December 31, 2008

Oh The Lord Love's A Hangin', That's Why He Gave Us Necks

One of the bewildering things for us PNW sport fans is the unusually high rate of bad luck we seem to tote around. I could go on about all the different teams, but I think I’ll instead refer you to practically every posting by Brandon or Casey instead. Each and every one of us knows what it was like to be a Seattle sports fan this year. It was hellistic. Completely demonic. ESPN did their part to make mention of the down year, to be sure – yet in the big scheme of sports, it seems to me that our nice little city tucked up here in “South Alaska” (as Jimmy Johnson would say it) didn’t get the coverage or discussion that many larger market sport teams might warrant. There is no “curse of the Bambino” in Seattle. Again, I could go on and on about how Seattle gets nothing of the media attention that teams in New England or Southern California get – again, refer to any posting of Brandon and Casey. The point is, Seattle athletics isn’t the media darling that other cities seem to have.

The question, then, is if this is necessarily always a bad thing?

Hold your horses for a few minutes and hear me out. For many of us, this topic can be a tremendous source of frustration. Need I mention Super Bowl XL? Need I talk about the Vancouver Canucks? The Seattle Supersonics? Fans get weary of rooting for a team that the rest of the continent couldn’t give a left testicle about. This sucks in light of the fact that practically every other person out there is a Red Sox or Yankees or Cubs fan. Crap.

Now, to be sure, lack of media attention in light of the rest of the sporting world does frustrate me. That said, I understand that the market for the Seahawks, Mariners, Blazers and Canucks probably aren’t as luxurious sounding as, say the Red Sox, Cubs, or Dallas Cowboys. We have less tradition. Give us time. We’ll leave our mark.

Now, let’s take a look at the seemingly annual gossip revolving around the New York Yankees. Perhaps it’s just ESPN, but it seems to me that people just cannot shut up about who the Yankees have signed, potential management problems, Alex Freaking Rodriguez, etc. It just becomes a great big multi-million dollar soap opera. Same thing with the Lakers and Kobe Bryant. Same thing with Penn State Football and an almost weekly report of athlete-criminal behavior. Same thing with the Dallas Freaking Cowboys – if it’s not Michael Irving getting busted for drugs, it’s Barry Switzer carrying a gun in an airport, or Bill Parcells clashing with the players, or the players clashing with the players, or the drugs clashing with the players. On. And on. And on.

Every time an athlete for any of these teams sneezes the wrong way, the sport media is right there to feel its mist. It makes sense – the larger the drum set, the louder the noise. The media does their best to provide compelling stories for the very well established reader, and as they say – what sells is what is being bought. The problems we always seem to hear about these major market teams doesn’t seem to happen with such frequency among teams like the Kansas City Royals, Calgary Flames, or Seattle Seahawks, however. Even more so, we often don’t hear people refer to the Royals, Flames or Seahawks with notorious nicknames such as “The Evil Empire” or “America’s Team.”

Now, to be sure, these teams have earned their reputation and their nicknames based on their overwhelming success. They’ve got the championships – the Seahawks sure as heck don’t. The point I’m attempting to make here is that, while those teams have had success (and should be proud of it), they also carry with them a lot of unnecessary issues that you at least don’t hear about (and thus worry less about) with some of the small-market teams. Let’s face it, did anyone care that Seahawks receiver Bobby Engram tried to hold out for a contract dispute? Would people have cared were it Terrell Owens? I rest my case.

While we in the PNW don’t have as much to boast of in the big scheme of sporting success (and yes, I know the Royals aren’t in the PNW), we also don’t seem to have to carry the excess baggage of a lot of these other teams seem obligated to. Will this change in the future? I’m not sure - I’d sure as heck like to see us win a championship in something first.

Celebrity New Years Resolutions

Since everyone pretty much wants 2008 to leave and not wave goodbye, lets run down what celebrities are doing for new years resolutions...

Charles Barkley - Dropping D-Wade from my Top-5 and adding Rodney Stuckey. Also should probably avoid any speakeasys while I'm at it.

Al Gore - Forget American Politics, I'm going to push my agenda of Man-Bear-Pig onto the Church of England now. Woo doggie!

Vladimir Putin - I need to figure out which country I should invade first. Really, Alaska is looking pretty nice at the moment.

George W. Bush - Finish up Halo 3, I've been playing it so much these past couple months I really need to finish up before I have to go back to work with that inauguration thingy.

Gov. Rod Blogojevich - Hmmm, I really need to act like a bigger douchebag.

Brett Favre - To confuse people to no end about whether or not I'm going to retire this off-season.

Tony Romo - To win a Super Bow... oh wait. Nevermind.

Rick Reilly - To finally put an end to Bill Simmons' non-journalist ways. HE'S A BLOGGER! A BLOGGER! Meanwhile, I'm an 800-word quirky story stud. NOT A BLOGGER. BILL SIMMONS IS A BLOGGER!

December 30, 2008

Times are a changin'

I honestly never though I'd see the day when the Denver Broncos would fire Mike Shanahan.

Sure, his Broncos blew a big lead in the AFC West, arguably one of the worst divisions in the NFL. And granted, in their season-ending match up against San Diego, Denver was such a flop that the Chargers were resting players for the playoffs by the third quarter in a game that they needed to win to even make it there.
But fire Mike Shanahan? One of the rocks of the NFL coaching scene? And it's not like he's doing a bad job - his teams have been competitive and made the playoffs on a regular basis, they just really haven't done all that well. They were the NFL version of the Duke Blue Devils. Has Coach K been fired?
(I'm convinced CBS has a canned "DUKE GOT UPSET" segment that they run everytime the team is knocked out of the tournament)
I'm just a little shocked - I can remember growing up and Shanahan being the golden standard of coaches after winning two Super Bowls with Elway.

Well know I guess I'll have to look up to Herm Edwards.

December 29, 2008

It's not Da' Lions

I know that Seattle fans have had a rough fall and winter. But how about Detroit?

The mayor is in trouble.

The auto companies are praying for help.

Employment is down.

Crime is up. (well, I'm sure it would be, it is Detroit afterall)

And finally, the Lions go 0-16 to become the worst team in NFL history.

The nation has mocked Seattle all year, but I'm sorry Detroit, it really sucks to be you right now.

Epic Video: Snow Kayaking

So the rivers are frozen, and you're sad that you can't whitewater kayak right now? Well, look at this guy. He doesn't let a little snow stop him.

JustSoN Question: New Year!

It is almost January 1.

And that means the JustSoN Question of the Day is: What is your New Years resolution?

Yes Man!

This weekend I went to Jim Carrey's new movie, Yes Man. And I must say it was hilarious. But I have always been a fan of Carrey.

Without giving too much of the movie away: SPOILER ALERT. I do want to talk about on part. In the film Carrey's character and his girlfriend buy the next plane ticket on the next plane leaving. Well, it just so happens to be Lincoln, Nebraska.

For those of you who don't know, I spent the last year living in Lincoln. While there they go to the telephone museum. It was pretty funny because my apartment was just down the road from there. Lincoln wasn't a bad place to live. But coming from Washington, I soon found I ran out of things to experience.

Heck, Backpacker Magazine ranks Nebraska's best hike as a 3.3 mile trail along the Platte River. For an outdoors person like myself, a 3.3 mile trail is NOT an adventure.

Anyway, if you like humor, and you like Jim Carrey, go see this movie. You won't be disappointed.

December 28, 2008

Bad Luck Ben

Seahawks fans will probably be happy, which provides and interesting moral dilemma for people that aren't completely insane for their NFL team.

Playing in a meaningless end-of-the-season game against the Browns, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was playing his starters so they wouldn't have to shake off three weeks of not playing once they hosted a playoff game.

That obviously backfired when Ben Roethlisberger was carted off the field in a stretcher after suffering a concusion.


Now I'll be the first one to say that I never liked Big Ben as a player, but as a person, the poor guy has had quite a bit of bad luck. Remember the motorcycle accident he got into a couple years back? While Roethlisberger wears a helmet on the field, he apparently thought that the threat of an automobile accident wasn't that big of deal and went sans protection on his bike. Oops.

Didn't they have to pick his teeth of the pavement?

Now should Seahawks fans rejoice in this bad luck event for the Steelers, who won the Super Bowl that we shall not mention anymore aiding by the zebra-striped men we will also not mention?

A concussion is no laughing matter, and it seems that the Steeler's quarterback is now becoming quite familair with head injuries. If he remembers his name by age 70, he'll be lucky.

However, the whole juxaposition of a meaningless regular season game, the fact that it was against the hapless Browns and the thought of Byron Leftwitch lining up under center in the playoffs for Pittsburgh is something to giggle about a litte.

But hey, Big Ben, get better, so I can make fun of you again.

I'm a jerk, I hate crying babies

If there is one thing I've learned during the Holidays, it's that everyone loves babies. It seems like sometimes parents parade them around like Paris Hilton flaunts that dog of hers that's roughly the size of her brain.

And they certainly should show off their kids, because parents (a) get absolutely no sleep and should get some credit for that and (b) who wants to hide their kid like Quasimodo? Why wouldn't you show off your kid unless it has red hair?

However, there's one thing I simply cannot appreciate: crying babies. Now I understand that babies cry and they cry a lot. But why should the rest of us be subjected to listening to your kid cry in public over and over and over again.

If I'm at a movie, church or in some sort of public capacity that requires me to pay attention to something, I know that chances are, somebody's kid is going to start crying. But if they start crying... take them outside, and try to calm them down. Don't just stand around, quietly going "Shhhhhhhhh" and patting them on the back while they scream bloody murder.

And people that take babies to movies is beyond me... what? Are they going to take notes on the characters for you?

So the main thing is that it's no so much a singular crying event that bugs me, it's a parents refusal to either deal with the crying by taking them outside or their complete oblivious nature towards everyone giving them the dirty eye.

So call me a grump, this is my old man rant of the day. Tomorrow I will be ranting about puppies.

December 26, 2008

What I learned over the Holidays

During these past couple of days of joy and gift-giving, I've learned a couple of things...

- Learn the aisle right-away hierarchy in stores before you go Christmas shopping, otherwise you'll get t-boned. For some reason, shoppers would rather give their first child to a Chinese Slave Army as opposed to giving some space for you to squeeze into the electronics aisle.

- AMC's showing of John Wayne movies was a pure stroke of genius, and then I saw they're going to show Clint Eastwood movies on New Years. That means that roughly all of Americans will be watching, while the ones that don't are simply communists.

- I like people that sent me personalized "Merry Christmas Brandon!" text messages as oppose to the generic, mass-texted ones. However, the more I think about it, I didn't send out a Merry Christmas text so perhaps I'm the one that's an a-hole.

- Read this story about Kurt Warner. Awesome stuff. Right down to him learning how to "Walk it Out."

- Four large holiday meals within 48 hours is pretty much deadly. I was in a food coma where I had dreams about Super Mario Bros, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Montana fans stalking me, and a dream where I apparently gained the ability to shrink in size, making me perfect for re-enacting Adam Morrison's NBA career.

- Relatives never question how much you eat. In fact, I get called a "growing boy" ... awesome.

- People are actually kind of pissed about Gonzaga's loss to Portland State.

- Pumpkin Pie does not need whip cream. In fact, why the hell do you need the whip cream? It masks the flavor!

- College World Series re-runs on ESPN Classic... yep, I'm addicted to sports.

December 24, 2008

JustSoN Question: Christmas!

Tomorrow is Christmas. Tonight Santa comes.

Which makes the JustSoN Question of the Day: What is your favorite part of Christmas?

Track Santa on his journey

It is Christmas Eve, and that means that Santa is starting his yearly journey. I know some of you may be doubters, but us here at Just South of North are not. We believe in Christmas magic, and now you can too!

To prove Santa is out there, I found this on the TODAY Web site.


Want to locate Santa along his delivery route around the world in Microsoft Virtual Earth 3D? You will need to install the Virtual Earth 3D plug-in. If you do not have this plug-in, you will be prompted to install it when the page loads. If your pop-up blocker disables this prompt,
you can download the plugin here.

Thanks TODAY for still believing and letting us see when Santa will come down our chimneys with goodies.

From all of us at Just South of North, Merry Christmas! And keep your eyes open for Santa.

Got Snow? Melt it!

I'm at my parents house now for Christmas Eve, and my mom asks me to shovel the drive. I say no problem, throw my boots on and head outside. While shoveling, I think to my self that there should be an easier way to do this. Like maybe a blowtorch, or better yet a flame thrower. Then I say, "No Casey, that would just be stupid."

Well, I guess this guy thought it was a good idea:

Man melting snow with blowtorch ignites home
He wanted to clear back porch, instead he's got $30,000 in damage

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. - Fire officials in New Bedford, Mass., say a man using a blowtorch to melt ice on his back porch ended up setting his house on fire, causing up to $30,000 in damage.

Fire Capt. Scott Kruger tells The Standard-Times of New Bedford that no on was injured during Monday's incident at the three-story home.

Kruger says the man was using a torch hooked up to a 20-pound propane cylinder. He got too close to the building's wood frame and ignited the vinyl siding. The fire quickly spread into the building's second- and third-floor apartments.

It took 25 firefighters to subdue the blaze that damaged bedrooms in the upstairs units, and caused damage to the structure and wiring.

The homeowner will not be charged.

Happy Holidays!

December 23, 2008

Epic Photo: Chicago Bulls... meet Rodney Stuckey

Anyone seen Adam Morrison lately?

With Allen Iverson injured, former EWU basketball player Rodney Stuckey stepped up to the plate and delivered.

Fourty points, a career high, and a 104-98 victory for the Detroit Pistons over the Chicago Bulls.

And if you look at the photo on the right, Stuckey is owning Florida phenom Joakim Noah... also considered the ugliest son of a gun on the face of the planet.

So let's take a glance at Mr. Stuckey's stats for the season:

2nd Season
10.7 Points Per Game
5.1 Assists Per Game
47 percent shooting from the field

And more importantly, this isn't a guy from Duke, UCLA, North Carolina or ahem, Gonzaga.

Can we start Stuckeymania yet?

Gonzaga "Cougs" It

What the hell happened?

A few days after losing to No. 2 UConn, Gonzaga was looking at a tune-up, feel good home game against Portland State.

Portland State of the Big Sky Conference, Portland State that had trouble getting to the arena because of road conditions, unranked Portland State.

And the Zags laid a big, fatty 77-70 loss nugget of an egg game.

While I'll give the Vikings credit, they played Washington very tough this year and have one of the better college basketball players in the country in Jeremiah Dominguez.

But Gonzaga came out flat, a fact not lost by the usual home-town announcers on KHQ. You could tell their energy level was not very high and they seemed to be suffering from "post-traumatic big game syndrome."

Either way in one evening the Bulldogs have gone from Final Four possibility to a team that now has a lot of questions. They can't put it in cruise control for the rest of the season.

As for Portland State, I'm dreading the day when they come into Reese Court to play EWU.

Spending some money

Mark Teixeira is a happy man. Instead of getting paid less to play for the winning Boston Red Sox, or getting paid more to play for the abysmal Washington Nationals, the slugger will now become a New York Yankee.

And pick up a check to the tune of $180 million.

Thanks Yankees, not only are you making everyone else in this crappy economy feel like they belong on one of those "feed the children" ads but not only are you spending a lot of money, you're spending it with no exhibitions whatsoever.

They have roughly $400 million tied up in three players.

I don't know about you, but it seems that they Yankees are going all-or-nothing in this year. They could either have the best roster in all of baseball or a complete stinkbomb when the season starts and the injuries mount.

And as a Red Sox fan, I'm hoping for the latter. Now let's look at other places that are treating the recession like a red-headed stepchild.

The State of California could be broke in two months - which makes me think that it soon will be sitting on a street corner in Spokane asking for change.

Chinese girl lost her legs in an accident, so her parents replaced them with a basketball - And it's a dirty basketball to boot!

Seattle refuses to use salt to melt snow - In other news, the Pacific Northwest is completely paralyzed thanks to Seattle's inability to handle six freakin' inches of snow.

You want to know how many snow plows this city has? They have under 30. For the entire Seattle Area. 30. No Joke. And I suddenly understand why people on the west side of the State are terrified of the white stuff.

At least Shaun Ellis isn't there to throw snowballs at motorists.

$10,000 Snowball

It appears that Shaun Ellis of the New York Jets has a little less money to spend this holiday season after being fined $10,000 by the NFL for his actions after their game Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

As the Jets were leaving the field after being defeated by the Seahawks some of the fans were throwing snowballs at the players and personel. Ellis decided to join in on the fun by grabbing a large snowball from a pile that had been plowed from the field and hurl it into the stands at some of the fans.

This isn't the first time the NFL has witnessed a snowball fiasco.

After being interviewed today Ellis stated, "It was all in fun"

This is another incident involving Ellis that has gotten him into some trouble after he was arrested for speeding and possession of marijuana last month.

Action picks up at the 35 second mark

December 22, 2008

Epic Photo: Squirrels gone wild.

Thanks to MSNBC... squirrels fighting... here's a closer look.

All I can say is AWESOME.

JustSoN Question: Favorite Location

As more snow is getting ready to fall in Washington, it sure would be nice to be someplace warm.

The JustSoN Question of the Day is: Where would you like to go on vacation right now?

December 21, 2008

Questions I have about the NFL

1. Why does John Madden and Al Michaels always seem to be talking about instant replay disputes?
Seems like everytime I turn on Sunday Night Football, Al Michaels is going "and it looks like, John, this play is going to be overturned..."

"That's right Al, now you see here, the player went out of bounds, because his foot went outside the line."

Is there a stat tracker on how many replay challenges there are on Sunday Night games because I swear that's all these two do, that and talk about John Madden's food preferences.

2. Why are New York Giants fans much more likable than New York Yankees fans?
While there has to be some crossover, watching games makes me think that they're completely different fan bases. I don't know what it is, but there's something very admirable about rooting for Eli Manning as your quarterback, doing it in near sub-zero temperature, and watching some truly god-awful Giants teams of the past. Which brings me to my next question...

3. Why do I suddenly like Eli Manning?

It's like when you return from summer break to college and a girl that never really caught your eye has become hot. Granted, what probably helped Eli was being named Super Bowl MVP. It's an amazing transformation, it's like that girl was once a mammoth, with several moles on her face, a lazy eye, bad BO and a considerable lisp suddenly turned into Jessica Alba.

Don't know how that happened. I just don't get that "Eli is going to screw this game up feeling" anymore.

4. Why have the Seahawks won two straight?

And now they're peddling away their first-round draft pick.

5. How bad is the NFC West?

Well the division's champion, the Arizona Cardinals, lost 47-7 to the New England Patriots this week. I watched the game and was struck by the fact that for the first time ever, the Patriots were not trying to run up the score. They were doing everything they could to not score short of kneeling down, yet the Cardinals were giving up 20 yard runs between the tackles. Just sad.

At least it provided for some nice visuals as it was very snowy there.

6. Why does the media totally suck up to the Steelers?

So the Titans beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-14 this week to get the first seed in the AFC. After all this hype about how Tennessee peaked too soon and "here come the Steelers!" it all equated to nothing more than a wet fart.

Seriously, Pittsburgh... I'm glad you can beat the Ravens and their half-brained offense, the underachieving Browns and the hapless Bengals. Good for you, now we'll see how you do in the playoffs.

I hate how the media always crowns them Super Bowl favorites. Always. Every single year. If they're even remotely 10 victories, they're considered awesome. Why?

JustSoN Question: Christmas Movies

I currently am enjoying the sounds of Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

The JustSoN Question of the Day is: What is your favorite Christmas movie?

Look On The Bright Side, Kid...

With all the excitement over Winter this year, writers of Just South of North have done their collective best to provide our take on a number of different winter issues, including driving, survival, and surefire signs of winter frustration (excellent, Brandon.) One of the funny things I noticed before contributing to JSON was the "Random Fact of the Week" talking about Snag, Yukon. True enough, Snag is home to what was the coldest recorded temperature in North America. Those who have been in that area are all too familiar with such wild weather.

Well folks, I've been to Snag, YT. Having been there in the summer, I'll be the first to say that I haven't experienced -80 F. temperatures, thank God. In light of this, I felt the need to discuss the area a bit - because its quite far north, and quite unlike what most of us are used to - and through that, hopefully allow our readers to keep our present winter troubles in perspective. 

The town of Snag, (if you consider 10 people, airport staff and a meteorologist a town, of course), rests very close to the international border between Alaska and Yukon. The area in which the town resides has been inhabited by First Nation tribes for generations, and most of the population in this area is still First Nation. However, white settlers did dabble a bit in the area during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 to about 1906. According to some traditions, the town got its name from the Army Corps of Engineers during the construction of the Alaska-Canada (AlCan) Highway during World War 2. This area was uncharted when the highway was being built, and the Army Corps had a tremendously difficult time plotting where the highway should be built - thus, it served as a "Snag" for them. However, there was an airport here prior to the construction of the highway which was used as part of the war time Northwest Staging Route, making the story slightly suspect of inaccuracy. All tradition aside, Snag is on the southern end of what many experts consider to be the coldest pocket in the North American continent. Other towns that fall within this pocket are Chicken and Northway, AK. This pocket stretches from Tok, Alaska to Beaver Creek, YT - roughly 200 miles or so. The Wrangell-St. Elias and Mentasta Mountain ranges do a good job of really tucking this area away from warm, moist air movements in the winter time, and typical winter temperatures fall within the -40 to -60 degree range. Bearing in mind that this area is much farther north than probably most of our readers, remember that the sun doesn't come out quite as often in the winter, based on the rotation of the earth. This leaves us with a really dark, really cold, stretch of land. Those who live in this area have to keep their vehicles warm by using block heaters. Many residents prefer dog sled teams, which believe it or not, are more efficient to use, because they can use them on iced-over riverbeds (including the White and Tanana Rivers). 

It's places like Tok, Beaver Creek, and Snag that always allow me to keep rough winters in Washington in perspective. While Spokane, Seattle, and Olympia have gotten unusual winters so far and certainly have been hampered, let's be thankful that it isn't 40 degree below zero and dark. Not to mention the fact that we don't have as many moose to dodge! 

You know it's cold when...

- The old-timers don't talk about "that winter in '54 that made this look like a tropical vacation."

- The weatherman says that we'll be warming up next week and the high tempretures are still a good ten to 15 degrees below freezing.

- Outside pets are picketing to be let inside.

- Inside pets are making fun of them.

- Fans at football stadiums are making snowmen in the seats where fans didn't show up.

- Suddenly luxury suites in those stadiums don't seem so evil.

- Every guy (and woman) in your town decides to start resembling Al Borland.

- Watching football games in sunny Florida makes you angry.

- So angry in fact that you hope that every warm weather team in the NFL loses in the playoffs (Why do you think the Packers, have such a large fan base? Because they're not pusses when it comes to snow).

- Canada asks the borders to be shut down because they're letting a cold draft in.

- Brett Farve decides to wear a sweatshirt.

- You start to envy fat people because they have more padding.

- You ask for your beer to be served "hot."

December 20, 2008

UConn is pretty good

So No. 2 UConn put the hurt on No. 8 Gonzaga today 88-83 in overtime, Eastern Washington lost by 30 points to Washington and WSU plays Idaho tomorrow.

Can't hardly wait.

The Zags had a full crowd at Key Arena behind them but it wasn't enough as the Huskies turned up the defense in the waning seconds of regulation and overtime. Pargo couldn't seem to be able to hold onto the ball either. All Gonzaga's three point shooters fouled out when they really needed them.

All in all, it wasn't the greatest outings for the Zags and they only lost by five points to second-best team in the country. You can't be too discouraged, this is a talented team, they're just going to need to play better under pressure.

With the game on the line, they fell apart. Does that sound familiar? Anyone remember Adam Morrison crying at center court, because I do. However, I think this team is considerably better than that Sweet Sixteen Squad.

Once they get rolling in the WCC schedule, they'll get into the perfect attitude for the NCAA Tournament.

... and I really don't want to talk about the Eagles right now.

Winter Driving 101

During these warm winter months (metaphorically, of course. Read a book!), one finds a warm intimacy shared with the changes of the season. The leaves have turned gold, fallen, and have been raked up. The Christmas tree is established in your house. Little ones run around in the excitement of getting a bunch of free loot on Christmas morning. The snow, falling…

…and falling…

…and falling…

Holy Oakesdale (Those from the Palouse share my joy). Snow fell all over the place, did it not? Good old Tom Sherry on KREM 2 News sure wouldn’t shut up about it, but for once, I think his hysteria was justified. It flat out dumped on us. People stuck in their houses. Snowmen the size of the Colossus. Plows doing what they can. And of course, the all-too-often automobile accidents.

It’s no secret that icy and snowy roads bring our the worst in most drivers. Those who hail from the southlands may not be so familiar with the concept of adverse roads, and is certainly something I understand. After all, their biggest concern may be dodging an armadillo or a roadrunner. When combined with the fact that many Washingtonians are transplants from other parts of the country (i.e. California), I humbly offer a small list of helpful tips to make your winter navigation simpler.

  1. SLOW THE **** DOWN. Honestly. What in God’s green earth gives you the idea that taking corners at regular speed won’t somehow cause your already-dangerously-easy-to-tip SUV to start sliding sideways? It still baffles me, every time I go to Bozeman, Montana or Omak, Washington in the winter to visit family, I see car after car after car laying on its side on the sharp corners of town. How many times do you have to drive by accident scenes or at least hear about them on the news? Fast Cars + Ice makes roads really hideous ice skating rinks. Use your noggin.
  2. If you’re sliding, don’t slam on the brakes. Trust me, allowing your brakes to lock up won’t actually make your car slow down. But it sure does a great job of making your car slide easier! When sliding, ride it out and steer into it. It’s quite a concept.
  3. Don’t tailgate the freaking snowplows. Believe it or not, these folks (my dad being one of them and his testimonies the inspiration of this tip) have a really tough job of making your roads safer to use. And contrary to your road-rage induced impatience with these plowers slow speeds, they more than likely cannot see you riding their tails in your giddiness! There's these things called blind spots, and they're pretty terrible in Commercial vehicles. If you can't see their mirrors, then they sure as heck can't see you, and you're following them too close. Don't presume these drivers don't know what they're doing when the reality is that it is you and your tailgating skills who doesn't know what you're doing. Trust me, they’re not out to slow you down, and believe it or not, they will more than likely pull off eventually to let you by. Wait, what the heck are you doing driving around anyways when the roads are real snowy?
  4. Get a team of sled dogs. A good set of eight to ten of them will suffice for the weather Spokane has been getting. These amazing animals have assisted man for countless generations in the northlands, providing transportation, friendship, and on occasion, a warm meal if you're hungry enough. The typical Alaskan sled dog can go a good 30-50 miles in a day if they’re not pushed too hard, and will burn anywhere from 7 to 10,000 calories in a day. That’s a lot of dog kibble. But what the heck, you’re consuming less fossil fuels that way – you’re minimizing your carbon footprint! Only just putting huge piles of dog crap in its place. Oh, by the way, they require a lot of affection, and they bark non-stop. Good thing God gave us ear plugs. 
  5. Drink. Get a good buzz going. Enjoy that six pack of Alaskan Winter Ale (one of the finest choices you can make at the local grocer). You’ll enjoy yourself, and – wait a momento – do you think I meant drink while driving? You presumptive fiend. I bring up drinking and getting a killer buzz because if you have **** for brains (a true rarity these days, for sure), you’ll stay at home and not go out on the roads since you clearly don’t have to.
  6. If you really don’t have to go out, then don’t. Just wait it out until the road is clear enough. It really does work. Or perhaps even better, go for a walk. A leisurely stroll around the neighborhood or to the grocery store. You’ll be consuming less fossil fuels (Al Gore said its ruining the world you know), get fresh air, and have the wonderful added experience of having to dodge other blokes who decide to go out in it. 

Having listened to my college professors for six years, I’m pretty confident that these tips will assist you in your winter travels. College professors know the answers to everything, you know. 

And for the record, a huge shout-out to my adversaries Brandon and Casey for inviting me to JSON. This is a big day for me, and while I think their small-minded-Fox-News-bias is clearly a detriment to the blog, I tolerate them because I get a kick out of how wrong they are. Lord knows they probably never once listened to one of their college professors...

Thanks guys!!! Now, I'm off to go watch The O'Reilly Factor...

So about that whole Oden being the franchise savior thing

Nothing against Oden, he's been a solid contributor for the Portland Trailblazers during their 17-10 start this season. However, we may have been a bit off with the whole franchise savior thing because that's actually Brandon Roy.

That's pretty clear after Roy dropped 52 points against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday Night.

Quickly and silently he's becoming one of the best guards in the league and NOBODY saw this coming. Seriously, where are the "Here comes Brandon Roy!" articles? Even Skip Bayless couldn't even deny this complete meltdown in media ignorance.

If you watch a Blazers game, count how many time the announcers gush over Roy, because the man seems like he's making plays everywhere on the court even when he's sitting on the bench. The great thing about the NBA is that there are players that you just like watching play, simply because it's enjoyable, and Roy is one of those guys.

Just warning you all in advance, in case you were too busy watching Kobe Bryant bite his lip and ignore teammates.

Epic Photo: Now if they could have done this to Lucas Oil Stadium

We talked about stadiums that shouldn't have been replaced yesterday, and in a perfect stroke of timing, they imploded the RCA Dome - former home of the Indianapolis Colts - at about 9:30 a.m. today.

Here's a photo of the 24-year old stadium biting the dust. While it was relatively small by NFL standards, the dome gave the Colts excellent home field advantage due to the loud noise that fans were able to create. It was so loud that other teams accused the Colts of piping in noise through the stadium's sound system.

Indianapolis moved to Lucas Oil Stadium, which was subsequently been as loud as a tomb thanks to the new stadium's fieldhouse-esque features that basically let the sound escape through the top. One look at the place and you can see why, the retractable roof (which isn't waterproof GOOD CALL!) and a movable window wall opens up the stadium considerably.

And then factor in the "regular fans getting priced out by rich folk" effect and you have a pathetic home field advantage.

Now it's a little too late to go back to the RCA Dome.

December 19, 2008

Introducing the JustSoN Question of the Day

Perhaps you may have noticed the new addition to Just South of North. This is a new daily feature that we will post EVERY day.

Today we would like to thank Anna for the custom graphic for the section, as well as the new banner.

So tune in, look for our logo, and answer the question.

We hope you enjoy the new addition, and keep an eye on JustSoN, as the site continues to grow each week.

JustSoN Question: Star Wars

It's pretty obvious which Star Wars character Brandon is fond of.

So the JustSoN question of the day is: Who was your favorite Star Wars character?

Reasons why you're still single...

You watched the entire broadcast of No. 7 Gonzaga's 84-42 victory over Texas Southern.

... and you thought it was more intriguing than the Zags-WSU blowout.

A Zag Wookie

Because of the epic Gonzaga-UConn matchup this Saturday in Seattle, ESPN decided to run an article showing what the Zag and Husky players from their 1998-1999 Elite Eight teams are doing now.

UConn still has two players in the NBA, including a player you might have heard of, Richard Hamilton, he's turned out "alright."

The Zags aren't so lucky, as only Zach Gourde is playing professional, in France. However, they have a player that did something way cooler then playing in the NBA:

Axel Dench -- Lives in Australia, appeared as a Wookie in "Star Wars: Episode III" in 2005

The 6-11 center from Melbourne Australia was a wookie. Which instantly makes him my favorite Zag player of all-time. Just don't beat Dench at a game of HORSE, he tends to have the habit of ripping people's arms off.

Thanks to Bart Mihailovich for this link, check out his website Down to Earth NW.

Stadiums that shouldn't have been replaced...

Boston Garden Built 1928, Demolished 1997- The historical epicenter of NBA basketball for many years this was where the great Boston Celtics dynasty was built, and that could have been largely due to the building itself. Also hosting the Boston Bruins, the 15,000 seat arena was built with neither hockey or basketball in mind, it was built for boxing with the intent of allowing every person to be able to get a close look at the action.

This of course resulted in the seats being right on top of the players and the playing areas, giving it a very intimate and intimidating atmosphere. And speaking of atmosphere, there was no atmosphere in the garden, so a fog would develop over the ice during hockey games and it reached 97 degrees during the 1984 NBA Finals, and players were given oxygen to fight the heat.

It was rat infested, the electrical system occasionally failed and visitors lockers room were horrible. However, it hosted 16 Stanley Cup Finals and 20 NBA Finals and that may have had something to do with the fact that fans in the last row of the stadium was still close enough to the action to get the opposing coach to flip them off (true story) for their heckling. In Boston Sports lore, this is Holy Ground - and yet they had to tear it down for a brand new, soulless arena. What a shame...

Chicago Stadium Built 1929, Demolished 1994- Believe or not, Chicago Stadium is the breeding ground for Arena Football... kinda. Due to weather conditions outside, the first NFL playoff game was played inside its walls in 1932 on an 80-yard field.

While original capacity was 17,000, the record for an NHL game was set inside the stadium when over 20,000 people watched a Blackhawks playoff game in 1982. That record stood until 1996. The place was mammoth, and featured an grand organ that was played during hockey games which gave fan noise a loud ringing noise.

And they had plenty to cheer about when Michael Jordan and the Bulls brought some NBA Championships to Chicago. The grand scale of this venerable arena was the perfect backdrop for the budding years of the best basketball player ever.

How attached were fans? When CNN broadcasted the stadium's demolition, they showed footage of Blackhawks and Bulls fans crying.

Spokane Coliseum Built 1954, Demolished 1995 - While the Spokane Arena is probably one of the best things ever to happen to the Lilac City, there were plenty of memories to be had in the Coliseum. Affectionately called the "Boone Street Barn" many Chiefs fans were born in this building as the team really rose to prominence in the 5,400 stadium.

Ironically though, it was the Chiefs who lobbied for a new stadium but even team owner Bobby Brett expressed the opinion that he didn't want to see the Coliseum torn down. If it were still standing today, it would have provided Spokane a wonderful mid-sized arena with plenty of character and history to go along with it.

Foxboro Stadium Built 1971, Demolished 2001 - So it may have been one of the worst stadiums in the NFL, according to some (probably team owners), but Foxboro Stadium had plenty of memories. It was the site for the infamous Snow Plow Game, home of the Patriots during their mid-90s Super Bowl Run with Drew Bledsoe and the last game played in the place was the Tuck Rule Game which was a stroke of luck that allowed the New England Patriots to become the dynasty that they are today.

Why was it one of the worst stadiums? Because it was build cheaply, meaning that their were bleacher seats instead of individual premium box seating, no luxury boxes and no fancy locker rooms. Meaning that the fans that showed up to the games were true fans, not the corporate Disneyland crew that shows up to Patriot games now at Gillette Stadium, leading to many criticisms about the atmosphere at those games.

Sure it wasn't pretty, but it was a 60,000 seat snowbank that allowed fans to be fans. New England couldn't overcharge for tickets and therefore the real fans got to go to the stadium. Patriot fans long complained about their digs until it was finally gone and now they've lost something special forever.

Mile High Stadium Built 1948, Demolished 2002 - Originally built as a baseball stadium, Mile High was one of those weird multi-use stadium that worked well. Mainly because they didn't host a major league baseball team until the 90s, and mainly because the Denver Broncos provided so many memories in the place.

The high altitude, combined with the home field advantage of 76,000 fans was pretty tough for visiting teams to overcome. I know, watched many Seahawks teams go kaput there. The playing field would actually shake from fan noise and movement during games.

One of the grandstands could move so it could host baseball and when the Colorado Rockies were formed, Mile High set an all-season attendance record of close to 4.5 million that will never be broken.

While Invesco Field has tried to recreate that shaking effect, it's just not the same as the Broncos lost a certain mystique when they moved out of Mile High.

Memorial Coliseum Built 1960, still standing - The Portland Trailblazers have since moved into the state-of-the art confines of the Rose Garden, which is a marvelous facility, but there's still a special spot in Portland fans for Memorial Coliseum.

Due to its somewhat small size, just under 13,000, the place had quite the record for sell-outs when it came to Blazer games. However don't tell opposing teams that the crowd was small as Rip City has some of the most electric fans in the NBA.

Still a great facility, lets hope Portland doesn't tear it down. And what about the Blazers playing a throwback game there?

December 18, 2008

House collapse? Build a snowcave

If you're living in the Pacific Northwest right now, you might be sitting in non moving traffic. Maybe you're reading this connected to the WiFi of a Starbucks that you slid your car into. Either way, if your house collapses due to the snow, here's what you do:

Build a snow cave.

Generally, when most people hear "snow cave" they think of igloos. But these are two completely different structures.

Igloos are more complicated to construct and require snow that is suitable for cutting. Not the sheer amounts that the area is getting right now. The blocks are usually cut with a snow saw and then stacked in a spiral pattern.

Most beginners find that the roof tends to collapse while building the igloo. So let's stick with the snow cave for now.

Unlike the igloo, a snow cave requires no cutting of the snow. Rather all that is needed is a shovel. When deciding on how to begin construction, there are a few different possibilities.

The first method is to find a snow drift and dig into the side. When using this method, be sure that the drift was not made from snow collecting on a tree, or else you will run into the trunk while digging your cave.

The second is to pile snow, compact it and then hollow it out. This method takes more time and energy, as you have to make sure that the pile is compacted very well, or else the structure will collapse when hollowed.

And the third way is to dig down into the snow and then inward from there. With this method you have to make sure that the snow is deep enough so the vegetation under the snow is not damaged. Depending on where you are, the depth of required snow varies, especially in national parks.

After choosing how you want to dig your shelter, begin by creating an entryway that will allow you to fit into the structure.

Don't make the entry too big, or else the heat created in the cave will be allowed to escape. Once the door is complete, begin to hollow out the cave on all sides.

When hollowing upward, ensure the roof is high enough so that you can sit up, but that there is still three feet of undisturbed snow for the roof and the sides. This will be enough snow to prevent the cave from collapsing. While building the cave, keep the inside of the roof arched for extra strength.

Build a sleeping area that is higher off the ground than the entryway. This will allow any snow to collect below you.

Never sleep directly on the ground, instead put a tarp down and then a closed cell foam pad to lie on. Do not use an air mattress, as the air in the mattress will chill and make you cold as you sleep. The foam will act as an insulator.

Make sure that you create at least one ventilation hole, in addition to the doorway. This will allow for proper ventilation of the structure.

After the structure is complete, make sure you immediately change clothes. Building a snow cave takes time and energy to build, and remember that you will get wet while building it. Not just wet from snow, but also from sweating while working. Wet clothes lead to more problems and could eventually result in hypothermia.

You can also light a small candle or a camp stove inside the structure to create some heat. But never fall asleep without turning your stove off or putting your candle out. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from a fire burning in an unventilated shelter.

If built properly, a snow cave can serve as a fabulous structure and great home for the night. Snow caving is an exciting experience, and if you're nice, you'll build one for your neighbor too. Cause it's only a matter of time till their roof collapses too.

Question of the Day: What natural disaster would you rather experience?

With the new Ice Age officially happening in Eastern Washington, that got me thinking about natural disasters. Since I probably wont be rescued from my North Spokane abode for weeks, maybe months I've already been planning to hunt for some rabbits and perhaps a coyote.

But enough about my Davy Crockett impression, the question of the day is... What natural disaster would you rather experience?

The weather outside is frightful...

Spokane has just received a DUMP of snow. We're talking about close to 20 inches in 24 hours, which is a record. Most residential roads are unplowed and have just a few trails in them, while the snow plows are struggling to even keep the main roads open.

Now while the Lilac City is a northern city, usually they do a pretty good job of keeping the roads somewhat open. However, today, I got stuck backing out of my driveway (in my 4WD vehicle)... which is a 20-foot long concrete slab... which I shoveled off last night (probably a foot) only to wake up this morning to see two more feet where I had just shoveled...

This is after I dug my car out of two feet of snow. As you can see I actually had to shovel around my vehicle just to be able to clean it off.

Now I'm watching a documentary on Colonial Canada, with Alan Alda doing the narration. Good times.

December 17, 2008

JustSoN Question: Washington Person of the Year

Read the post below this.

Today's JustSoN question of the day is: Who would you like to see for Washington's Person of the Year?

Thanks 2008

Congratulations America. You've almost survived 2008. This year has been perhaps one of the worst for most of the country. The country has never been worse than it is right now.

Unemployment is UP.
Pay-rates are DOWN.
Gas prices are UP.

To top 2008 off, Washington has never experienced a worse sporting season in my lifetime.

The Seahawks are terrible, they were supposed to win the NFC West, yet can hardly beat themselves in a scrimmage. The Mariners were worse than terrible. The Huskies had the honor of becoming the worst team in the history of the PAC-10. The Cougars looked like a bad high school team every game. Eastern Washington University was supposed to contend for a FCS National Championship, instead their season was over by Week 6. Central Washington University (the only football team in the state with a winning record besides high school teams) headed into the D-2 playoffs as a huge favorite, only to loose in the first round to West Texas A & M.

Yeah, the state of Washington couldn't wait for the Fall Sporting season to get over with.

And then comes winter.

Winter means NBA. Winter meant rubbing salt in every Sonics fans wounds. The city would turn on their television only to see Clay Bennett, the man who stole the Sonics, spit in their face every night the Thunder played.

He told the city lies and broken promises. He bought the team, said he wanted to keep them here. But really, from day one, he was cheating on us with Oklahoma City. It was an affair that Seattle's marriage to the Sonics just couldn't survive. And everything ended in a bitter divorce, as Clay ran away late one night to the open arms of the midwest city. Leaving Seattle with an empty arena and a full glass of heartache.

The only gratification Sonics fans could get was that the new Oklahoma team is terrible. But that still doesn't help. It's kinda like when you get dumped by a girlfriend. You quickly pretend everything is alright because she went from you (who brought sexy back) to a tall, doofy looking, red haired kid.

You pretend everything is OK. You smile, you crack jokes about how funny looking he is. But deep inside your secretly dieing.

That's how every Sonics fan feels right now. They laugh at how bad the Thunder are. But deep down they secretly wish that it was the Sonics that were that bad. Because that would mean they never left.

And if that wasn't enough to make 2008 officially the Worst Year Ever. Oklahoma Today magazine made this move:



OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Today, the magazine of Oklahoma since 1956, has named chairman of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Clayton I. Bennett, Oklahoman of the Year for 2008. The feature story on Bennett, written by senior editor Steffie Corcoran, appears in the January/February 2009 issue.

Bennett, founder of the private investment firm, Dorchester Capital, is touted as the man who brought the NBA to Oklahoma. He leads a group of eight investors, all from Oklahoma City, who form Professional Basketball Club, LLC. The team played its first Oklahoma City game on October 29, 2008, after relocating from Seattle. Today, the team plays at the Ford Center in downtown Oklahoma City and is considered one of the youngest team in the NBA.

“No one came close to Clay Bennett as we set about selecting this year’s Oklahoman of the Year,” says Louisa McCune-Elmore, Oklahoma Today editor in chief. “His accomplishment presents an extraordinary moment in the life of Oklahoma, probably among the most important achievements in our capital city’s history.”

Those who know him best describe Bennett as a man of action. “People respect Clay,” says former Oklahoma City mayor Ron Norick. “When Clay is involved, things are going to happen.” Bennett grew up in Oklahoma City, graduated from Casady School in 1978, and married his high-school sweetheart, Louise Gaylord, in 1981.

Bennett’s respect for hard work and his civic involvement have garnered this Oklahoman of the Year great regard from his peers, both locally and in the wider community of the NBA. “I feel confident about the good hands the [Thunder] is in,” says NBA commissioner David Stern, “because they’re in Clay’s hands and in the hands of his investor group.”

The NBA may be happy about the team’s move to Oklahoma, but no one is as thrilled as Oklahomans. The NBA is considered the largest global sports brand. “An NBA franchise is an obvious economic boom, but just as important is what it does for the momentum and morale of Oklahoma,” says Governor Brad Henry.

“What I like most about this article and accompanying photos is its thorough review of the Thunder relocation, but also its insights into Clay’s unwavering commitment to his hometown, state, and especially his family,” says Hardy Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. “It’s a real portrait.”

Oklahoma Today publisher Joan Henderson says, “The year 2008 was an eventful year in Oklahoma, but nothing seemed as potentially transformative as the birth of the Thunder franchise in Oklahoma City.”

“Clay Bennett had the resourcefulness, tenacity, and acumen to make that dream a reality,” says Governor Henry.

The last quote in that story is what just kills me. That, "Clay Bennett had the resourcefulness, tenacity, and acumen to make that dream a reality."

Seriously?!?! You have got to be kidding me!

The only resourcefulness he used was his money to buy a team and then move it. His tenacity was only the fact that he made the Pacific Northwest despise his very name. (I had to write this blog because Brandon smashed his laptop in a fit of rage upon reading the headline in the magazine). So yes, it does take guts to tick off a whole region of the nation. And acumen? Seriously, smart do you have to be to "predict" that something a city has never had, will be successful?

Wait, I'm gonna do it right now. I'm thinking that the Sounders FC will be a huge hit in Seattle. Why? Because it's something new and exciting. DUH!

So you may think this is just another angry rant about Bennett, and that is fine. But the truth is, how could someone who lied repeatedly be honored?

You know it's a bad year, when a state gives their highest honor to a guy like Clay Bennett.

What's next? Drew Rosenhaus being named "Agent of the Year"?

Oh well. I'll just put on some Journey. Close my eyes. And hope 2009 is better.

Epic Video: Defrosting your car

Well, it is snowing like mad across Washington. And in honor of the event. Here is a great wintertime video.

And baseball has a steroid problem

I love how Major League Baseball has image problems because of performance enhancing drugs, and the NBA is apparently a thug league, while NFL players get to do this...

Petition claiming plaintiff was assaulted by defendants Davis and Bennett, who play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while a patron at defendant IHOP. Specifically, Davis became drunk and belligerent, addressed two female patrons as "sluts" and "whores," and yelled "where's my m*****f****** food?" Defendant Bennett then appeared in the parking lot and brandished a handgun to plaintiff and asked "is there a problem?"

Apparently they didn't like the pancakes.

Here the full story from Deadspin, this is one of those instances where you're like "really, an IHOP? What can happen next? Pacman Jones shoplifting the latest copy of Madden from GameStop."

I don't know why this isn't a bigger issue, but NFL players have the biggest problem with violence, by far. However, since we're obsessed with professional football, we like to look the other way.

On the bright side though, nobody shot themselves in the leg.

Winter Driving 101

The Pacific Northwest is getting just pelted with furious snow storms, which has made the roads a winter wonderland of slippery doom. Spokane currently reminds me of a bad snow level on Mario Kart, complete with the power ups.

Yeah Spokies leave a lot of crap on the road.

What Seattle Drivers think about snow -- "Slowing down? I need my latte! A whole inch out there? Hmmm I may just stay inside and weather this blizzard. This is definitely the storm of the century. What's that? It's melted already?"

What Portland Drivers think about snow -- "Great... yeah this snow will really slow down in rush hour when I'm already sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, this is really gonna change things. Got to love left hand exits"

What Spokane Drivers think -- "Ho hum, I'm hungry, lets go to Denny's"

What Seattle Drivers who live in Spokane think about snow -- "THE END OF THE WORLD IS COMING!! KEEP YOUR CHILDREN IN DOORS. THIS IS THE END OF TIME!!! REPENT ALL YOUR SINS!!!"

What California Drivers think -- "What is this white stuff? Does this mean I should slow down, nope, probably not, why am I sliding, I'm still sliding, that car in front of me is getting awfully close. Wow, I'm still sliding. Yep, I wrecked."

What Idaho Drivers think -- "How bout this nice weather huh?"

What Montana Drivers think -- "I don't have a car, but these two horses should get me where I'm going."

What Canada Drivers think -- "Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey BEER Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey"

What New England Drivers think -- "I don't know what those pusses in Philadelphia were thinking about when they had to call a rain delay in the World Series. WOOOOAAAAH! A little rain never hurt anyone. I think I'll just stay in my favorite Pub, watch the Celtics and stumble home drunk."

December 16, 2008

JustSoN Question: Christmas Trees

Real Christmas Trees offer the smell of the woods for the whole season.

Artificial Christmas Trees are less maintenance, and aren't a threat to burn down.

Today's JustSoN question of the day is: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas Tree? And why did you go that way?

No snow, big problems

About the only thing worse than being a big wig in the auto industry, or a mucky mucky at a bank, right now, would to be a ski resort owner.

The season is just now getting started at many resorts, which is pretty late. This Arctic blast from our Canadians friends up north is helping the resorts with snow, but then this happens:

Gondola tower collapses at Whistler, B.C. resort

Yeah, just what they need. Thankfully no one was injured. But with an already late season, predicted less people (cause the prices will keep them away this season) and most likely a shorter season, this is the last thing the resort needed.

But heck, Snoqualmie hasn't even opened yet. They only have 12 inches of base layer. Which basically means rocks and bushes. Not looking good.

If any thing though, I'm sure they could ask for a government bailout.

You know it's a bad economy when...

Since it's a wonderful, chilly morning in Spokane, I've decided you write up a cheery article about that little thing we like to call the "economy" which has apparently decided to go to Weight Watchers here recently.

You know it's a bad economy when...

1. The local newspaper publishes an article that talks about the good old times during "The Great Depression". What a wonderful pick-me-up!

2. Debbie Downer is a motivational speaker.

3. Wall Street brokers are now shopping at Walmart.

4. Auto Makers are now thinking that making gas-guzzling vehicles that nobody wants might be a bad idea. A clue, Sherlock!

5. Immigrants are saying "You know what? I think I'm actually good here."

6. David Letterman's Top Ten List has been trimmed down to eight because of budget concerns.

7. Monday Night Football is just Monday Night now. However, happy hour at bars still remain during the game.

8. CEO's have to cancel that space tourist trip they were planning.

9. Monster Trucks have been scaled down to "Pretty Big Trucks."

10. NASCAR is now racing with hybrids.

Any other suggestions?

December 15, 2008

One chapter closes, but another will open

I just stumbled upon this article in the Spokesman Review from November 30, 2008 by Rich Landers.

McManus humor era ending at Outdoor Life

Economy terminates Spokane author's 40 years of 'Exit Laughing'

Humor is the latest victim in economic tsunami that's sinking many outdoor industry markets.

Patrick F. McManus, Outdoor Life's iconic back page humor writer, says the magazine has terminated his contract for budget reasons.

The Spokane writer has written the "Exit Laughing" column for 28 years in Outdoor Life and for 12 years before that in Field & Stream — the nation's top two hunting and fishing magazines.

Asked if there was anything special or inspiring about writing for those outdoor giants for so many years, McManus deadpanned, "They paid me a lot of money — which I will miss."

Being among the most highly paid contributors apparently factored into the editor's decision to terminate McManus, a top name in outdoor humor across the country. The top-selling writer has more than two million of his 18 books in print.

"The magazines are just running out of cash," he said last week. "We parted on good terms."

He said his last Exit Laughing column for Outdoor Life is already written and will be published in April.

"I'm 75, and it feels kind of good to wake up in the morning and not have a deadline," he said.

That doesn't mean he's retiring.

The former Eastern Washington University writing instructor has just finished his third mystery novel, due to be published in 2009 by Simon & Schuster. "It's called 'The Double-Jack Murders,'" he said. "A double-jack is a two-man drilling operation from the old mining days. It's where the dumb guy holds the drill while the other guy hits it with a sledge hammer."

He plans to write for other publications, and he's started an autobiography as well as a new one-man comedy stage play, adding to the repertoire local actor Tim Behrens has performed across the country.

But maybe the days are numbered for new adventures featuring McManus characters Rancid Crabtree and Crazy Eddie Muldoon and the ripe humor always in stock at Grogan's War Surplus.

"My first magazine story was published in Sports Illustrated in 1968, and a couple of months later I sold my first humor piece to Field & Stream," he said, noting that the contrast was a revelation.

"I worked two or three months on the SI story, but I wrote the humor story for Field & Stream in something like an hour or two, just off the top of my head, with no research, no facts to check, no photographs required. I wisely realized this is the way to go."

At the peak of publishing collections of his outdoor magazine stories in books, McManus spent 100 nights one year in hotel rooms traveling across the country for readings.

"That was before the airlines deteriorated," he said. "I don't think I could do that again."

The outdoors has been the most fertile ground for McManus-style humor.

"I grew up in Idaho where hunting, fishing, hiking and camping were central to my life," he said, noting that insight is like a scalpel for reaching a person's funny bone.

"I came to have this pretty deep understanding of what motivates outdoors people — and what scares the hell out of them.

"I remember getting a letter from a little kid who said he was thinking about sleeping out in his back yard and he asked if I had any advice —of course I did."

McManus found laughing matter in the ageless angle of the outdoorsman's quest for freedom and self-sufficiency.

"All outdoorsmen can relate to their first camping trip," he said. "There's so much anticipation and excitement and then, 'Oh, how could I be so stupid as to forget that it gets dark at night?'

"There might be a lot of things about life I don't understand, but I understood that."

Now for those of you readers who don't know, I grew up reading Patrick McManus. And my dad reading McManus to me before that. Many good campout days were ended sitting around the campfire listening to McManus' stories.

He actually is the reason I wanted to pursue outdoor humor writing. I went to Eastern Washington University to be a Physical Therapist, and left with a degree in Journalism. Sure I can write other stuff, but humor is what I really love.

And although I have been busy, and my writing at the moment doesn't extend past this blog, I will drop a hint at some big things happening in the future. For those readers of The Easterner, perhaps a new edition of, The Great Outdoors.

And so Mr. McManus, I greatly await your next book, as well as your biography. I already own 12 of your 18 books. Although I have read them all. Thank goodness for public libraries.

JustSoN Question: Type of Car

All year, the talk, the reports, the news stories, have been about fuel. Mainly, more fuel efficient vehicles. Then it snows and gets cold in Washington. And now, all the SUV's are back out. And in even greater numbers. So much for gas consumption. Or wait, maybe it's because gas has gone done in price. Hmmm.....

The JustSoN question of the day is: What type of car do you drive and why?

X-men Origins: Wolverine

I love superhero movies. I'll admit it.

Everything about them. From the most defiant villains, to the terrible sidekick, to the bad outfits, to the superpowers. Yep, I love 'em.

I watch them all the time too. I don't pay for many movies. But a superhero movie, I'm first in line. Often donning a cap and tights.

Well, it's that time of year again. Time for me to get giddy.

And no, not just for Christmas.

The trailer for X-men Origins: Wolverine was released. And man, does it ever look awesome. (if you're into superhero movies)

Hugh Jackman (fresh back from Australia) is back as Wolverine. The movie takes place before the first three X-men movies.

It looks great. But don't take my word for it, view it for yourself.

The cast looks pretty good too. View it here at IMDB.

Oh, and Gambit is in it! Sweet deal!