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 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

By Patrick O'Grady
Mad Dog Media

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Fuck it, Dude: Let's go bowling

  Sick to death of politics, finance and journalism (pick your own link), I pulled a W today and went for a mountain-bike ride, making my own reality. And yes, I said "mountain-bike ride." It was my second in two days, and my fourth this year.

  Lest you assume that cyclo-cross has lost its luster for me, let me say that Sunday's ride was less a trend than a two-hour critical analysis of my 14-year-old DBR Axis TT before what will be an all-too-short New Mexican getaway. And Monday's ride was a shakedown cruise to check out the refurb'd Judy SL I had installed this morning, courtesy of HippieTech and Old Town Bike Shop. The DBR's battered SID, another rebuild from the now-defunct Brian's Bike Shop, had become practically a rigid fork, and a timid mountain biker in his mid-50s needs a little more of the old bouncy-bouncy to get from point A to point B without incident.

  The venue was Cheyenne Mountain State Park, which is a fine time-waster for anyone who can escape the cube farm in the middle of the workday. There are 20 or so miles of trails, the bulk of them easily handled aboard a 'cross bike (the park map describes them as "easy to moderate"), but a mountain-bike with a brand-new fork makes them a relatively simple bit of exercise. They are a little sketchy in spots, thanks to our very late, very heavy "monsoon season," but a guy can easily pass an entertaining couple of hours out there as long as he minds the switchbacks.

  The park is massively underused, and so I saw only a handful of other people, most of them hikers. In truth, humans were outnumbered by wild turkeys. I saw at least a dozen, looking like hunchbacked old men wearing overcoats as they trudged along, muttering to one another. We saw them frequently when we had the place outside Weirdcliffe, and I always enjoy their company.

  As to the bike and its new fork, well, they both worked better than I did, which is standard operating procedure. I spent much more time using my brakes than my balls — what sucks more than canceling a vacation because you did something stupid to yourself? — but that is not the machinery's fault. The fork in particularly worked flawlessly, and if yours needs surgery or you have an elderly machine in need of a refurb, I highly recommend the folks at Hippietech. And the folks at Old Town, too, who swapped forks for me between breakfast and lunch (thanks, Jerry).

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Gettin' lippy in Mississippi

  John McCaint ("I just cain't get it right!") and Barack Obama will face off this evening after all, at 7 p.m. Bibleburg time, and I may Twitter it if anyone says anything worth getting all snarky about in 140 characters or less. It's easier than constantly updating the DogS(h)ite, and the 140-character cutoff restrains my literary impulse toward flights of fancy. My main fear is that Rocky Mountain PBS either won't carry the goddamn thing or will go into full-on panhandling mode in mid-debate, bringing in Peter, Paul & Mary to warble about the joys of supporting public broadcasting.

  Final thoughts: One of these days I would love to see a Democrat go off with style on a lying, smirking Republican. But it never happens. Gore looked like an upper-class twit in his face-offs with Bush (which took some doing); Cheney made Edwards look like a fool times ten (anyone with one functional testicle would have either punched the fucker on national TV or challenged him to a duel); and Obama kept saying how he agreed with McCain on so many issues, only to have McCain turn around and call him a sissy, a chickenshit and an appeaser. How about leaning back with a relaxed grin and saying something like, "Sen. McCain has been in DeeCee for three decades and all he's managed to accomplish is marrying a rich bartender."

 Earlier posts:

  Man, I'm glad my parents aren't around to relive those glorious days of yesteryear. One Great Depression per lifetime should be enough for anyone. Just before bedtime last night we learned that the outfit which holds our mortgage, Washington Mutual, had been seized by the feds and pieces sold to JPMorgan Chase. Meanwhile, our own meager portfolio is hemorrhaging like one of Dickless Cheney's hunting buddies. (Yeah, we have investments; my days as a Communist ended in the late Seventies.)

  And Mr. Strait Jacket — pardon me, Mr. Straight Talk — managed to scuttle the bailout talks simply by showing up and doing, well, not much of anything. Reports The New York Times:

At the bipartisan White House meeting that Mr. McCain had called for a day earlier, he sat silently for more than 40 minutes, more observer than leader, and then offered only a vague sense of where he stood, said people in the meeting.

  Now, I'm no economist. But neither is McSame, and yet he ran like a yellow dog from tonight's debate with Barack Obama in order to play one on TV despite having been massively uninvolved in the discussions. Hell, he's been massively uninvolved in his job as a senator — for a guy who claims to put country first, he sure isn't much interested in doing the job the voters of Arizona hired him for. And this blather about the Man On Horseback shutting down his campaign to save the Republic is pure, unadulterated malarkey. As Josh Marshall puts it, "At this point it looks like the only thing that got cancelled in McCain's much-ballyhooed suspension of his campaign was the appearance on David Letterman."

  Meanwhile, in case you were wondering whether Bibleburg is as bad as everyone says, consider this: Our county clerk's office has been accused of mounting a voter-suppression campaign against the Trustarafians infesting The Colorado College, a great blue carbuncle adorning the crimson buttocks of Bibleburg. Most of the local Repugs are too dim to work a decent conspiracy, but gosh darn it, you have to give the simple sonsabitches credit for trying.

  In other local news, one of my favorite local businesses has apparently gone belly up: Par Avion, a top-shelf purveyor of specialty eats. I first started spending money there when the shop was in the northeast part of town, where Safeway as about as gourmet as it got, and it seemed to me that the move to Southgate was a bad idea; the new location never really seemed to draw the following it needed, though it was but a hop, skip and jump from the Broadmoor and its People of Money. A Natural Grocery/Vitamin Cottage recently opened across the street, and Rumor Control murmurs of a Whole Foods coming to South Nevada, which is in line for gentrification (right now it's more Hos & Crackheads than Whole Foods). Given the state of the economy, it's no surprise that somebody would have to go. I'm just sorry it's Par Avion.

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Run away, run away

  John McSame wants to croak Friday's debate with Barack Obama and head back to DeeCee to "work" on the nation's financial crisis. Hogwash. His numbers are falling, he knows that Obama will stomp him like rats in a shoebox, and he needs someplace to hide where he can preen, posture and look all like presidential and shit. As Steve Benen notes:

Apparently, as McCain sees it, 10 days after the Wall Street crisis began, now he wants to head back to Capitol Hill to do some work. Of course, lawmakers and administration officials have been working quite a bit, but McCain, who has played no direct role in the negotiations thus far, wants to swoop in and tell everyone what they need to do. This from a man who hasn't shown up for work at all in literally months.

What's more, after whining incessantly for months about the need for one-on-one debates, McCain has decided, just 48 hours before the first official debate, that everything should be postponed. And Barack Obama should go along with all of this, because McCain says so.

I've never even heard of a presidential candidate acting in such a reckless, compulsive, and ultimately haphazard fashion. McCain just decided to "suspend" campaign activities? This rivals picking Sarah Palin for the ticket on the list of desperation moves. . . . The Republican nomination has apparently gone to some kind of man-child who believes stunts and gimmicks are the way to the White House.

  I used to think this guy was a tough hombre. But now I'm wondering if there's anything or anyone he isn't scared of. Meanwhile, Obama ain't backing up:

"This is exactly the time when people need to hear from the candidates," Obama said. "Part of the president's job is to deal with more than one thing at once. In my mind it's more important than ever."

  Meanwhile, one of my many informants at Interbike advises that someone who may or may not be Sean Walling of Soulcraft loves his penis. I always heard he was fond of it, and kept it close to him, but love? Who knew? Is it on display in the booth, and were test rides available at Outdoor Demo? Inquiring minds.

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  Ah, nothing like flipping through photos of bike stuff you don't need and can't afford from the comfort of your own home. Photo galleries here and here. These Intertubes Al Gore invented are really something. I must drop him a thank-you note.

  In other velo-news (har de har har), Lance Armstrong is holding one press conference on Wednesday in New York and another Thursday in Vegas. The former concerns his "Global Cancer Initiative"; the latter, his plan to return to racing in 2009. VN's Steve Frothingham is chasing Armstrong around the country the next couple days and should have all the dirt, assuming his head doesn't explode after jetting from Denver to Sin City to New York to Sin City in the course of four days.

  An unconfirmed report from Rupert Guinness in the Sydney Morning Herald has Armstrong and former UCI chief Hein Verbruggen trying to buy up Amaury Sports Organization, the folks behind that little three-week spin around Frogland every July. USA Today's Sal Ruibal says an ASO spokescreature gave the rumor the old hee-haw. Bicycling's Joe Lindsay doesn't call bullshit on the tale, but does take time to break it down here. Meanwhile, one of our own experts wondered via e-mail whether Rupe' may have had a glass too many of tonsil polish before penning his little scoop. Will Armstrong confirm or deny? Stay tuned.

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Greet the fall equinox

  Yep, it's that time of year again already. The leaves have been falling here for quite some time, though, and the furnace clicks on of an evening with depressing regularity. I like fall — it's the best time to ride a bike in Colorado — but am less enamored of what follows.

  I really came to dislike winter when we lived outside Weirdcliffe. Cutting, splitting and stacking firewood for the stove is kind of exhilarating for a city fella, but it gets a little tiresome after a few years, as do regular power outages, plagues of hunters, second-homers and rattlesnakes, and navigating the one-mile bobsled run we called a "private road" that dropped 430 feet to the county road below. Herself backed about halfway off it at the very tippy-top once, and I took a very scary backwards slide trying to climb it in the Tacoma one evening, on the steepest bit, a glasslike sheet of ice; only old snow shoved to the side by our neighbor's plow kept me from slaloming over the edge and into the trees. Then the tow-truck driver got stuck trying to get me out. Good times.

  In Bibleburg, winter is less hazardous. No woodstove, thus no need for chainsaw and ax, and the driveway is pancake-flat concrete, with just enough drop to drain to the street. Plus I don't have to drive anywhere in evil weather, not with grog and groceries a 10-minute walk away. Beats the hell out of a 20-mile U-turn in four-wheel drive.

  Down here among the flatlanders, winter mostly means working in sweat pants instead of shorts, running in tights, long-sleeved shirt and cap, and during our increasingly infrequent snowstorms shoveling a block's worth of sidewalk, which is a good way to wake up in the morning and a chance to chip away at my mountainous karmic debt.

  Still, every now and then I miss sprawling near the woodstove, with the white-capped Sangres looming to the west and the snow bucketing down. It was the kind of Colorado the Chamber of Commerce would have you believe can be found just about anywhere, even in scenic downtown Bibleburg.

  Back east in DeeCee, meanwhile, the CEO-in-Chief is a-whoopin' and a-whoppin', trying to stampede Congress into dropping a trillion or so smackers in Wall Street's little tin cup and do it right now. Fuck that noise. We've been here before, and it always ends badly. Some of the wise guys out there say Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's plan sucks and point to Senate Banking Committee honcho Chris Dodd's counter-proposal as a workable alternative. As I've noted before, a financial wizard I am not, but you don't have to be one to know that the Busheviks can't open their yaps to belch without a couple dozen lies squeaking out. When this outfit sends up a trial balloon, shoot early and often. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, you'll be glad you did.

  Next, in our Fun with Technology segment, I've been driving myself witless trying to make a Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro webcam work with the old G4 "Sawtooth" AGP Graphics box, which sports a 1.1GHz processor upgrade, OS X 10.4.11 and iChat AV 3.1.8. Herself and I have tried video-chatting a few times during her absence, and it's been choppy Max Headroom-style video, the sound quality one expects from a pair of tomato cans linked by waxed string, and the occasional hard crash that I didn't think was supposed to happen any more in the OS X environment. I'm not talking a little force-quit inconvenience here — I'm talking a total freeze that croaks everything you're working on and locks up the 'puter tighter than Sarah Palin facing a subpoena, the kind of techno-tardery that requires pressing the power button until the Mac shuts down, then restarting. Good Lord, must we return to the dark days of cell phones, land lines, or worse, the written word? Oh, the humanity.

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What's one more Twit(terer), more or less?

  The annual Clusterfuck in Casinoville, otherwise known as the Interbike trade show, kicks off tomorrow with the first day of Outdoor Demo in Boulder City. I'll be giving it a miss again this year, but will be following it from a distance as time and mood permit via Twitter. It seems the Interbikers have embraced this corner of the social-media swirl and are promising to fire off regular updates, so if I hear anything of interest from them, the BRAINiacs or the VeloSnoozers, I'll pass it along. Meanwhile, you can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/maddogmedia. Longtime fans of this site (you know who you are) should expect the same lackadaisical, semi-coherent updates you've come to know and loathe. But at least they'll be really, really short.

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The chronicler of the gonzo gumshoe is gone

  James Crumley is off to join Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett in that dim, smoky lounge peopled with tough dicks, crooked cops and sultry dames that is heaven for crime novelists. The New York Times calls "The Last Good Kiss" his masterwork, but I always liked "The Wrong Case," too, probably because it was the first book of his that I read.

  His later works I didn't much like; they had their moments, but often devolved into silly-ass shoot-'em-ups and other improbabilities that were strictly from Hollywood. Nevertheless, his two private eyes — C.W. Sughrue and Milo Milodragovitch — deserve their seats at the bar with the rest of the better-known gumshoes. And the lesser characters were equally worthy — Lawrence Reese, the "large and ferocious faggot" who affected leather pants, lavender eyeshadow and "one of those esoteric, violent but dutifully spiritual Eastern combat arts"; Simon Rome, the criminal lawyer "feared by prosecutors in seven states" who had become a radical wino; and Abraham Traherne, the dried-up writer with an affinity for bar dogs, like the alcoholic bulldog Fireball Roberts.

  If this sounds weird, well, it is. But it's worth a peek. Sift your local used-book store for "The Last Good Kiss" and "The Wrong Case" and you'll see what I mean. Then raise a glass to James Crumley.

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Socialist unrealism

  Boy howdy. Eager to dash out into that marketplace and take on some fresh debt, are you? Me neither. The whiz kids have zipped up and zipped off, and here we are once again, on our scabby knees with our pants around our ankles. They have left us with nothing beyond that fabled burning, itching sensation and all the debt we will ever need.

  You know you're in the shit when the press provides you with one of these Stalinist socialist-unrealism poses (swiped from McClatchy) to illustrate a story about how you'd best lash a bedroll together and start hunting a nice campsite along a creek somewhere.

  That's about the extent of the wisdom I can provide on this topic, by the way. The O'Grady males are legendary for their fiscal idiocy, and I am no exception. Hell, if I were just that little bit dumber and a whole shitload richer, I could be a Bush, that's how bad it is. Herself handles the finances in these parts, and she wisely has declined to tell me much of anything about them, because if I knew how to tap into them, I might swap the whole shootin' match for some magic beans, and I ate way too many of those bad boys back in the Seventies. How do you think I got like this?

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Ground zero (heavy on the zeroes)

  Man, we have been up to our tits in presidential candidates here lately. Both camps have popped in to talk shit, but happily I have been too busy to pay much attention, though I did see the Obamamobile and its related security convoy blasting up I-25 en route to beers at Bristol Brewing (me, not him), and once heard Sarah Palin's voice screeching out of the living-room stereo (I nearly twisted an ankle sprinting for the remote to shut her braying ass the fuck up). Good times.

  Herself has jetted off to South Carolina for a family deal, leaving me all alone, if you don't count the cats and the voices in my head. I spaced the litter-box detail until after dinner, which was probably a good thing. Judas Priest, the Turk can really drop the butt-bombs. It looked like Karl Rove had been in there after a trip to the Mickey D's for a double Happy Meal.

  Meanwhile, more fun with technology: I dropped a second hard drive in the old G4, bumped the OS to 10.4.11, added a Logitech Vision Pro webcam and now my iChat AV doesn't work worth a shit. Used to be I could audio-chat with my man Hal outside Weirdcliffe, but no more. And Herself and I tried a video chat this evening that worked about as well as Sarah Palin with a bum teleprompter. Four Gs worth of MacBooks sat there shrugging their virtual shoulders, and then my $400 Linux Eee PC steps up with a flawless Skype connection. Go figure.

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Bog-trotters, Texans and Portagees

  The autumnal equinox is a week off yet, but the fall chill is already upon us. It's 47 and overcast here in Bibleburg, where we enjoyed 4.63 inches of rain on Thursday and Friday, breaking both a 100-year-old record and a bridge commonly used by the Saturday training ride out of Acacia Park and a few jillion commuters.

  The deluge played hell with the Saturday cyclo-cross race at Bear Creek Regional Park, where organizers reportedly lost a couple sections of course. I was not in attendance — I wanted to follow the Angliru stage and then slip out afterward for a leisurely and unmuddied ride. But my informants report that the usual beasts were devouring the less-well-adapted organisms and excreting them into the mire. Results are not posted, but once they have been, you will find them here.

  Meanwhile, Hurricane Ike has made an even a bigger mess of Texas than its former governor did before moving on to ruining bigger and better places. Here's a shout out to frequent correspondent Jeff in the PetroMetro and the mobs of kinfolk claiming blood ties to Herself. Hope you're all dry and enjoying the benefits of electricity.

  A tip of the newsboy cap, too, to colleague Mike Geniella, who left the Bibleburg Gazump Teffaloon back in 1980 or thereabouts to join The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, California. The ol' Portagee finally wised up and retired from the newspaper biz, joining the thousands nationwide who have either jumped or been pushed from that particular burning building. We couldn't make it to his retirement party for a number of perfectly believable reasons — the soundest one being that I am not retired — but we hoisted a glass or two or three of wine in his honor.

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  For John McCain and Sarah Palin from Henry Rollins via Politits.

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Hurricane Lance

  That's not the roar of Hurricane Ike lashing the Texas coast — that's the sound of a jillion chamois-sniffers all inhaling deeply at once.

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The days grow short when you reach September

  Lots of folks crowding the trails today, striving grimly to squeeze in those last few miles before the snow flies, forgetting that even when it does, we're not exactly consigned to the North Pole here. The sun comes back out, eventually, and healthful exercise may still be had.

  It always surprises me how many of my fellow trail users sport sour expressions and slouch along, as though exercise were something that a physician had prescribed them, like a daily dose of castor oil or a weekly colonscopy. It was well into the 70s here in Bibleburg, with a slight breeze; a lovely day to be out and about, breaking a light sweat and trying not to think about the economy, the race for the White House, how much bicycle racing remains to be covered this season. But fully half the people I saw were plodding along like convicts in the prison yard, mentally X'ing out another day in the joint.

  Maybe they don't have a rose bush in their backyards. Man, we sure do. The sonofabitch just exploded again the other day, for no reason that I can divine. I don't believe we've ever seen it bloom like this since we've lived here. Maybe somebody told it we could be looking at President McCain come 2009 and it's trying to get those last few blooms in before the balloon goes up.

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The Invisible Veep

  Hee haw. Sarah Palin is such a smart, tough, capable candidate that the McCain campaign is keeping her in a First Amendment chastity belt so the press can't slip her the high hard one. From straight talk to no talk in one easy lesson.

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The Strained Talk Express

  John McCain wants to bring change to Washington. "I promise you, if you're sick and tired of the way Washington operates, you only need to be patient for a couple of more months," he told supporters in Missouri on Sunday, according to The New York Times. "Change is coming! Change is coming! Change is coming!"

  Uh huh. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1982, then to the Senate four years later, and he's been there ever since. And the only thing he's ever changed is his mind, over and over again, occasionally managing to be simultaneously on all sides of a single issue. As Steve Benen noted in cataloguing McCain's flip-flops at The Carpetbagger Report:

McCain has been in Congress for more than a quarter-century; he's bound to shift now and then on various controversies. But therein lies the point — McCain was consistent on most of these issues, right up until he started running for president, at which point he conveniently abandoned literally dozens of positions he used to hold. The problem isn't just the incessant flip-flops — though that's part of it — it's more about the shameless pandering and hollow convictions behind the incessant flip-flops. That the media still perceives McCain as some kind of "straight talker" who refuses to sway with the political winds makes this all the more glaring.

  McCain has been part of the problem, not part of the solution. His party of knuckle-dragging boneheads, ivory-tower neocons and war-mongering chickenhawks has spent the past decade wiping their pampered asses with the Constitution, crippling the economy and transforming America from that shining city on a hill to a tumble-down trailer park in East Jesus, Arkansas.

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You'll get your rights — and a few lefts, too

  In keeping with our casual reports on fascism in America, here's a report from AlterNet's Liliana Segura, who chatted with a St. Paul resident fresh from the Graybar Hotel, where all the class acts are staying during the Repuglican National Socialism Convention.

  Elsewhere in the Twin Cities, says Political Animal's Steve Benen, the McCain campaign is hiding veep pick Sarah Palin from the "combative" media, lest she mistake Anderson Cooper for a caribou and shoot him. Steve also watched the first real night of the RCN and gave us the Reader's Digest version so we could skip that experience in favor of something less painful, like a dry colonscopy or scooping our own eyeballs out with sporks. Extra-credit reading on the invisible Ms. Palin and all things RNC can be had from Kevin Drum at Mother Jones.

  Here in Bibleburg, it is a brisk fall morning — 46 degrees and overcast with a high forecast in the mid-60s. The furnace has already clicked on thrice and I'm thinking about trading the shorts and wife-beater T for something a tad more substantial.

  Back on the national front, serial husband John McCain gives a warm Twin Cities welcome to a pair of unwed, unrepentant fornicators. I'm guessing a Repug only breaks out the family-values hammer when it's a Democrat up the pole. 'Cause, like, a knocked-up Donk is probably an atheistic Caddy-drivin' welfare queen who flatbacks for illegal aliens to cover a crack habit, won't wear a flag lapel pin in her crotchless panties, and hates our freedom.

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Of Pachyderms, police and press

  Here's a follow-up on Amy Goodman's arrest while trying to liberate a couple of her Democracy Now! producers jugged by storm troopers at the Republican National Convention. Apparently Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison helped get the three of them out of the hoosegow.

  The Repuglicans among you may be wondering why I'm not live-blogging the elephant show the way I did the donkey show. Frankly, it would feel like hosting a Leni Reifenstahl retrospective. So tune your browsers to Democracy Now!, Talking Points Memo and Political Animal for the latest from the Alaska Independence Party — pardon me, the Republican National Convention — for the very latest on the Fourth Reich's plans.

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Elefinks trample free speech

  The Republican National Convention is off to a rousing start, with pre-emptive arrests of would-be protesters, lawyers and journalists, among them Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! Goodman was apparently trying to spring a pair of her producers, who had been arrested on "suspicion of rioting." That's rich. Generally, when one is rioting, suspicion quickly gives way to certainty.

  This is a fine bunch of thugs Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher has assembled, much better organized than the Denver cops and twice as mean. Plus they're apparently working hand in mailed glove with the FBI. Doesn't sound much like Lake Wobegon to me.

  As to the whole Sarah Palin thing, now, you're just gonna have to look that whole train wreck up for yourself. I tried linking to a few of the less appalling bits, but it just made me feel dirty. The most I'll say about it is this: I didn't think it was possible, but the McCain camp has managed to find someone who makes Dan Quayle look presidential.

  Oh, yeah, and before I forget: Tyler Hamilton is USA Cycling's pro road champ. There is no truth to the rumor that instead of uncorking a bottle of the bubbly, he bit the head off a puppy.

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Donkey days: a postscript

  Steve Benen at Political Animal makes a good point about last night's speech: It wasn't intended to be filled with "lofty rhetoric or grand cadences" because Obama has been there and done that. Says Benen:

(O)bama deliberately avoided that kind of speech, for a more forceful articulation of why he's ready to lead, why John McCain isn't, and precisely what he wants to do for the nation. It's easy to call for change, so Obama described the kind of change he envisions. It's easy to condemn an opponent, so Obama explained why McCain's ideas are intellectually and practically bankrupt. The result was one for the books. People are going to be talking about last night for quite a while.

  Maybe so. I would've appreciated more spectacle, because I haven't seen him speak much, being denied the blessings of cable TV and a decent video card for the G4. But Josh Marshall seems to think it was just the ticket, as does Kevin Drum; both think Obama left the Pachyderms slack-jawed in a puddle of their own pee. Let's hope they're right.

  Meanwhile, David Corn from Mother Jones recounts a piece from last night's speech that stuck with me, too:

Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than one hundred million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement? It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.

  That's the nicest way of calling a guy a stump-broke, feeble-minded old fuck that I've ever seen.

  And speaking of the GOP candidate, McCain has inexplicably named Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. Washington Monthly, Mother Jones and Talking Points Memo are all over this one. A wingnut Bible-thumper who until recently was the mayor of a town of 9,000 people and has been governor for a year and a half, Palin has a sizable skeleton in her closet, the accusation that she used her pull as governor to get her former brother-in-law sacked; he's enjoying a nasty divorce and custody squabble with Palin's sister, says TPM.

  A friend who knows Alaska better than I do says he had expected that Palin "would be too hot for any one to touch," and not in a good way, either. Still, the former Miss Wasilla 1984 makes McCain look like a Shar-Pei with the mange. A popular T-shirt in Anchorage these days reads: "Cold State, Hot Governor." — Art lifted from Kodiak Konfidential.

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Day four: Donkeys braying in the Broncos' house

  Yeah, yeah, yeah; I'm late again. I was cooking and refurb'ing various computers. Eating is more important than raving, and I can't rave for money to buy food if my computers can't communicate with my "new and improved" DSL modem.

  6:50 p.m.: Al Gore is up there at the podium on Invesco Field, rushing through a speech that sounds a touch pre-programmed before a standing-room-only crowd, some of whom spent more than two hours in line before making it into the stadium. Stevie Wonder kicked off with a brain-numbing tune before shifting gears into "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours." New Mexico's Bill Richardson made 'em both look sick. But at last Big Al cranked up the volume, urging the young folks — so far largely absent from the TV coverage I've seen, barring fights with the cops — to get more deeply involved and defend the Constitution against all enemies, especially the domestic variety. And he reminded the overflowing crowd at Invesco Field that Abraham Lincoln didn't have all that much time on the job, either. Slow start, strong finish. Here's Steve Benen, who has been paying closer attention.

  7 p.m.: Talking heads again, and I ain't talkin' David Byrne. We can hear Michael McDonald in the background, which reminds me of how much the Donks are taking young people for granted. Nobody under 50 knows who the fuck Michael McDonald is. And nobody over 50 gives a shit.

  7:15 p.m.: OK, now we're into an introduction of various and sundry military types intended to remind us that Barack Obama might be the commander in chief come January. Fine. Glad to see they're behind the man. And I know it has to be done to impress the mouth-breathers, along with the endless jabber about "may God bless" whatever. But the president is more than the CINC. This continuing reverential treatment of the military, whether it comes from Donks or Pachyderms, makes me nervous, the same way the overuse of the word "hero" as a synonym for anyone who served in uniform does. I know plenty of fine people who wore (and wear) the uniform, and plenty of assholes, too, people I wouldn't want in the District of Columbia, much less in the White House. Hammers and nails, don't you know.

  7:25 p.m.: Joe Biden is up there now, saying, "Tomorrows are determined by what we do here tonight." He leads into a parade of working stiffs who remind us that the Pentagon is not the be-all and end-all of American life.

  7:40 p.m.: Pamela Cash Roper, a self-confessed lifelong Repug, says she "cain't do it" any more. A little late, but better late than never. Welcome back to the fight; this time, I know our side will win. Extra credit for those of you who can recognize the quote without resorting to Google. Barney Smith tells his tale of woe, then says, "We need a president who puts Barney Smith before Smith Barney." That's the line of the convention, for my money.

  8 p.m.: It's ... showtime! I'd love to see Obama backstage. I can barely deliver an address to our cats. I can't imagine taking center stage at an NFL stadium without holding a football and a jilliion-dollar contract.

  8:13 p.m.: The man himself appears, with little to no fanfare (at least on PBS). A shout out to Hillary and Bill Clinton — neither of whom, apparently, are in the audience — and we're off. "It's time for them to own their failure," Obama says (not the Clintons, but Daffy and Fudd).

  Sometime later: Hm. I'm gonna have to think about this some, pore over the transcripts. Fine performance, sure held my attention, but who wrote the script? Obama reminds me more and more of Bill Clinton every time I see him, and I never voted for Clinton. I will vote for Obama, just as I did for Kerry and Gore, because the times are just too precarious, the choices too few, but damn. I would trade a healthy organ for a candidate who could get me on my feet, hollering, "Goddamn right! Obama ain't that candidate. Not tonight, anyway.

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Hee haws from the high country: DNC, day three

  Another late start this evening, due to dinner preparation (chicken enchiladas smothered in green chile, with a side of mixed baby greens and diced tomatoes in olive oil and another of brown rice with butter and chives). But I did hear former boxer Harry Reid give the old one-two to the Bushies and their janitor-in-waiting, John McCain. He all but called Daffy a slacker retard and Fudd a bumboy for war profiteers and Big Oil.

  7:13 p.m.: The big dog barks: Bill Clinton, something of a thorn in Barack Obama's side during the primary season, weighs in with a big shill for the candidate, saying he'll use diplomacy first, force last, and won't take no shit from no body. People worldwide, says Clinton, have been "more impressed by the power of our example than the example of our power." Oooh. Sick burn. After eight years of Numbnuts mangling the language it's refreshing to hear a president who can speak. A quick backhanded bitch-slap to the GOP candidate (nice guy, fine senator, suffered terribly as a POW, totally enslaved by his party's bankrupt ideology), followed by a dissection of the effects of neocon tinkering with the nation and the world and topped by the warning that McCain represents more of the same. "Thanks, but no thanks," says Bill. "In this case, the third time is not the charm. Barack Obama is on the right side of history." That may come back to bite Obama in the ass, as it has a Marxist flavor and the wingnuts have already tried to slap that label on him.

  7:25 p.m.: Back to the talking heads. Christ on a crutch. A correspondent suggested I switch to C-SPAN, but we don't have cable, and C-SPAN online uses RealPlayer (which I haven't installed on this laptop), so it's no dice. And I'll be goddamned if I'll watch one of the networks.

  7:30 p.m.: The Great Stone Face, John Kerry, is up now. He's no Bill Clinton, but he's continuing the theme of Senator McCain v. Candidate McCain, painting him as the hammer who sees every problem as a nail, a desperate hack doomed to a campaign of personal attacks, a man who has taken more positions than Jenna Jameson and has all the credibility of a used-car salesman with a drug habit. "Talk about being for it before you're against it — before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain had better finish the debate with himself."

  7:50 p.m.: Sounds like the standoff between the Denver cops and a large protest march led by Iraq vets is getting twitchy. I don't suppose PBS could find an extra camera somewhere, get out in the street where the news is. . . .

  7:55 p.m.: A Steven Spielberg film about service in Iraq follows, narrated by Tom Hanks. It's moving, but kind of creepy; I'm not certain what point is being made here. I suppose the subtext is, "Don't let a slacker retard and a bumboy for war profiteers and Big Oil decide which meat grinders to feed your kids into." But it seems half a warning of the costs of war, half recruiting ad.

  8:15 p.m.: More bogus theatricality: The nomination by acclamation of Joe Biden as veep candidate, followed by an infomercial. It really is time to quit pretending that these conventions are any more meaningful than any other trade show with an overabundance of Powerpoint presentations.

  8:15 p.m.: Bo Biden, Delaware's attorney general, who is bound for Iraq as a captain with the Delaware National Guard, introduces his old man: "My friend; my father; my hero."

  8:26 p.m.: Many thank-yous and shout-outs ensue. The best is to Biden's mom, in the audience, who helped him learn to stop stuttering and kick ass.

  8:32 p.m.: Biden starts off not with foreign policy, but with domestic issues, tough times, bootstrap stories. Barack Obama "is the great American story," he said. Could've done anything, says Biden; he chose to work for the people. "Work is more than a paycheck. It's dignity; it's respect; you can look your child in the eye and say, 'It's going to be all right.'" Biden, too, is laying the praise/punish lash on McCain. Good friend; bad president. But it's a pretty light beating, not with the buckle end of the belt; I've read somewhere that this is a dictum from the Obama camp, which is determined to defend its "brand" as above that sort of thing. Still, this "more of the same" shit is getting old. These guys need a script coach. Whoops, now we're into "John McCain was wrong, and Barack Obama was right." Someone's called an audible. But still, not much of a speech.

  8:51 p.m.: And then, zango: Barack Obama hits the stage, kisses Biden's old lady on the lips, and does a whassssup for the crowd. American flag pin on the lapel, props to the Biden and Clinton clans, see you at Invesco Field, peace out. I don't know as I would've done that — he stepped on Biden's toes the same way he did Michelle's. But what the fuck do I know? I'm in my rocker in Bibleburg with a glass of Cote du Ventoux and a laptop, not at the Pepsi Center in Denver with a credential and a headset.

  9:05 p.m.: David Brooks is saying that to avoid being tarred with the Bush brush, McCain has to pick Joe Lieberman as his running mate. Some of the lefty blogs give this the old hee-haw, but I find it worrisome. We know Lieberman is full of shit, but we knew that Daffy was full of shit back in 1999, and look where that got us.

  9:13 p.m.: And finally, it appears that the Obama machine finally sent someone out to chat with the Iraq vets marching toward the Pepsi Center, defusing what could have been a Kodak moment for the McCain camp, with cops and vets doing it hand to hand in downtown Denver. And I'd like to take a moment to explain the difference between editorializing and reporting for those of you playing the news game at home. When The Denver Post's John Ingold and George Watson write, "A cheer went up, the veterans did an about face, and the Democrats appear to have avoided providing John McCain with some very unflattering video footage of veteran's being pepper-sprayed hogtied and handcuffed outside their convention," they are not only poorly edited, they are poorly taught. I can say shit like that because I make no pretense of objectivity. A reporter, even for a no-class, third-tier, Fox-wannabe outfit like Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group, has no business speculating on anything more complex than sunrise and sunset, especially if he doesn't know that the plural of "veteran" is "veterans," that "about-face" is hyphenated and that a comma is needed after "pepper-sprayed." Just the facts, ma'am, as my man Joe Friday used to say. Maybe the Post is jealous of the Rocky's video of that storm trooper decking the Code Pinkie.

  One final note: Dennis Kucinich really kicked ass in his speech to the DNC, which I hadn't seen until The Rude Pundit brought it to my attention. How many times have you thought to yourself, shit, I'd vote for so-and-so in a heartbeat, but of course he hasn't got a prayer? What if 51 percent of us felt that way? Just wondering.

In other news:

  Obummer: Something struck me last night, watching the convention on PBS: Where the hell are all the young people Obama has been said to inspire? Every interview I've seen has been with the same old crowd that's been selling us down the river for the past 30 years. If I'm a 20-year-old Obama supporter watching this noise on TV, I'm thinking it looks a lot more fun to be outside the Pepsi Center, heckling the cops.

  But then that's not always as much fun as you might think, either — just ask Code Pink's Alicia Forrest, who got decked by a storm trooper on Tuesday. It's not clear whether this badge-heavy thug is a Denver cop — Denver added 1,500 cops from other jurisdictions, including Bibleburg, to patrol the DNC. But Code Pink says he's no longer working the protest lines, so maybe he's already back home, beating the wife and kids. Update: He is a Denver cop, though the DPD won't name him. If I baton a woman to the ground in Denver in front of witnesses, I bet the DPD IDs me before the screams stop.

  Meanwhile, an "unauthorized march" (imagine that, in this day and age) led by Iraq Veterans Against the War is proceeding along Brighton Boulevard toward the Pepsi Center. Here's a Denver Post story with more detail. My favorite part of the 9 News story is this:

Police, riding on a golf cart at the head of the march, were attempting to get the protestors to turn down Blake Street, from Brighton Boulevard. The cart had a traffic sign affixed to it that was flashing the message: "Welcome to Denver" and "Follow us."

  By all means, follow us down this alley so we can beat you to your knees, gas you like an insect and stuff your dumb asses in Gitmo-on-the-Platte. I'm not sure a bunch of vets are gonna be as easy to thump as your average dreadlocked Boulder hemp advocate.

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The donkey show, day two

  7:05 p.m.: We're getting a late start here this evening; I was installing a system-software upgrade on an old Mac laptop so it can speak with our "new and improved" DSL hookup, which caused me to waste another workday chatting with customer service at Qwest about an absurd overbilling and fetching a trio of useless modems to the Qwest kiosk at the Citadel Mall and the UPS Store on North Academy.

  The quick-and-dirty via PBS is that the theme of day two of the DNC is, "We can't afford more of the same, and Barack Obama will deliver the change we need." House Donk Majority Leader Steny Hoyer got the ball rolling, saying the Daffy-Fudd administration called upon Americans "not to serve, but to shop" after Sept. 11, tweaking John McCain for saying that "we are worse off than we were four years ago" while pledging a repeat of the past eight years, and concluding by saying Americans were "tired of country-club economics." Duh.

  A parade of working stiffs and even stiffer politicos followed. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano took a giant shit on McCain, saying she hoped for a continuance of the tradition of failed presidential candidates from Arizona. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sibelius said ditto, as did Jim Whitaker, the GOP mayor of Fairbanks, Alaska. Even former Denver mayor Federico Peña, Bill Clinton's secretary of energy, got into the game, shilling for green economies and alternative energy — where he's been, I have no idea and haven't the energy to run down.

  The audience was clearly disinterested in the last few speakers, until Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania derided McCain for voting with Daffy 95 percent of the time: "That's not a maverick, that's a sidekick," he said, adding that what America needs is not four more years of the Daffy-Fudd administration, but "four more months," prompting a brief chant of same.

  I expect we're not going to see any serious foaming at the collective jackass jaw until Billary takes the rostrum. And that, more or less, brings us up to date.

  7:40 p.m. Mark Warner, a Nextel founder, former governor of Virginia and would-be senator, is up for the keynote: "The most important contest of our generation has begun . . . the race for the future. And it won't be won if only some of the Americans are in the running. And it won't be won with a president who's stuck in the past." He's talking about an America where anyone can succeed by dint of hard work, in which challenges are opportunities, arguments I have a hard time buying. One of the helpful women working the UPS Store this morning said she used Juno for her access to the Internet because it only cost $10 a month, a bill she could afford; think what she's missing by not having a broadband hookup (from someone other than Qwest). This website, for example. But big chops to Warner for quoting Thomas Jefferson in his wrapup, for not founding Qwest, and for being the opening act for Billary.

  8:04 p.m.: David Brooks and Mark Shields still suck, for those of you keeping score at home. But especially David Brooks.

  8:09 p.m.: Checking in with other blogs, I see complaints about the coverage from Fox News and CNN — I find this surprising, as there is little or no difference between the two. CNN became an arm of the Daffy-Fudd administration shortly after 9/11, and that's one of the reasons why we unplugged the cable. Myself, I'm finding PBS's switching back and forth from the convention floor to sit-down interviews a little tedious. I'd like to hear more from the floor. But at least I don't have to hear any bullshit from Sean Hannity or Rudy Giuliani.

  8:25 p.m.: Jesus H. Christ. Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts, was making a helluva speech — I actually set the laptop down, put on the TV glasses and was watching intently — when PBS cut back to the talking heads. I'll try to link to some online video later, if I can clear the technical hurdles this fucking Qwest modem has set before me.

  8:40 p.m.: And here comes Hillary Clinton, to the tune of Lenny Kravitz, "Are You Gonna Go My Way?" Fuck, no. Not unless she and Bill suck it up and start working to croak McCain. And she has to lose those lame pantsuits, too. Broncos orange is particularly unflattering.

  "I'm here tonight as a proud mother, as a proud Democrat, as a proud senator from New York, a proud American, and a proud support of Barack Obama." That'll do. "Barack Obama is my candidate, and he must be our president," she continued, before thumping her own tub for far too long, recounting tales from her own unsuccessful campaign instead of extolling the virtues of the nominee. Best line in her extended paean to women's rights: giving thanks "to my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits."

  And then, she pulled a 180: "Were you in this campaign just for me?" she asked, revisiting her tales of how a Marine and a cancer-stricken mother with autistic kids had pleaded for her help during her campaign, then saying that Obama and running mate Joe Biden would come to the rescue. "We don't need four more years of the last eight years," she said, adding that it was appropriate that Daffy and McSame would be together in the Twin Cities "because they're awfully hard to tell apart."

  "We don't have a moment to lose or a vote to spare," Clinton continued. "Let's elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden." Well said. But I would have liked to see a great deal more boisterous, unflinching support for the party's nominee.

In other news
Things to do in Denver when you're dumb: The convention coverage from the Rocky and Post is every bit as weak as I had expected. A shitload of cops, all decked out in their Darth Vaderish finery, went to town on a small crowd of protesters last night — but neither paper seems to be able to tell us exactly why.

  Why is one of the Five Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — we learned in journalism school, and it sorta helps explain things to a curious readership. Why would a battalion of cops pepper-spray a platoon of protesters and drag them off to the hoosegow? Because they constituted a threat to life and property? Or because they could and it was fun?

  Lacking any hard info, I suspect the latter. The cops tear-gassed a peace rally in Palmer Park here in Bibleburg some years ago after a small clot of self-styled anarchists started acting the fool on Academy Boulevard at Maizeland, blocking traffic. The forces of law and order found them in contempt of cop and duly broke out the chemicals, which do not discriminate between guilty and innocent. A good time was not had by all.

  Maybe I'm just getting old, but back when we were commies protesting the Vietnam war, we had a pretty clear agenda; everyone, cop, commie and citizen alike, knew his role and acted accordingly. Stances were taken and sides chosen. But I don't have any idea what this new crowd is on about (what is another of the Five Ws for those of you who are playing along at home). Nevertheless, playing chicken with speeding SUVs full of rednecks, fundamentalists and active-duty and retired military, or with a phalanx of black-armored coppers, is not a sensible tactic if a guy wants to live long enough to get his point across, whatever that point might be.

  What this lot in Denver were protesting has not been made clear, either. I expect that this morning they are protesting that their eyes burn.

  Update: Some in the crowd were packing "rocks and other items," says a police report quoted in the Post. "In order to protect the public when the crowd surged forward, two officers deployed their pepper spray and one officer used a pepper ball device." I hardly think the public requires chemical protection from Stone Age weaponry. A former colleague, Judy Kohler of The Associated Press, has a better story here. And finally, here's a bit of video from the Denver CBS affiliate. Here's another from The American News Project. Looks like the cops were the ones doing all the surging.

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Live-blogging the Donks in Denver

  6:25 p.m.: Boy, Nancy Pelosi sucks as an opening act. We're watching her on PBS right now and it's like watching the Osmonds try to open for Metallica. It's the first time I've ever agreed with David Brooks, who dismissed her speech as a collection of cliches. Me, I wondered whether she'd gotten her meds mixed up. As for the crowd, it was either drunk or suffering from altitude sickness.

  6:30 p.m.: A Jimmy Carter video reminds us how Daffy and Fudd screwed the pooch during and after Katrina. Carter and Rosalynn made a brief appearance on stage, but did not speak.

  6:38 p.m.: Obama's half-sister, history teacher Maya Soetoro, is far from riveting, but she still makes Pelosi look like a headless mannequin trying to pass for a Stepford wife.

  6:43 p.m.: The national co-chair of the Obama campaign, Jesse Jackson Jr., is up there now, and he's the first speaker to really get a rise out of this bunch. Judas Priest, all these people of color at the rostrum must be making the crackers twitchy. * Of course, crackers don't watch PBS, because they can't pronounce it. That line about the well-being of the we depending on the well-being of the he and the she sounded a bit "Star Trek" for me, though.

* Seems I was right. And this cracker looks dumber and crazier than the traditional garden-variety honky psychopath.

  6:50 p.m.: Carter sits down with the PBS folks to remind us all of the animosity between the Ford and Reagan camps back in the day, and says the Donks will come together behind the nominee. They'd better. I stepped in the kitchen to crank up the vittles machine and missed the finale; Carter said something along the lines of Obama's election marking the beginning of the end of racism in America. That's a stretch, but we can always hope, no? White folks spend lots of money on Will Smith, Morgan Freeman and . . . and . . . and they're gonna have to spend a whole shitload on President Obama if he's gonna clean up the mess Daffy and Fudd are gonna leave behind. Me, I'd seize their damage deposit in a hot New York minute.

  7:05 p.m.: Jesus, this is truly horrible. This is like watching NBC try to cover a bicycle race. Either cover the fucking convention or go home and let Denver go back to bad air and worse football. We're enjoying a parade of talking heads reminiscent of the Sunday yak-fests and a member of the Hawaii delegation who went to school with Obama and thought he might wind up making a career in basketball. Now I remember why we unplugged the cable after Floyd Landis FUBAR'd the '06 Tour.

  7:11 p.m.: Mark Shields and David Brooks on Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy: Who gives a shit? Either of those guys on the ticket this year? Oh, yeah, the big primary battle and the cold shoulder Kennedy laid on Carter at the 1976 convention — either Jeff McNelly or Pat Oliphant captured that moment perfectly in a cartoon that I'll dig up later.

  7:15 p.m.: Now Caroline Kennedy is praising Uncle Ted, prior to a video extolling his career. Think infomercial: Camelot Revisited. Buy now. I'm starting to consider voting for Ralph Nader.

  7:30 p.m.: Jesus, the old war horse himself is at the rostrum. More power to his arm. "Nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight," he says. "I have come here tonight to stand with you, to change America . . . to elect Barack Obama president of the United States." A malignant brain tumor, surgery, the works, and he makes Pelosi look like a timid telemarketer.

  8:10 p.m.: Sorry about that. I had to step away for a few drams in honor of the Kennedys, the O'Gradys and the Tour of Ireland, which begins on Wednesday. In the spirit of a new internationalism, I was drinking French rosé. Slainte, mesdames et messieurs. And you, too, Jim Leach, a former Republican representative, who spoke for Obama while reminding us that not all Republicans are demons from the Outer Darkness (just the current crowd).

  8:30 p.m.: Shit, Michelle Obama's brother, Craig, is the head coach of men's hoops at Oregon State University in my old hometown, Corvallis, Oregon. Go Beavers. The first time I saw an "I'm a Beaver Believer" I nearly had a heart attack. 'Cause, like, I had always been one, even before I took that shitty job at the Corvallis Gazette-Times..

  8:40 p.m.: Definitely the best part of the show this evening, barring Teddy's appearance. Craig and Michelle are turning Barack Hussein Obama and his wife into the folks next door, if it's possible to turn a pair of Harvard Law grads into Ward and June Cleaver.

  8:46 p.m.: Hoo haw. Michelle just threw a bone to Hillary Clinton: 18 million cracks in that glass ceiling. It may be the wine, but I'm starting to feel about her the way I once did about Hillary: I think she just might make a better president than her old man.

  8:54 p.m.: Says Obama, via video hookup: "Now you know why I asked her out so many times. You want a persistent president." Awkward exchange follows, with kids either under- or over-coached. The Donks fucked up here — they should've left well enough alone and let Michelle have her moment, 'cause she was drillin' it.

  That's it for the evening. Coverage gets a C-minus. Two thumbs up to Craig and Michelle. One thumb down to Obama for stepping on his old lady's toes. Ten thumbs down for all the pandering to the Jesus crowd. You will recall that they think the Christ was a white guy. Big props to Teddy for lurching out there and promising to be in DeeCee and ready to kick ass when President Obama takes office. Finally, Judy Woodruff, David Brooks and Mark Shields should be stuffed into a NASA-surplus Gemini capsule and launched into deep space.

In other news:

  Talk about generating watts: Many a joke has been cracked about how the nation could gain much cheap electricity from chaining its sweaty hordes of gym rats to generator-equipped treadmills and exercise bikes. But now somebody's actually gone and done it (in Portland, Oregon, as if you needed to ask).

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The Donks descend on Denver

  Denver was never exactly light on jackasses — hell, I even lived there for a short stretch in the late 1980s — but it's full to overflowing now as the Democratic National Convention, an exercise in foregone conclusions, gets expensively under way.

  The two Denver "newspapers" — The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News — seem to be trying to blog the early going, but what comes out is a lot like the Monty Python sketch about a horde of identically dressed TV talking heads inhabiting the same remote island. I'd link to them (the websites, not the Pythons) but your heads would explode like a penguin on top of a telly, so stick with The New York Times if you want something approximating actual news coverage.

  Or better yet, keep a trio of browser tabs open to Talking Points Memo, Political Animal and Mother Jones. With Josh Marshall, Steve Benen, Kevin Drum and David Corn on the job, you're liable to learn a whole lot more than you care to know.

  And no, I will not attend the convention, though Herself and I did hit our precinct caucus and raise our hands for Barack Obama. Denver is a pain in the ass under the best of circumstances

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Biden their time

  OK, here we go: Barack Obama has picked Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware to be his running mate. Now instead of jabbering ceaselessly about the Democratic "veepstakes," the MSM can get busy jabbering ceaselessly about (a) the GOP "veepstakes"; (b) "Obama fatigue," and; (b) how Biden is a hair-plugged, plagiarizing windbag with a penchant for defying gravity by simultaneously stuffing both feet into his big, fat mouth. Issues be damned, let's keep harping on personalities, by all means.

  There are more important things than who's going to be digging the country out from under eight years of the Daffy-Fudd administration. For example, did you know that a four-eared "devil cat" named Yoda has been discovered in a Chicago suburb? Huh? Didja? Huh? And where is Obama from, huh? Jimmy Dobson must be shrieking "hallelujah." Eighty-six the rain prayers, boys, we got us a sure-fire shitstorm here.

  Meanwhile, I know some of you have been wondering whether I'll get the nod to join John McCain on the Republican ticket this fall. I'm sorry, my friends, but this appears unlikely. I only own one home (actually, the bank does), I'm still married to my first wife, and I spent the Vietnam war rolling bombers, not flying them. Plus McCain gets mad, but I get pissed. Some might see this as a dream ticket, the ideal balancing act, representing the yin and yang of American politics. But the truth is, I could never play the No. 2 to a man who's mostly No. 2 himself. Thank you, good night, and may Dog bless the United States of America.

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Too pussified to say "c*nt"

  What would happen if the MSM focused on the McCain-C*nt controversy the way it did the Obama-Wright flap? Watch and learn.

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All property is theft

  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the unofficial and alleged world champion of bicycle thieves.

  In other news, my comrades at The Aristocrats are on top of the whole how many homes does John McCain own kerfuffle. Among the clues that you might own a few too many homes: "Your carbon footprint has 14 electoral votes."

  Not to be outdone, Lance Armstrong used 222,900 gallons of water at his Austin home in June, making him the biggest water-using individual in the Texas capital that month, consuming about the same amount as 26 average Austin households. Jerry Jeff Walker anchors the low end of the top 10, which the Austin American-Statesman reports "reads like a cross-section of Austin culture: Prominent lobbyist Neal "Buddy" Jones ranks third, tech executive Marc Hafner seventh and health-care magnate Robert Girling eighth. Among them, they used about 1.55 million gallons of water — enough to fill an enclosed football field 3.5 feet deep."

  Meanwhile, for those of you keeping score at home, I now am in possession of the dread Fifth Modem, as foretold in the Book of Broadband, wherein the Secrets of the Intertubes are revealed to one and all, but only in Urdu. With three 2Wire Gateways, two Motorola Netopia 3347s and a shitload of elderly Macs I should be able to start my own telecommunications company. But then I would have to answer calls from people like me, so let's forget about that.

  As I was on deadline with Bicycle Retailer & Industry News today and will be likewise with VeloNews tomorrow, I won't take a crack at installing this latest addition to the family straight away. And in the interests of accuracy, further research indicates that Qwest's technical support may be divided between the Phillipines and India, so my heartfelt apologies to the Pakistani cave-dwellers among my readership.

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Good morning, my name is Osama, my tech ID is 666, how may I help you?

  This is getting monotonous, I know, but the man said, "Write about what you know," and what I know is that Qwest sucks. This morning, after our high-zoot DSL modem went back to skipping offline for a breath of fresh air whenever it became overwhelmed by my porn downloads, I called technical support again. This time I was on the horn for an hour, and the diagnosis was (wait for it) a defective modem. So I have another modem en route. This will make five: three Gateway 2Wires and two Motorola Netopia 3347s. The cats are using them for litter boxes. When they are full, I will return them. In the meantime, I believe I have discovered why Qwest tech support appears to be operating out of a Pakistani cave: Qwest and al-Qaeda are one and the same. They intend to destroy the American will to resist tyranny one DSL modem at a time.

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Can you hear me now? How about now? Now?

  Hee haw. Qwest will be providing phone and internet services during the Democratic National Convention in Denver. The Donks better lay in some log drums, signal flares and semaphore flags for backup. My "new and improved" DSL modem is cutting out on me at least once daily — never for long, but still, when that internet light goes dark and Qwest is running the shop, a guy never knows whether he's gonna be spending the day at the coffee shop with a gaggle of chattering soccer moms.

  Meanwhile, I enjoyed another stellar bit of customer service yesterday, from a once-efficient Mac dealer, MacMall. I decided to replace my doddering old G4 with a 2GHz Mini and ordered one up, instructing MacMall to double the stock RAM, to 2GB. RAM installations and other tweaks are pretty easy on most Macs — I've been under the hood of all of mine at one time or another, barring the MacBook — but the Minis are said to be a pain in the ass to work on, and Apple even recommends that customers don't try to install their own RAM upgrades, so I wanted someone else to drive himself apeshit with that little project.

  When the e-mail confirming my order arrived, it listed the Mini as en route and the RAM installation as "in process," a physical impossibility for anyone who isn't Dr. Strange. When I checked my order online, the Mini again showed as shipped but the RAM order had been "canceled by customer." Ay yi yi. A 25-minute chat with various customer-service pootbutts ensued, during which I learned that the RAM was apparently out of stock — so, naturally, MacMall shipped the Mini anyway.

  "This is not the product I ordered," I explained, over and over again. "Let me put you on hold while I check your order," the servo-bots replied tinnily, over and over again. Finally I lost interest and canceled the order, refusing delivery when UPS showed up with the RAM-challenged Mini. At least this time the Brown Truck Dude wasn't bringing me another fucking DSL modem from Qwest.

  Qwest for brains revisited: After losing our Internet hookup a half-dozen times this morning, forcing Herself to have to keep logging back into her VPN, I rang up the propeller-heads at Qwest for another enjoyable chat that involved a hard reset and yet another laborious configuration, with multiple restarts, of our modem, a Motorola Netopia 3347 that doesn't look anything like the models on the Netopia site and may be cobbled together from a WWII-era Japanese Army walkie-talkie, a Captain Midnight secret decoder ring and a ball of aluminum foil. The sonofabitch is working now — but it was working before, too, until suddenly it wasn't. It's days like this when I wish I had a real job, with IT support, so that when the shit monsoon hit I could say fuck it and go out for a drink of lunch.

  This just in: And now, as a change of pace for all you fans of human suffering, we present The Segway faceplant. I can only hope she worked for Qwest or Motorola. Thanks and a tip of the skid lid to the tosspots at DrunkCyclist.

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Splish, splash

  The Bibleburg Gaslight says we've gotten 2.45 inches of rain since Thursday — nearly a third of the year's total to date of 6.7 inches. It sounds like a lot, but we're still well shy of the usual precip', which would be 12.8 inches by now.

  Don't mention drought to the folks who ran the Pikes Peak Ascent yesterday, though. They ran through drizzle, hail, snow and fog, and more than half the starters did not finish. Eighty of the 760 finishers were treated for hypothermia. This is what some people call "fun." Me, I'll take a Tia Sophia breakfast burrito smothered in green and a long soak at Ten Thousand Waves, thanks all the same. 'Course, you can't get either of those things here. A guy has to drive four hours south to Santa Fe for that action.

  Speaking of which, I won't be enjoying my usual extended romp through the Southwest this fall en route to Interbike. I skipped the big trade show last year for the first time since 1993 or thereabouts, and my absence was so popular with the authorities at Bicycle Retailer & Industry News that I have been invited to do likewise this year. Too bad, so sad. It would be fun to spectate beerily at CrossVegas, and one of these years I'd like to spend a couple days playing with all the new toys at Outdoor Demo, but not if it means buying my own gas, grub and grog.

  In related news, don't be surprised when you don't see any Mud Stud cartoons in BRAIN's Show Daily at I-bike. I did 'em from a distance last year, but it seems that they constitute another crushing expense deemed too onerous in these trying times. Those folks running the show in Laguna Hills get any tighter, they're liable to squeak when they walk. 'Course, if I were running a magazine with fewer pages than the White House ethics manual, I might be cutting down on expenses, too.

  Hey, what can I tell you? More time for riding the bike, I hope. Getting out lately has been difficult when not impossible, but yesterday I found a 45-minute window between deluges for a short run, and today I got out for an hour on the Steelman and only got a little bit dampish.

  But September also brings the Vuelta a España, the Tour of Missouri and a whole bunch of other bikey-stuff that requires the creation and relocation of pixels in quantity, so I suspect I will not be short of excuses for not riding. Ho, ho. As if an Irish-American layabout with a whisky fetish ever needed an excuse to sprawl on the sofa for an extended bout of eyelid inspection.

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Super soaker

  After a couple months of heat and drought, zango: The rains came. And with a vengeance, too. It's been raining for a couple days straight now, and I think I just saw Noah go Arking on by, with Ted Haggard as cabin boy. Maybe Jimmy Dobson's mob got an early start on praying for rain of biblical proportions to spoil Barack Obama's little party in Denver. Uh, that's still a few days down the road, y'all. And anyway, better a little cleansing rain than what we usually get out of the local sky pilots.

  And speaking of roads, a 5.5-mile stretch of Interstate 25 will be closed to the little people when Obama makes it official Aug. 28 at Invesco Field. C'mon, folks — is this really necessary? And we wonder how politicians come to gain inflated notions of their own importance relative to their fellow citizens. Don't tell me the right-wing bombast machine isn't going to have big fun with this news, while conveniently forgetting to mention how Daffy and Fudd jet around with fighter escorts, armored limos and missile batteries in case someone dares show Daffy a middle digit or Fudd decides he feels like shooting an old pal in the face.

  And while the Queen City of the Plains bids welcome to the Donks' anticlimactic little $40.6 million bash — which includes a mandate that caterers provide food in "at least three of the following five colors: red, green, yellow, blue/purple and white" — anyone expressing a preference for, say, brown or pink sustenance is likely to wind up in Denver's secret slammer, a "dilapidated warehouse" (have you ever noticed that in hack writing, warehouses are always dilapidated?) that once housed the city's voting machines. Says protester Glenn Spagnuolo:

"This facility has a long history. The city pulled its voting machines from here because the building gets too hot. Yet now they'll put people in there who use those machines to vote. There are no toilets there. There's no water, no fire suppression. The city should be ashamed. It needs to stop criminalizing protests."

  Hey, Glenn old scout, this is Colorado. If we're not ashamed of Jimmy Dobson, Doug Bruce, Marilyn Musgrave and the Broncos, we're sure as hell not going to get all worked up over a few balding hippies stuffed into dog kennels. Cowboy up, son. Nobody ever heard of the Chicago Seven complaining about the accommodations.

  Meanwhile, from Jonathan S. Landay of McClatchy comes the lede of the week regarding President Kettle's calling Premier Pot black:

WASHINGTON — President Bush declared Friday that the United States and its allies "stand with the people" of war-torn Georgia against Russian "bullying and intimidation." He then left Washington for a 10-day vacation at his Texas ranch.

  Unintentionally ironic bluster aside, the Rooskies don't appear to be going anywhere, unlike the Chickenshit-in-Chief, which must have Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili thinking about changing the name of George W. Bush Street in Tbilisi to something more appropriate, like Up Shit Creek Avenue, You're On Your Own Boulevard or The Russians Are Coming Road.

  And finally, a happy birthday to Charles Bukowski. In addition to being a hugely entertaining writer and poet, Bukowsky was at least part of the inspiration for one of my favorite Tom Waits songs, "Frank's Wild Years." Said Waits: "Bukowski had a story that essentially was saying that it's the little things that drive men mad. It's not World War II. It's the broken shoe lace when there is no time left that sends men completely out of their minds. I think there is a little bit of Frank in everybody."

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Qwest for brains

  "Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain," wrote Johann Christoph Friendrich von Schiller in "The Maid of Orleans." He must have had Internet service from Qwest.

  We have had a land line and DSL service with Qwest for several years, and while the service and hardware both seemed overpriced, at least they mostly functioned as required. True, we had a few confusing chats with East Asian tech-support people early in the relationship, and blew up an ActionTec Wireless-Ready DSL Gateway modem a few gigabytes further down the road, but all went more or less swimmingly until the second ActionTec went south in the exact same fashion last week.

  That way, as the saying goes, lies madness.

  When the DSL went down on Thursday, Aug. 7, I called tech support. Dead modem, they diagnosed; we're trying to get all those old ActionTecs out of customers' hands anyway. We will send you, with all haste, the very latest in Qwest communications technology. Agreed. Deal done, I hung up.

  Then I was afflicted with an idea — as usual, a bad one. I called the Qwest folks back and said, cancel that delivery, I'll just pop on by my local Qwest store and fetch home a new modem, save you the trouble and me the delay. We can't be without high-speed Intertubes for 24 hours. There are words to be processed, libels to be transmitted. Right you are, sir, they replied, and off I went.

  My antennae should have tingled when it took three of the four boneheads working the Qwest kiosk at the Citadel Mall to find me a new modem and enter the appropriate data into their computer. Alarm bells should have begun clanging when one of these wankers proposed kicking my download speed up a few notches as long as I was standing around, flattening my feet and watching the parade of thugs, slugs and Repugs. Klaxons should have begun hooting when the checkout process took longer than the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

  But no. It had been a long week, and I was tired, cranky and in a hurry. All I wanted was to be able to get back to downloading choppy videos of Tijuana donkey shows and e-mailing them to Laura Bush. So I grabbed the new modem and fled.

  Setup was something of a bother; the instructions only covered Ethernetting a computer to the modem, and we're an all-wireless family, so several chats with tech support ensued before I finally got things up and running again, just in time for happy hour.

  And then, at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 12, the DSL croaked again. This was not the third bum modem — it was Qwest, shutting off my old high-speed service in preparation for starting up my new high-speed service. This apparently can take as long as three business days, a downside to the service upgrade that nobody discussed with me, though they did manage to sell me the wrong modem for the new service — and deliver me two more just like it — before finally shipping the proper model.

  In the meantime, I am shouting down various tech-support and customer-service wells and getting a different tale each time. That 2Wire Gateway modem should work. No, it won't. Your service will be up and running Tuesday. No, Thursday. No, Wednesday. Sorry, we cannot compensate you for your time spent decoding our outrageous fucktardery, mendacity and apathy. OK, we'll give you a free modem for your trouble. No, thanks, I already have four of the god-damned things and a free modem was part of the original deal! Yaaaaaarrrrrghhhh!!!

  Long story short, after two days during which I grew a callus on one ear from being on hold, where a soothing voice told me over and over again how awesome Qwest was and how important I was to Qwest, we finally have our DSL up and running again.

  Well, kind of. None of our "Classic"-OS Macs can use the new modem, and Herself is on the horn with tech support at Brother, trying to figure out how to make her MFC-885CW printer-scanner-fax combo work with the sonofabitch. But at least Laura's finally gonna get that donkey video.

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Qwest for fire

  No, I'm not dead yet. But my DSL is, thanks to the lower primates at Qwest, who have managed to FUBAR my access to the Intertubes in the course of providing me with a new modem and a higher speed. Ook ook ook, as they say.

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Russian roulette

  An illegitimate leadership orders the invasion of a sovereign nation on the pretext of preventing war crimes against civilians — and whaddaya know? For a change, it isn't us. James Traub has an interesting backgrounder at The New York Times; thanks to Kevin Drum for the tip. Happily, we have nothing to fear — Darth Cheney is handling foreign affairs while Alfred E. "Worry" Bush is spanking the little chimp at the Olympics.

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Riders down

  Two Colorado Cyclist employees were killed Wednesday evening when a motorist apparently drove her one-ton pickup into a small group of cyclists on a training ride, according to local police and press reports.

  The two were Edgar "E.J." Juarez, 30, of Chicago, and Jayson Kilroy, 28, of the Detroit area. Both worked in phone sales at Colorado Cyclist, according to sales director Mike Creed Sr.

  "It's been a very tough day," said Creed, who had to identify Kilroy's body at the coroner's office. "Going to identify Jayson's body last night was something I'll never get over. These were both great guys. It's senseless. An absolutely senseless tragedy."

  According to a report Thursday in the Colorado Springs Gazette, Barbara Thomas, 63, was driving up 26th Street in a 1986 Ford F-350 at about 7:40 p.m. when she turned left onto a diagonal side street, Westend Avenue, reportedly striking the two cyclists. Creed said the two had been in front of another group descending 26th Street as part of a Wednesday-night group ride.

  Thomas was said to be facing charges including vehicular homicide, driving under the influence of drugs (prescription meds), failure to yield, and driving with a restricted license. A local television station reported that Thomas was driving without corrective lenses as her license required. A mug shot shows her with oxygen tubes in her nostrils.

  The 26th Street climb is a popular out-and-back cycling route that rises past Fairview Cemetery, dips briefly near the Bear Creek Nature Center and then ascends Gold Camp Road. The return leg can be rapid and dangerous, and is renowned for its "optional" stop signs; I've had a couple good scares descending 26th from Gold Camp Road as motorists pulled California stops at side streets below Fairview Cemetery, and know at least one cyclist who has gotten drilled good and hard at 26th and Bott.

  A smart lawyer will no doubt mention that the riders were descending 26th Street shortly before sundown, in a light rain, but police said the weather was not a contributing factor.

  "There is no evidence to suggest that the cycling group or the deceased cyclists were operating their bicycles in a manner that contributed to the crash, and it appears they were lawfully in the roadway and following applicable laws," a Colorado Springs Police Department spokesman told KKTV. "There was a light rain falling at the time of the crash, but it does not appear to be a contributing factor in the accident."

  Creed says an escorted memorial ride is planned this evening at 9 p.m., leaving from Wooglin's Deli on North Tejon and riding to the site of the crash. I was up there earlier today, shooting these pictures of the intersection, and a neighborhood motorist called out to me as I clicked away.

  "Is this where those kids were hit?" she asked.

  "Yes," I replied.

  "Terrible," she said, shaking her head, then drove away.


  • Late update: Another follow-up from the Gazette.

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    Bikes, schmikes: Take a limo

      Denver's not a half-bad town to ride a bicycle in, even if you're a Republican — so how come bicycles will not be allowed within the "perimeter" established at the Pepsi Center by organizers of the Democratic National Convention? Hybrids, si, but bicycles, no? Maybe the locals are afraid that out-of-towners will get an up-close-and-personal look at the typical Colorado motorist, whose attitude regarding two-wheeled transport not blessed by the Harley Davidson emblem is not far removed from that of his cousins in Salt Lake City. One of these days a fed-up cyclist with a firearms fetish is gonna jerk a Glock 26 out of a jersey pocket and send one of these fucktards to Jesus the hard way.

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    Don't pay the ransom . . .

      . . . I've escaped. A few of you have tweaked me over the recent dearth of postings, and in my own defense I will say only that I am a lazy, mannerless, unprincipled swine, and I will be happy to refund the price of your subscription to my site if you will give me unfettered access to your bank accounts. C'mon, you can trust me — I'm with the media.

      The news has been so evil of late that only Beelzebub could possibly take any pleasure in reviewing it, so let's just say that John McCain is scraping the bottom of the Repuglicunt septic tank in his attempts to smear Barack Obama and still getting a free pass from the press; Ron Suskind's new book says the White House once ordered the CIA to forge a letter showing a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda; and four trackies on the U.S. cycling team endeared themselves to their Chinese hosts at the Beijing Olympics by wearing face masks against the city's fabled pollution as they arrived for the Games.

      That last story was the lede Olympic piece at The New York Times for a bit, thus enhancing the popular image of cyclists as fearless, macho athletes who shave their legs and soil themselves at the first whiff of a scooter fart. Me, I want to know whether the rhythmic-gymnastics team was wearing masks when they arrived. If they were, well, then everything's cool, 'cause we know how hard that crowd is.

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    Not exactly must-see TV

      That's the word from Versus via Media Life, which reports that viewership of the Tour de France was down 18 percent through July 22, dropping to an average 140,000 viewers from 171,000 last year. The culprit, says Marc Fein, Versus executive vice president of programming, production and business operations at Versus: "Some people might be turned off a bit by the bad things that have happened, the doping in the sport." No flies on that boy, are there? Pretty soon he'll have his very own key to the executive washroom.

      Media Life also notes that Versus saw "a huge jump" in online video views, reporting that during the first week and a half, downloads surpassed last year's total of 3.5 million, and by Friday had hit 5.9 million. Thank God for the cube farmers following the action from work — they're what keeps the lights on at VeloNews.com.

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    For Evans, TT means 'Ta ta'

      Cuddles Evans couldn't get it up today in the final time trial and thus it seems that Carlos Sastre will win the 2008 Tour de France. The traditional post-Tour bitch-slapping has already commenced, though one stage remains, the ceremonial roll onto the Champs-Elysees: Evans says CSC-Saxo Bank outspent his Silence-Lotto squad, George Steinbrenner style, and S-L manager Marc Sergeant retorts that Evans is a wanker with the legs of Olive Oyl.

      Meanwhile, The New York Times asks the question, "Online, R U Really Reading?". WTF? ROFLMAO! L8R!

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    Printing the legend

      Fresh nonsense a-poppin' up at VeloNews.com as John Ford and I analyze the 2008 Tour de France from a Western perspective.

      Meanwhile, if you'd like to read something with actual content, pay a visit to Bicycling.com, where m'man Joe Lindsey takes up Garmin-Chipotle's doping controls. It's a good read, even for those of us who prefer cheap jokes to deep thought about the doping issue.

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    Look! Up in the sky!

      Bor-ing. That is all ye need to know about today's Tour stage, unless you're all hot to see Damiano Cunego looking like he went 10 rounds with a batting-practice machine full of hand grenades. Dude just can't keep the rubber side down. Other than that stage 18 was a whole lot of nothin', with all the hot dogs saving their legs for the stage-20 time trial on Saturday. Garmin-Chipotle's Will Frischkorn expects big doin's tomorrow, but I dunno — myself, I think Carlos Sastre is gonna take another rest day and try to kick out the jams in the TT, spoil Cadel Evans' little party on the Champs-Elysees.

      Much more interesting is the news from the People's Republic of Boulder, where a pilot in a refurb'd T-33 buzzed the hemp-and-tofu crowd until they were foamier than a sissy's latte and even Zen masters arose from the zafu and zabuton to mutter, "What the fuck?"

      I have spent many a long year living on or near military installations, or close to railroad tracks. When we left Randolph AFB outside San Antone for scenic suburban Bibleburg, I had trouble sleeping without the lullaby of T-33s, T-38s, B-52s, B-58s, C-130s and whatnot thundering about. Ditto the freight trains paralleling Mill Street off South Tejon, where I spent my dropout year, the Amtrak zipping past the Greeley trailer park I infested while in college, and the F-16s screaming over Tucson with wheels down as I ogled pulchritudinous sunbathers at the University of Arizona swimming pool.

      Now all I have to rattle my windows is the Flight for Life chopper, which looks like an aging Bell Jet Ranger and sounds like a commercial laundry dryer full of empty Coors cans on spin dry. That, and the sound of eardrums popping and tempers fraying in Boulder. Haw.

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    Tours, Turks and turds

      Ay yi yi, has it really been four days since the last post? OK, then, here's a quick rundown:

    • Yes, the Tour de France is still going on, and the French cops are jerking riders out of it like dumb trout from a polluted creek. All of them are, of course, innocent.

    • Turkish — a.k.a. The Turkinator, Turkenstein, Big Pussy, Mighty Whitey the Blue-Eyed Bully of Bibleburg, et al — woke up drooling and sluggish today, which is to say a lot like me. But The Turk' has no thirst for the hops and so off to the vet we went, after first purchasing a top-shelf $50 plastic cat carrier that probably cost the Very Fine Hangzhou Cat Carrier Company about 50 yuan.

    • Fifty bucks worth of veterinary care and a half-can of high-fiber cat food later, the litter box was enlarged by a Turkenturd the size of a Clinton cigar, but twice as smelly, and now the big fella is happily playing Shower Curtain with Herself and Mia Sopaipilla. Had I only known he was all bound up, I would've poured the big guy a cup of my special java, given him a copy of the Gazette and strapped him onto my private throne for as long as it took for him to clear his furry, shovel-shaped head.

      Meanwhile, there's fresh Dog Breath up at VeloNews.com. If that doesn't send you straight to the toilet, try some of this cat food. But keep a couple of matchbooks handy.

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    Fire on the mountain, lightning in the air

      Almost wished I had plugged the cable in for today's Tour stage, featuring the Col du Tourmalet and the climb to the ski station at Hautacam. Then I remembered how seldom cycling catches the wandering gaze of The One Big Eye and decided I was better off listening to Limeys foaming at the mouth via Eurosport audio. CSC put the wood to the favorites on Hautacam and just missed the jersey by a second. Cadel Evans will be having nightmares tonight about giant Swiss bullet trains towing Luxembourgers past him ("Pardon me boys, is that the Cancellara choo-choo?")

      But enough about the Tour. The real news is, I finally pulled the trigger and bought a scooter. It's the one I didn't think I'd buy — a Vespa LX 50 — and it's lots more fun than chasing skinny Spaniards up French mountains. It's a four-stroke 49.4cc scoot and thus comparatively green, albeit a little poky off the line and on the hills. But I don't need much speed while learning the ins and outs of driving the first powered two-wheeler I've ever owned. I consider the Vespa's comparatively sedate performance a virtual pair of training wheels, which I will discard when the fine folks at Sportique Scooters hop the sumbitch up with a 79cc cylinder kit later this month.

      I test-drove a few of these things — the Honda Metropolitan, the Genuine Buddy 50, the Kymco People 50 2T, the Yamaha Zuma 50 — and thought I might wait to see what the 2009 Yamaha Vino Classics were like, the '08s being all sold out in Colorado. Then I took a spin on a Vespa and thought, "Hmm, not too shabby." The sales guy asked how I liked it, and I said it was fine, albeit a tad on the slow side, and how would it like the climb up West Uintah with my fat ass in the saddle? "You want the 79cc cylinder upgrade," says he, and breaks one out. World o' difference, as the saying goes. I'd have unlimbered the plastic and driven it home if it weren't baby blue — instead, I scored this red rascal and scheduled the surgery. I'm naming it Red Eddie for comedian Eddie Izzard, who made mention of Italians, scooters and fascism in his standup video "Dress to Kill":

    "Italy invented fascism in 1922. Mussolini said, 'Right, we're all fascists!' but most Italian people are always on scooters going, 'Ciao!' And they're into football, and life, and they're not fascists, you know? He said, 'We're all fascists!' 'All right — ciao!' "

      Since making the buy I've seen a few Vino Classics on the street and I believe I made the right choice. The Japanese scooters are all smaller than the Vespa, which has a 50.4-inch wheelbase and a seat height of 30.5; the Vino is even tinier than the Honda Metro', which made me feel like a big frog squatting on a very small lily pad. Maybe I'll get one of those for Herself, who test-rode a Genuine Buddy at Sportique and kinda liked it, in a nervous, tentative is-this-thing-gonna-kill-me sort of way. Anyway, thanks to everyone who chimed in with recommendations, consternation and vilification.

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    Our dopers v. their dopers

      OK, here's a little something you can lay on the next sports fan who tells you how dirty cycling is: Travis Henry, recently released by the Denver Broncos, is said to have tested positive once again for THC (the active ingredient in wacky tobacky) in May.

      If Henry is found guilty of testing positive for ditch weed, it would be his third offense and merit a year's suspension, says The Denver Post. But early last season, after the NFL ruled Henry tested positive for Mexican oregano, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan and attorney Harvey Steinberg won an argument against the testing procedure and the ruling was overturned on appeal. Since winning that appeal, however, according to an NFL source, Henry has missed three drug tests. Under the league's drug policy, a missed test is the same as a positive. Follow me so far? So this numbnuts — who has fathered nine kids with nine women at age 30, and cashed $6.7 million worth of the Broncos' checks — is either three or four dope tests in the red and looking for work.

      What do you want to bet he finds it? Shit, with nine kids he's gonna need it.

      Now, you can argue that mary-wanna is not a performance-enhancing substance, and looking at my high-school and college transcripts I would be hard-pressed to mount a convincing defense. But if you're a running back for the Denver fucking Broncos, how much damage can a couple of doobies do? I'd be doing bong hits in the backfield until the DPD cuffed me for impersonating a professional football player, a charge many a Bronco would find tough to fight in court.

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    Man down revisited

      The Los Angeles Times has an expanded version of the road-rage incident that sent my man Ron Peterson to the hospital. The doctor has lawyered up and his mouthpiece says it's all a horrible misunderstanding. A hyphenated neighbor says he's "a great guy who has been active in the community." That's a funny way of describing an unrealized homicidal maniac, but then Americans' language skills have been deteriorating for quite some time now. Meanwhile, Ron e-mails to say the media scrum has already become wearisome:

    "In the past 72 hours I've been on the radio, ABC, NBC, and CBS local news. Of course, my acting career isn't going to be helped at all as I look like Frankenstein. Oh, well. Man, if you want this 15 minutes of fame, you can have it. What a pain in the ass. I'd much rather be out riding my bike."

      More as I hear it. Meanwhile, if you'd like to drop Ron a get-well note, shoot me an e-mail and I'll forward same.

      Late update: Apologies for the brief and infrequent assaults on all we hold dear, but it's Tour de France time for those all too few of us tugging on the oars at VeloNews.com and deadline week over at Bicycle Retailer & Industry News. The cheap comedy should resume shortly. Meanwhile, my dopplegänger Patrick Brady is said to be pitching a story on the road-rage incident to both outfits; stay tuned for the grim details.

      In the meantime, here's a gratuitous pussy pic to keep you occupied. It's Turkish — a.k.a. Turkenstein, The Turkinator, Big Pussy, Mighty Whitey the Blue-eyed Bully of Bibleburg, et. a — bagging some Zs in a neighbor's garden.

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    Man down

      Former Dogs at Large Velo rider Ron Peterson was the victim of an apparent act of road rage on the Fourth of July, according to the website LAist and the Los Angeles Police Department. According to the LAist, Ron and another cyclist were riding to the top of Mandeville Canyon off Sunset and down again as part of a 300-rider holiday outing when a motorist roared up behind them, honking and hollering. Cyclist Christian Stoehr picks up the story:

    "We moved to the right in single file within seconds and the motorist pulled along Ron and started screaming at him. He then pulled in front of us with 3-5 feet to spare and slammed on his brakes, giving us no time to stop. I swerved and almost made it, clipping the car and flying through the air and landing in the street. Ron had no room to move and he went straight into the back of the car, putting his face through the back window."

      According to LAist, the driver stopped his car and continued acting the fool, identifying himself as a doctor but never offering medical attention; Stoehr sat on the hood of his car, hoping to dissuade the motorist from leaving the scene, as a third cyclist stopped to lend a hand. An ambulance ferrying a rider injured in an earlier mishap then pulled up and L.A. Fire Department paramedics administered first aid.

      The motorist, identified as Dr. Christopher Thompson, 58, has been arrested and the matter is being handled as a felony criminal assault, according to Mike Bonin, chief of staff for Councilmember Bill Rosendahl. Thompson posted $30,000 bail, according to KFI-AM, and faces a court date next month.

      Ron took 90 stitches in the face and lost a couple of teeth, but was lucid enough to speak following the incident. He told the LAist that a couple other cyclists were recently run off the road by a motorist fitting Thompson's description, though that remains unverified, and no charges were filed. More as I get it. Meanwhile, here's to a speedy recovery for Ron and swift justice for the motorist. A tip of the Mad Dog skid lid to Big Jonny at DrunkCyclist for the tip.

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    Forth on the Fourth

      Dennis the Menace, Dr. Viktor von Schenkenstein and I took a leisurely two-hour spin on the 'cross bikes today in honor of the vast melting pot that is America: a lapsed Catholic, a Jew and an atheist, all three of us self-employed and clinging to our meager incomes and fitness levels despite the decline of the Republic. Two of us have wives, two of us have ex-wives, and two of us have children (not the same two in each instance). One of us has hair. Is this a wonderful country or what? As long as you avert your eyes from the people who are running it, that is.

      Meanwhile, there is a new O'Grady half-witticism up at VeloNews.com in honor of the Tour de France, which starts tomorrow. We've changed the name of the column from "Friday's Foaming Rant" to "Dog Breath" in the hopes of giving me a slightly larger yard in which to scamper about whilst peeing on things. With luck, it won't be six months before the next installment. But if it is, and even if it isn't, you can partake of the real deal — the movie Gonzo, describing the life and times of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. That is all ye know and all ye need to know. Selah.

      And lastly, my man Chris Cosby and his Fuller Center for Housing bicycle posse will be southbound and down starting at 7 a.m. from Ascension Lutheran Church, 2505 N. Circle Drive, in scenic suburban Bibleburg. They hope to raise $100,000 toward the center's goal of providing "adequate shelter for all people in need worldwide." They'll be cycling to Rocky Ford following (more or less) the route of the Saturday ride out of Acacia Park before heading south toward Pueblo around the now-defunct PPIR. If you'd like to hook up for a ride, maybe work off all that BBQ and brew, you can catch them at the church or somewhere along the Marksheffel-Link-Old Pueblo corridor. Sluggards can follow the gang around via their blog.

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    We hold these truths to be self-evident

      My man Ed Quillen rewrites the Declaration of Independence for The Denver Post, just in time for the Fourth of July. And you thought I was a grumpy old man.

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    Hot time, summer in the city

      Scorchin' right along here in Dogpatch — 90 wonderful degrees, with the faux rain clouds that queue up daily and then vanish like a cash surplus entrusted to the manicured mitts of a Republican. Watering the lawn, a guy feels like scampering back and forth through the sprinkler.

      Speaking of hot news, my man Chris Cosby is cycling around and about with a mob representing The Fuller Center for Housing, hoping to raise $100,000 toward the center's goal of providing "adequate shelter for all people in need worldwide." It's a Christian deal, but if you can get past that, the riders will be passing through scenic metropolitan Bibleburg on Saturday en route to Rocky Ford and would love some two-wheeled company. I'll keep you posted as to their whereabouts, or you can follow them around via their blog.

      I was out for a short spin on the road bike around midmorning and I swear steam was venting out of my helmet as I ascended the Col du Mountain Shadows, otherwise known as Flying W Ranch Road. Some poor sod was all kitted up and sitting on the curb, his bike laid down next to him, so I asked if he was OK. "Yeah, blew out a tire." "Someone coming to get you?" "Yeah, thanks." And off I rolled, thinking how fortunate I am to be a great fat bastard who, with an ass the size of two medicine balls in a Hefty Leaf Bag, doesn't mind lugging around the extra weight of two spare tubes, tire irons and a pump. I learned my lesson after having to jog a half-dozen miles home in the old Sidis up in Weirdcliffe, having failed to notice that my saddlebag contained two "spares" that were actually two flats in need of repair.

      Once back home, there was some word count to process for the VN.com gang, and while chasing commas I get a note from Jerry Vanderpool at Hippietech, who read my last BRAIN column and decided I could do with some of that voodoo that he do so well in order to give my teen-age mountain bike a bit more of the old bouncy-bouncy. A few e-mails, a couple of phone calls and a quick nip at the old credit card later and a Hippietech suspension fork is in the works.

      The bike, a 14-year-old DBR Axis TT, came stock with a Manitou 4, and when that crapped out a decade later I tried a RockShox SID with 100mm of travel. Bad idea. Turned the DBR into a Frankenbike that was half chopper, half downhiller, and all trouble. I found myself unable to climb, corner, or descend, and anyone who says these were not fork-related issues is probably right but the fork change didn't help. So now I'm looking at a 63mm Judy in original yellow. Fat city.

      This just in: "The military trainers who came to Guantanamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of 'coercive management techniques' for possible use on prisoners, including 'sleep deprivation,' 'prolonged constraint' and 'exposure.' What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners."

      That is the lede and the second graf from a New York Times story further outlining how communist interrogation methods have become par for the course here in the Land of the Free (or wherever we happen to be jailing people). Gung ho, y'all.

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