts. Extra credit for anyone who can perform Gen. Jack D. Ripper's rambling monologues about preserving "our precious bodily fluids" in Texan while riding a bicycle.

Click image to enlarge

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I Otter be there

Hemingway had the right idea when he decided that a .45-caliber submachine gun was the proper tool for shark fishing, but he was wrong about his targets. — Hunter S. Thompson, The Great Shark Hunt

  Sea Otter has come round once more, and here I sit in Colorado. I really should be out there, because my inner dog needs fresh meat, but damn, it's a long drive at $2.50 a gallon. Plus somebody has to hang out at the old Inside Communications pixel palace, helping shove other people's words and pictures around for fun and profit.

  It's just not the same, though, reading about bicycle racing from a considerable distance. You start to wonder whether it's all some elaborate con — I mean, nobody more than 30 seconds past puberty really races bicycles, right? Right. And the Apollo landing was filmed at the Bonneville salt flats and Elvis is alive and running a Conoco station somewhere in Kentucky and Barry Bonds got that way doing pilates.

  I hate to admit it, but the last race I attended was the last one I raced, back in . . . 2003? And calling what I was doing "racing" is generous to the point of being delusional. It was a local cyclo-cross, and I flatted early on, without a spare bike in the pit, because I had ridden to the race. Damn glad I was of it, too, since I was getting the sort of beating W would like to give Helen Thomas if she weren't so scary. So I'm not certain I'd even recognize actual bike racing as such, much less be able to write coherently about it, seeing as how I was doing it so very badly so very long ago.

  And then there's the expense. For some reason, publishers seem less than eager to pick up the travel tab for a skin-headed malcontent who's probably going to squat under a tarp next to the beer tent and start making stuff up, scribbling meandering diatribes against his betters to be published under standing headlines like "Friday's Foaming Rant" or "Mad Dog Unleashed." Never mind that I haven't bitten anyone since Interbike 1996, and she liked it. Well, she got over it. And anyway, those rabies shots aren't nearly as painful as some personal-injury attorneys would have you believe.

  Last time I was at the Otter, in 2002, I nibbled the dainty ankles of some gravity geeks with a screed against mountain cross that covered a fair amount of waterfront, including Milton's "Paradise Lost," Easter, Scotch whisky and "The Road Warrior." "Have fun with it," said the editors. So I did. As a consequence, a number of other people did not, and said so, but I held up my end. And anyway, I was only following orders.

  Hmm. Waterfront. Nibbles. Scotch. We may be onto something here. Maybe I should've made the trip to Monterey on spec'. There's an ocean right next door, if memory serves, and the big money these days is in fishing, I hear. I could've done a little research from a table at the London Bridge Pub on Fisherman's Wharf and pitched a new adventure show to ESPN, something that would bring together on a single canvas all the disparate elements on that great network's palette: fishing, gambling, death in the afternoon.

  Call it "Fish Fry." Think David Cronenberg shooting a trio of zombies — Ernest Hemingway, Robert Shaw and Hunter S. Thompson — trolling for great white sharks in Monterey Bay, using a crapped-out Vegas high-roller in an electric chair for bait.

  Okay, so it might be better suited to the Sci-Fi Channel. But they're probably busy covering the mountain cross.

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Eye, Chihuahua

  OK, I'm kinda busy today, but let's take five from the nose-to-grindstone bit for a couple of quick observations. As the Daffy-Fudd administration sinks to a new low in the AP-Ipsos poll, its town crier says Daffy doesn't leak classified information that outs CIA spies as part of a political pissing contest, he merely releases information in the public interest (apparently by having one of Fudd's tools leak it to a reporter), and if you don't like the notion of Daffy listening to you chat up your girlfriend on the phone, well, tough shit, says the attorney general. All this leads Josh Marshall to warn of creeping monarchism in the White House. It seems more like galloping monarchism to me, but each to his own. Hey, has that eyeball always been there? 'Scuse me, someone's knocking at the door. . . .

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And that's the way it is (giggle)

  Rocketing straight to the top of the "who gives a shit?' file is the news that Katie Couric will be reading the teleprompter evenings at CBS. Yes, that CBS, the network that brought us Ed Murrow, Walter Cronkite and "Love Monkey," whatever the hell that may be. No, don't tell me, I don't want to know. Anyway, there is no such thing as "TV news." It is an oxymoron. These dark days, it's tough enough to find news in newspapers (if you don't count the first four letters of the word "newspapers," that is). But you can occasionally find something worth reading if you look in enough places, and one such is Tim Goodman's take on the non-event of the century over at The San Francisco Chronicle. Here's a sample: "Couric will become the first solo female anchor on an evening newscast, which in 2006 is a little like saying she's been given her own channel on CB radio." There's more. You're welcome.

  Meanwhile, Apple has introduced software that will let users of Intel Macs install and run Windows XP. This is like shitting in the passenger seat of your own Mercedes, inviting a crab-infested crack whore to share the four-poster bed in the Imperial Suite at the Ritz Paris with you and Eva Longoria, or downloading "The Best of Lee Greenwood" to your iPod. There's probably no truth to the rumor that there is an Easter egg hidden in the install; option-click "About This Mac" and up pops a picture of Bill Gates boning Steve Jobs up the keister.

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The old in-and-out at USA Cycling

  Gerard Bisceglia is out as CEO and Steve Johnson is in. The question is: Did Bisceglia jump or was he pushed? Bisceglia told VeloNews that he was pushed; USAC board prexy Jim Ochowicz said via press release that he jumped. Over at cyclingnews.com, meanwhile, USAC board veep Mark Abramson says Bisceglia resigned following his annual review by the board. So many stories, so little news.

  I can't say that I've paid much attention to USA Cycling and its machinations over the past few years — the last official meeting I attended, under the previous regime, resembled a jacking-off contest at a summer camp for spastics — but I have talked with Bisceglia on a few occasions and found him pleasant, quick to return phone calls or e-mails and answer questions, and apparently willing to face the shit monsoon head-on. One of his early moves was to sit down with the members and representatives of Colorado's breakaway organization, the American Cycling Association, and let them piss on his shoes, even though he was not responsible for the spectacular series of idiocies that led the former Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado to emigrate from FedWorld and set up its own governing body.

  But I don't know whether he was a successful leader of FedWorld because nobody really does journalism on the outfit any more, telling us how many members they have (or don't have); what the budget is, where it comes from and how it's spent; and all the other data that help assess a CEO's performance. It will be interesting to keep one ear glued to the ground for any rumblings as to exactly what happened up the road at One Olympic Plaza. One thing seems certain, if the cyclingnews report is correct — they're gonna save themselves some money, because Johnson is gonna be doing his old job and the new one, too. That'll cut into the old training time.

  Meanwhile, the light clicks on and a fat roach scuttles out of the congressional kitchen: Tom DeLay. His departure may make it easier for the Repugs to hold onto his House seat, which was starting to resemble an electric chair. But we may be yet compensated for that disappointment by the sight of a prosecutorial boot stomping The Bug Man flat. Alas, as The Rude Pundit reminds us, there are other voracious insects infesting our House.

  And last, but not least, the curmudgeonly Ed Quillen weighs in on the immigration problem.

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Speaking of hookers

  If you didn't catch Tom Boonen stomping the pommes frites out of cycling's finest during the Tour of Flanders on TV today, it's probably because Floridian Preston Clark was busy shattering the Bassmasters four-day catch record during the Santee Cooper Showdown in Manning, South Carolina. Clark landed 115 pounds, 15 ounces of fish during the event, eclipsing Dean Rojas's piddly 108 pounds, 12 ounces, set in 2001 on Florida's Lake Tohopekaliga. In addition to a shitload of fish, Clark earned hissef $100,000 for the feat, and he claims to need the money. "I have a lot of additional responsibilities coming in the near future," Clark told The Associated Press, referring to his wife, Katrina, who is pregnant with triplets. "We also recently decided to purchase a house, but a good deal of this money will go to college tuition." Hey, fuck a bunch of college, Preston. I've been to college, and if I ever see $100,000 all at once, it will be because I have just robbed a bank. Save the tuition. Teach the little boogers how to fish.

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Sport v. game, round 786 and counting

  Here's another good reason to shoot your TV with a 12-gauge loaded with double-ought buckshot: ESPN, a onetime sports network whose biggest deal these days is the World Series of Poker, thinks the next big thing is dominoes. In a chat with The New York Times, player Augusto Montan says: "I've been playing dominoes all my life, but I never thought I'd see it on TV. We always thought of it as a game to pass the time. . . ." Right you are, Augusto. Dominos are a game, just like poker. Anything a fat used-car salesman from Cooter Corners, Nebraska, can do drunk, in Vegas, with a cigar in one hand and a hooker in the other, is a game. It is a sport, however, for the dealer and the hooker. For them, it's not gambling, it's hunting. Jesus, is there anything people won't watch, if only it's on TV? I thought we'd hit bottom when scumbags like Donald Trump and Anna Nicole Smith got shows, or maybe with the endless "Survivor" retreads and the sadomasochistic "American Idol," but this elevator just keeps on going down. I'd rather watch the security-camera tapes from a 7-Eleven in Branson, Missouri. Hey, look, it's Donny Osmond, and he's shoplifting a 40 of malt liquor!

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  I've finished another lap around the sun, and once again The New York Times overlooks me in its "Today's Highlights in History." Oh, sure, they mention that on this day in 1958, Nikita Khrushchev became premier of the Soviet Union, but not a word about me having been born four years earlier, not even down in the lesser "Current/Historic Birthdays" list, where the likes of Mariah Carey managed to slip past security and into the public prints. Maybe if I had tits? Nah.

  What does a guy do with a 52nd birthday? It's not exactly something to crow about, like 18 or 21, or even particularly noteworthy like the decades that follow (30, 40, 50, etc.), alarming mileposts on a long dead-end road in a moonless night with a head full of controlled substances and no brakes. Well, for starters, you dispose of the official celebration early and quickly, as we did last night at The Blue Star, with some of their always tasty grub and a bottle of Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon 2001, which is ordinarily out of our price range; happily, The Blue Star does half-price bottles of wine on Sunday nights. A snifter of Herradura Añejo tequila afterwards is optional, unless you're me. Then you get up the next morning on the actual day itself and go for a 52-mile ride on your favorite 'cross bike.

  I haven't done that in a while. And I've never done it on this particular trail, not past the Air Force Academy, anyway. This time I rode the bugger all the way to Palmer Lake and a little bit beyond to get the requisite mileage, then turned around and rode home, straight into a 20-mph head wind. I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway, just like the Cheerleader-in-Chief, who also suffers from notions. Stupidity should be painful, but Mr. Mission Accomplished appears to be immune. Alas, I am not, judging by the way my legs feel. So the second half of the birthday observation will commence as soon as Herself gets back from dance class — the consumption of a $52 bottle of Laurel Glen 2001 Sonoma Mountain Cabernet.


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Honk(y) if you love bigotry

  And you thought your congressman was a tool. Fifty thousand people cram into Denver's Civic Center to protest legislation that would make illegal immigration a felony and all Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo can say is "that the crowd would have dispersed rapidly had Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers shown up with buses and started checking identification," according to this story in The Denver Post. I note that this witticism came during a telephone interview. Like the rest of the faux tough guys infesting today's GOP like roaches in a Dumpster, Tancredo is only too happy to phone it in from some safe, undisclosed location.

  Meanwhile, Kevin Drum weighs in on the guest-worker issue here, arguing that "guest worker programs end up perpetuating both a culture of low-wage labor that's ripe for exploitation and insular communities that have no incentive to think of themselves as Americans — because they aren't. It's the worst of both worlds."

  And finally, the indispensable Knight Ridder Washington bureau provides yet another fresh perspective on the immigration issue — this one, from south of the border.

  Gratuitous pun of the week: Frankenswine.

Blast from the past: One of the Mad Dog Media cyclo-crosses at Bear Creek.

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Fore-get about it

  Talk about a good walk spoiled: A couple of "golf enthusiasts" want to turn Bear Creek Regional Park East, where the Mad Dogs once adopted trails and ran cyclo-cross races, into a golf course. "It's a beautiful piece of property," says Judy Bell. Yes, it is, and it should be left the hell alone. This town does not exactly suffer from a paucity of golf courses. The city runs two, one of which sits right next door to me; private operators run several others; and there are courses at Peterson AFB, Fort Carson and the Air Force Academy for the troops. Not much happens in Bear Creek East, and that's the way some of us like it. Park users walk dogs, ride bikes or horses, hike, jog and grow vegetables in an organic community garden. Anyone with a hankering to play golf has plenty of other options. A public meeting on the idea is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 11 at the Bear Creek Nature Center, 245 Bear Creek Road.

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Whatever it is, I'm against it

  Now and then I feel the urge to rebel against ... against ... well, what've you got? I'm agin it. So when Herself, who is elsewhere for a library conference, crowed via cell phone that she had transformed me — me! — into an early-to-bed, early-to-rise type, well, shit, I decided to stay up late one night while she was gone. This is it. I watched "Swingers," a 10-year-old flick that didn't suck nearly as much as I thought it would, in part because I had confused it with "Showgirls." I drank some wine. I stumbled across the news that USA Cycling had hired a BMX director. And I heard Jimi Hendrix's version of the "Star-Spangled Banner" and a snippet of "The Dick Ballentine Show" from "That's Not Funny, That's Sick!" by The National Lampoon on KRCC. And now I'm going to bed. By the way, in case anyone I happen to be married to thinks it might be funny to call me when she sees this at, oh, say, 6 a.m. Eastern time, that someone might take a moment to consider how long a walk home she'll have from the Bibleburg Intergalactic Airport come Sunday. Good night, and good luck.

  Later that same day: A friend and colleague notes via e-mail: "Whoa! 'Swingers,' NPR and wine. You are livin' la vida loca, my friend. Tell Shannon she should be careful about leaving you on your own like that." To which I riposte: "Hey, what can I tell you? This is what passes for a wild night in Bibleburg, where people abstain from engaging in marital relations while standing up for fear it will lead to dancing." And he knows whereof I speak. When we both worked for the local fish-wrapper in the late Seventies, we referred to this no-horse town as either "a cemetery with lights" or "a suburb without a city." The restaurants have improved in the past quarter-century, but the politics remain somewhere to the right of Conan the Rotarian and the spiritual ambience is strictly New Testament (before Jesus threw the money-changers out of the temple). As Bill Moyers notes, "No wonder Baptists have been compared to jalapeño peppers: one or two make for a tasty dish, but a whole bunch together will bring tears to your eyes."

  Meanwhile, it seems late nights are good for something, depending upon your definition of the word "good." I found a notebook I'd forgotten about from my February trip to Arizona and used it to dash off a quick screed for VeloNews.com. You can read it here.

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Zbigniew! Gesundheit

  Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former Carter administration national security adviser, now professor of American foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University, ripped new ones for both the Bush administration and his own Democratic Party today on "All Things Considered."

  Dismissing Dubya's standard blather about being "a nation at war," used to justify a limitless expansion of/kowtowing to presidential authority, Brzezinski argued, "We can't be at war with an abstraction," correctly describing terrorism as "a technique for killing people." And he proposed what seems like a sensible four-point plan that would get the United States out of Iraq, leverage support for rebuilding among other nations, and encourage Iraqis and their neighbors to take some responsibility for what Numbnuts keeps calling "the neighborhood," as if the Middle East were a suburb of Midland.

  Brzezinski proposes that:

1) The United States ask Iraqi leaders to ask us to leave Iraq (many of them already have).

2) The United States consult with Iraqi leaders on a date for departure (a year from now should be suitable).

3) The Iraqi government call a conference of neighboring Muslim countries to discuss the stability of Iraq, which is in everyone's interest.

4) The United States organize a donor conference among richer countries ­ who would be more likely to participate once we're gone - to help rebuild what we have broken.

  Jesus, that sounds about half smart, doesn't it? Sure sounds better than what the Cheerleader-in-Chief keeps snarling into the microphone whenever Rove forgets to give him his daily lithium. And it also sounds better than what the Donks have been up to, which mainly involves running away from the prez, the war and Jack Murtha and toward pollsters, focus groups and image consultants.

  "Democrats should have a credible plan for dealing with the problem of Iraq," said Brzezinski. "If Democrats have a better plan they should offer it. But simply criticizing the war, in my view, is insufficient. They do have the responsibility to offer an alternative."

  You can hear the interview here.

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  It is the suckee-suckee here in Bibleburg as the first day of spring whistles in looking an awful lot like a frosty blast from the icy black bunghole of winter. As usual, there isn't enough snow to shovel — just enough to glaze the streets like a Krispy Kreme donut, setting the stage for an entertaining round of amateur demolition derby. Clearing the sidewalks is like chiseling ice off a really big concrete windshield.

  In short, it's one of those days when I'm glad I don't have a real job, until I realize that if I did, I might not have to go to it. Herself got the day off due to inclement weather, but I didn't; me, I get to sit here in the old home office and read a bunch of sniveling bullshit from Tyler Hamilton fanboys who think the big, bad System is putting the pork to their hero. Read the rules, children. They're online, and they're even in English. Salient points include:

Forbidden races
1.2.019 No license holder may participate in an event that has not been included on a national, continental or world calendar or that has not been recognized by a national federation, a continental confederation or the UCI.

  And while a national federation may grant special exceptions for races or particular events run on its own soil — which USA Cycling does, for American Cycling Association events and (apparently) the other U.S. pros racing the Stazio series — they can't very well turn a blind eye to a convicted blood doper taking a start in a race whose promoters don't toe the UCI-WADA-USAC line on doping, can they? The rules for Denver-Boulder Couriers-conducted events make no mention of doping that I can find, barring an oblique reference to misconduct, to wit, "causing any race to have a result other than on the merits of the competitors." So I'm guessing you could turn up with a bong, a bottle of Herradura and white powdery rings around both noseholes as long as you didn't write a hot check for your entry fee, crash a junior or call the chief ref a cocksucker.

  So excuse me if I fail to weep for Tyler on this one. You want to play in the UCI's oom-pah band, you got to read from their sheet music. He knew the rules, or should have, since he signed a license form saying as much:

2. I hereby undertake to respect the constitution and regulations of the International Cycling Union, its continental confederations and its national federations.

I declare that I have read or have had the opportunity to become acquainted with the aforesaid constitution and regulations.

  And the insular Boulder race scene being what it is, the two-wheeled equivalent of a clan of hillbillies bent on dating their sisters, I suspect that Tyler's enforced absence from local competition will not cut deeply into turnout at DBC events. Not nearly as much as this friggin' weather, anyway.

  Late addendum: A correspondent notes that Tyler does not hold a UCI license. Duh. More proof that drunken Irish scribblers should be denied Internet access.

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An ode to spring

  Must be spring, 'cause it looks like winter. Thirty-something and damp, with snow on the way. Somebody has hidden the mountains behind a giant gray sheet. Why people schedule bike races in March eludes me. ACA has wised up — no events on their calendar until April — but the Stazio crit series is one-for-three, having pulled off just one of its four events scheduled this month. Who would rather be racing in September, or even October? Raise your frostbitten hands. I'm not racing, but I am going out for a ride, because I'm stupidly vulnerable to peer pressure. Thank God for neoprene clothing, cyclo-cross bikes and brain damage.

  Update: OK, so it wasn't that bad. I wore a long-sleeved polypro undershirt, two long-sleeved jerseys, bib shorts and neoprene leggings, ski socks, toe covers, a stocking cap and winter gloves, and I was plenty comfy. We rode to the north gate of the Air Force Academy and back just in time to dodge a dribbly little rain that apparently pre-empted this allegedly massive snowstorm that, like democracy in Iraq, ain't happening yet no matter what you hear on TV — like, say, Dickless Cheney on "Face the Nation," trotting out the same stale horseshit about all the fuss in Messypotamia being the work of some bitter-enders who just won't wake up and smell the napalm. Meanwhile, former interim prime minister Ayad Allawi tells the BBC, "If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is." Jesus. I'd spring for the aviation gasoline if someone would volunteer to air-drop the Veep into Shutthefuckupistan. The lies fly out of his fat yap like teeth fleeing Shane MacGowan's mouth.

  Later update: Well, hell, make a liar out of me. Now we have a thunder-snowstorm going on. The rain of toads is on deck, followed by various plagues (locusts, Christian Scientists, etc., and so on). Glad we decided to skip dinner at The Blue Star in favor of a massive marinara over linguini currently under construction in the kitchen. This dish has its roots in the basic tomato sauce from "Dad's Own Cookbook" by Bob Sloan (thanks to food bully Jim Harrison for the tip), but I've added a few flourishes, including a pound of hot pork sausage (part of my share of a pastured pig from Doug Wiley's Larga Vista Ranch near Boone); a little medium-hot Chimayo red chile powder from the Santa Fe School of Cooking; plus some red pepper flakes, a little cumin, a few Alamosa 'shrooms and some chopped black olives. The recipe makes 2.5 quarts, so I freeze the leftovers in 3-cup lots for lazy evenings and/or alternatives to roasting the neighbors when we're snowed in and I'm too drunk to cross-country ski to the Safeway, which to date has happened exactly never.

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Kicked to the 'Curb'

  Some St. Patrick's Day. We drank California wine, ate Chinese leftovers and watched Jews on TV. Not exactly a Frank O'Connor short story, is it? But somehow Guinness didn't sound as good as Laurel Glen Reds, I didn't have time to whip up a pot of lamb and stout casserole thanks to work and the second installment of court-ordered traffic school (more on that later), and I'm starting to appreciate Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm." When the show first came out I thought it sucked; he struck me as the unfunny love child of Woody Allen and Junior Soprano. But Herself borrowed Season 4 on DVD from a co-worker, and it's definitely growing on me. Of course, you drink enough wine and anything seems funny, even traffic school.

  Speaking of serving your time, Tyler Hamilton shitcanned himself from the Stazio crits in the People's Republic after the UCI leaned on USAC, which in turn leaned on its UCI-licensed pros for participating in an unsanctioned event alongside a suspended rider. If you ignore the blood-doping angle, it's vaguely reminiscent of the bad old days when USCF tried leaning on its members over their participation in NORBA events, before road and mountain became one big happy dysfunctional family here in Bibleburg. Now that Hamilton has stepped back to the sidelines, all is forgiven, apparently, and like Old Man River the bandit crits just keep rollin' along. ¿Qué triste es la vida loca, no? Do a California roll on a stop sign, go to court, pay a fine and spend two nights in traffic school; have too much blood in your blood, miss a couple Tours, a hometown crit series and a shitload of paydays. Notice how all this wanton criminality doesn't stop either of us from getting our names in print on a regular basis.

  And while we're on the topic of print, check out Dan Neil's excoriation of the 2007 Mercedes-Benz GL, Big Oil and regulatory inaction at The Los Angeles Times website. Here's a teaser:

It's well established that the vast majority of these vehicles never touch gravel, never carry more than a couple of people, and never tow anything heavier than the weight of their owner's childhood traumas.

Most people who buy the GL won't know a Class IV hitch from a Mark 48 torpedo. And I, for one, am not going to congratulate some Bel-Air singleton for his wise vehicle purchase when it is so patently purblind and morally retrograde.

  There's a reason the dude won the 2004 Pulitzer for criticism, and I bet the guys at Daimler Chrysler would like to shove the plaque right up his ass.

The O'Grady coat of arms. Writing, poor vision and impulsive deviltry apparently are a genetic trait; Tom "Spectacles" O'Grady wrote a notorious poem satirizing a limerick banker and subsequently fled to France to dodge the libel suit.

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Póg mo thóin

  Oh joy, it's St. Patrick's Day, that hallowed event on the retail/amateur-drinker calendar, when shitfaced nitwits bearing surnames full of consonants pack pubs to the rafters to bawl off-key renditions of "Londonderry Air" while downing endless plastic goblets of green Coors that looks even worse come midnight, swirling in the bowl with the remnants of that microwave corned-beef-and-cabbage dinner; a ghastly sight indeed, one to be topped only by the flashing red lights in the rear-view mirror on the rambling drive home. No, thank you. If the constabulary wants to chat me up, it will find me in my living room, enjoying a pint or two or three of Guinness, a dollop of Bushmills and a scattering of CDs from the Chieftains, Planxty and the Pogues (who, incidentally, took their name from the phrase that forms the headline of this entry; pronounced "poge ma-hone, it means, "Kiss my ass."). Maybe I'll break out the old flute and tin whistle, take a whack at "Danny Boy." It might scare the skunks out from under the back deck. Sure as hell rattles the neighbors.

  Meanwhile, this will be the last St. Patrick's Day you will have to deal with drunken fucktards belching cigarette smoke into your face while you try to draw that staggering hottie's bloodshot eyes to your "Kiss Me I'm Irish" button, if you spend March 17 in a Colorado boozer. The House and Senate have approved anti-smoking legislation and the governor says he'll sign it. I'm still hoping for the addition of a death penalty, but it's probably tits on a bull, since these silly shits are digging their own graves one filter tip at a time anyway.

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All the news that fits, we print

  In a front-page Chamber of Commerce infomercial headlined, "Look how we've grown," The Gazette trumpets that El Paso County has surpassed Denver County in terms of population, which means ... uh ... which means ... well, that a whole shitload of people live here. Anyone who's ever sat through a half-dozen light changes at Woodmen and Academy could tell you that. A year ago, The Colorado Springs Business Journal reported that there were some 280,000 people driving to work around here, up from about 180,000 in 1990. Noted Fred Crowley, a senior economist for the Southern Colorado Economic Forum and a professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs: "So, we've almost doubled the amount of people working — all trying to get to work and home on the same roads. We haven't improved roads, we haven't built highways, we haven't done much." Other than crow over it, as The Gazette has done, hoping to attract more of the same. Apparently nobody on the city desk has visited Phoenix, Las Vegas or Los Angeles recently. Or even Denver, for that matter, a nine-county metropolitan area containing some 2.6 million people.

  The G's bit of Babbitry teases a full page of non-stories on Metro 5 that basically tell you what the front-page piece did, which is to say absolutely nothing beyond, "Woo hoo, we're No. 1!" Who these new people are, where they come from, what they do, how they think, what they want, whether they're bringing their own water with them, how we're going to pay for it all — it's a mystery. Lobbyist Larry Kallenberger confesses: "This one's for bragging rights." Bragging rights? Who brags about metastasis? "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell," wrote the late Ed Abbey. Where's George Hayduke when we need him?

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Quick, someone, throw him an anvil!

  As the Cheerleader-in-Chief's approval ratings dip to a new low (Dubya remains more popular than amoebic dysentery but polls slightly behind bird flu), he rattles his plastic saber at Iran, boogity boogity boogity. This is akin to flipping the bird to a largish, crazy spectator who already thinks you're a dick while getting your ass kicked by a one-legged midget in a barfight. This is a weak analogy, of course, because Dubya is not a fighter; he just plays one on TV. One wonders how much different America might be today if either his parents or his contemporaries had pounded the mortal shit out of him a few times when he was younger.

  One also wonders about Numbnuts's potential to go all like Curtis LeMay on Iran if Ahmadinejad keeps jacking his jaw and grabbing his crotch, snickering about "pussy" this and "faggot" that while Dubya's splendid little war starts to look an awful lot like a double Vietnam with booby-trap clusters, complete with flag-draped coffins at the airport and the copters warming up on the embassy roof. If you think Mr. Mission Accomplished doesn't have the script for that one queued up on the teleprompter, you haven't been paying attention. Next time we're hiring, what say we read the résumés a little closer, eh? Maybe ask some tougher questions during the interview process? I'm all for the Second Amendment, but for Christ's sake, let's keep the feeble-minded away from the weaponry, if only for the troops' sake.

Meanwhile, now that it's March, winter has finally arrived. Yeah, right. I horned more snow than this off a mirror one night back in the Eighties.

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A free ride to nowhere

  This shouldn't surprise anyone, but taxpayers coughed up more than a million smacks last year so members of Congress could lease vehicles, "including dozens of gas-guzzling SUVs and expensive luxury cars," according to the Knight-Ridder Washington bureau. Nice work if you can get it. No wonder they hang around Congress year after year, getting rug burns on the knees and elbows of those thousand-dollar suits as staffers in hazmat suits mop up the goo, squirt another jet of Astroglide on the old bullseye and usher in the next lobbyist.

  Still, it's just not enough for some folks, who dream of becoming the next Casey Jones on our American gravy train, otherwise known as "the president." The Pachyderms began shuffling through their presidential résumés at a Nuremberg rally in Memphis, where Senate Majority Whipdick Mitch McConnell called the reigning Cheerleader-in-Chief "one of the great presidents in the history of the United States," and the audience actually rose to applaud, then goose-stepped round the Peabody Hotel screeching "Bush über alles!" as Sen. John McCain disappeared up his own bunghole, apparently in search of his head, which was barking like Cujo with his nutsack wired to a Sears Diehard. OK, so I made those last two bits up. The truth is even worse. Go see for yourself.

  Meanwhile, Darth Cheney is so over (Condi is the new Dicki). Democratic hopeful Sen. Russ Feingold wants King George censured for being, among other things, a tyrannical, mendacious plastic sack of ice-cold dogshit (I would prefer that he be sent on the first manned mission to Mars, since he thinks it's such a swell idea, but each to his own). And The New York Times has a windy piece on the Donks' hopes for a "Contract with America"-style revolution that mostly boils down to one cautionary fashion: "Just because voters have tired of one party doesn't mean they're ready for the other." It's gonna be a long three years.

  And finally, there's some fresh Dog Doo'ins stinking the place up here.

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Welcome to the working week

  Where the hell did the week go? All my days are starting to look the same — get up, inhale a mug of java, read The Gazette, grab another cuppa, head for the Mac, check the mail and start pushing pixels for VeloNews.com. We have two ProTour races running simultaneously (Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico); a National Racing Calendar event (the Central Valley Classic in California); the Taipei International Cycle Show; and an endless parade of other stories (an electric Dura-Ace prototype, rider diaries, EuroFiles, and so on and so forth). Throw in a VN.com staff meeting in Laramie, Wyoming, a 450-mile round trip from Dogpatch, and shit, no wonder time seems to fly like a turpentined bat out of a meth lab.

  Most working stiffs do their commutes a handful of miles at a time, day in and day out, but I like to consolidate mine in big blocks. Interbike is the big one (a 2,000-mile round trip the way I do it, through Santa Fe, Flagstaff and once, Moab, where I know many fine places to eat and drink). Occasionally I hit some cycling extravaganza like Sea Otter (2,706 miles if you take the basic Las Vegas route but jink south through the Mohave and north to Monterey, then head home via Reno, U.S. Highway 50 — "The Loneliest Road" — and either the Industrial Tourism Corridor of Interstate 70 or the Black Canyon of the Gunnison).

  This Laramie excursion was an interesting digression in that I rarely drive north anymore because I despise the Denver metro clusterplex. But the VeloNews.com staff is a far-flung mob — we have bodies in Spain, Boulder, Colorado Springs and Laramie — and the Wyoming office had other commitments that precluded his coming to us, so we went to him, just in time for a snowstorm that shut down I-80 west of Laramie. Wyoming wind being what it is, the real storm was in Eastern Europe by the time we'd wrapped things up and begun heading for home, and the only ugly portion of the drive was through Telephone Canyon, where it was snowing sideways. But it was either deal with it and sleep in our own Colorado beds with our wives and/or girlfriends or spend the night in Dick Cheney country, and I was unarmed, if you don't count a folding Buck knife, which I don't, not when the other party is an undead fascist holding a shotgun and staring at a registered Democrat.


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War Is Peace

  On Tuesday, Minister of War Don "De-Don-Don" Rumseld accused Iran of dispatching Revolutionary Guards to "cause trouble" inside Iraq. Meanwhile, VP Dick Fudd blusters that the Busheviks are keeping "all all options on the table" regarding Iran, adding that the White house "supports as well the democratic aspirations of the people of Iran" and the removal of its "fanatical regime." Oh, good. Let's start another war. 'Cause, y'know, the ones we've already got going are ticking along so smoothly.

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Yesterday's News Tomorrow

  This just in:

Bush Administration
Admits Head Up Ass
Regarding War in Iraq

  But you knew that.

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The Briefcase of Doom

  Meanwhile, as if Friday didn't already present enough surprises, Herself scored an early departure from the library gig courtesy of a misplaced briefcase with the numbers 9-1-1 on its combination locks. Sucker weighed 40 to 50 pounds, according to the cops, who X-rayed it and found some class of giant laptop inside, no doubt a surplus Zil Triumph of the Revolution People's Komp-U-Tron Model 1917 from the old Soviet Union, crafted of old T-55 tank parts. Glad I'm not schlepping it back and forth to Interbike. I don't need a double hernia to go along with the bad back, Achilles' tendon and drinking problem.

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No power, but plenty of water

  I had intended to scrawl something snarky this morning, just to loosen up fingers and forebrain for another day in the VeloNews.com barrel, and then funk, the power goes out, followed by sploosh, the clothes washer pissing soapy water all over the basement. This double disaster had its genesis in Herself's pre-work beauty regimen, which involves National Public Radio, much bright lighting and a hair dryer that makes my ancient Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum look like a Pez dispenser. This pompadour pistol, which emits a whine reminiscent of the space shuttle coming in for a landing with a payload of cranky Aliens, apparently drowned out the sound of the washer's outflow hose leaping out of its sink like a spastic water snake in the laundry room, which adjoins her bathroom, while the combination of radio, dryer, lighting, washer, hair curler, et. al, sufficed to trip a couple of circuit breakers and croak my computer in mid-screed. Sorry about that.

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Smoke 'em if y'got 'em

  OK, so I was only kidding in yesterday's post about how smokers should be executed. Truth is, I think they should be tortured first and then executed. Bonus torture awarded to any smoker who voted for the Daffy-Fudd ticket in 2000 and '04. That's the good news for you bozos. The bad news is, the Ministry of Retribution is gonna keep you alive, and nicotine-free, so you can derive the maximum enjoyment from seeing the consequences of putting cartoon characters in the real-life White House.

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Beware the snides of March

  Oboy, it's March! My birthday! Shannon's birthday! St. Patrick's Day! Lent! Let's celebrate with a shitload of bad news!

  Intelligence agencies warned about growing insurgency in late 2003

  Video shows Bush was warned before Katrina

  U.S. troops in Iraq: 72% say end war in 2006

  Smoking ban needs few exemptions

  This last I could care less about. Smoking bans are so much monkey-spankage. Tobacco should be illegal and anyone caught smoking should be executed. They like smoke so much, let's set 'em on fire, on national TV. Prime time, baby, prime time. Sell advertising at Super Bowl rates and use the money to buy matches and gasoline so we can have more, bigger and better fires (using state-of-the-art emissions controls, of course). Seize all their shit, scrub off the nicotine glaze and auction it off, use the proceeds to pay down the national debt. Think how much cheaper our health insurance will be once we've thinned the herd of these sluggardly suicides-in-waiting who don't have the balls to jump off a bridge, nosh a little rat poison or gobble a shotgun. Naturally, the hardcore will huddle in dank basements, furtively toking roll-your-owns with eyes flicking left and right in fear of the Nic' Narcs and gobbling Tic-Tacs to take the stank off their breath (too bad it doesn't do shit to take it out of your clothes, Smokey). Smoke 'em out and light 'em up, is what I say. And don't forget to piss 'em out. It's been a dry winter.

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Tour of Forever

  Jesus, I can't wait for the Amgen Tour of California to be over and done with. It's like some two-wheeled Groundhog Day. Get up, grab some java, scan the headlines, then plug in and go to work pushing pixels for VeloNews.com. Come 9 p.m. or so, eat some ill-considered meal, drink heavily, collapse, awake, repeat. In point of fact, it is an awful lot like doing a job of work, and you know how I feel about work. It is the curse of the drinking class.

  Still, things could be worse. For example, how fucked up is this? It's enough to turn a guy into a Republican.

  Meanwhile, for those of you who find ESPN2's coverage of the Tour of California execrable, take heart in the knowledge that the Deuce and its big brother ESPN will be providing 15 hours of bass-fishing coverage this weekend. Break out the PBR and let's rip us some lips, Bubba.

  And finally, speaking of fucksticks: Ladies and gentlemen, Bode Miller. In spin worthy of a Bush-administration apparatchik, U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Jim Scherr described the U.S. team's multitudinous failures — which included stumbles, fumbles, fistfights and feuds — thusly: "This team has taken a little bit of a hit in terms about their comportment here in Italy because of a couple of incidents by our high-profile athletes coming into the Games. But we want to say we're proud of this entire team and how they represented our country on the field of play." Yeah, right. No wonder the snowboarders haven't tested positive for THC yet. Jim's been bogarting their bud.

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Quick fix

  The Cheerleader-in-Chief is bringing his endless presidential campaign to Colorado today, paying a call upon The National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden to push his astounding new theory that Americans are addicted to oil. I imagine it's only a coincidence that the Energy Department on Sunday announced that it was restoring a portion of his administration's funding cuts for the lab, which forced it to announce on Feb. 7 that it would be laying off 32 staffers, including eight researchers.

  According to The Associated Press:

At the direction of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, $5 million was transferred to the Midwest Research Institute, the operating contractor for the lab, to get the workers back on the job, the Energy Department announced Monday.

Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, said the decision restores only $5 million of the $28 million budget shortfall at the lab that forced the layoffs.

"The $5 million stopped the bodies from going out the door, but it doesn't provide the money for the (renewable energy) programs," Clapp said.

"We want you to know how important your work is," (Bush) said. "We appreciate what you're doing."

  Oh, yes indeedy. Better cash that $5 million check before Karl Rove stops payment, boys. And keep those résumés up to date.

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Local boys make good

  My old college roomie Chris Coursey did a fine job covering the prologue of the Amgen Tour of California yesterday for The Press Democrat, the paper that covers winner Levi Leipheimer's hometown of Santa Rosa. Alas, we share a bad habit, it seems: injecting that ol' demon politics into our cycling coverage. The J-school at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, was a subset of the School of Business, which may explain why Chris and I just can't stop ourselves from giving people the business.

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Ministry of Silly Television

  PBS will carry a six-part retrospective of "Monty Python's Flying Circus," Monty Python's Personal Best, beginning Wednesday, according to The Los Angeles Times. Whether this treasure trove of anarchic absurdity extends beyond the reach of KCET is anyone's guess — I don't see it in our local TV guide — but if you're in the Greater Los Angeles Auto Park, you should give it your full attention, if only to watch the parrot on top of your TV explode. While you wait, you can visit the official Python website here.

  Update: Not everyone is running the Pythons on Wednesdays, it appears. Our local PBS affiliate will show "Monty Python's Personal Best" at 11 p.m. on Saturdays. And me without a DVD recorder, too. In prime time they're showing Barbra Streisand in "Yentl," which any self-respecting video store will pay you to take off their hands. No wonder their pledge drives last longer than many civilizations.

  Meanwhile, raise a glass of the old Gerolsteiner mineral water to Levi Leipheimer, who won the prologue time trial of the Amgen Tour of California today in San Francisco. It was an all-American top five, with Bobby Julich (CSC), George Hincapie (Discovery Channel), Floyd Landis (Phonak) and David Zabriskie (CSC) following Leipheimer, who will wear the tour's first leader's jersey in Stage 1 from Sausalito to his hometown of Santa Rosa. "I spent all winter dreaming about winning the prologue and wearing the leader's jersey into Santa Rosa," Leipheimer told longtime cycling correspondent Sam Abt of the International Herald Tribune. In Abt's article, AEG president Jim Leiweke makes an interesting and encouraging observation about the non-participation of a certain seven-time Tour de France-winner from Texas: "We'd love to have him involved. But I'm glad he's not here today. Because, guess what, none of these people came to see Lance (Armstrong). It doesn't get much better than this. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people came to see this race today and it's not about Lance. It's all about cycling."

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Tour of California

  These AEG guys may just be onto something here. A quick tour of various California newspapers' online editions finds widespread pre-race coverage from Santa Rosa to Ventura, everything from your basic chats with hometown athletes to extensive packages with maps, lexicons and suggestions for spectating locations (one of the best is put together by The Press Democrat, in Santa Rosa, where my old cycling buddy Chris Coursey works as a columnist; he'll be covering a couple of stages. I haven't seen any snarky sports columns deriding cycling as gayer than "Brokeback Mountain" yet, but I'm sure they're out there, or will be soon. The only thing dumber than your average sports editor is a sports columnist (apologies to Jim O'Connell and Pancho Morris, two of the few who get it).

  Meanwhile, VeloNews has sent about half its staff to the race, including, apparently, whoever cuts and/or signs paychecks for contractors. The only thing I like better than leaving a 75-degree desert playground for a subzero seven-day work week is finding a mailbox full of bills and Victoria's Secret catalogs. Sure, a guy can wax the weasel to the catalog and use the bills to clean up afterward, but sooner or later someone named Guido is gonna turn up on the front stoop demanding the keys to the house and both cars.

  I thought I was being smart by roaring off to the desert for a week of R&R before settling into a long week of long-distance race coverage, but now I realize it was the equivalent of taking a hot shower on a cold morning, only more expensive. Sooner or later you have to get out of the shower. Now it's 7 degrees outside and 68 degrees inside and I just wrapped up an hourlong ride to nowhere in the basement, listening to The Allman Brothers and wondering why the fuck I came home. I had a car full of camping gear, a computer and a credit card. There was free wi-fi at the Seattle's Best java shop in Fountain Hills. Food and liquor were readily available. Jesus. If I were any dumber I'd be a Democrat.

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President Who?

  Credit where credit is due: Gunner Cheney has copped to what we already knew, that he shot his hunting buddy. A baby step as regards full disclosure and forthrightness, Dick old boy, but a step nonetheless. Now let's try moving on in our little 12-step program:

  "I wanted a war in Iraq and I got one."

  "Those energy-task-force meetings you've all been so wound up about? Wasn't anybody at 'em except me. I already knew where to send the cash."

  "I'm getting rich and you're getting fucked and there's nothing you can do about it."

  "If you think I give a shit what the press, the citizenry or that fuckwit in the White House thinks or says about what I do, you're dumber than he is. Handing expanded presidential authority to that assclown is like giving a howler monkey the keys to the starship Enterprise."

  "You know what sucks? Russ Feingold, Patrick Leahy and Ted Kennedy are never around when I've got a bottle of Jack in one hand and a loaded shotgun in the other."

  "The thing I hate about being Undead is I don't feel a thing when Brit Hume is gobbling my mummified, ice-cold knob on national TV."

  "Hell will be a breeze after Wyoming."

  "The best part of George W. Bush ran down the crack of Barbara's ass."

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Big Dick and the money shot

  OK, I want to know when the White House plans to put a stop to all this filthy pornography coming out of Texas. I mean, since when do we have to put up with a Dick shot splashed all over the news? And a facial to boot? Puh-leeze. Where's Jerry Falwell when we need him? There's probably no truth to the rumor that Cheney sent his victim a Valentine's Day card (a red construction-paper heart with a BB taped to it).

The ultra-swank Mad Dog Media training facility.

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  Well, strip off my stripes, snap my sword and call me branded: I deserted my post on the front lines of pointless comedy about bicycling, politics and life its ownself in order to take some downtime in the desert. No, not that desert, where Americans and cartoonists are as welcome as sand fleas, but the Sonoran Desert, where even an irreligious Yankee scribbler is free to ride his bicycle without fear of kidnapping, beheading or freezing his nutsack off. That last was the real deal; after way too many consecutive days of wearing three jerseys and neoprene leggings for an hourlong ride, I split for Arizona in a Forester stuffed to the gills with bike crap, camping gear and some industrial-strength sunscreen, the kind Nosferatu might use. More later — this is just a quick note to disappoint any literary critics who might be superhydrating in hopes of pissing on my grave for Valentine's Day.

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Regarding America's oil addiction

  Just kidding. Set 'em up, Abdul.

  Meanwhile, Tom Toles is taking some heat over at The Washington Post for this cartoon — from the Joint Chiefs, no less. I'd be more interested in what these brass asshats have to say about editorial cartooning if they had figured out how to run a fucking war before taking up art criticism. More Sun Tzu, fewer funnies, boys. Maybe you can find a Classics Comics Illustrated edition somewhere.

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State of the Union: The recap

  From The Rude Pundit: "Bush sayin' that Americans are 'addicted to oil' is like your crack dealer standin' over your shakin', shittin' body and tellin' you it's time to get off the crack, but, hey, while you're doin' that, you wanna buy some crack?" Damn, I wish I'd said that.

  Meanwhile, a real showman, Stew Albert, has shuffled off the stage. More on the man here, here and here. I remember trying to register as a Yippie when it came time for me to vote in my first presidential election (Nixon v. McGovern). The county clerk wasn't having any of that bullshit. Apparently a party that would run a pig for president could not be considered serious. Unless it was the Republican Party, that is.

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State of the Union

  My fellow Americans. Iraq is a bloody quagmire. Al-Qaida is hatching more evil schemes in secrecy, and so is Dick Cheney. The nation's health-care system is a protection racket that makes the Black Hand look like the Red Cross, and I'm dead set on making it worse. The rich are getting fat at the national table and we're sticking the rest of you with the tab and some pretty wicked dishwashing. Gas prices are soaring like a big oily buzzard while a living wage and your savings are going the way of the dodo. The Indians are suckers and, come to think of it, so are the cowboys. You may think you're watching me tonight, but I am watching you. And for those among you who are counting the days until my second term is over, remember that I will be with you for the next three decades in the persons of Justices Roberts and Alito. That is all. Return to your shopping, you silly shits. Dis- miss!

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Year of the Pig?

  I just looked back over my "training log" for the first month of 2006, and the best face I can put on it is, "I'm not dead." ("You're not fooling anyone, you know.") Started strong, then tweaked that tendon and it was all downhill from there, with a limp to portside. The final week was especially pathetic, with the weather a tad inclement and the running program on hiatus. No wonder my heart rate exceeds six figures whenever I uncork a bottle of tonsil polish. We Dogs are a piteous lot so far this season. Big Bill McBeef has suffered another attack of the nose boogers and O'Schenk keeps falling off the damn' bike. Maybe he's contemplating a run for president.

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Lies and the lying liars who tell them

  Every now and then The New York Times awakens from its slumbers and performs the duties required of the nation's paper of record. Today's editorial, calling the Cheerleader-in-Chief and his goons a ruthless crew of mendacious buccaneers, reminds us that The Old Gray Lady isn't ready for the nursing home quite yet. Meanwhile, The Washington Post runs an op-ed by Lewis Gould stating what should have been obvious for a couple of decades now: The State of the Union speech has all the relevance of a cable-TV infomercial and should be shitcanned, or, at the very least, ignored until it goes away of its own accord. As an ex-newsman, I suffer from the twisted notion that I need to watch this thing, a misconception I've tried curing with strong drink (take a shot every time Shit-for-Brains says "noo-kew-lur"), but I'm trying to cut back on my boozing, and watching the State of the Union under those rules is not conducive to sobriety. So I'll be giving it a miss this year and reading the postgame play-by-play in some newspaper — probably The New York Times, if the old gal is still awake.

  A key topic in this annual Symphony for Jawbone will be health care, according to Knight Ridder. This should be at least as amusing as Dubya's dance along the third rail of Social Security. I have a catastrophic insurance plan with a $5,000 deductible and a Medical Savings Account (MSA) through my wife's employer that allows her to specify an amount to be deducted from her pay, pre-tax, at the start of each fiscal year (July 1). Don't use it? You lose it. This makes picking a number an exercise in precognition: Set aside too much and you're flushing money down some insuror's toilet; set aside too little, as we did in 2005, and you pay for your medical care out of your own pocket, post-tax, until next fiscal year. One trip to the dentist for teeth-cleaning and another to the podiatrist for a tweaked Achilles' tendon cleaned me right out for this year, which means I'm on my own, healthwise, for the next six months. And I've only paid half the cost of my new orthotics.

  For that reason alone, a Health Savings Account (HSA) that lets a healthy person roll over any unused money from year to year seems like a better idea for people like me, who don't have traditional jobs with employer-provided health insurance. But for 2006, I could only set aside $2,700 in pretax contributions — which would leave a gap of $2,300 between the end of my HSA and the start of my catastrophic policy. Sure, I could always lower the deductible to $2,700 — but I already pay $170 a month for my present coverage (which has already risen $20 a month, though I have yet to file a claim); a lower deductible would crank that figure up the better part of quite some. For the sake of argument, say my catastrophic-coverage cost rises to $250 a month. Then I kick another $225 a month into my hypothetical HSA. Unless my math is wrong, that's $475 a month, or $5,700 annually, for a guy who is far from a heavy consumer of health-care services. A lifelong asthmatic, I use albuterol before exercise, and ordinarily visit a doctor once a year, for treatment of a post-Interbike sinus infection. I wouldn't see a sawbones even that often, if I could buy a five-day regimen of Zithromax over the counter when my beak locks up. Somehow, I don't see insurance as being the problem here. Josh Marshall has a health-care blog going on over at Talking Points Memo. The Economis breaks it down, too. Check 'em out.

  And, oh, yeah: This is the Year of the Dog. Cash always makes a thoughtful gift, don't you agree? Just ask any Republican.

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Cyclo-cross world's

  Well, so far, so bad, if you're a Yank. Poor Troy Wells suffered a start-line mishap in the under-23 race and spent the rest of the day bleeding from the face. Top U.S. finisher was Jesse Anthony (41st, at 5:36). Bjorn Selander cracked the top 10 in the juniors race, finishing seventh. Sunday the elite women and men will take the field; neither U.S. national champ will compete, which tells you just how big my favorite niche has gotten. Oh, well. I rode my 'cross bike today, thank you very much. I wasn't racing anyone, and a good thing, too, because I have the fitness of the dead and the legs of Long John Silver once afoot. Arrrr. The Achilles' tendon is healing, slowly, but it is very much not interested in helping me run anywhere for a while yet. Hell, walking just got comfortable this past week. At least I'm not a national champion bleeding from the snout in windmill country. That's got to hurt.

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Another chapter closed

  First Colorado Springs loses its venerable Chinook Bookshop; now Denver's Cherry Creek is losing The Tattered Cover. The store, which has been in Cherry Creek for 34 years and in its present location for two decades, will move to the old Lowenstein Theatre at Colfax and Elizabeth this summer. The place has always been my idea of Heaven, with plenty of books and places to sit and read; I was just there on Wednesday, and will miss it more than many a dead relative. At least the place will survive, with the Lowenstein location and satellite shops in LoDo and Highlands Ranch; the Chinook is gone forever.

  Speaking of great literature, there's a fresh "rant" of sorts up at VeloNews.com. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this sucker runs about 2,412 words.

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Good news and bad news

  First, the good news. Now, the bad news.

  Meanwhile, as the Cheerleader-in-Chief says photos of him and GOP money faucet Jack Abramoff are "not relevant," Josh Marshall reports that Reflections Photography, "a studio that does photo shoots for many Republican political events and sells copies to the individuals who attended the events and other members of the public through an online photo database," is scrubbing photos of Abramoff and Dubya from its archives at the behest of the White House. These yahoos get more Stalinist every day. At least Uncle Joe only had folks airbrushed (and rubbed) out. Dubya, in typically ham-handed fashion, shitcans the entire photo. The late Richard Pryor comes to mind, too: "Now are you gonna believe me, or your lyin' eyes?" That's an easy one.

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It's Only Money

  The homicide rate would spike faster than gas prices if all a civilian got for torturing someone to death * were a six-grand fine and some short-term restrictions on his movements. I can think of a few swine I'd test my Visa limits on; what the hell, it's only money, and I'm not moving all that well these days anyway. I can also think of a few people I wouldn't turn my back on if there were a cleaver, pistol or ball-peen hammer within reach, what with the lackadaiscal national attitude toward murder and the high price of meat. But I suppose this leniency regarding shoving people off prematurely would apply only if it were a white Christo-Repuglican American who suffered said shoving. I don't expect, for example, that I could feed Ann Coulter to a pack of jackals and expect to get away with it, and not just because no self-respecting jackal would eat her, either.

  Meanwhile, as I was ensconced on The Throne this morning, fruitlessly searching The Gazette for signs of human intelligence, a periscope popped up betwixt my thighs. I didn't actually see an NSA logo on the thing, so it was probably just an acid flashback. But if it wasn't, it's time to Simonize the sub, Bub. I've been eating a lot of chile lately.

  * We do not torture. Y'all quit funnin' now, boys. Wink wink, nudge nudge. You let that nice Mister Abu Whatever-his-name is have his little nap in that damp sleepin' bag. Now off to church with ya, y'rapscallions.

  This just in: Editor & Publisher raises doubts about Gen. Michael Hayden's familiarity with the Fourth Amendment. But I wonder, given the general's argument and the White House's never-ending drive to grab more of what it considers its proper executive authority, if there isn't a bigger issue here. The amendment reads as follows:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

  So my question is this: Is the general arguing that a "reasonable search and seizure" does not require the issuance of a warrant and thus an "oath or affirmation" that probable cause exists? This makes my brain hurt. Christ, no wonder you never see a lawyer driving a Forester. And here's another thought for you: If the Cheerleader-in-Chief can run an end-around on the Fourth Amendment as commander-in-chief in his War on Terra, what's to stop him from doing the same to the 22nd? And if he tries it, will anyone notice, or care? Just wondering. More on this topic from Kevin Drum. (And a tip of the judicial wig to Cursor.org for the news from E&P.)

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Something Under the Bed Is Drooling

Ordinarily I frown on casual copyright violation, but I asked Bill Watterson's syndicate if I could interview him back in the day, cyclist to cyclist, cartoonist to cartoonist, and they told me to get stuffed.

  The White House has begun a vigorous and shameless defense of its God-given right to hunt for jihadists under your bed without even informing the dust bunnies, which in any case will be packed off to Neveryoumindistan for a good vacuuming in a spotless dungeon run by a former Soviet satellite. The Warrior-King says it's all okie-dokie 'cause he doesn't break the law 'cause he doesn't have to obey the law. Congress passed a law that says so. Got it? Good. 'Cause if not, there's plenty more sleeping bags in Smotheredbyapsychoistan, Bub. Calvin and Hobbes were right all those years ago: There really is something nasty under there, and it's banging a teensy pair of tarnished brass balls together, trying to scare us.

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The (Not-So) Great Dictator

  That paragon of investigative journalism, Parade magazine, today asks "Who Is The World's Worst Dictator?" This glossy blat's cover includes head shots of the recently denutted Muammar al-Qadhafi, perennial GOP boogeyman Fidel Castro and Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il — but our own George W. Bush doesn't even crack the top 20, despite starting two wars that have killed uncounted civilians while leaving Osama bin Laden at large, imprisoning whomever he pleases and spying on those of us who have yet to be invited to assist the Ministry of Homeland Security with its inquiries. Chalk up yet another failure to the Boy-King, whose résumé would fail to impress an assistant manager at K mart. In case you're curious, the podium is as follows: Omar al-Bashir, Sudan; Kim Jong-il, North Korea; Than Shwe, Myanmar. "Let's not lose sight of those heads of state who terrorize and abuse the rights of their own people," trumpets the subhed on page 4. Indeed. And thus, in that spirit, we present today's sermon, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchial Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein. For extra credit, see 1984, by George Orwell, who must have taken H.G. Wells's Time Machine for a spin before plopping his bad self down at the old writing desk.

  But a guy can't spend all day sifting Parade for gems like "How To Get Organized," "Laugh Parade" and "Ask Marilyn" (Jeff S. of Middleton, Wisconsin, asks, "Why don't plastic containers dry in the dishwasher's heating cycle the way ordinary plates and glasses do?" Quit smoking that ditch weed and staring at the dishwasher, you nitwit, and get yourself a job.). No, a guy has to drag his ass outside for 90 minutes of pissing in the chamois while navigating ice floes if he wants to avoid becoming part of the bad fattitude that afflicts our nation in these dire days. I couldn't face another day on the trainer, so the Schenkster and I bundled up and performed the Ice Capades, cyclo-cross style, along the Monument Creek trail. It was in surprisingly good condition — some city worker is apparently plowing the bugger, which is more than they're doing to the streets. The Schenkster crashed twice (yesterday and again today), but never on the trail. Seems the ice likes to congregate in rumpled sheets at intersections and snatch at passing bikes like Frosty the Klansman. I nearly ate it a couple of times myself, but escaped thanks to my snail-like reflexes.

  This just in: Sucks to be Jake Plummer tomorrow, when The Denver Post goes thump on the doorstep (or maybe CRASH! through the window. Never played football, but I got the chance to be both hero and goat on a couple different swim teams. Hero is better. Thank God I never had anyone stuffing a camera and mic' in my face after I swam like an anvil in the anchor leg of the crucial 400-free relay. The post-game chat is where the real idiocy of sports journalism rears its pointy little head. Jake knows what happened (Pittsburgh 34, Denver 17, with Plummer 18-for-30 for 223 yards plus two lost fumbles and two interceptions), and the sportswriters know what happened, if they stayed sober, but both parties to the fiasco have to talk about it anyway: "What happened out there today, Jake?" "Well, I sucked, and I fucked up a lot." "That's gotta hurt." "Yep, having a couple-three 400-pound 'roids-ragers using you for a trampoline and a tether ball makes for a long afternoon." "Pays pretty good though, huh, Jake?" "Better than your stupid job, ass-face." And so on. Now, of course, is when Colorado will turns its true face to the hirsute Denver QB: "If'n y'dint hafta squint through all thet gah-dayam hair, y'fuckin' hippie queer, y'might be able to see a fuckin' receiver now 'n' then!"

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Whiz, whiz, whiz, whiz

  O, the pain of the winter's first indoor Ride to Nowhere. I said pretty much everything I need to say about riding the wind trainer back in 2002, when we were still hunkered in the bunker outside Weirdcliffe. Exercisewise, it's a last resort, when simply pacing back and forth in the living room isn't getting the job done. The Schenkster tried to coax me out into the ice and snow for a little two-wheeled game of demolition derby, but I don't need any more medical bills, thanks all the same. I need to save some money for strong drink, thick pizza and all-too-short vacations in desert climates.

  Speaking of vacations, here's one that would pay for itself, if only I could get the gig. I spent 10 years on swim teams, know exactly fuck-all about recreational scuba diving, and can spell my own name correctly when endorsing a check. Alas, I lack passport and positive attitude, have to be Stateside in Februrary to help VeloNews.com with its coverage of the Tour of California, and haven't written anything longer than 750 words in about 10 years. Still, I do have "an engaging personal narrative style," if you're drunk enough and not too picky.

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La Niña strikes again

  The local fish-wrapper recently ran a story about La Niña taking a crap in our snowfall probabilities, so naturally, it snowed last night. 'Bout time, too. Another day or two and my lawn, such as it is, would've spontaneously combusted. It wasn't much, just four or five inches, but good, heavy, wet stuff, the kind you can really make a killer snowball with. Downside is, it means I have to ride the wind trainer, which I hate the way Dick Cheney hates the living. But I'm still a couple-three weeks away from being able to run again, so it's either ride indoors or start selling advertising space on my ass, maybe rent it out as a movie screen.

  Meanwhile, we're going to try something new here at the DogHaus. "The Daily Dog" is now the homepage, and the recycled columns from Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, VeloNews and the like will be relegated to the Dog Doo'ins page. New year, new wrapper, same old shit. Hey, just like the Bush administration! Unlike that crowd, however, I'd like to know if I'm getting it wrong, so if you see anything that's gone completely sideways or is even dumber than usual, drop me a note here.

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The God Squad

  Is it just me, or is there all of a sudden an inordinate number of arseholes pretending to know what God is thinking, and saying as much? George W. Bush, Pat Robertson, Ray Nagin — they all claim to have God's private number, but you know He screens their calls. I asked God about this just the other day and He just snorted. "Oy," sez He. "Don't get Me started. Like I'd tell a little gonif like Bush to go to war, put a hit out on Sharon because a shande like Robertson said so, or whip a hurricane on New Orleans because they have a few feygeles prancing around. I got bigger fish to fry. You got any idea what's going on in the Horsehead Nebula these days? Don't ask. I got a headache like you wouldn't believe. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to whip a case of boils on Dick Cheney and then catch a cab to Betelgeuse. Clean up this mess yourselves. What am I, your maid?"

  Meanwhile, if you thought that was funny, check out the latest "So this guy walks into a press conference" gag from DeeCee. Dennis Hastert tells a questioning reporter during a gaggle: "Well, you know, a year ago most people around Congress couldn't tell you who Jack Abramoff was and didn't know who his associates were or what connections there are. As this thing unrolls, people understand that we need to learn from what happened in the past and try to rectify that if we can." Ahhhh ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Laugh, I thought I'd die. But then I have a notoriously odd sense of humor. The funniest part is that none of the assembled reporters thought to ask the obvious followup, which is: "Jesus, just how full of shit are you? Abramoff's been stuffing greasy wads of cash into GOP undies like he was Tony Soprano and they were lap dancers and nobody knew who he was and what he was up to? Puh-leeze. I mean, I was born at night, but it wasn't last night, you fat fuck."

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TGIF the 13th

  Bring it on, as the Cheerleader-in-Chief is fond of saying whenever there are plenty of young grunts between him and "it." Whatever Friday the 13th has in store for me, it can't be any worse than the rest of this miserable week. I didn't exactly test that theory by actually leaving the house, but that's mainly because I'm not walking so good. My left Achilles' tendon woke up screaming Tuesday — something to do with a week of illness-induced sloth followed by a week of vigorous exercise capped with an hour of cyclo-cross on Sunday and a 45-minute run in new shoes on Monday. We won't be doing that shit again anytime soon. I've got quarter-inch cork heel lifts in both shoes, orthotics on the way and a fat bill from a podiatrist to amuse myself with in the meantime, along with an icepack, a 55-gallon drum of ibuprofen and strict orders to cease and desist from running for a month.

  Meanwhile, VeloNews has decided to advertise for a full-time web geek, which may or may not imperil my part-time gig pushing pixels around the site in the absence of a dedicated professional. And the new-used Forester has a rattle in the dash and a cracked passenger-side mirror that needs attention, so it has to go into the shop when? Uh, on the same morning I have my appointment with the podiatrist. So I drive down to Motor City at 8 a.m. on the coldest day we've seen in weeks and the dealership's Windoze computer has wiped its digital ass with my appointment. No record thereof. Just viruses and worms riding Trojan horses. We'll squeeze you in, says the service guy, who is way too big to get Western with should he decide he can't squeeze me in. Probably won't be ready until closing time. So off I roll toward my podiatrist appointment, on my trusty Bianchi Castro Valley, pedaling into an Arctic headwind with a bum Achilles' tendon and a catastrophic health-insurance package that pays for fuck-all and one bloodshot eye peeled for God, who is clearly out to get me for ... whatever. Millions of reasons. Pick one.

  The podiatrist dispenses several hundred dollars worth of bad news, which is to my deductible as a glass of tap water is to an empty swimming pool, and I climb back onto the Bianchi and ride home into the same headwind as before, only colder. Just shy of closing time, the giant dealership dude calls to say the dashboard problem is solved, but someone ordered the wrong mirror, so we'll have to do that some other time. He'll call. God laughs.

  Then I get a couple of e-mails, from Herself and various friends: My site is displaying, not the usual rapier-like wit, but rather an extremely pedestrian and unfunny Network Solutions page that says I haven't coughed up the domain-name registration fee. Oopsadaisy. Seems I've changed ISPs and e-mail addresses a few times since the last re-up in 2003 and the usual dunning correspondence has gone walkabout. Even worse, my old user name and password no longer work at the NetSol customer-service site, which in any case is on hiatus for the day because of a companywide meeting, which may or may not have been called by God. Try again tomorrow. Print out this page, sign where indicated, fax to this number, and we will send a confirming e-mail to the address you haven't used since two years before your Forester with the bum mirror hit the streets.

  What fuckin' next? I thought. Someone who hates me, probably God, will snag my domain name and I will have to go back to spray-painting libels on freeway overpasses. And then I noticed a button that said something like, "Renew Your Domain Name." Click. And whaddaya know? My user name and password didn't work, but my Visa card sure did. And here we are. You're welcome. That'll be $500. And if you don't pay up, I'm sending the giant Subaru dude after you, with God as his backup.

Chairman Meow with my copy of the Little Red Book

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Sam's not here, man

  The Rude Pundit weighs in on Sam Alito, saying pretty much what I was telling Herself this morning between gulps of coffee and ibuprofen: I remember most of the evil shit I did in college that would be certain to come up during my confirmation hearings should I ever be nominated to the Bizarro World U.S. Supreme Court. "Yessir, Bizarro Sen. Biden, I was taking dope, and plenty of it, too. You needed some to get pussy when you were too drunk to fuck." I drew filthy cartoons about God, Nixon and a superhero called Loadedman, got fired from the University of Colorado Mirror for various offenses against decency, read The Militant, The Call and other commie rags, marched in antiwar and May Day parades, joined the October League, boned anything with a pulse and in general made a big, hairy thing out of myself in a small, hairy kind of way. Hey, it was Greeley, not Berkeley. You could only get away with so much. In any case, when Alito says he doesn't remember being a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton back in the Seventies, he's either full of shit to the sideburns, was doing a lot better dope than I was, or is too stupid to be on the Supreme Court. Take your pick.

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A Forester on Expedition among the Yukons

  Driving a car (the Forester is to SUVs as George W. Bush is to Abraham Lincoln) sure is an eye-opener. Now I know how the wife feels at 5 feet tall. It's a land of giants out there. Driving my midget rice-grinder I have a swell view of everyone else's lug nuts. And have you ever tried to find a silver Forester in a Whole Foods parking lot in Colorado? "Is this one mine? Nope, W sticker. Shit! Is this one mine? Nope, Kerry-Edwards sticker. Shit!" And so on. Once the dealer plates are off the sonofabitch I'm hosed.

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  I used the last of the medicinal Bushmills last night to toast the passing of Tom "The Hammer" DeLay. Let us hope that this is only the beginning of a long, steep and painful bare-assed slide down a splintery banister that ends in a dank Texas hoosegow, preferably with a grinning Native American public defender promising to file an appeal just as soon as Crazy Horse comes back to life and a serial sodomist nicknamed "The Dong" for a roomie: "Some days you The Hammer, baby, and some days you just nailed," y'know what I'm talkin' 'bout?"

  Yeah, right. In a just world, we'd slap this shameless whore into the stocks, where the citizenry he betrayed could pelt him with rotten produce and damp turds. Instead, DeLay will shed a few tears, a couple of bucks and some public authority, and if by some mischance he winds up in tennis prison like the rest of the rich white guys, well, he'll remember where he left the baby Jesus and write a book. Ho, hum.

  Me, I'm busy making my own costly mistakes. We traded the Tacoma in yesterday for a 2005 Subaru Forester, which means I have a car payment for the first time in several years, and an actual car to go with it instead of a truck. The last car I owned was a 1964 Chevy Biscayne, which I fed to a train back in 1973. Did four years without a driver's license and it's been trucks ever since — a '73 Datsun, an '83 Toyota 2WD, a '96 F-150 4WD, the '98 Tacoma, a '83 Toyota 4WD and the crème de la crème, a '78 Toyota Chinook pop-top camper that is presently sitting on two flats, with no battery, in Weirdcliffe. Talk about your costly mistakes. I'm surprised the wife didn't insist on a brain scan after that one. And as mistakes go, trading the Tacoma probably wasn't one, despite my misgivings about taking on additional consumer debt in an economy controlled by GOP asshats. I suspect that the tranny-bearings/clutch replacement of a couple years back was botched, and for sure the bugger needed brakes, some rear-end work, a timing belt, rear shocks, new rubber all the way around, an alignment, a replacement for the cracked and leaky Brahma topper, and various other upgrades that, once tallied up, would start to look a lot like a monthly car payment anyway. And it just rolled over 187K on the way to the dealership, too. The Subie has 16K on the odometer and a giant moon roof, so I can motor along with my head out the hatch, standing on the driver's seat and using cruise control, just like Jim Harrison. I'll look like a very butch lesbian tank commander.

  Meanwhile, the New Year's rehabilitation regimen continues apace. I got four rides in — two 90-minute cyclo-cross rides through Palmer Park and Bear Creek East, a 90-minute road ride and an hour of lackadaisical 'cross in Monument Valley — plus two 45-minute runs. Today's hour of 'cross was high comedy. After about 40 minutes of fighting a killer wind on the longish northbound leg of my little circuit, my "run-ups" got slower and slower until I looked like a drunk husband trying to tiptoe upstairs and into bed without waking the wife. Look out, Sven Nys.

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No, George, "checks and balances" is not a breakfast cereal

  OK, here's some news that should make even the dumbest Bush-backer nervous. Seems King George I has been appending "yeah, right" notes, called "bill-signing statements," to legislation he signs, announcing that he reserves the right to ignore the will of Congress based on what he and his handlers have determined to be the all-encompassing powers of the presidency, stemming from his constitutional designation as commander in chief. Naturally, there is some doubt as to whether the GOP-controlled Congress has the sack to take Numbnuts to the mat over this presidential coup, which effectively denies Congress and the judiciary any significant role in governance. If Congress doesn't act, the electorate should, in the 2006 midterms. Whaddaya think, Bubba? Shit-for-Brains won't be president forever, unless Uncle Dick finds a way around the 22nd Amendment. You want someone like Hillary Clinton to have the free exercise of what Cheney and the gang call "unitary executive" power? Think about it. I know it hurts your pointy head, but try, anyway. Think about black helicopters full of married lesbians coming to take away your guns, Bibles and children.

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The coinage of corruption

  The Medium Lobster flexes His mighty claws in re: the Abramoff Affair. We need twisted humor in these dark days, especially those of us with friends or family serving in Iraq, as this New York Times story — about the casualties stemming from the Pentagon's reluctance to supply body and vehicle armor to the troops — indicates all too graphically. As has become traditional in this administration of chickenshits, liars and fools, "Pentagon officials declined to discuss details of the wound data, saying it would aid the enemy."

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Operation Photo Op

  The newly crowned Mr. Humility will be meeting with secretaries of state and defense past and present today during an attempt to make himself look like more of an in-charge president and less of a retarded king. Think of it as like renting living wallpaper for the Roosevelt Room. Don't expect much in the way of "news" out of this one. After the White House photog gets his snaps, it's off to the Phantom Zone for Madeline Albright and an special Agent K memory wipe for everyone but Colin Powell, who has a unique ability to shut down portions of his mind when it encounters anything unpleasant, like whatever it is that Karl Rove is doing behind him.

  In unrelated news, those of you who are accustomed to enduring the rigors of Interbike might find David Pogue's visit to the Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 5-8 in Vegas an interesting read. This geek-fest makes I-bike look like a parking-lot crit.

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You Can't Make This Shit Up Department

  Fat bastard driving Dodge SUV. Cigarette in left hand dangling outside the driver's-side window. Bumper sticker reads: "Partnership for an Idiot-Free America." Not his auto, or just not doing his part?

  Meanwhile, could this loogin look any more like a dime-store gunsel straight out of a Dashiell Hammett potboiler? The musical notes of a series of dimes dropping should trigger a Pavlovian response in Congress — but this time, the mutts won't be salivating, like they were when Jack "Big Jelly" Abramoff was passing out the moola.

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The 2005 O'Grady Awards

  In the rush to wrap up the holiday season I forgot to mention that there's a fresh Foaming Rant up at VeloNews.com — the fabled end-of-season O'Grady Awards. Read 'em and weep.

  Speaking of reading and weeping, check out this excerpt from "Feet to the Fire: The Media after 9/11," by Kristina Borjesson. It's a chat with John Walcott of Knight Ridder, the outfit that has done the only solid, consistent reporting on this administration — and which is on the chopping block, thanks to its shareholders' greed. Apparently a 19.4 percent profit margin just doesn't cut the mustard anymore. Fuck the news, what we need here is more money. And more shitbag rags like the ones Gannett, Freedom Communications and Lee Enterprises put out. Hell, you're better off reading tea leaves, the entrails of some small animal or your old Magic 8-Ball.

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Tabula ralpha

  Mistook tequila for a widely known ginger ale last night, hence spent much time yodeling into the thundermug, as the Irish would put it. I stole that from Jim Harrison. The line, not the tequila. That I had to pay for. Twice. O, the pain.

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