Saturday, June 30, 2007

Violent Babies…Priceless…

Check out the following video broadcast on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown this past week. It had me laughing from start to end, and damn is that baby sweet! She almost makes me want to be a parent so I have a little someone to corrupt.

DG Review/Rant: Campton Hills Park (St. Charles, IL)

Last weekend, my disc golf buddy Mark and I took on a new 9-hole course, Campton Hills Park in nearby St. Charles (roughly 60 miles west of Chicago).

The course was different than others we’d played before, with heavily wooded, narrow fairways, steep ravines, and chipmunks exploring fallen timber. In fact, out on #6 one of the critters crept up to me, and accepted a bit of cookie I’d brought as a snack…before then viciously biting my thumb, and scurrying under a fern as I cursed his bastard kind.

Actually, that’s a lie.

The chipmunks on-site were very cordial, especially for tolerating my actual profanity (as in “God dammit!” or “Ratfuck!”) whenever an oak tree deflected my shot. Truthfully, this intense form of self-expression in disc golf is not uncommon. Players cursing freely after a bad shot (or even a good one) is a key difference between the culture of disc golf and it’s more traditional, white-collar cousin with the Lexus in the driveway.

But I digress. My first impression of Campton Hills was trash. That is, water and beer bottles discarded by players (slash) idiots too lazy to hold onto them. This, despite a refuse bucket being available at every tee pad. Between us, Mark and I picked up a dozen bottles and cans, discarding them properly along the way, as we did the week before at another course in Bartlett, IL (Sunset Park).

Not to come off as self-righteous or a grumpy old man (I’m 38), but it’s no secret that most disc golfers are young, college-age guys. So to these mopes who feel it the mark of a slick, non-conformist rebel to treat your local course like a flophouse, kindly stay the hell in your parents’ basement until you can treat it right.

Edgar The Trash Golem Greets Disc Golfers at the First Tee

Back Now. Goodbye Forever.

For anyone who might have noticed, I’ve been absent from the Church for a while. However, this is all due to circumstances beyond my control – namely, because my employer is now heavily restricting Internet usage at my office, usage that had once enabled me to manage this blog – but only during my lunch hour.

Yeah, that’s a good one.

But the good news is now I have a new PC setup at home, and with a DSL line that freely permits me to check in here at the Church.

So to you, my loyal visitors, I promise not to vanish again without (at least) leaving a note on the kitchen table explaining that we have grown apart, and I will be staying at my sister’s in Oak Park until I can hire a lawyer to facilitate all future contact between us.

Regarding your comics and vintage Playboy collection, please keep them with my compliments. As for the ’06 Toyota Forerunner, “Will & Grace – Season 5” DVDs, and the Nordic Track in the basement, forget it.

They’re mine.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Shut The Hell Up!

After playing 25 holes of disc golf with pal Mark yesterday on a stiflingly hot day, I cooled down at home by watching final round coverage of the US Open golf tourney at Oakmont, PA, during which I couldn’t help noticing how after every single shot made by Tiger Woods or Angel Cabrera, there was always some chowderhead (or group of them) in the gallery who could not resist yelling “Get in the hole!” -- as if it had any influence whatsoever on anyone’s game.

Now I’m all for having whatever fun possible at golf tournaments, but for Christ’s sake, you morons, stop trying to live vicariously through the pros on every stroke.

It’s pretty pathetic.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

It’s A Fine Life

Right on the heels of Universal's Islands of Adventure announcing the addition of a Harry Potter-themed area comes—to my knowledge—one of the few theme parks patterned after a literary joint.

This time, it’s Dickens World in Chatham, Kent, UK, which offers the following teaser on its very Spartan website:

“[DW offers] rides and animatronics by RMA, one of the leading UK tectonic specialists in [England]. The experience will [also] feature a Dickensian Shopping Mall, together with a multitude of attractions and rides, including a mix of themed restaurants, bars and a multiplex cinema.

“Dickens World will also have facilities for seasonal variations, particularly over the Christmas period in which the attraction will convert into a Dickensian winter wonderland, replete with snow and other characteristics of a bygone era, complemented by a magnificent water feature which over the festive season changes into a spectacular 'ice fantasia' dominated by “The Spirit of Christmas”…”'Scrooge” and a host of other delightful characters who magically come to life.”

“This and other seasonal events throughout the year an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.”

Although I’ll likely never visit the park, I have to admit a “Christmas Carol”-themed area of Dickens World is intriguing, as the story is one of my all-time favorites.

Still, with the majority of Dickens’ novels so steeped with the despair, disease, and crushing poverty of life in Victorian London, the park sounds damned depressing. After all, this is an era when finding a clean glass of water was nigh-impossible, labor laws slight, and the odds of kids growing into adulthood were (at best) slim.

I wonder what the park's snack bars will serve? Hardtack with a side of cholera?

Not exactly Walt Disney, is he?

Science Quiz

As a longtime astronomy geek, I noticed the following piece by noting a recent scientific conclusion that Mars did, in fact, have oceans two billions years ago and may still have underground reservoirs on the planet today.

A proposed view of a wet Mars

Secondly, pop on over to Blue Grass Roots for its eye-opening and hilarious report on the Creation Museum noted previously on this blog.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Perdition & Chex Mix

To hell with Jenga and stale beer!

Next Saturday night social at your house why not haul out the following nugget of damnation and human sacrifice to keep your friends riveted?

“This is a fun party game for a group of 5-30 people to play, and the rules can be learned in less than 3 minutes. One person acts as moderator, overseeing a village of people, one (or more) of which are secretly Cthulhu worshippers! The worshippers then begin sacrificing other villagers one by one. Deceive your friends and lie through your teeth while experiencing a truly unique game!”

Oh, boy!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Falling Through The Cracks

This past Saturday, I got a collections notice from an agency in Washington State claiming to work for the Clerk’s Office of Dupage County, Illinois – this, in the matter of $169.00 the agency claimed I owed them over a traffic ticket dating back to 1998.

Yes, that’s right. Nine years ago.

As soon as I read this notice, my spider-sense immediately went off.

After all, do these idiots seriously expect me to believe that—were this claim legit, and I indeed never paid my original fine—that the Illinois DMV would have renewed my license twice since ’98 without receiving any kind of notice that matters were out of sorts?

In response, thinking I was dealing with a boiler room operation, I tore up the “collection agency’s” letter. But to cover my bases, I called the local County Clerk’s office today to see what was up – if anything.

Here’s the short version of the outcome: I was told that the original check I wrote to cover the 1998 fine bounced (which is not unbelievable as I had financial troubles that year), and I had to repay the full $169.00 now.

Yet when I asked the office guy why the hell it took his office nine full years to discover this error, I was told the government is an incredibly complex machine and that mistakes do happen.

Gee, I wonder if I skimp on this fine how long it’ll take the powers-that-be to figure it out again?

Another nine years? That would be 2016. So I figure if I play my cards right, and I can stretch together enough nine-year intervals, I’ll be nice and dead before the Clerk’s Office figures out what’s happening. And if so, woo-hoo!

Eat it, suckers!

Frisbee Armageddon: The Follow-Up

Okay, so I didn’t quite crush my competition during last weekend’s Lumber Cup disc golf tourney in Joliet.

But despite falling into a muddy creek, and playing the rest of the morning round with soaked sneakers, I enjoyed a consistent run of 23 holes, and even sank a 65-foot putt with my prized tangerine-colored Innova Shark.

Afterwards, however, I declined playing the afternoon round due to a major energy deficit (having played three hours on one chocolate zinger) and a sore shoulder, so after sampling the Saturday lunch special at a local Cracker Barrel, I drove home to chip the dried mud off my body.

As for West Park, it’s a tough, rocky course but I didn’t lose any discs. I also experimented with throwing from the right, versus doing so exclusively from the left – thus, arcing all my shots from that direction.

But I have to say I’m getting drawn into the fabulous world of disc golf quite nicely. It’s a lot cheaper than actual golf, and is challenging enough to keep you interested while not being so tough that you get frustrated and quit.

I’m also getting some friends into the game, so hey, instant golf buddies!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Enough With The Zombies, Already!

This week, during my visit to my FNCS, I commented to counter clerk Dan about Marvel’s recent merchandising deluge of all things zombie listed in their current and future dockets.

Y’know, the first Marvel Zombies mini-series wasn’t so great.

Yes, it was semi-clever, but nothing impressive. But like Hollywood gutter celebs whirling in and out of rehab like a trip to Disneyland, the dervishes at Marvel's marketing crew can’t seem to flood comic store shelves fast enough with zombie-themed crap.

Inevitably, the geniuses at Marvel will realize this so-called business plan is not sustainable.

But in the meantime, we can relish the schauenfreude of watching the truth fall on their sad little heads, as warehouses full of freshly unsold Marvel Zombie merchandise sits unloved and alone.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Old Chicago Memories

It seems most every generation has an amusement park from their childhood that is no longer in existence today.

For my father, that park was Riverview in Chicago, which lasted an incredible 63 years before finally closing in 1967. But for me—and countless other suburban Chicago kids who grew up in the 1970s—it was Old Chicago, a park based in Bolingbrook, roughly 30 minutes (by car) from my home in Lisle.

An unusual mix of retail shops and traditional amusement rides, OC was a huge, square-shaped structure right off I-55, with the park in the middle and surrounded by a shopping mall with fashions, books, mini-golf, toys, pretty much everything basic malls offer today.

Not a bad idea, marketing-wise.

However, OC was sadly not destined to last, suddenly folding in 1980 due to high debts, and a management company that didn’t see the point in going forward. This is not to say that OC was unpopular; anything but. Every time I went to the park (usually for a birthday) it was bustling with kids and parents racing to keep up with them. Plus, OC had the benefit of being fully indoors, which made it a natural kid haven from Chicago winters.

Yet I can only guess the park’s management could not pull in enough revenue and chain stores to keep everything rolling.

Today the only physical evidence that OC ever existed is a street sign, which still lists the frontage road that lead into the park. Today the same area once occupied by OC—to the best of my knowledge—is used for retail car storage beside a truck stop where hookers help the long miles melt away (at $20 a pop) for so many lonesome haulers.

The rest of what OC was now only exists as scattered souvenirs, and the memories of kids who played there, speaking of which, here’s one of mine:

Remember that scene from “A Christmas Story” wherein Ralphie soberly learns the secret radio message relayed from Little Orphan Annie (and decipherable only by those with decoder pins) is just a “crummy commercial”?

Well, I learned a similar boyhood lesson on truth-in-advertising at OC, when in the late 70s, the park began a TV campaign billing a mysterious new ride dubbed The Monster of The Midway.

The reason why “The Monster” was so mysterious is that the ride was hidden in a huge, circular enclosure, and none of us chilluns knew what was inside. However, those brave enough to check it out were promised a free t-shirt which (I believe) read “I Survived The Monster of The Midway.”

That was enough for me.

As anyone who knows me can attest to, I’ll do just about anything for a free tee. I am that much of a consumer whore.

Well, long story short, after I talked my dad into going on the Monster with me one weekend, I finally peeked into the ride’s enclosure to discover it was, in fact, a Scrambler. Yes, the same basic ride native to countless state fairs and traveling carnivals: a goddamn, run-of-the-mill Scrambler, albeit here with flashing lights, sound effects, and smoke machines added for dramatic effect.

A Scrambler

Today, I have to give whoever came up with The Monster of The Midway credit.

The gag sure worked on me, and ginned up a flurry of local kid excitement (and by extension, parent-generated buckage) over something so ordinary.

At any rate, for more Old Chicago memories, click here for a solid tribute site listing all sorts of history and memorabilia.

Monday, June 4, 2007

A 19th Century Intervention

For some reason, today I recalled this scene from an early ‘80s episode of “Little House on The Prairie” in which adopted Ingalls son Albert (Matthew Laberteaux) goes into withdrawal after becoming a morphine addict.

When I first saw the following TV scene as a 14-year-old (especially the part where Laberteaux yaks up a substance that is clearly milk) I vividly recall bursting into laughter, and my mother scolding me for my lack of sensitivity.

But you know what? The scene is as hilarious today as it was back then.

Spoiler Alert: In case you're wondering, Albert indeed kicks his antebellum smack habit. But later on in the series, he dies of Scarlet Fever.

What a pisser.

The Dumbest TV Cop In History

As longtime viewers of “The Shield” viewers are aware, Strike Team Detective Shane Vendrell has a vexing habit of thinking he’s way, way smarter than he truly is, and as a result, often ends up dragging down others when the consequences of his actions arrive.

Over the history of the show, examples of Shane’s hit parade of short-sightedness abounds: Shane tries to one-up crime boss Antwon Mitchell only to become his personal bitch; Shane murders fellow cop Curtis Lemansky and blackmails Vic Mackey into keeping quiet, and; in the latest example of Shane’s brilliance: he confesses the Strike Team’s involvement in Season Two’s heist of the Armenian mob’s money train (to the current leader of the mob, no less).

(Of course, Shane was also in on the robbery, but he neglected to mention that.)

Now, “The Shield’s” latest season finale (airing tomorrow night on FX) has Shane—as a flunky of the Armenians—scrambling to protect Vic's wife and kids, albeit by placing them in the back of a truck at gunpoint.

As Shane, Walton Goggins is a solid actor, but it’s long since time for his character to pay the piper and eat a bullet for his record of stupidity.

If this indeed happens, no doubt the words: “I Never Meant For Things To Get This Bad” will be etched on Shane’s headstone.

“Oh, please please please pull the trigger!”

Frisbee Armageddon

This Saturday, I’ll be in beautiful Joliet, Illinois, to take part in my first disc golf tournament, The Lumber Cup, which I intend to hold high in victory and smash over the heads of my fallen opponents.

I got some practice this past weekend at an area course, so I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, albeit at a novice level of competition. I also have a nifty new driver disc I’m eager to test out.

Perhaps, with God’s help, I won’t lose it in a water hazard.

Pray for me.