save new orleans

Jesus — I hope New Orleans survives this. That’s battlefront-level destruction they’re forecasting. I can only hope they’re wrong.
(For those who have wondered about my family, they’re farther to the west and almost certainly out of harm’s way. But losing New Orleans — and that’s the sort of phrasing people are using, “losing” New Orleans — would be an almost unmatched disaster. Been watching the Weather Channel, and even their guys are so freaked out they’re already 40 miles inland.)

bob huggins sucks

Interesting summary of the legal back-and-forth that led to the firing of Bob Huggins, coach of the University of Cincinnati’s men’s basketball team.
I have hated Huggins for a long time. He specializes is recruiting talented thugs with daunting criminal records, telling them they don’t have to attend class, and using them until they were either thrown in prison or drop out.
(From one Internet post about the firing: “My favorite memory is when the player punched the police horse. No, it was when the one player used drugs and never got booted off the team. No, it was when the one player duct taped his roommate to the chair and beat him up. No, it was when the one player beat up his pregnant girlfriend and didn’t get booted off the team. No, it was when the one player stole the University phone charge number and ran up a big bill and never got booted.” Which doesn’t even mention Huggins’ own recent DUI conviction. Nor does it mention his graduation rate, annually one of the worst in Division I basketball. Which is like saying he’s a particularly short midget. Cincinnati went a multi-year span in the 1990s with a zero percent graduation rate.)
John Cheney, the coach of Temple, also recruits a lot of borderline case kids. But he does it with a real eye toward rehabilitation and pushing the kids toward graduation. As a result, he’s beloved by many. (Although he’s getting a little crazy in his old age.) Huggins is the mirror image: a user, a thug who spins through felons to get wins. I’m glad he’s gone.
Oh, wait — Nick Lachey likes Huggins. Didn’t realize that. Never mind, then.

idiot ombudsman

Problem No. 1 with newspaper ombudsmen (this particular one being at The News & Observer, a fine newspaper in North Carolina): They write stupid columns selling out their own staffers for doing nothing wrong.
When are newspapers going to realize that bending over backwards to be avoid being offensive to every last busybody subscriber is the best way to become the most boring publication possible? That the reason newspapers read like thin cream of wheat is that we pay too much attention to hypersensitive readers who complain about anything we do?
And nothing — I mean nothing — makes me madder as a journalist than the ombudsman’s last couple of paragraphs, which essentially argue that the reporter in question is rendered incompetent when writing about children because she herself has no kids.
What complete and total bullshit. What a cowardly way to undercut a reporter. I suppose this means I’m not capable of writing about: black people, Hispanic people, Asian people; women; children; graduates of state universities; the left-handed; people who watch poker on television; vegetarians; and non-Cajuns, non-bloggers, and people over 30 or under 28.
Newspapers will keep circling the drain as long as we keep thinking offending one reader is a sign that a story shouldn’t have been written. More often than not, it’s a sign that it should have been written.
One other thing: The ombudsman endorses this statement from the newspaper’s high school sports editor:
“We go out of our way to accentuate the positive. We would identify the person who recovered the fumble rather than the person who fumbled, the player that intercepted a pass rather than the player who threw the pass, and the guy who scored the touchdown, instead of the guy who missed the tackle.”
If that’s a rule at the N&O, I’ve just lost a measure of respect for their very fine sports section. News is news, people, and keeping the name of the fumbler out of the paper is idiotic.

sufjan and the new jersey turnpike

Sufjan Stevens live on KCRW. I link to it only because he reveals which states he’s considering for his next geography-driven album — Oregon, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. (At 22:00 in the video.) And, more importantly to me, he reveals that the New Jersey album will be a musical about the exits on the New Jersey Turnpike.
That is awesome primarily because, when that comes out, I will seem retroactively extremely cool. Because for several years in the mid-1990s my email signature was:
“Thomas Edison! Grover Cleveland! John Fenwick! Joyce Kilmer! Clara Barton! Vince Lombardi! Walt Whitman.”
I knew those names as the ones Jon Spencer yells out at the end of “Big Road,” on the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s Extra Width. (Which, by the way, was probably the first “indie” record I ever bought, back in 1993.) At the time, I didn’t know those names, aside from being fine citizens of New Jersey, were also all service areas on the Turnpike, along with Woodrow Wilson, Molly Pitcher, and James Fenimore Cooper.
(It may be a sign of my impending blog bankruptcy that I’ve been reduced to recycling posts from 2001. Not sure. Also, I’m using more italics these days, it seems.)

cajun little league power

Hell yeah! My wee Cajun colleagues from Lafayette, Louisiana are kicking ass in the Little League World Series.
They played their first game Saturday and fell behind to the New England champs from Maine. They were down 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning. (Little League games only go six innings instead of the traditional nine.) So, what happens? Three runs! In the bottom of the sixth! Cajuns win!
(Coach: “This little team is a very confident club. They never lost their composure.”)
Today was game 2. Things weren’t looking good — the boys from Owensboro, Kentucky, took a commanding 8-1 lead in the third. Did Our Heroes wilt in the face of pressure? They most certainly did not! They began to chip away at the deficit — one run in the third, two in the fourth, then four more in the fifth.
In the bottom of the sixth, Owensboro retired the first two batters. Down to their final out, Our Heroes…bunt! And reach base! And advance to third on a timely single! And…throwing error! That’s a run! Cajuns win, Cajuns win!
These guys rock. They’ve got good Cajun names like Duplantis and Toups and Romero and Bergeron. As if that weren’t enough regional cred, they’ve got a sweet old grandma they call Nama who blesses them with a quick sign of the cross on their foreheads before each victory. (It doesn’t get much more Cajun than that, friends.)
Up next for Our Heroes is the villainous Rancho Buena Vista. Their star pitcher, Kalen Pimentel, just tied a Little League World Series record by striking out 18 batters. (For those good with math, 6 innings x 3 outs per inning = the dude struck out everybody.) And that’s just his pitching arm: he’s the “Barry Bonds of Little League,” who was recently batting .756.
I know nothing of this Kalen Pimentel boy. But I assure you that on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time, on ESPN2, he will feel the mighty pincers of our crawfish-fueled Cajun heroes.
If not, I say check his pee for steroids.
(By the way, best part of any of these stories:
One thing the team and coaches have had to adjust to is the local cuisine. The first night the team sat down to supper, it was served what [head coach Mike] Conrad described as mashed potatoes on what looked like a waffle, all covered with a light tan gravy.
“They were all just staring at it, not one of them had a fork in his hand,” Conrad said.
Conrad said he’s been told help is on the way today, when families and other supporters travel north with boudin and cracklins. The coaches are hoping to see some Community and Mello Joy coffee coming up as well because the local java just isn’t measuring up. “Whatever this stuff is, we still haven’t figured out what it is yet,” Conrad said. “It doesn’t even wake you up.”
Trust me: a team high on boudin cannot be stopped.)
Finally, a shout-out to Buddy Guirovich, the “godfather of Lafayette Little League” and my middle-school gym teacher.

esoteric hitlerism, crazy white supremacists

Things you don’t expect to run across on Wikipedia: “Other related modern theories involve Hitler having escaped to the Antarctic, where he joined with a subterranean dinosauroid master race, with whom he now travels inside UFOs underground, generally beneath the South Pole or throughout the center of the hollow earth, but sometimes to a Nazi moon base as well.”
That’s the crazy p.o.v. of one Miguel Serrano, who actually held positions of some authority in various Chilean totalitarian regimes of the last half-century. “He believed that Hitler was in Shambhala, an underground centre in Antarctica (formerly at the North Pole and Tibet), where he was in contact with the Hyperborean gods and from whence he would someday emerge with a fleet of UFOs to lead the forces of light (the Hyperboreans, sometimes associated with Vril) over the forces of darkness (inevitably including, for Serrano, the Jews) in a last battle and inaugurating a Fourth Reich.”
I’ve always been fascinated by white supremacists who try to bolster their craziness with made-up religious beliefs. I wrote my senior essay in college on a guy names Charles Totten who was sort of an 1890s bridge between British Israelism — the idea that the lost tribes of Israel somehow got confused, moved to Manchester and became the Brits, allowing the English to claim “chosen people” status — and Christian identity — the big-in-Idaho varient that claims white Americans are the chosen people, too. Both schools think the people who call themselves Jews are actually “mud people” descended from Satan.
Like I said, nutcases all. They love getting wrapped up in faux history — City of the Medes this, tribe of Khazars that — when their real interests are more along these more prosaic lines: “A relatively new tenet gaining popularity among some radical Christian Identity believers justifies the use of violence if it is perpetrated in order to punish violators of God’s law, as found in the Bible and interpreted by Christian Identity ministers and adherents. This includes killing interracial couples, abortionists, prostitutes and homosexuals, burning pornography stores, and robbing banks and perpetrating frauds to undermine the ‘usury system.’ Christian Identity adherents engaging in such behavior are referred to as Phineas Priests or members of the Phineas Priesthood. This is an appealing concept to some Christian Identity’s members who believe they are being persecuted by a supposed Jewish-controlled U.S. government and society and/or are eagerly preparing for Armageddon.”
Bonus Fact I Would Have Included In My Senior Essay Had The Internet Been As Built Out In 1997 As It Is Today: Charles Totten is the father of fencing at UMass, whose athletes have won two recent national championships.

teacher and the rockbots

Teacher and the Rockbots, a lame attempt to out-“Schoolhouse Rock” “Schoolhouse Rock.” Quoth the press release: “This 13-song CD reinforces American history and government lessons in a kid-friendly way with humor, modern rock music and commentary from a robot!”
Someone’s been listening to mid-period Clash records. Although I’m not sure whether it’s appropriate to fake a British accent when you’re singing about the American Revolution.