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In January of 2014, Paranoid Fan (a sports-centric social app for mobile devices) launched editorial content at their ParanoidFan.com website, and I was fortunate enough to be among their original staff of writers. Here are all the articles I wrote during my tenure there, from January to July 2014…

Is Jason Kidd Overestimating His Worth? Most Definitely!” [6/30/2014]
Watching People Watch Soccer” [6/23/2014]
The Payback: Spurs Snuff Heat, Bury Demons” [6/16/2014]
Series On” [6/9/2014]
NBA Finals Preview: Rematch of the Titans” [6/5/2014]
Meet Steve Ballmer” [6/2/2014]
Serge-ing Ahead” [5/27/2014]
Is a Spurs-Heat Finals Rematch Inevitable?” [5/15/2014]
Best. Round. EVER.” [5/6/2014]
Supporting Silver’s Swift Sterling Sanctions” [4/30/2014]
Top Seed Turvy” [4/25/2014]
NBA Playoffs Preview” [4/18/2014]
On Pace for Disaster” [4/9/2014]
Net Positive” [4/2/2014]
Does the Next Face of the NBA Have a Unibrow?” [3/27/2014]
You Can’t Go Home Again, Phil” [3/26/2014]
Deep-Sixed” [3/19/2014]
Can Phil Jackson Win Again?” [3/13/2014]
Making Vintage Whine from Sour Grapes” [3/6/2014]
Checking in on Greg Oden” [2/28/2014]
Bottom of the Lake” [2/19/2014]
I am Jonathan Martin” [2/16/2014]
Complete Chaos in Cleveland” [2/14/2014]
What’s Gotten Into the Wizards?” [2/8/2014]
About Percy Harvin…” [2/4/2014]
Not Your Father’s Reggie Jackson” [1/30/2014]
Seven Seriously Stale Super Bowl Storylines” [1/27/2014]
Party Crashers: How the Portland Trail Blazers Have Joined the NBA’s Elite” [1/21/2014]
Jim Harbaugh’s Gold Rush” [1/16/2014]
Worst Division Ever?: Trolling the Depths of the Atlantic” [1/14/2014]
Juggernauts to Afterthoughts: What Happened to the Texans and Falcons?” [1/11/2014]
Spurred On: San Antonio’s Relentless Pursuit of Greatness” [1/10/2014]
Up in Arms: The Uncertain Futures of Matthew Stafford and Andy Dalton” [1/9/2014]
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From June of 2012 until December of 2013, I was a contributor to a Texas Rangers-focused blog called Shutdown Inning.  Here are the articles I wrote…

The Curious Case of J.P. Arencibia” [12/6/2013]
Choosing Choo” [11/29/2013]
12 Reasons to Love the Kinsler-Fielder Trade” [11/22/2013]
Rotation Stability” [11/10/2013]
Rejected Podcast Topics” [11/2/2013]
Former Ranger Greats Impacting the 2013 Postseason” [10/25/2013]
Happy Trails to You, Nolan” [10/19/2013]
Who Will Open as Closer in 2014?” [10/13/2013]
Could You Do What Yu Did?” [10/4/2013]
The Wildest Rollercoaster in Arlington” [9/28/2013]
Overcoming September” [9/20/2013]
Give It To Me, Lance” [9/14/2013]
Free Soria” [9/6/2013]
The Future of Feliz” [8/30/2013]
The Turning Point” [8/24/2013]
How I Learned to Start Lovin’ The Oven” [8/18/2013]
The Elvis Comeback Special” [8/11/2013]
Frasor’s Edge” [8/3/2013]
Has the 2013 Season Been Wash-ed Away?” [7/27/2013]
Expand Your Focus” [7/23/2013]
Gazing Into the Crystal Ball” [7/13/2013]
Bonding With My Boys Over Baseball” [7/6/2013]
Returning to the Scene of the Crime” [6/21/2013]
Hickory Dickory KNOCK!” [6/13/2013]
Out of Options? More Like Out of Patience!” [6/8/2013]
Grimm, Tepesch, Both, or Neither?” [6/2/2013]
The One-Man Cavalry” [5/26/2013]
The Best is Yet to Come” [5/20/2013]
Welcome Back, Kinsler” [5/11/2013]
The Glass” [5/5/2013]
Our Only Hope” [4/26/2013]
Price, Stanton, or Profar?” [4/22/2013]
Confessions of a Reckless Schadenfreudist” [4/13/2013]
The Profar Conundrum” [4/6/2013]
Difference Maker: David Murphy” [3/28/2013]
2013 Texas Rangers Positional Preview: Catcher” [3/6/2013]
17 Again” [1/18/2013]
The Ex Factor” [12/19/2012]
A Minor Move That Could Pay Major Dividends” [11/30/2012]
What About Anibal Sanchez?” [11/20/2012]
How the Rangers Can Reclaim Their Mojo in 2013” [10/9/2012]
The Lesser of Two Evils” [9/27/2012]
All Systems Ko” [9/20/2012]
Legends of Last Fall” [9/14/2012]
The Tao of Soto” [9/6/2012]
Fixing The Failed Playoff Format” [8/31/2012]
An Ace is Born” [8/25/2012]
The Damaged Psyche of Ranger Fans” [8/17/2012]
More Moreland” [8/12/2012]
Holland & Yu” [8/2/2012]
ARM-ageddon?” [7/24/2012]
The Most Important Ranger” [7/17/2012]
To Trade Or Not To Trade” [7/11/2012]
Halfway Home” [7/5/2012]
Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number for Nathan” [6/27/2012]
Feldman’s Fatal Flaw” [6/21/2012]
Is Craig Gentry the New Rusty Greer?” [6/14/2012]


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From 1996-99 I was part of a website called hardliners.com, which was dedicated to all things HardLine (a sports talk show that’s been running weekday afternoons since 1994 on SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket in Dallas, KTCK-AM). My primary contributions to hardliners.com were weekly columns, known as “Sideshow Sez.” Here are those columns:

“Moving Violations” [4/27/98]

I am writing you this week from residential limbo. You see, in spite of being possibly the two biggest credit lepers walking the face of the earth (after having filed enough Chapters of bankruptcy to complete a Leo Tolstoy novel), Mrs. Sideshow and I were able to fool a mortgage company into letting us buy our first home.

One of the more exciting aspects of this property acquisition is that the new house is across the street from where we now live! “This’ll be a piece of cake,” I said, using a food metaphor (as a 300-pounder like myself is wont to do).

GUESS AGAIN!

We have until Thursday to be out of our current residence, and as of this keystroke, we’ve only moved the stuff in the garage. Unfortunately, my England Dan & John Ford Coley 8-track collection was apparently unable to survive two consecutive summers of Arlington heat.

The main delay has been due to insufficient manpower. Unlike Greggo, I do not have a highly-skilled entourage willing to perform grueling manual labor in exchange for an autographed Ticket T-shirt. Basically, I sold one of my kidneys on the black market to the highest bidder (EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks, J.D.!) and used the proceeds to pay my next-door neighbor and his buddy to work one hour a day and drink Bud tall boys the other seven.

I don’t want to say this house is a fixer-upper, but there are more holes in the walls than in Fernando Tatis’ swing. Also, Mrs. Sideshow pretty much wanted to gut the entire place and put in nothing but fixtures she’s seen in “Martha Stewart Living.” Yeah, and she’s the one who really liked the house. Women…can’t live with ’em, can’t manufacture ’em to meet your personal specifications.

Hopefully, we’ll get moved in on time, but right now, I’d say it’s a longer shot than Expo becoming a vegetarian. At least we get to stay in my beloved neighborhood. Why is this neighborhood so great? Well, aside from the fact that it’s about 100 yards away from the Amy Robinson Kroger, it has many redeeming qualities.

For one, the neighborhood elementary school Sideshow Jr. will attend is named after the beer from “The Simpsons.”

Also, the high-tone factor recently hit an all-time high when The Catman of The Americas (and All Portugese-Speaking Peoples of The World) and Mrs. Cat actually looked at some homes here. Of course, they wisely decided there’s no point locking into a 30-year fixed rate mortgage when it’ll simultaneously lock you into a 30-year ass whip.

All in all, I must say I am very excited about that far-off day when we’ll finally be moved into the new house. I just wish there was some way to speed things up. I wonder if Travis The 3 to 7 Squid knows how to use a caulk gun…

OFF!

“Primestar, brutha!” [5/4/98]

My wife always tells me I’m an advertiser’s wet dream, because if The HardLine ever did a live spot for Uncle Leaky’s Recycled Condoms, I’d be the first in line down at the pharmacy.

Well, I must confess that there is in fact some truth to that statement, as I recently became a member of the ever-expanding Primestar family. This means I now have one channel for every percent of body fat I’m currently toting around.

And if there’s one thing a lazy 300-pound computer-addicted overeater needs it’s LESS exercise!!!

So, after the balding slob who looked like he hitchhiked to my house on Wavy Gravy’s psychedelic VW bus finished his 5-hour-long installation of my new Primestar, we commenced to bailing out the three inches of hemp-laden sweat he left on the floor.

Then, we began surfing the veritable tidal wave of channels now at our disposal. Mrs. Sideshow was pleased, because it was the first time I had emerged from the computer room since before Linda McCartney first felt a lump.

Soon, Mrs. SSB would become even more excited after tuning into HGTV to see Bob Vila remodel an entire three-story Victorian home in less than 30 minutes without even having to undo the second button on his freshly-ironed flannel shirt.

The main attraction for me would be the Classic Sports Network. For years, I’ve longed to re-live the real-life drama of those heated rivalries between vacationing pro athletes on “The Jeep Superstars.” You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Bert Campanaris hurdle a 15-foot-long rectangular pond.

Frankly, my real motivation for getting Primestar was to stick it to those SOBs at TCI cable. I mean, I understand they can only provide a limited number of channels, but why do 55 out of the 60 we get here in Arlington have to be Spanish evangelical stations who happen to show reruns of “Quincy, M.E.” during the 7 o’clock hour?

As it turns out, those boys at TCI win after all. You see, what I didn’t know was Primestar is OWNED by TCI. And as if that weren’t enough, if I want to get the local channels without having to see Mike Snyder in triplicate black-and-white via the miracle of an aluminum foil-wrapped coathanger, I still need TCI’s basic package.

That’s right, kids…the joke’s on me. That is, unless I ask them to let me start up my own sub-cable-access-quality channel. Once they see how bad THAT sucks, I’m sure they’d yank ESPN and put me on in a nanosecond.

On second thought, my odds would probably be better if I just learned how to say “Send me your money and you shall be healed!” in Spanish.

Yo quiero dress blues.

OFF!

“A Troubling Trifecta” [5/11/98]

As a certified member of the 11.5, I love a good trifecta as much as the next P-1. Like you, I always let out a big “AAAAAAAAAALL RIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!” once the third celebrity within a week checks out.

But I’m here to tell you that not all trifectas are brain pan bullets and heart attacks. Unfortunately, some are MUCH more painful to endure. This week, I am being forced to endure such a trifecta…a gift trifecta.

All of us had to endure the first leg of this trifecta: Mother’s Day. Now, I love my Mom almost as much as she loves her nightly scotch and soda (Actually, it’s more like five or six per night, but who’s counting?), but she’s not even the only “Mom” I have to contend with.

These days, I also have my Mother-in-Law AND my wife, who’s not my “Mom,” but she’s my squid’s, and he’s too young to buy presents. So, I get stuck with IT ALL!!!

As if that “Mother’s Day Trifecta” weren’t enough, that’s only the first leg of a much larger and more sinister trifecta. The next leg comes Tuesday, when it’s my nephew’s birthday.

He’s a cute kid and all, but he lives in Nashville, so in addition to the birthday present, there’s also the whip of shipping and handling to contend with. Not to mention those brain-dead idiots at the, uh, I mean, loyal and dedicated all-American U.S. Postal Workers. (O.K., you can put the Uzi down now, Newman!)

As much of a whip as that is, it’s only Wendy O. Williams compared to the Tammy Wynette I’m gonna have to deal with on Friday, when the trifecta is completed with…MY WIFE’S BIRTHDAY!!!

Once you get married, most holidays are very treacherous for spousal relations, but none can match the sheer terror of having to get your wife the right birthday present.

Some who are aware of my plight have suggested that I try and pass off our newly-purchased house as her birthday present, but that would only lead to me having to make the mortgage payments from inside a VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!

I’m just gonna have to nut up and tell her that all I have to give her is my heart, which, after having spent every last cent of my black-market kidney money on the first two legs of this beaten-down trifecta, is the only body part I have left that’s of any value. (That is, unless there’s some sort of sudden demand for self-abused wedding tackle that I’m not aware of.)

So, my fellow P-1s, if you know of anybody out there about to start a trifecta of their own if they don’t get a heart transplant REAL fast, let me know. Otherwise, I should probably start checking the classifieds for a 1977 Good Times van.

OFF!

“Haze Gray & Underway” [5/18/98]

May is typically one of those rare times of year in Texas when it’s still pleasant enough outside to spend the vast majority of your time there. Unfortunately, this May we have not been afforded that luxury.

Thanks to our neighbors South of the Border, a haze thicker than J.D.’s drawl continues to drain the life out of our afternoons like so much Rocker Pendoler. The scary part is, the haze might be just as hard to get rid of as the Diminutive Sports Neapolitan.

Apparently, this atmospheric whipping is the result of agricultural fires intentionally set by Mexican farmers. Now I’m no Columbo, but I don’t think it takes much to put dos and dos together.

You see, to me it’s all so obvious. The only Mexican-based agricultural fires capable of producing THAT much thick smoke must involve the mother of all cash crops — Acapulco Gold.

And after we’ve all taken a few more days worth of hits off El Nino’s bong, we’ll have the munchies so bad we’ll need a freakin’ Pringles I.V. I mean, Big Dave alone will probably single-handedly clean out every vending machine between here and Del Rio! (His previous record was from here to Kerrville.)

So, in order to stave off a snack food shortage of Biblical proportions, drastic action must be taken. Even if we send enough manpower down there to put out the fires, there’s still enough smoke on its way to threaten to turn the next GNO into “Alive! 2”.

Forget Red Adair — if we want to get rid of the Mexican smoke in the fastest amount of time possible, there’s only one course of action…

Send Cheech and Chong to Brownsville and have those mothers inhale like they’ve never inhaled before!!!

Hell, if nothing else, maybe Cheech’ll burn enough brain cells in the process that he’ll forget about his unending search for “A. Abbott.”

OFF!

“Sunken Expertism” [5/25/98]

I’m often accused of being many things — genetic mutant, thyroid freak, angioplasty-in-waiting — but rarely is expert one of them. However, a lot of people now seem to be under the mistaken impression that because I am involved with hardliners.com, that I must be some sort of computer expert.

Well, I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. (Nothing, that is, except for the following statement: “Dallas wants Fish for Lunch.”)

You see, while I am vaguely familiar with computers, most of my formative years were spent wearing out my wrist playing “Donkey Kong.” (Mom, if you’re reading this, that IS how I wore out my wrist…HONEST!…I don’t even know what “Oui” means!)

Anyway, while I was cleaning my garage in an effort to organize back issues of “Oui,” I get a call from my neighbor asking me to come help put the wheels back on his computer. It seems that in one of his typical brain-dead states, he thought it would be a really good idea to start deleting files without so much as even looking to see what he was deleting.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: In radio, when someone hosts a sports talk show without so much as looking to see if anybody’s listening, it’s known as “Galloway Syndrome.”)

So, there I was, face to face with a Packard Bell so old it probably once occupied retail space next to a Commodore 64. What I soon discovered was that not only was I not an expert, I wasn’t even qualified to so much as affix a label to a floppy disk. (Not to say that I haven’t affixed certain, uh, things to “floppies” before.)

I couldn’t get the wheels back on either his computer or my self-esteem. Here I was, presented with an chance at greatness, yet whiffing like so much Fernando Tatis.

What, you ask, is the moral of this story? The lesson is…”Never try.” Why give it a go only to find out you’re a miserable failure doomed to a life of sparedom? Forget all that hero crap, just hole up in your roach-infested dive and watch Jerry Springer until your turn in the “My Mother is a Transvestite Alcoholic” rotation comes up.

And if that doesn’t work, just go about your daily bidness and lie your freaking ayss off!!!

OFF!

“Wheels-Off Squid Duty” [6/1/98]

As those of you who regularly listen to the “Classic BMW Weekend Check” know, there’s nothing worse that a weekend that’s already been totally accounted for in advance. Well, I was faced with just such a situation this past weekend, when I was informed that I would be pulling 48 continuous hours of solo squid duty.

And as if that weren’t enough of a whip, thanks to the Hitler-esque policies of area rental car agencies, I learned as of 6:00 p.m. Friday that I would be pulling said squid duty WITHOUT ANY METHOD OF TRANSPORTATION WHATSOEVER!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my squid, and nothing brings me more enjoyment than spending time with him, other than betting on back-alley Pit Bull fights over in Stop 6. But being faced with the prospect of watching the same Elmo video 30 times in a row while under house arrest had me calling directory assistance to see if Phil Hartman’s wife had a similarly homicidal sister who happens to live somewhere in the Metroplex.

All I knew was that I had to somehow figure out how to fit in two Stars games, three Rangers games, and 14 pizzas between the impending Elmo-a-thon.

Believe it or not, everything with the squid went swimmingly. I couldn’t believe how well he behaved. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the Stars and the pizza.

Actually, I really learned a lot this weekend. I learned that there’s no such thing as too much quality time with your kids, that an all-pizza diet can lead to abdominal distress, and, perhaps most importantly, that my 3-year-old son is a better actor than that freakin’ idiot Ed Belfour!!!

OFF!

“Handlin’ Up On Hair” [6/8/98]

In my 30-plus years I’ve been known to obsess over a lot of things — killer bees, global warming, the covert proliferation of nuclear arms by those subversive bastards in Iceland — but there’s probably nothing I spend more time worrying about than my hair. This may seem odd to many of you, so allow me to explain.

Way back when I was a Freshman in high school, I happened to be in a public speaking class loaded with nothing but of-age Seniors who spent the better part of each class planning on which bars to go to that night (ah yes, who can forget the days of the 18-year-old drinking age). Needless to say, I was more out of place than Amit at a John Birch Society meeting (although Skip Jones would certainly beg to differ).

It was during that class that something happened which has been chiseled to my medulla ever since. The teacher had everyone in the class write down what they liked best about each person in the class on an index card. Something like 97% of my cards said that I had nice hair.

Seeing how most of these cards came from hot Senior chicks with cup sizes big enough for my skinny ass to bathe in (it WAS 18 years ago — I wasn’t always fat), I decided from that moment on I had to stay on top of the hair. In retrospect, it might have helped if I didn’t entirely abort any and all acne treatments, but I digress.

Anyway, as I was saying before turning the clock back to the days when I carried an 8-track boom box through the halls blaring Al Stewart’s “Time Passages” (THERE’S a rocker for ya!), I have been obsessed with maintaining my hair ever since.

Back to my original point, shortly after moving to Arlington a couple of years ago, I found the perfect hair stylist — one with all of the requisite qualifications: female, hot, buxom, pleasant-smelling, AND she even mixed in an air of intrigue by throwing down a latin accent of undetermined origin. (I later learned she’s from Peru, so she falls under the jurisdiction of the Catman of the Americas.)

Oh yeah, and she was pretty damn good at actually cutting my hair, too, which I guess is the whole reason I’m there in the first place. Things were great for months, but then out of nowhere, the place closed down with the promise to re-open again “soon.”

I don’t know what their definition of “soon” is, but it ended up being “soon” as in Christopher Reeve saying “I’m gonna walk again real soon.”

FINALLY, the place re-opened again layst month and when it was time for my monthly haircut layst week, I went in and there she was in all her Peruvian splendor. So clean…so pure…she was born to cut my hair.

Most of you probably think I’m a moron for getting so freaking excited about all this, but I’ve seen my Dad’s head and realize that I’m probably gonna be completely bald before Big Dave tips the scales at 500. Needless to say, I’d better enjoy this while I can. My only hope once I lose my hair is that should be about the time the only TV show left that hasn’t been re-made as a movie is “Night Court” and they open a casting call for Bull.

I guess I should be thankful. Most people have nothing to look forward to as they approach their forties. I, on the other hand, can excitedly count down the days until I officially become a Richard Moll starter kit.

OFF!

“Oh…come een, come een!” [6/15/98]

To celebrate six years of marital bliss (NOTE TO THE 11.5: Somebody please help me!!!), Mrs. Sideshow and I decided to head over to The Town of The Cow to handle up on a little nightlife bidness.

The most notable item of intrigue for Fort Worth interlopers these days — at least among the cognescenti and illuminati — is that ultra-trendy Sundance Square. Heck, even that most pliable and tractable of consumer — the country-western fan — is perusing the Bass family’s fine work.

Well, we milled about smartly for 30 minutes or some such before landing at The Flying Saucer, one of those beer and cigar emporiums typically endorsed by the likes of Mark Followill and his high-maintenance fiancee’, Lizbuddy.

Once our respective blood alcohol levels began approaching Henri Paul territory, we started getting the munchies worse than Rhynes after playing a Robin Trower rock block during the halcyon days of The Zoo. So, we decided to hop in the K-Car Regurgitated and hightail it over to the only Mexican food restaurant with the R. Gregory Williams “You CAN Spring THIS On Me” Seal of Approval, the legendary Joe T. Garcia’s.

Shortly upon arriving, I felt as if we were part of a real-life “Seinfeld” episode. When the waitress came to our table, she greeted us with, “NO MENUS!!! You get either enchiladas or fajitas!” Meet Joe T. Garcia, “The Taco Nazi.”

Of course, as was the case with “The Soup Nazi,” it turned out that the food was delicious enough for him to remain in business despite his stormtrooping tactics.

Be that as it may, a good time was had by all in the familiar home whites. But as we were leaving, I began looking over the hundreds upon hundreds of signed celebrity photos hanging from the walls, all giving Joe T. the big “thumbs up.”

And although I feared I would go home without finding the most important autographed publicity still of them all, there he was in all his hambonita glory — wedged right between two other larger-than-life Texans, Dan Rather and Phil Gramm — sporting a beard, a beer belly, and a BAP mike flag.

Even though his picture was dated, at least he was up on the wall with the rest of the hoi polloi. On the drive home, the reality of what I had just witnessed kept mercilessly stabbing at my subconscious (much like how the reality of the refried beans I had just inhaled began mercilessly stabbing at my colon): the only place my picture’s ever gonna get posted (besides this half-ass website) is in the lobby of the post office…WANTED BY THE F.B.I. FOR GRAND THEFT SCHTICK: SIDESHOW BOB.

OFF!

“BLAYST LAYST!” [6/22/98]

I’ve never liked Johnny Oates. I mean, how can you like a guy who drove his wife to the brink of putting on the dress blues? The whole reason she was so depressed in the first place is because Layst just went about his business totally oblivious to her problems.

Needless to say, his approach to managing differs little from his approach to marriage.

Because of what I feel is half-ayssed managing, I have (at various points during the payst two seasons) spearheaded the “BLAYST LAYST!” campaign — a movement intended to force the ouster of Johnny Oates from his nose-pickin’ perch in the Ranger dugout.

Although I encountered virtually zero support while the Rangers were in first place earlier in the season, now that they are being exposed for the frauds that they are, the “BLAYST LAYST!” bandwagon can’t print up boarding passes fayst enough.

When it comes to Layst, allow me to borrow a line from Greggo: “WHAT HAS HE EVER DONE?!?” Sure, he was manager when the Rangers made the playoffs, and was named CO-A.L. Manager of the Year for being in the right place at the right time. But you know and I know that if it weren’t for the expanded playoff format and an injury to Randy Johnson, this team would still have never sniffed the postseason.

Layst is nothing but a gutless spare. He refuses to allow his players to stand up for themselves in a confrontation, and only gets into it with an umpire when he knows he’d actually have to out-manage the opposition to win the game.

He’s a clueless human being, my word, when it comes to handling a pitching stayff. Whenever one of his veteran starters goes out and gets lit up like Interlochen in December, he puts more spin on it than an Ed Sullivan novelty act.

Of course, when his minor league call-ups flame out like so much freebasing Richard Pryor, he buids up their teetering confidence by blaysting them in the media, thereby shooting the wheels off their already fragile psyches.

He just can’t get it right. Whether he’s benching effective starters because they happen to be 1-for-8 lifetime against The Big Unit or saving his fire-and-brimstone tirades for the likes of The Great Gordo, Layst is nothing but an incompetent boob.

Yeah, he’ll throw down a one-man locker room food fight on ya every couple of years, but if you want your players to respond YOU’VE GOTTA MEAN IT!!! You can’t schedule a tirade in your freakin’ Day Planner!

The bottom line is, the Rangers aren’t ever gonna do SQUAT as long as that ass-backwards Virginia bumpkin is calling the shots. No matter how many Dave Stiebs Doug Melvin tries to run in here, it won’t matter, because Layst isn’t gonna get anything out of ’em!

When Barry Switzer sat on his ass while the Cowboys went down in flames, everybody called for his head. Eventually, they got their wish.

You tell me the difference between Switzer’s carefree attitude and Layst’s laissez-faire approach. It’s time for ME to get MY wish! And if you’re a TRUE Rangers fan who wants to see this team win, and I mean REALLY WIN, then you should have the same wish…

BLAYST LAYST!!!

(Now THAT’S a Hot Sports Opinion!)

OFF!

“Whipped buy a car” [6/29/98]

There’s NOTHING in this world I hate more than having to buy a car. I’d rather lay naked in a coffin filled with cobras (which, coincidentally, is part of Amit’s regular worship ritual) than have to go through the total whip that is buying a car.

Let me answer your most obvious questions first: McKinney’s just about in a different time zone than Arlington (And would YOU feel comfortable doing bidness with a guy named “Dink”?), and despite what those on-air types say about D&M, leasing a car is about as good a deal as renting oxygen by the breath.

So, that being said, we first went to Grand Prairie Ford, hoping that a fake mustache, tequila breath, and wheels-off drawl would give us the run of the place. Unfortunately, former Rangers broadcaster and long-time credit reprobate Steve Busby pretty much queered the deal for any and all other members of the D/FW sports media at G.P. Ford, so we kept movin’.

Our next stop was Luke Honda, but trying wedge my 300-pound arse into a Prelude came just a little too close to simulating the aforementioned coffin full of cobras. That, and I knew The Magical, Mystical Georgie-O would never approve of my buying a car made in JAPan.

All week long we kept going from one dealership to the next, one failed bit after another. Everytime we found something we liked, the salesman would run a credit check and tell us that the only financing we can get is through GMAAC (Guido’s Mafia Auto Acceptance Corporation) at 78% APR, but only if I’m willing to provide my kneecaps as collateral.

Seeing how I’m still trying to keep my CBA dream alive, I thought better of it. Instead, I ponied up MRS. Sideshow’s kneecaps. We can always buy her one of those Rascals George Costanza drove around in when he was pretending to be handicapped. Plus, I hear it’s a tax write-off!

This column was brought to you by The Legitimate Businessman’s Association of Greater Tarrant County…”Making people’s dreams come true, one kneecap at a time.”

(NOTE: If I don’t make it to GNO this week, I may be testing out a new pair of Reebok concrete DMX at the bottom of Lake Arlington.)

OFF!

“What are we doin’, cat?” [7/13/98]

When it comes to pets, I’m a dog man. In fact, I hate all cats except for two kinds: the kind that screens calls for the highest-rated sports talk show in the Great Southwest, and the kind sung about with reckless enthusiasm by noted bowhunter and political activist Ted Nugent.

So, that being said, it should come as no surprise that when my wife brought home a kitten after I had REPEATEDLY handed down an edict that we would have no pets of ANY kind until the years began with the number “2,” my blood pressure reached levels only previously attained by Big Dave after washing down 30 beef fajitas with a gallon of Screwdrivers. (Boy, some images are just TOO vivid for their own good, aren’t they?)

If as Rhynes is fond of saying, a horse is a dumb animal, then there’s no doubt that a cat is a useless animal! I mean seriously, what has a cat ever done?!?

Much like Paul the Damn Viking, cats get so cranked up off being obnoxious for four hours each day that they end up having to sleep off the other 20! That, and they both (PTDV and cats) usually aren’t terribly successful at covering up their own shit, no matter how hard they try.

My wife’s initial attempt to get me on board with the f-bombing feline involved playing up the “Ticket” angle; far from the world’s biggest “Ticket Chick,” she went so far as to name the cat “Ribby.” That’s some high humor.

Then, knowing that snakes are my own personal Kryptonite, she tries to convince me that this cat will help keep snakes away from our spacious backyard. But unless “Ribby” starts mixing in some Joe Weider Power Powder in his milk saucer, he’ll be nothing more than a bite-sized snack for any snake looking to sink its fangs into the prime rib that is my ankle.

In essence, all we’ve done is brought something in that’ll probably ATTRACT snakes, and if I wanted to do that, I could have just called Amit and had him bring over his basket and flute!

Hmmmm…maybe that’s not such a bad idea! As small as Amit is, he’s pretty much a bite-size snake snack, too. Who says snakes are all bad?!?

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“I prefer e-mail” [7/20/98]

Other than binge eating and abject laziness, there’s probably nothing I’m better at than re-stating the obvious (which, if you’ll read closely, I was actually able to accomplish within the confines of this first sentence). To prove it, I will dazzle you with perhaps the most mind-numbing display of re-stating the obvious ever recorded: “E-mail is a good.”

Yes, I know I’ve probably just single-handedly caused the misfiring of endless 11.5 synapses, although when it comes to you P-1ers, this is usually accomplished by polishing off a six-pack of Mickey’s Big Mouth under your desk while your boss is in a high-level meeting (at least it is for me). But that doesn’t diminish the fact that I am on board with extolling the greatness of sending messages via the miracle of the internet. (EDITOR’S NOTE: The previous sentence set the world’s record for most “Ticket”-isms used in a single sentence.)

In fact, I am ready to go so far as to propose the abolition of the U.S. Postal Service as we know it! Can you imagine how much better the world would be if everything was sent by e-mail? Think about it…

1. No U.S. Postal Service means no disgruntled postal workers. This would not only virtually eliminate incidents of violence in the workplace as we know it, but would almost immediately relegate the National Rifle Association to failed bit status overnight, thus freeing up Chuck Heston to make that sequel to “Soylent Green” we’ve been clamouring for the past 25 years.

2. Ted Kaczynski would have remained nothing more than the world’s only Harvard-educated squirrel-eating recluse, whose fear of technology would render his mail bomb operation useless, as he would not have a computer with which to send virus-loaded e-mails. This also would have freed up “The Unabomber” nickname for another professor — that noted igniter of methane-fueled explosions, Power Bar-enthusiast Junior Miller who, according to Ticket sources, is probably more deserving of that moniker.

3. Actual junk mail has to be physically thrown away, which continues to thin the world’s forests, while junk e-mail can simply be deleted or returned to sender complete with an assortment of f-bombs and other easily-typed expletives, thus leaving forest thinning to the REAL experts — Mexican farmers.

As I leave you this week, keep this in mind: My current annual salary of $7,863.29 is not enough for me to afford a bulk mailing permit, so if it weren’t for e-mail, I would only be able to whip your collective asses twice a week regarding hardliners.com by knocking over assorted liquor stores and pawn shops throughout Northeast Tarrant County. That’s right, e-mail has at the very least postponed my inevitable one-man crime wave.

WOW! Is there ANYTHING e-mail CAN’T DO?!? Well, it still can’t deliver a pizza, but neither does the mailman. LONG LIVE THE PIZZA GUY!!!

It’s official…I am insane now, Chuck.

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“That’s a HARD ‘1’!” [7/27/98]

On July 27, 1997, I decided to take it upon myself to fulfill The Laddy’s vision of a Tickhead-friendly website by launching “Sideshow Bob’s HardLine Homepage.” Unfortunately, all of my computer experience up to that point had been gained as an adolescent spending night after night hiding in my room playing Pong on my Atari waiting for the Clearasil to kick in. (Yes, Mom, that’s what I was doing in the bathroom — playing pong! And MAN, did I ever wear out that joystick!!!)

A couple of weeks went by with me unsuccessfully trying to generate fresh schtick while using the same tired HardLine publicity still I lifted from http://www.theticket.com. Then, one day I got an e-mail from a guy named Robert T. Lancaster containing a picture from the Ticket Chick calendar with Rhyner’s head attached to a very buxom chick’s body. I knew right then and there that this webpage of mine just might work, but only if I got A LOT of help from A LOT of fellow P-1ers.

Slowly but surely, we started gaining momentum. Then, when the Catman of the Americas (and All Portuguese-speaking Peoples of the World) made a point of reviewing the site on the air with Rhynes and Greggo, things really started taking off. In fact, at Cat’s urging, we came up with a more clever name for the site: “Virtual Rigidity.”

Soon, an actual crew started to form. Guys like the GREAT Joe Lopez and magic man Mike Boles started to join me in putting in long hours each week just for the love of the show. Eventually, Rhynes and Greggo became so on board with us that they spearheaded the acquisition of the name hardliners.com. And the rest, they say, is history.

But before you start thinking this is nothing more than a bloated exercise in self-congratulations, let me explain the real reason for my bringing our 1st birthday to your attention. You see, keeping an operation like this up and running every week is no small feat, especially when you consider that all of us who put together hardliners.com have REAL jobs that keep us busy enough as it is. I’ve said all along my involvement with hardliners.com has ALWAYS been overrated. It’s the rest of the crew who deserves all the credit.

The GREAT Joe Lopez has been on board the longest. His design work is essential in enabling us to dope DFW dudes into complete submission to the will of hardliners.com in freakin’ cyberspace. Plus, his ability to be on the scene at Ticket events like Guys’ Night Out helps us provide you with a look at what went down — whether you were there or not.

Mike Boles can do just about anything with a picture. And I mean that quite literally, IF ya know what I mean! The bottom line is without Mike, hardliners.com would not exist as we know it. Not only does he get the frequent flyer award, having to drive all the way down from Denton every time we need him to help cover an event, but he also wins the “Most Likely to Be Mistaken for Greggo’s Brother” contest.

Chris Bowden is easily the hardest-working member of the crew. He rolls tape and pulls audio EVERY DAY! Thanks to him, you no longer have to listen to drops I recorded on a 1974 Realistic Modulette 939 that spent the better part of the ’80s in my parents’ garage. Due to his diligent efforts, we not only can provide you with clean, crisp drops, but we now have full-length bits and the ENTIRE “Best of The HardLine” recording (which nobody seems to be checking out, for some reason).

Of course, no operation would be worth its “salt” without a couple of “interns,” so we need to be sure and thank Travis The 11-2 Squid and Devin Pike, neither of whom has ever met Linda Tripp, nor have they had ANY reason to try and track her down!!! Actually, these interns have NOTHING in common with Monica Lewinsky — their weight doesn’t wildly fluctuate and they always take soiled garments straight to the cleaners.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the ENTIRE “HardLine” crew for their full support from day one, and Susquehanna Radio for refraining from sending us the “cease and desist” order we are inevitably going to receive someday. The only suspense at this point is whether or not “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening will beat them to the punch.

Finally, on behalf of everyone here at hardliners.com, let me thank all of YOU who have made a point of perusing our fine work at some point during the past year. I truly hope we have done a serviceable job of entertaining you and keeping you abreast of all HardLine-related items, because as The Old, Gray Wolf himself always says, “Hey, that’s what we do around here.”

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“Gather ’round, gather ’round!” [8/3/98]

Every party I’ve ever thrown has been a failed bit. So when I recently decided to throw a party in honor of hardliners.com’s first birthday, I figured I’d be in for more of the same — minimal attendance, a couple of six-packs of Schaeffer, and plenty of early exits. But much to my surprise, Saturday’s party was anything BUT a failed bit!

In a way that’s kind of a shame, because failed bits always lead to great schtick. But I’m willing to sacrifice a funny “Sideshow Sez” in exchange for a successful party. Unfortunately, you — the 11.5 — are the ones who have to suffer as a result. But hey, if you’re willing to soldier on and keep reading, I promise not to make any reference whatsoever to the oversaturated Monica Lewinsky. (Actually, I think it’s her dress that’s oversaturated.)

Sir, PLEASE, sir!!! That’s offends my Christ-I-an sensibilities. Try and show some maTOOrity! (I HAD to take it down THAT road, didn’t I?”)

Anyway, back to the party. I invited the crews of “The HardLine” and hardliners.com over to the underwhelming Sideshow Bob Compound (which is within shooting distance of 80% of the pawn shops in Arlington) for an afternoon of adult beverages, swimming, basketball, and a good old-fashioned group ass-whip. I invited the hardliners.com crew primarily to reward them for a year’s worth of unpaid hard work. I invited “The HardLine” crew primarily to get mentioned during this Monday’s “Classic BMW Weekend Check.”
Of course, all kidding aside, Rhynes, Greggo, Cat, Expah, and Mark Followill were the real draws. Do you think anybody would have shown up if I was only able to guarantee Corby’s attendance??? It pretty much would have been nothing more than me and Travis playing hackysack.

I’m still amazed at how well the party went. It’s probably the first party of any kind I’ve been to where a good time was had by all in the familiar home whites, without any summonses or subpoenas forthcoming as a result. My car’s probably gonna end up getting repoed, but for the time we had, it was worth it!

There are so many people to thank, that I don’t know where to start. Greggo, thanks for taking care of the B-B-Q and beer, brutha! Rose, thanks for making sure Greggo took care of the B-B-Q and beer! NASCAR Dennis, thanks for the Laddy-sized blocks of ice and the Followill bait! Dr. Matt, thanks for the wings and turning my house into the Bill Elliott museum! Limerick Man, thanks for the t-shirts! Everybody else who was there, thanks for everything else!

All in all, I can’t think of a single thing that didn’t go well at the party. Of course, it sure would have been nice if a certain corpulent bird would have flown by. Maybe it’s better that he didn’t, though, because I don’t think wings that size could fit on my grill.

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“Get off the sick” [8/10/98]

As if my week hadn’t already been eventful (and, some would say, melodramatic) enough, by the time Wednesday evening rolled around, I realized that I had come down with the flu or some such. Not wanting to lose my reputation as the biggest alarmist in the Metroplex this side of Sharon Boyd, I began grilling my wife on the symptoms of everything from encephalitis to e-coli to yellow jaundice.

I was somewhat relieved when, after an exhausive cross-reference, we were able to eliminate all but three possible ailments: the flu, bubonic plague, and clymidia (which, after resolving some pesky gender issues, I was also able to strike from the list). The only way I could find out what I had for sure would be to visit my doctor.

On Thursday morning, after calling in sick to work in a very Greggo-esque manner (“DON’T COME OUT HERE!!!”) I got on the horn to try and get in to see my doctor. Much to my dismay, his receptionist informed me that “he can’t fit you in today.” All scatological innuendo aside, I was very disturbed by this lack of service.

I mean, it’s not like he’s that great a doctor or anything (Hell, he’s GENTILE, for Christ’s sake! How good could he be???), but August ain’t exactly the freakin’ cold and flu season! What’s he got — an waiting room full of ingrown toenails?!? All you gotta do is stick a thermometer up my ass, scrape some pus off my tonsils with a popsicle stick, and write a prescription! That’ll take 10 minutes…TOPS!!!

But once again, the great Satan known as the HMO (Half-assed Medicine Only) rears its ugly head to bend me over one last time like Galloway did Dave Smith. Instead of trying to see me, they put the spare nurse on the phone to take down my symptoms. She tells me she’ll check with the doctor and call right back.

Well, four hours, two naps, and 27 DeVry commercials later, she calls back and tells me to drink some Gatorade, take some Advil, and if I don’t start feeling better IN A FEW DAYS, to call them back!!! You know, if I wanted to spend all morning calling in only to end up getting screened out by a dim-witted flunky, I could have just called Donovan Miller…I’m sure Fernando would have obliged me WITHOUT a $5.00 co-pay!

Anyway, if any of you P-1ers can suggest a good doctor (i.e., Jewish) in the Arlington-Pantego metropolitan area who also happens to be on the Harris Methodist Health Plan, let me know. Otherwise, I’m just gonna buy a bucket of leeches and treat myself next time. If I put ’em in the right places, it could be quite a TREAT, indeed!

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“I love freaks” [8/17/98]

With a name like Sideshow Bob, you know I’ve gotta be on board with freaks. And other than the Pick-N-Pull, what place is better for observing freaks in their natural habitat than the circus? Well, that was my thinking as I loaded up the wife and squid for a trip into the Town of the Cow to check out the scene being thrown down by the Ringling Bros. and/or Barnum & Bailey.

The venue for the self-proclaimed “Greatest Show on Earth” would be the Tarrant County Convention Center. The arrival of the circus broke the TCCC’s 48-week streak of hosting nothing but tractor pulls, gun shows, and Megadeth concerts. If any facility was adept at handling freaks, this would be it!

After ponying up eight bucks for a half-developed Polaroid of the squid sitting on a pink elephant, and then plopping down $20 more for some popcorn that was popped at some point during the Carter Administration and a substance alleged to be “cotton candy” (which was more likely manufactured by the folks over at Owens Corning), we made our way into the arena.

The squid was hoping to see plenty of elephants, tigers, and clowns. My wife was hoping to see plenty of acrobats. They both got their wish. On the other hand, I was unable to find any of the classic freaks from days gone by. I mean, where was the bearded lady??? (Although she wasn’t part of the circus, rumor has it that she’s working over at KRLD and can be heard hosting a sparcely-listened-to Rangers post-game show after Saturday home games.)

Don’t get me wrong — the circus had its moments. There was the requisite family of Peruvian illegals walking the tightrope. There was the familiar parade of pachyderms being followed by guys with giant shovels scooping massive piles of elephant dung. Talk about your entry-level jobs!!! Geez, that job’s only a notch or two above interning for The Fish!

There were even some true Gen-X acts, like stunt rollerbladers and basketball-playing unicyclists. I didn’t mind the rollerbladers so much, but the unicycle hoop action was only half as good as wheelchair basketball. It’s a decent novelty act for the masses, but something tells me unicycle basketball wouldn’t float on the asphalt courts of Stop Six. (This begs the question: If a unicycle gets stripped, is it up on block?)

Anyway, I couldn’t help but feel beaten down by not seeing any genuine freaks during the show. But as we began exiting through the concourse, something amazing happened! I looked around at the exiting crowd and realized I was SURROUNDED by freaks!!! There were midgets, fat people, and extra-limbed weirdos all walking amongst the masses! If I had only known — I could have saved the money and just sat outside the arena waiting for the circus to end and the crowd to leave. Watching a guy covered in tattoos try to pry popcorn out of his tongue piercing without breaking one of his high heels…THAT’S “The Greatest Show on Earth,” brutha!!!

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“I can’t tell ya how Wacker that sounds” [8/24/98]

I don’t want to say that Southwest Texas State University is one of the sparest colleges around, but simply by virtue of the fact that I run a website that’s had over 10 visitors, I have become the fifth most famous graduate in school history. I now check in just behind JFK assassination mastermind/Tet offender Lyndon Baines Johnson, diminutive country music coke fiend George Strait, Powers “I’ll live off of playing Jim Jones in a TV movie for the rest of my life” Boothe, and former NFL “smurf” Ricky Sanders. Needless to say, based on my status as one of SWT’s best-known alums, I feel compelled to offer my HSO on the return of the GREAT Jim Wacker.

As an adolescent growing up in San Marcos who didn’t see the humor in the town mascot being a swimming pig, I was desperate to find some sort of meaning in a town which had done nothing for me besides housing the drunk frat boys who pelted me with half-full cans of Pearl Light as I rode my bicycle home from the wedgie-fest that was Owen Goodnight Jr. High.

But when the GREAT Jim Wacker rolled into town and virtually overnight turned the SWT Bobcat football team from perennial Lone Star Conference doormats into back-to-back NCAA Division II National Champions, my life as a San Marcan suddenly had meaning beyond serving as the town whipping boy. This Wacker-led early-’80s college gridiron dynasty was the sole bright spot in an otherwise miserable 22-year sentence I served out in that Central Texas Hellhole.

I have many fond memories of the GREAT Jim Wacker, because I played high school basketball with two of his sons and actually met him on several occassions. Heck, I even set foot in his house a couple of times. You think “The Greatness of Jimmy” would let Rhynes set a single Jerusalem cruiser aboard his houseboat? As Fernando would say (and often does in drop form), “Heh-heh…no.”

Last week, I heard Donovan Miller debate whether Wacker’s enthusiasm was real or more fraudulent than Barry Horn’s “Morning Line.” After having had numerous personal encounters with Wacker, I can unequivocally declare that this guy is absolutely for real. I mean, you could actually hammer a barbed spike through his medulla and he’d muster up enough pep before collapsing in a bloody heap to heartily congratulate you on such a great effort.

Sure, his wheels started to fly off at TCU, and before he left Minnesota his coaching career had officially become a failed bit, but Wacker is the rarest breed left in the greedy, cynical, win-at-all-costs world of college football. He’s a throwback to the old days, when a coach would only rip you for half-assing it, never for failing despite doing your best.

Wacker was one of those coaches like Knute Rockne and Vince Lombardi who could literally will a team to win by filling them with enthusiastic inspiration. And even though he’s vowed to never coach again, I truly believe that he will bring that same enthusiastic inspiration to his new position as SWT Athletic Director.

If his tenure as SWT AD turns out to be as successful as his tenure as SWT Head Football Coach, it won’t be long before he becomes seduced by the lifted skirt and perfumed inner thigh of a big-market big-time Division I AD gig. My only advice to him is if UNT comes calling, turn them down. Because if you take the UNT AD job, it’s only a matter of time before your blood ends up on the hands of The Magical, Mystical Georgie-O.

This column is dedicated to the memories of Bill Mercer, Hank Dickerson, and Murphy Martin…may their careers forever rest in peace.

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“This team is DONE!” [8/31/98]

When the Rangers replaced Kevin Elster, Fernando Tatis, and Darren Oliver with Royce Clayton, Todd Zeile, and Todd Stottlemyre, Doug Melvin was hailed as a genius who, by virtue of these last-minute trades, had all but wrapped up the Executive of the Year Award.

The Rangers were immediately ordained A.L. West Champs by everybody from Peter Gammons to The Old, Gray Wolf, who actually rescinded one of his legendary edicts. Well, unlike the great Rhynes, I DID NOT rescind MY edict. I didn’t see how these trades made the team appreciably better, especially in light of the fact that the Rangers weren’t able to include a Layst for LaRussa swap in the St. Louis package.

Well, as you no doubt are all too painfully aware, in the weeks since the big trades, the Rangers are still absolutely red-shoed. They still can’t run, they still can’t catch, and they still can’t pitch! So, guess what? This team is DONE! There will be no postseason for this team. That’s right, all you Ranger homers out there…it’s time to come and join me on the dark side.

And as Rhyner himself has repeatedly said, if this team does not make the playoffs given the changes they’ve made, someone must be held accountable; feet must be held to the fire. You already know how much lighter fluid I’d like to pour on Layst’s feet, but believe it or not, he’s not the only one who needs a foot flaming.

The first thing Tom Hicks needs to do after this season is blow up the coaching staff. Ed Napoleon and Rudy Jaramillo are the only coaches who should survive Hicks’ Q-102-style massacre. The team’s poor fielding is due to the half-assed coaching of the luckiest man in baseball history (see 1978), Sucky Dent. The baserunning blunders can be attributed to the worst third base coach in the majors, Jerry SPAREron.

As for the pitching, is there any more of a wheels-off staff in baseball than the Rangers’ — especially the starting rotation. Look at what the pitchers who have left here have done elsewhere (i.e. Whools Santana), and what those who were good elsewhere have done here. Stottlemyre has come in here and absolutely re-defined the term “failed bit”!!!

More than anyone this side of Layst, Dick Bosman needs to have his pedicurist break out the blow torch. Somebody needs to tell this jackass that just because he’s sporting a Rollie Fingers mustache doesn’t mean he knows shit about pitching. He’s nothing but Layst’s flunky. All he ever does is go out to the mound after one of his sorry pitchers has just walked four straight and pat him on the freaking back! That is so riDICKulous!!!

I know there’s still a month left in the season, and the Rangers are still only a couple of games back of the Angels, but get this through your heads, P-1s…THIS TEAM IS NOW AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN DONE!!!

When they get officially eliminated in mid-September, don’t make me say “I told ya so!”…because I will, bruthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

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“Drunk on Irish” [9/7/98]

My name is Bob, and I’m a Notre Dame fan.

In these parts, that’s about as bad as confessing to molesting every altar boy in the Greater Dallas Diocese. (God, I hope Rudy Kos isn’t a Fighting Irish booster!) But the fact is, my dad holds two degrees from ND, and I would too if I hadn’t spend virtually every waking moment in high school jumping over barrels being hurled at me by Donkey Kong. Sure, my video game scores were impressive, but my SAT scores were just below the level of a Prop. 48 casualty.

I’ll be honest, my dad and I don’t have the greatest relationship — he always wanted an exotic vacation, and I always wanted an exotic dancer. The one thing that kept us from being more estranged than Rhynes and The Ticket Hypester was our shared love for inch-think sausage patties…and Notre Dame football. Despite the fact that my hometown of San Marcos is about 85% Hispanic (which means it’s 84.999999% Catholic), ND fans were in short supply. Being just a Russell Erxleben punt south of UT, virtually all San Marcans were seduced by the lifted skirt and perfumed inner thigh of the late-’70s Fred Akers machine.

But for me, there was no greater vindication than the 1978 Cotton Bowl, when the Fightin’ Irish absolutely tanned the hides of the top-ranked T-Sippers, 38-10. That was the first of two brilliant Joe Montana-led victories over SWC powers in that once-storied classic which now pits the 8th-place Pac-10 team against the 6th-place team in the Big 12 South, or some such. Needless to say, Notre Dame’s triumphs over local heroes did little to improve my already non-existent popularity amongst the 11.5 roaming the halls of 6th and 7th-grade (in retrospect, I don’t think my wearing a skirt helped a whole Hell of a lot, either).

Unfortunately, the Irish star has really fallen in recent years, thanks to Lou Holtz almost single-handedly ruining the program worse than Max Miller did the Ticket’s 8-11 timeslot. Not to mention this summer’s ugly lawsuit resulting from Bob Davie sending one of his incompetent, over-the-hill coaches packing like so much Cameron Harper. Then, just when it looked as if Notre Dame would soon be relegated to North Texas State status, something amazing happened.

Of course, I am referring to Notre Dame’s incredible 36-20 win on Saturday over defending National Champion Michigan — a win all the more stunning when you consider that it was accomplished by a team whose starting quarterback makes Zebbie Letheridge look like Johnny Unitas. Spare QB and all, that win jazzed me more than having a spaceship full of six-boobed alien babes land in my backyard. Some week down the road — perhaps even against Rhyner’s beloved “Fighting Sun Devils” — the Irish will probably come plummeting back to earth. But for now, I’m still floating like the gas-filled blimp I so closely resemble.

You can hate me for being a Notre Dame apologist, you can hate me for extolling the greatness of Joe Montana, but please, whatever you do…don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

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“Bush is now almost impeachable” [9/14/98]

I’ve always been fascinated by politics. That’s why I majored in political science in college, even though I knew doing so would prevent me from ever making more than the head burger flipper at Wendy’s. But in recent years, I have become increasingly soured on the state of politics in America.

The primary source of my political disillusionment is the failed bit known as the two-party system. Everyone in Washington is motivated by partisan objectives. All that matters to politicians anymore is what’s good for the party, not what’s good for the country. Such is the case with The Starr Report, which lapped hardliners.com within five minutes of being posted on the Internet.

But I’m not bitter about The Starr Report for taking attention away from this website. I mean c’mon, it’s not like Cokie Roberts can’t make it through the week without finding out how the Winston Duke JV did. All I’m saying is that nothing more perfectly symbolizes all that is wrong with American politics today than The Starr Report.

Make no mistake about it — I’m not a Clinton fan in the least, although Parliament Funkadelic DOES got it goin’ on! But more than anything else, what The Starr Report boils down to is a bunch of Republican spares getting bitter at how much tail Clinton’s been getting. Let’s face it, what are the odds that Ronald Reagan or George Bush could have convinced an intern to do the cigar trick? Amit’s got a better chance of landing the White prize!

Of course, if Reagan HAD been nailing everything in sight, you can bet your ass that the Democrats would have come up with their own version of The Starr Report. The bottom line is, all that matters to the Republicans is to force out the Democrats, and all that matters to the Democrats is to force out the Republicans.

So, armed with that information, I ask you my fellow Americans: WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO ABOUT IT??? Is Clinton a scumbag? Absolutely, you bitch! Is Dick Armey the Anti-Christ? Truer words have never been spoken. Fortunately, I think I may have the solution.

As far as I’m concerned, big government doesn’t work any better than the Rangers pitching staff. They both need to be blown up, although NOT in that Timothy McVeigh Militia kind of way. I propose a Constitutional amendment banning all political parties. What the hell are they there for anyway? All they are is an easy way for like-minded idiots to align themselves with an “ideology,” rather than forming their own individual beliefs and opinions.

It time for all those lazy-ass zombies out there to stop sleepwalking into the polls on Election Day and doing nothing but voting the straight party ticket. Damnit, you morons — start paying attention to the real issues out there! While everybody’s worried about how Monica got that stain on her dress, the world economy is crumbling faster than Troy Aikman’s clavicle!

I don’t even care what your convictions and beliefs are, but for cryin’ out loud, people…HAVE SOME!!! In 2000, don’t just settle on the puppet being propped up by your party. Give it some THOUGHT next time…GOD ALMIGHTY!

The preceding was a paid political advertisement by the Manson 2000 campaign — Squeaky Fromme, Treasurer.

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“My Chris-TI-an sensibilities” [9/21/98]

As I sit here thinking about what to write, the entire nation waits with baited breath to be tortured by four hours of Ken Starr questioning, post-Arafat-visit sex reporting, every-other-word perjurizing, Presidential misfit talk. Of course, I already issued my Hot Clinton Crisis Opinion last week, and if all I’m gonna do is re-issue the same column over and over again, I should at least be getting paid $300,000 a year by Knight-Ridder, like Mr. Mail-It-In over at that Star-Telegram. Since I’m writing this on Sunday, how about a column on religion? I’ve already offended most of the 11.5 on just about all other topics, so let’s give this one a whirl…

A couple of weeks back, I was asked by someone at my church to serve as sponsor for his sons’ baptism. This is something I had never done before, and as such, I was somewhat concerned what this might entail. I couldn’t help wondering if once it was over, the Pastor would say, “That’s the Miller baptism, brought to you by Service King Collision Repair Centers and by Sideshow Bob.” (EDITOR’S NOTE: If you’d like to book a member of the hardliners.com crew to make an appearance at a wedding, bar mitzvah, quinceanera, or Kwanzaa-related event, please contact a member of our sales staff.) Fortunately for me, I wasn’t required to purchase any live spots in conjunction with the baptism, so everything went pretty much according to Hoyle.

As you can see, I’m fairly active within my church these days. It’s taken a while, though, because I am presently working on religion #2. I would have stayed with religion #1, but once I became immune to the snake-bite antidote, it was time for me to move on. Actually, religion #1 did not involve any Appalachian reptile rituals, just a lot of Papal bull.

My wife and I had drastically different religious upbringings — her Dad was a Baptist minister, my Dad was a Catholic apologist. Mixing those two faiths would result in more forced chemistry than the North Texas State broadcast booth. But we were too naive to realize this. We thought it would be no problem to just have a joint wedding ceremony and keep our respective faiths. We were both about as loathe to convert religions as Van Cliburn is subscriptions. But soon, things would change.

After a few years, we learned we would be having a baby. Needless to say, this took us by surprise — especially me, since I figured I was out of ammo after spending every waking minute of adolescence handling up. We soon came to the realization that trying to raise a squid in a two-religion household would probably work about as well as Channel 11’s Babe Laufenberg experiment. But if neither of us would convert, what religion would we ever agree on?

Buddhism was out, mainly because I was afraid that with my belly, I might be looked upon as the second coming. My eating habits also put the kibosh on our attempts to pursue Judaism, as Expo asked his Rabbi to keep us out, for fear of a potential red meat shortage within Temple Shalom. We finally decided to meet as close to halfway as possible, and ended up becoming Lutherans.

Actually, it’s worked out quite well for all of us. And in the final analysis (not to be confused with the original title of the show once hosted by an even bigger threat to the Jewish red meat supply, Chuck Cooperstein), the best thing you can do is just find the church you’re most comfortable with. Not only am I comfortable with my church, I’m thriving. In fact, the baptism went so well, I’m thinking about calling Rooster to co-sponsor an upcoming confirmation. At the very least, I could expose the congregation to the greatness of pecan-encrusted mashed potatoes.

OFF!

“Concubinal Dry Dock” [9/28/98]

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had a few days to myself — time where I could just sit and ponder some of the great mysteries of the universe…Is there life on other planets?…Is mankind inherently good or evil?…How did Dick Hicks get a job in radio despite being cursed with the voice of Joe Flynn?!? Well, I’m about to be presented with three days of said solitude, as the wife and squid embark on a brief trip to San Antonio.

These spousal jaunts were much more commonplace back when the squid was much more portable, and much less likely to leap suddenly from the nurturing bosom of his carseat to put his mother in a full-nelson while she’s doing 70 down I-35. But her best friend is having a c-section (no, she was never a “Ticket Chick”), so my wife would like to be there for the un-zipping. Needless to say, I “e” the “d” (endorse the drive) to San Antonio, because it means I’ll have three days to mill about unencumbered. So what will I do with all this time?

Well, the first order of business will be to shave my back. By the time Mrs. Sideshow returns, she’ll have no idea I was becoming an Ed Asner starter kit. Based on the recommendation of the hairiest man in the world not named Robin — one Junior Miller — I just might haul off and see if that new Gillette Mach III can shear the pelt on my back cleaner than Sammy Sosa’s nephews can harvest a Dominican sugar cane field. If not, I’ll just fire up my trusty McCullough gas trimmer and go to town.

The next item on the agenda is to organize my collection of TV Guides with Corbin Bernsen on the cover. Now that there’s little hope of “L.A. Law” being picked up by another network, it’s probably time for me to finally get that collection in order. Come to think of it, I may need to expand the parameters of that hobby just a little. I heard UPN has a mid-season replacement in the works starring the great Jon Cryer as the whiney neighbor. That may be the way to go, but I guess I’ll have to wait until they cancel “Love Boat: The Next Wave.” Actually, THAT show stars TV’s Robert Urich, who’s certainly prime collection fodder. But I probably couldn’t afford all of the back issues featuring “Dan Tanna” on the cover. Plus, he’s a trifecta-starter just waiting to happen.

I’ll have to be sure to get most of these mundane tasks out of the way during the day, because once night falls, I’ll have more important business to tend to. You see, even though it’s been a while, I still have a loyal following at the Why Not? Club on Division Street in Arlington, where I once took the stage nightly as Tarrant County’s Karaoke King, Mitch Desmond, Jr. They’re an unforgiving crowd, so I’d better brush up on the words to “Me and Mrs. Jones” before donning the purple velvet tux. I lost my “Soul Hits of the ’70s” CD, so I’d better start rolling tape on “102 The Wig.” I’m sure they’ll get to it at some point between the 30 daily airings of Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On, Reggae Woman.”

OFF!

“Pure TV Anthrax” [10/5/98]

In case you haven’t noticed lately, TV sucks. I hardly watch anything anymore, except sports and prime-time cartoons. It really pains me to attack television, because I was actually raised by the boob tube. My father was Curtis Mathes and my mother was Zenith. But I grew up during TV’s heyday, back in the ’70s. Sadly, things have taken a turn for the worse in these, the ’90s. Grady, we hardly knew ye.

A lot of it has to do with the departure of the greatness that is “Seinfeld,” but it mostly has to do with the networks’ herd mentality. (Yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyeah!) This mentality manifests itself in the slotting of all TV shows into five categories:

1. The wacky relationship

This is not really a new concept (anybody remember “Mr. T and Tina”?), but this genre has spread across the networks like the syphillis you wish these people really had. It has gotten so bad that these shows almost all have the same exact name. FOX used to have “Ned and Stacey,” but when that got cancelled, “Stacey” just hopped over to NBC to be the “Grace” in “Will and Grace.” Talk about typecasting. And then there’s the extremely unstable “Dharma and Greg.” I don’t know about you, but I had enough Blue Oyster Cult albums back in the day to remember that “Dharma” was the last name of their very male, Max Miller-looking lead guitarist. No matter how hot that Jenna Elfman chick is, I can’t in good conscience “enjoy” watching a female character with the same name as the swarthy rock star who co-wrote “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”

2. The unblinking camcorder

These shows typically take two forms — “When _______ Attack” or “World’s (insert superlative here) ______ ______” — and are always followed by a number. My two favorites are still “When Nuns Attack IV” and “World’s Bloodiest Garage Sales II.” I’m especially fond of the latter, because it includes a clip of the time I forgot to turn off the hedge trimmers before carelessly handing them to a Latino mother of twelve. Fortunately, she had enough kids with her to simultaneously set up a triage and still pay me the $9.50 for the obviously effective hedge trimmers. However, the terms of the legal settlement prohibit me from selling any other gas-powered garden tools within 200 yards of my driveway.

3. The implausible crimefighter

Like category #1, this genre also flourished in an earlier era. But in those days, at least you had star power. Give me James Garner over Dennis Farina anyday. I’d much rather see Telly Savalas suck a lollypop than see David Caruso just plain suck. And what’s the deal with this new show featuring a fat Asian guy trying to be a Jackie Chan starter kit? He looks more like the very dead Jack Soo from “Barney Miller” after one keg of saki too many. It’s bad enough that Chuck Norris is still flying through the air kicking thugs with his Justin original work boots. All I’m asking for here is just a SHRED of plausibility. I mean, am I REALLY supposed to sit through an hour of watching Cheech NOT smoke a joint each week and BELIEVE IT?!? I guess it’s only a matter of time before the new Chong-Phillip Michael Thomas cop show rears it’s ugly head on The WB.

4. The coattail riders

The new Fall season is literally infested with these shows, all prefaced with the phrase “From the producers of (insert long-running hit series title here)…,” which apparently means network executives think people will watch “Jesse” just because they figure Christina Applegate will be wearing plenty of the same revealing tops worn by Jennifer Aniston in “Friends.” It’s not the revealing tops I’m against (actually, I quite like those) — it’s the fact that those network weasels think I’ll swallow 30 minutes of dung every Thursday night just because the same bunch of overpaid Hollywood vermin who lucked out with their first series also lent their names to the “freshest new hit of the season.” Sorry Littlefield, but no matter how much A-1 Sauce you put on a cow patty, it still doesn’t taste like a filet mignon.

5. The horny hospital

Last, but not least, is the genre whose target demographic is every woman and gay man who’s had a void in their lives ever since Luke and Laura first split up. While there is a history of mixing medicine and the missionary position on prime-time TV, this had been more often found during the afternoon soaps. Of course, the young ladies of the ’70s and ’80s are now the sexually-thriving women of the ’90s who, when unable to fulfill their own dreams of landing themselves a doctor, settle for the next-best thing — watching the TV nurse score herself one. And as if “ER” and “Chicago Hope” weren’t enough, we’ve now been presented with the most disturbing hybrid ever to hit prime-time: “L.A. Doctors.” That’s right, let’s just replace all the lawyers on “L.A. Law” with doctors, and we’ll have a sure-fire hit on our hands. Where’s Dr. Kevorkian when you need him?

OFF!

“These, the 290s” [10/12/98]

Upon returning home from the last GNO, I found an e-mail that had been sent to me earlier that same evening from an old high school buddy…

“I am apalled at the way you’ve turned out…to hear Greggo talk
about how many dogs you can throw down at the ‘Guys’ Night Out’.”

Of course, that was only an excerpt from his missive to yours truly, and to be fair, it was intended as a good-natured shot. But that’s not to say that his comments weren’t valid. The layst time I saw him, he was in a canoe. No, actually, when I departed high school to embark on a five-year journey through the world of collegiate drunkenness, I weighed in at a paltry 185. I know 185 doesn’t seem paltry, but it is when you’re 6’5″ and you look like you’ve spent one too many summers at a Bosnian refugee camp.

It’s not that I didn’t polish off my share of free hot dogs back then. I mean, I probably ate more food in those days than I do now, because I was desperate to surpass 200 pounds in order to avoid being cleared out of the lane like the fun baby of Shawn Bradley. Back then, I still had aspirations of becoming a basketball star. (I was kind of like a shorter version of Kevin McHale, only without the talent.) Obviously, that didn’t work out for me, so I did the next-best thing…I joined a fraternity and played intramural basketball.

The only problem with joining a fraternity, at least in those days, was the training regimen for any and all intramural sports consisted of pretty much nothing but an endless series of “12-ounce curls.” Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to balloon up like Oprah after a week in Amarillo. Of course, by running up and down a basketball court, I was ostensibly engaging in exercise. This allowed me to hover around 250 during my college years. It was kind of a whip moving up from a 32-inch waist to a 38, but I could still take my shirt off at poolside without being mistaken for a topless woman on Andro.

After college, exercise took a back seat to pizza, and lots of it. It was 1989, and the job market was more barren than John Kruk’s seed supply. I spent a long, hard six months after college looking for work and finding none. Things got so bad, I had to return to my college job of delivering (and, as I stated before, eating) pizza and to my high school residence (i.e., my parents’ house). You always hear psychologists talk about the five stages of depression, but I’ve been there and there are only two: eating and watching TV.

If it weren’t for the fact that my mom let me sit in her recliner during this dark period, I would have been leading a 100% sedentary lifestyle. The act of changing from the upright position to the reclining position does actually require movement, and yes, even some effort. So I wasn’t quite a bloated corpse yet, but I was well on my way. I wasn’t getting any calls for interviews from prospective employers, but those boys over at Johns Hopkins sure were persistent in calling to offer me a cadaver position they were having trouble filling.

Eventually, I found a job, then a wife, and so on. Things have been much less sedentary in the almost four years since my squid was born, because he’s got more energy than a room full of speed freaks. Unfortunately, my weight has continued to rise. Now, I’m hovering dangerously close to the Mendoza line of obesity: 300 pounds. Every year (or less), I have to go back to Thornton Melon’s Tall and Fat to ratchet up the pants and boxers another two inches.

But you know, all things considered, being a fat guy’s not so bad. If nothing else, I have a much wider array of options to choose from when it comes to medical treatment. Having a cow heart means I actually qualify to see a veterinarian if the doctor on my HMO is all booked up. Plus, having all those extra chambers gives me more room to store all that undigested bratwurst.

Stand back…the elastic wasteband on this sucker’s gonna blow!!!

OFF!

“CHA-CHING!” [10/19/98]

I like money. It really comes in handy on those 29 days between free hot dog buffets at Guys’ Night Out. The only problem is, like free hot dogs, I never seem to have enough. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of different things trying to make money — played understudy to Joe Sears in Casa Manana’s production of “Children of a Lesser Tuna,” drafted bogus liens for the Republic of Texas, served as guinea pig for “The Dallas Experiment” — but I’ve still been unable to amass the fortune of a Bill Gates or R. Gregory Williams.

But hey, I’m not alone. All of us out there in that work-a-day world keep striving for the same carrot. Unfortunately, most of our beaten-down jobs don’t pay enough to support our most basic needs. I mean, I can’t tell ya the last time I was able to buy some black tar without having to pawn something! So what are we, the middle class to do in these, the ’90s?

Well, the easiest thing to do would be to fall prey to one of those late-night TV infomercial get-rich-quick schemes. But I’m not real comfortable trying to talk newly-widowed old ladies into selling me their house for half of what their husbands paid for it during The Great Depression. So at this point, I’ve pretty much decided to swear off all late-night TV infomercials (except for those times I become spellbound by the hypnotic teeth of Tony Robbins).

The true secret to financial success can be summed up in two words: supplemental income. Don’t be stupid and quit your day job just so you can devote 40 hours a week to selling Amway. It’s just as easy to make some extra cash on the side, while still bringing in your regular paycheck — you just have to use a little ingenuity.

Take me, for example. I had an epiphany the other night while watching “Quincy, M.E.” on Channel 55 KDLT (“The Shows You Know”). Special Guest Star Dick Gautier was going to die unless he could get a kidney transplant. Then, at the last minute, Quincy nuts up and volunteers one of his. That’s when it hit me…YOU ONLY NEED ONE KIDNEY TO LIVE! The next morning, I put my spare kidney on the black market and had a buyer within an hour. I was so thrilled to finally be making some extra money, I even threw in an Igloo Playmate and a bag of Reddy Ice.

Another good case study would be T-Bar. Here’s a guy who busts his hump day after day for DART, only to be paid like a dishwasher with a fake green card. Then, one afternoon upon waking up from having slept off the previous night’s Baby Doll’s bender, he turns on the TV before calling in sick and stumbles onto a K Clinic commercial. The next thing you know, instead of calling in sick, he’s calling in a Workers’ Comp. claim! Sure, he sprained his thumb slipping a dollar into a g-string, but his boss doesn’t know any better. All he has to do is plop down five bucks for a wrist brace at Eckerd’s, and — VOILA! — it’s Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, brutha!!!

Isn’t it all crystal-clear, now? All you have to do is watch TV long enough, and you’ll eventually find the solution to all of your financial problems. Just be careful not to stare too long at Tony Robbins’ teeth, or the extra money you make will end up being spent on his 59-tape “Personal Power” package.

That’s a bullet to the brain pan.

OFF!

“Get some sleep, buddy!” [10/26/98]

It usually takes place in bed at night. It causes me to drool uncontrollably and make all sorts of loud, embarrasing noises. It always ends too soon and I can never get enough of it. In fact, I don’t get nearly as much of it as I used to before I got married. SIR!…PLEASE!…I’m talking about SLEEP! (I’m sorry about that outburst there, but a lack of sleep becomes bottom-feeding at a certain point, and it makes someone like me crabby.)

I’ve always heard that the older you get, the less sleep you need. Whereas my three-year-old squid puts in about 10 hours of sleep a night, Rhyner’s pretty much stopped sleeping altogether. Well, I’m 32 now (with the body of a 59-year-old), so conventional wisdom says that I should only need about 4-5 hours of sleep per night. Most nights, I actually get six, but I’m still usually more exhausted than the Quizno’s Sub supply at a HardLine remote after Big Anthony’s made the rounds.

If I had it my way, I’d spend more time sleeping than Amit spends watching Sri Lankan snuff films. For me, sleep ranks right up there with my other true loves: photographing steeplechase accidents, collecting Rodney Allen Rippy memorabilia, breeding Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and polishing top-side bright work. Unfortunately, these other hobbies have consumed so much of my time these days, that I’m only left with a handful of hours in which to allow my cow heart the full rest it needs to drop down to 230 bpm.

Truth be told, working on hardliners.com probably keeps me up late at night more often than developing photos of Christopher Reeve’s abrupt dismount. You see, even though Sunday is our big day here at hardliners.com — the day we get things ready for the big change each week — I do spend untold hours perusing e-mail, most of which is in the form of cease-and-desist orders, but some of which actually comes from the 11.5. And no matter how tired I am, I can’t go to bed until I know that I’ve responded to each and every P-1er who takes time out of their extremely busy lives to forward me their chain letter or four-year-old list of Tonya Harding jokes.

In fact, lack of sleep, coupled with constant Internet surfing, has resulted in some unfortunate mixups on my part. The other night, I stumbled upon a chat room set up by a group of people calling themselves “Bobbites.” I immediately entered the chat room, anxious to find out why these people had formed a group in my honor. But much to my surprise, shortly after entering the room and asking for their favorite installment of “Sideshow Sez,” they set me straight on the origin of their group.

It seems these people were the sole remaining survivors of the “Heaven’s Gate” cult, who with the loss of their leader (Marshall Applewhite, who was seduced by the lifted skirt and perfumed inner thigh of a UT football scholarship), had formed a society dedicated to worshipping a new icon. In light of what had happened to them while members of “Heaven’s Gate,” this group was now intent on following the teachings of John Wayne Bobbitt, in hopes of learning how to make the connection they lost at the hands of Applewhite’s pruning shears.

I know, I know…this column sucks. But hey, I haven’t had enough sleep, all right?!?

OFF!

“Whip-or-treat” [11/2/98]

Although this was my squid’s fourth Halloween on God’s good, sweet, clean Earth, it was the first time I was able to lay off the Stolichnaya long enough to go trick-or-treating with him. By the time we rang the first doorbell, I was flooded with memories from the Halloweens of my youth. And since I was sober, I knew these memories weren’t mere hallucinations triggered by cheap Russian vodka.

Halloween was always one of my favorite holidays. It allowed me to dress up as the heroes of my youth — The Six Million Dollar Man, Evel Knievel, Spiro Agnew, Mama Cass — anyone I wanted to be. And while the basic tenets of Halloween remain the same, much has changed from when I walked the streets of my neighborhood in a vomit-drenched muumuu.

Most of my trick-or-treating was done during the early- to mid-’70s. Back then, we had to beware of deviant hippies trying to slip chocolate-covered Thai sticks disguised as Tootsie Rolls into our plastic pumpkins. Today, our kids don’t have to worry about having drugs slipped into their candy sacks by the teens of the Metroplex, because they’re hoarding all the black tar heroin for themselves.

That’s not the only way Halloween is safer today than it was then. Back in those days, if you wore your plastic-coated costume while walking within 100 feet of a smouldering cigarette butt a parent had tossed from their car hours earlier, you’d go up in flames like a Bennigan’s after a HardLine roadshow. Today, the costumes are safer than ever. The dangerous part is going into Party City to get the costume and having to fight all those rabid housewives who’ve been looking to clean somebody’s clock ever since McDonald’s stopped putting Beanie Babies in their Happy Meals.

The pranks are much more elaborate than they were when I was a kid. All we had to work with were eggs and toilet paper. Today’s pranksters are strictly high-tech. Why go to the trouble of leaving a flaming bag of crap on somebody’s doorstep, when you can spread a virus that crashes every hard drive in the neighborhood with a single click of the mouse?

Call me nostalgic, but I miss the good old days of finding razor blades in candied apples and rolling around on the ground trying to put myself out. At least I wasn’t wearing a damn Teletubbies costume!

OFF!

“She Pearl Harbored me, she Japped me” [11/9/98]

The exotic vacation vs. exotic dancer debate isn’t the only war that’s been waged between me and the wife in recent days. We marched onto the same battlefield countless other couples before us have stood on and fought to the bitter end. Casualties are often high, and usually include getting cut off. Because make no mistake about it, this is the one war that no man wins when taking on his wife — the battle for living room supremacy.

She fired the first shot when she mobilized the evil TCI army into action to install a totally unneccesary cable outlet on the opposite side of the living room. To put this attack into the proper context, let me provide some background on my whip of a house. It’s less than two Mickey Spagnolas away from the only rail line still in operation between Fort Worth and Dallas — the one that trains de-rail from as often as Dick Hicks takes smoke breaks. The only reason I bought this place was because I could see the TV unobstructed from the dinner table. For me, the only thing better than eating is getting to watch “When Mormons Attack VI” while doing so.

So when my wife decided to move the TV to the only corner of the living room it CAN’T be seen from the dining room, I knew she had declared war. She claims it’s just for the holidays, so when both sets of parental units are visiting, they’ll be facing all the people in the kitchen and dining room. Yeah, and the Brits just went to the Falkland Islands for a little sunbathing! I knew what her diabolical mind was up to, but I had no idea the conflict would only continue to escalate.

Of course, being the subversive soldier she is, her next course of action was designed to lure me into a false sense of security. She seduced me with the lifted skirt and perfumed inner thigh of going shopping for a new recliner. It’s been years since we’ve had a recliner, so this was akin to offering a Russian operative a pair of Levi’s and a pack of Charmin. And like the ass-wipe starved Russkie, I took the bait.

It wasn’t until we arrived at the furniture store that I realized I had been ambushed. She had been lying in wait for me as if she were Amit lurking in the Channel 11 parking lot until the end of a “PosTex” taping. Being a man, the most important quality I look for in a recliner is comfort. Being a woman, the most important quality she looks for is whether the recliner’s fabric pattern matches the curtains she ordered from the Martha Stewart catalog. I wouldn’t mind if we could find an ugly recliner that was ALSO comfortable, but all the hideous-patterned recliners were slightly less comfortable than an Iron Maiden (and about as loud).

Just when I was about to raise the white flag and become her P.O.W., something miraculous happened. We found a recliner that not only wasn’t ugly, but it was BEYOND comfortable…it had a built-in massager! All this, and it was 50% off, to boot! THE WAR WAS OVER!!!

And as it turns out, this chair should resolve that first debate, as well. Because all I have to do is put the recliner’s massager on the “Magic Fingers” setting, close my eyes, and it’s lap dance city, brutha!!!

OFF!

“You want some heroin?” [11/16/98]

When my parents were teenagers, back in the late ’50s and early ’60s, the wildest thing teens did was knock back a few Pabst Blue Ribbons and commence to heavy petting. By the late ’60s, pot and hallucinogens were in the mainstream, and probably Rhyner’s bloodstream. The late ’70s and most of the ’80s saw cocaine going up people’s noses faster than Greggo could switch Skynyrd 8-tracks on the Craig Power Play in his Firebird. And now in these, the ’90s, we are faced with a heroin epidemic among today’s teens.

It all seems to have started in Plano, when heroin became the number one import and Expo became the number one export. Plano has always seemed to be the most troubled suburb in the Metroplex, having first risen to national prominence after experiencing a rash of teen suicides in the mid-’80s. These days it seems as if the teens of Plano have traded in their dress blues for black tar. But why?

The most common theory is that Plano is full of rich parents who are always off traveling the world and ignoring their kids, other than leaving them with a fully-loaded ATM card. Consequently, these neglected teens drain their parents’ bank accounts in order to buy as many black tar syringes and Depeche Mode CDs as they can get their hands on. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Depeche Mode concert…teens started dropping like flies in less high-tone places, like the Mid-Cities. This is harder to explain.

You know, back when I was in high school, teens smoked pot and drank because both vices were relatively affordable, regardless of your socio-economic status. You would have had to have worked about six months at Burger King just to afford half-a-syringe of black tar, leaving you no money for really important things, like parachute pants and red bandanas. Where the hell are kids in H-E-B getting that kind of cash???

Now that the needle and the damage done has crossed the border into my beloved Tarrant County, I’m more nervous than Seattle Slew. Even though my squid will only be turning four in January, if the level of intoxicant continues to rise each decade, I can only imagine what teens will be smoking, snorting, or injecting by the time he’s in high school. What’s next — snorting rods of Plutonium?!?

Hopefully by then, it will have all come full circle. I guess I’d better start stocking up on Pabst Blue Ribbon, just in case.

OFF!

“That’s some high humor” [11/23/98]

When it comes to entertainment options, the Metroplex is big-market, big-time. We’ve got teams in every pro league, hundreds of live music venues, close to a dozen 30-screen cineplexes, and thousands, consequently millions of topless bars. So why can’t we get a legitimate top-line comedy club???

I never realized how dire D/FW’s comedy straits were until last Friday night, when my wife and I were invited to a birthday party being held at Hyena’s in Arlington. Although I had never been to this establishment before, I knew it was regularly played by Noted Regional Comedian Dave Little. Even though the N.R.C. wasn’t on stage for our perusal, it didn’t take long to figure out that Hyena’s isn’t much more than the Double-A Durham of the comedy club minor leagues, thus making Dave Little the “Crash Davis” of this circuit.

At least with “Crash Davis,” we would have had a pretty good chance of seeing a home run. But the spares gracing the stage on Friday were like “Nuke LaLoosh” before he got to date Susan Sarandon’s body — they weren’t coming anywhere close to the target. It took actual audience members to drag this show out of the bar ditch.

There were two particularly drunk women in the crowd — one on either side of the stage — who continually shot the wheels off the minor-league comics by shouting out all sorts of ill-timed, inopportunely-placed, and generally unfortunate comments. One of these women was so drunk, she lifted her skirt and flashed her ass not once or twice, but three times!

Why does this place even bother having a two-drink minimum? There wasn’t a person there who hadn’t already polished off a six-pack of Mickey’s Big Mouth in the parking lot before continuing their binge inside the club, putting their bottles down just long enough to take another drag off one of the 300 Camels they would smoke that night.

From now on, when I feel the need for an evening of comedy, instead of throwing down $60 for two hours of pure comedy anthrax, I’ll just tune in “Regurgitated.” Not only will I avoid having to sit in a nicotine hothouse surrounded by people who will need a liver donor within the next five years, but the appetizers are a hell of a lot better. Why settle for stale nachos, when I can have breakfast quesadillas?

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“Movie watchin’ is a sport” [11/30/98]

Thanksgiving is the official kickoff of the holiday season, even though Christmas displays have been up in most stores since the 4th of July. And because there’s so much down time during the holiday season, with kids being out of school and adults taking off work, Hollywood targets this time of year to release their best new movies. So, as a public service to you, the 11.5, I’ve decided to provide you with a convenient listing of what’s new in theaters this holiday season. (As you read this, please keep in mind that as of yet, I haven’t actually SEEN any of these movies, but that never stops Academy members from voting for the Oscars each year, now does it?)

“Home Fries” stars Drew Barrymore as a burger flipper who gets knocked up by a married guy, who then mysteriously dies shortly thereafter. The producers changed the main character’s occupation from table dancer to burger flipper, so they wouldn’t actually have to pay Jasmine Nabwangu for the rights to the story.

“Very Bad Things” involves a bunch of sorry guys who get wasted and kill a stripper in the process. The producers of this film got around having to pay Nabwangu by killing off the stripper character, rather than merely having her deported. Although this film doesn’t star any Dallas Cowboys, many scenes were filmed on location at The White House in Valley Ranch.

“Babe: Pig in the City,” the sequel to the smash hit “Babe,” follows the journey of a spare quarterback with a speech impediment from the NFL sideline to the anchor desk. Oops…sorry, wrong Babe.

“Psycho” is a remake of the 1960 Hitchcock classic, whose only weakness was its inability to display full nudal frontity in the shower scene. So, the geniuses who decided to try and improve one of the all-time greats screw up the only thing they could possibly improve on, by casting the world’s second most famous lesbian for the shower scene! Why not cast Ellen as Norman Bates and just call the damn thing “Lesbo”?!?

“Jack Frost” stars Michael Keaton as a wheels-off dad who dies without having spent enough time with his son, so he gets reincarnated as a talking snowman. Yeah, yeah, who cares? The greatness of the angel Kelly Preston is in this flick, so the real question is whether or not she gets “Totally Nude, Al” in it. Since it’s rated PG, the answer is no, so like a Greggo review of a Bryan White concert at Country 2000, this one gets a “THUMBS DOWN!!!”

Now, as a public service to Expo, here’s a listing of the new porn flicks being released this holiday season:

“The Rugburns Movie”
“Hairy Dinger: Ringmaster”
“Enema of the State”
“Eat Joe Black”
“American History XXX”

I just may have to actually go see some of these movies, but I’m sure as hell not sitting in front of Expo!

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“We wanna see your face in the place” [12/7/98]

For kids, the best part of the holiday season is getting to open the Christmas presents, but the best part of this time of year for us adults, is going to all of the parties that crop up. (Ah yes…drinking until you need an organ donor and eating until you need to have a wall removed in order to leave the house…isn’t that what Christmas is all about?) I’ve already been to two holiday parties thusfar this season, and while I didn’t do any permanent damage to my liver, I probably ought to go ahead and put down a deposit for the wrecking ball.

While I did have a nice time at these parties, both were rather small gatherings with a lot of people I didn’t know and to whom I wasn’t ABOUT to say, “Can I tell you who I am?” That’s why I’m so excited about hardliners.com Night Out, coming up this Thursday, December 10 at Friday’s Front Row Grill in The Ballpark at Arlington, starting at 7:00 p.m. It’ll be great to share good tidings with all of my brothers and sisters in the 11.5, or at least those who are able to disarm their ankle monitors long enough to have a beer with us before their parole officer comes to take them away.

Because you see, bringing P-1s together is what hardliners.com is all about, buddy! Without The Ticket (and especially “The HardLine”), none of us would have any sort of viable social outlet. I mean, let’s face it, as P-1s, we’re the mutts of society. We’re the guys who didn’t have the connections to get into the Elks Lodge. We’re the guys who couldn’t get into the Shriners, because we couldn’t balance that damn fez on our heads (or, for that matter, fit our fat asses into those little clown cars). We’re the guys responsible for the warm spot in the pool. And dammit, it’s time we not only admit it, but embrace it!

It’s “this thing of ours,” and while our initiation rites might be less stringent than the Masons, we can still drink just as much beer as those guys! Who cares if they have a secret handshake? We’ve got an entire f-bombing language!!! And while it’s true, we really haven’t mobilized our forces to do good works around the Metroplex, we most certainly have done our duty when it comes to dopin’ D/FW dudes into complete submission to the will of KTCK, SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket!

So I ask you, faithful soldier of the 11.5, are you willing to heave to, trice up, get with the program, and handle up on your P-1 business by throwing off the shackles of the work-a-day world for just one night to whip ayss and take names at The Temple??? C’mon…it’ll be fun…PLEASE!!! If you have trouble getting out of the house by yourself, go ahead and bring your wife, so we can check her out! And if you’re not married, take advantage of your biological imperative to procreate.

I guarantee a good time will be had by all in the familiar home whites. If worse comes to worse, we can even recreate the deflowering of Amit from Guys’ Night Out 9. Either that, or take a cue from Sweet-Sweet at GNO 7 and throw Amit’s Cobra-lovin’ ayss into the whirlpool in the Rangers clubhouse. We can’t expect to match the greatness of previous GNOs, but we sure as hell can find some way to humiliate Amit! (Actually, we’re not humiliating Amit, we just choose to re-“initiate” him into the 11.5 whenever possible.)

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“The Christmas lights are lit” [12/14/98]

I’ve experienced some major ass-whips in my 32 years on God’s good, sweet, clean Earth — being raised on the Appalachian carnival circuit by an inbred clan of lice-infested gypsies, having my life savings swindled in a pyramid scheme by TV’s Mr. Peppermint, finding out five years after my wedding day that my wife’s birth name was Herbert Rothstein — but they all pale in comparison with the thrashing I took this weekend: putting up Christmas lights.

Although I live in Arlington, my neighborhood’s no Interlochen. The cumulative property value of the block I live on is roughly equivalent to the annual tax assessment on your garden variety Interlochen driveway. Obviously, we’re not in a position to mandate a neighborhood-wide display of Christmas lights in order to lure in the have-nots of the Metroplex each year for the sole purpose of flaunting our wealth. But hey, them Christmas lights shore is pretty, so most of us skip our December child support payments and head down to Dollar General to buy some.

The way my house is designed, I couldn’t get away with putting my Christmas lights up from the third rung of a ladder. I actually had to climb up onto the roof and hang down over the edge. This is where the nightmare began. I hadn’t been on the roof of a house since the early ’80s, when I was still in high school and only weighed 185. So here I am, 16 years and 114 pounds later, trying to keep from falling off (or more likely, through) the roof of my 30-year-old house. This is not a good.

To exacerbate the whip, I attempted all this wearing only shorts and a t-shirt, exposing my pasty-skinned flab to each and every one of the abrasive shingles on the roof. Never do I recall gravity having such a profound impact on my body. Each time I lay flat to shoot another staple into the overhang, I felt myself starting to roll down the roof. The only thing that kept me from plunging to my death was using my man breasts as human speed bumps.

Finally, after spending close to four hours of mutilating my skin worse than Joe Lopez with a Deep Ellum gift certificate, the lights were up. But despite having tested every strand along the way, when I plugged in the lights, the yard remained darker than Dick Hicks’ lungs. Before climbing back on the roof to do my best Charles Whitman impersonation, I calmly tightened a loose bulb, which miracuously resulted in the rest of the lights coming on.

However, before I could so much as put away my rifle, the lights shorted out again. Now I was contemplating a multi-state murder spree. But prior to living that Ted Bundy dream, I figured I’d test the first strand before climbing into the VW. Sure enough, that was the problem. Fortunately, we still had one unused strand of lights I could swap out with the dud first strand. I do this, and the lights begin working again, as expected. But as I’m taking the now-unconnected dud strand down, the lights go dead for a third time.

You know what? It’s time for dinner, so I’m gonna go drive through Luby’s.

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“Auld Lang, triple my life” [1/4/99]

Even as an wide-eyed young lad, I always knew there’d be certain things I’d have to give up once I got married — my velvet painting of Freddie Prinze, my collection of unused condom packages from around the world (my favorite brand is “Saudi Arabian Knights Reservoir-Tipped Camel Skins”), my teenage girlfriend, her 28-year-old mother — but I never dreamed that going out on New Years’ Eve would end up being one of them!

I’m sad to say that the last time I spent New Years’ Eve out and about spending my discretionary income was December 31, 1991, which also happens to have been the last New Years’ Eve before I got married. It would have been a memorable night in its own right, because it was the second consecutive New Years’ Eve that I had passed out standing up. The year before, after chasing a six-pack of full-size Foster’s oil cans with a 32-ounce bottle of Mamba (the beer with the highest alcohol content in all of Africa) I lost consciousness while on my feet. As a result, my buddies and I were promptly ejected from Maggie May’s on Austin’s 6th Street.

But in ’91, I was just so exhausted from putting in extra hours at my whip of a job at the time, that I fell asleep while slow dancing with the future Mrs. Sideshow. (Come to think of it, I probably also knocked back a little too much Mogen David for my own good, but I don’t think anyone’s too terribly interested in that.) I’m not sure if she was permanently scarred by the trauma of having to keep my Frankenstein-sized ayss from plummeting to the ground like a freshly-chopped Sequoia, but we haven’t left the house for New Years’ Eve since.

This year really wasn’t so much different than the previous six. I ask her if she wants to go out (we were invited to a party at the home of a well-known Metroplex columnist), she politely declines, I ask again, she whips out a Darlie Routier signature Ginsu knife and asks if I’d like to spend New Years’ Eve with the real Guy Lombardo. After I convince her not to do to my neck what Sweet-Sweet did to Bill Mercer’s back, I settle in for a long evening of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Suckin’ Eve.

Talk about something that never changes! This f-bombing special is the same thing year after year. Dick Clark manages to extract himself from Ed McMahon’s rectum just long enough to quit hawking fraudulent life insurance to all those senile old farts who are now frantically trying to find out whether or not their “Clapper” is Year 2000 compliant. He tries to fool us into thinking that he’s “calling the action live from Times Square” just because he’s wearing a big scarf and some of his production spares are continuously raining confetti on him from just outside of camera range. But in reality, he’s looking down on the drunken masses from a luxury box even Jerry Jones would envy.

But worst of all, he’s on the show for a grand total of maybe three minutes. The other 2:27 is spent watching the boys from Hansen lip-synch their way through “Auld Lang Syne” from a studio of undetermined origin in front of an overly-enthusiastic crowd of low-level network employees being paid time-and-a-half for an evening’s worth of posing as drunken revelers desperate to hear that inevitable fourth encore of “MMMMMMMMMMMMMM…BOP!”

If only an Army-Navy surplus store would have been open at that hour…

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“Musin’ the newsmagazines” [1/11/99]

There once was a time when the TV networks limited all coverage of the items of the day to their nightly news. Even though the ’60s had enough going on to fill up three decades worth of newscasts, you’d have to peruse the fine work of Cronkite, Huntley, Brinkley, et. al. (TOTALLY, et. al.!) each evening at 5:30 in order to find out what was goink on out there. The rest of the network schedules were dedicated to such informative fare as “Petticoat Junction,” “The Flying Nun,” and “My Mother, The Car.” Vietnam, Schmietnam — people cared more about what was going on in Hooterville than in Da Nang. At least that’s what the networks thought.

But with the ’70s came the advent of the TV “newsmagazine.” Shows like “60 Minutes” and “20/20” were launched to fill the void left by the network defections of such hard-to-replace talents as Max Baer and Werner Klemperer. Before long, the hearts of TV viewers would switch from Morey Amsterdam to Morley Safer. Eventually, each one of the networks would have their own weekly newsmagazine.

By the ’80s, the TV newsmagazines were at the top of the ratings, proving to be too strong in the long run for the likes of “Charles in Charge,” “Mr. Belvedere,” and “ALF.” Unfortunately, these high ratings translated into big money. Now empowered with endless financial resources, the newsmagazines abandoned their trademark hard-hitting interviews with the Ayatollah Khomeini and investigative reports exposing abuse at nursing homes, in favor of paying top dollar to bottom-feed.

In these, the ’90s, each one of the major network newsmagazines airs multiple times a week, except for Dateline NBC, which runs multiple times a night. Now, even the original, “60 Minutes,” which was always just a bit classier than the others, has decided to keep pace with the rest of the whores and stand on the corner looking for johns a second night a week. Some would argue that there’s just as much, if not more, news now than in the ’60s. But to me, paying Monica Lewinsky’s dry cleaner $1,000,000 to pass along his own stain-removal tips just ain’t news, buddy!

Airing 15 editions of “Dateline NBC” each week might have been worthwhile when there was so much happening in the world back in the ’60s, but then again, with a host named Stone Phillips, NBC probably would have only been able to pull in the hippie demographic. And in order to be able to tap into any of their disposable income, NBC would have had to rely on such sponsors as Betty Crocker to advertise a line of hash brownies.

I don’t know about you, but after watching Hugh Downs’ jowels sag an inch closer to the anchor desk each year, I’ve spent a lot of time lately wondering if there’s any way Werner Klemperer could be coaxed out of retirement. But without Bob Crane, we’d be faced with the prospect of sitting through “Klink’s Heroes,” so I’m not sure that’s necessarily better than watching “20/20” three nights a week. If only a disgruntled low-budget porn director wielding a blunt tripod could lure John Stossel into an Arizona hotel, THEN we might have something!

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“The items of the holiday” [1/18/99]

I’ve been afforded the luxury of writing this week’s column much later than usual, because I don’t have to get up early and go to work tomorrow, thanks to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. And the more I think about it, the more I realize how sorry that makes me for looking at it that way. Having a memorial holiday is intended to honor the contributions made by those who, through their actions, were historically transcendent.

But despite being legitimately observed over the first several years of its existence, it now appears as if MLK, Jr. Day has fallen into the same status as the other memorial holidays. While there are still those who treat MLK, Jr. Day with the appropriate reverence, most of the rest of us have gotten to the point where we’ve slotted the occassion as just another day off. That’s just plain sorrinesss. In fact, if those who’ve been honored with holidays knew how their days were now being celebrated, they’d probably ask to have their name removed faster than a candidate for DISD Superintendent.

Take Presidents’ Day, for example. Originally, the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were observed separately, despite their close proximity on the calendar. But eventually, they were bastardized into one combined holiday. And how do we, as proud Americans, honor their treasured legacy? By having all-day mattress sales from sea to shining sea! You know, just because their faces happen to appear on currency, doesn’t mean spending it on a f-bombing Sealy Posteurpedic keeps their memory alive!

And what about Memorial Day? It was originally established as a solemn time to remember those who lost their lives fighting to protect our country, but has now become the lynchpin of the three-day party weekend that signifies the start of Summer. The only remaining link between the originally conceived Memorial Day and the one that exists today, is the fatality count undertaken each year to determine how many people lost their lives fighting to protect their Budweiser. Of course, the name “Memorial Day” is also appropriate for those revelers who don’t end up dying as a result of their three-day bender, because they usually have no memory whatsoever of what just happened.

Labor Day is supposed to be a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country. However, it’s pretty much become the “less filling” to Memorial Day’s “tastes great.” Typically, the only labor going on during this day is by the guy who’s spent most of the afternoon laboring to vomit all the quarters he accidentally swallowed while playing the game of the same name.

St. Patrick’s Day is the only holiday that even comes close to retaining any of its original intent. Of course, this holiday was named in honor of the man who drove the snakes out of Ireland. And sure enough, every March 17 at pubs across the country, men attempt to drive the snakes out of their pants.

Whatever you choose to do this MLK, Jr. Day, try not to get too terribly drunk. Remember, it’s “I have a dream,” not “I have an hallucination.”

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“Handlin’ up on my Disney” [1/25/99]
[column cannot be found]

“Absolutely, you Hitch!” [2/1/99]

Well, it’s just a couple of weeks until pitchers and catchers report, which means it won’t be long until I have to dedicate all of my coach-related efforts toward the resumption of the “BLAYST LAYST!” campaign. But before I do, I want to take this opportunity to extol the greatness of Ken Hitchcock, because it is equally encumbent upon me to spread the word of his greatness as it is to spread the word of Layst’s sorriness.

Hitch is greatness, because when his team falls into a slump or certain players aren’t pulling their weight, he’ll do what a good coach should — he’ll haul off and rip their aysses! Layst is sorriness, because unlike Hitch, he coddles and protects all his players with an impenetrable barrier of spin. There’s a reason you’ve never read a story about how one of Layst’s players wanted to take a swing at him. He spoils them like they’re his grandsons. Have you ever wanted to take a swing at YOUR Grandpa? No, but you probably have wanted to take one at your Dad, which perfectly represents Hitch. He cares enough about his kids to do what’s best for them, no matter how much they don’t like it.

Hitch is greatness, because he is a master at making in-game personnel adjustments. He doesn’t base his match-up decisions on statistics and percentages. He actually relies on his instincts for the game and even goes so far as to play a hunch once in a while. Layst is sorriness, because he doesn’t have the slightest feel for the game, outside of what the stat sheet says. He doesn’t care if Eric Norm Son-of-a-Gunderson has spent the previous month getting hit harder than a pinata on Cinco de Mayo, if there’s a righty at the plate, he’ll still drag that rag arm out of the pen for a little in-game batting practice.

Hitch is greatness, because he’s had to work for everything he’s ever gotten in coaching. He started out sharpening skates in a f-bombing Canadian bicycle shop, yet he was still able to climb rung by rung up the minor league ladder to the NHL, all while fighting (and defeating) a chronic weight problem. Layst is sorriness, because he’s been handed everything he’s ever gotten in baseball, from sparing everybody to death as a minor-league catcher stealing major-league money all the way to kissing the asses of every owner he’s ever worked for.

Finally, let’s take a look at who has skins on the wall. During Layst’s tenure with the Rangers they have never won a postseason series, despite having the league’s MVP during both trips to the playoffs. Under Hitch’s watch, the Stars have won multiple playoff series, even reaching their conference final, without the luxury of so much as an All-Star game starter, much less an MVP. This year, expect Hitch to lead his troops to the promised land of Lord Stanley’s Cup, while Layst sits in the dugout B.S.ing with Dick Bosman as John Burkett is getting tagged for eight runs in three innings.

“BLAYST LAYST!”??? “ABSOLUTELY, YOU HITCH!”

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“Practicing DareDeviltry” [2/8/99]
[column cannot be found]

“Dont wantcha…yer FRAT!” [2/15/99]
[column cannot be found]

“Nefarious goings-on in the kidney compound” [2/22/99]
[column cannot be found]

“TV watchin’ is a sport” [3/1/99]
[column cannot be found]

“What’s in the future for me now?” [3/8/99]
[column cannot be found]

“I want to apologize to all my fans out there” [3/15/99]
[column cannot be found]

“Passing down the icons of my youth” [3/22/99]
[column cannot be found]

“The Atari went down on me” [3/29/99]
[column cannot be found]

“The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes” [4/5/99]
[column cannot be found]

“Don’t come over to the dark side, my son” [4/12/99]
[column cannot be found]

“Stave off the weekend, willya MATE?!?” [4/19/1999]

“Everybody’s workin’ for the weekend…everybody needs a second chance…” — Michael Reno, circa 1984.

From our first day in Kindergarten, we are programmed to look forward to the weekend. An entire restaurant chain is actually named after our obsession with the week coming to an end. But as I grow older, I find myself dreading the weekend more and more.

Back in the day, no one anticipated the weekend more than I did. I used to sit in class just letting my mind wander in a very Gen-X Davey fashion about all the things I could do with 48 continuous hours of freedom. But now, that freedom has turned into a prison. I now actually find myself looking forward to Monday, and that’s just downright sick.

How did this confounding transformation take place? Well, it’s a very gradual process — one that just kinda sneaks up on you. It probably starts way back with that first part-time job in high school sacking groceries or some such. Because of school, you spend most of your free time at work, including your job. But hey, at least it’s not school.

Then, during college, you find that you have to work more hours to cover all those high-tone college expenses. Unfortunately, this typically involves some sort of food service industry that requires all hands on deck both Friday and Saturday night until the wee hours. By the time you get off work, all the bars are closed and any and all store beer sales have stopped. You end up spending most of the weekend’s daylight hours sleeping.

By the time you graduate college, a significant other of some sort has usually worked their way into the mix. At that point, you (more often than not) end up spending all of your “down” time preparing for the inevitable wedding. And once the wedding comes, it’s church!

Yeah, newlyweds might make the occassional trip out on the town for some weekend nightlife, but that soon morphs into endless weekends of house hunting, then shopping for furniture. And before you even get a chance to make your arse more expansive by hunkering down in front of the new TV all weekend, you find out there’s a baby on the way.

Don’t get me wrong, having a baby is great, but by the time you reach this point in your life, the office never looked so good. You see, there’s so little time during the week to get things done, you end up having to cram everything into the weekend. This includes, house cleaning, laundry, yard work, paying bills, car maintenance, and the dreaded and feared squid duty.

Life was so much easier when all I worried about was rounding up enough of the neighborhood kids for a robust sandlot game of “Smear the Queer.” Oh, well — I guess it’s time to start another week. T.G.I.M, brutha!!!

OFF!

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