This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Something Called Texas Hold Them

My winning ways continued last night when I beat 7 other people at the game called Texas Hold 'Em at a party thrown by my wife's school board. Earlier in the week, I had won $150 in a drawing. I really don't feel like explaining what sort of drawing it was, but I will say that my name was in a hat, and it was pulled out, and now I'm getting a check in the mail. Combine that money with the $40 gift certificate for Picasso's Pizza I won last night at the poker game, and I've won a grand total of $190. Not too shabby. (For IRS purposes, I disavow this paragraph.)

Oh, and for the uninitiated, Texas Hold 'Em is a type of poker game where you get two cards and you try to make the best poker hand out of those two cards and the 5 cards the dealer put on the table. I'll spare you the breathless blow-by-blow account of my win, a la:

"My heart pounded like a jackhammer as the dealer laid the card down. This was for all the chips. I felt like Maverick in that bad movie, "Maverick." I needed a 5, any 5, to get a straight. No risk, no reward, right? I could have sworn the dealer winked at me as the card revealed itself to be my 5 -- the five of diamonds. They say diamonds are a girl's best friend, but any girl who talks to diamonds should be committed. And anyway, I won that hand and grabbed all the chips, and slowly gave the finger to the losers that were gathered in a circle around me. They all hung their heads in a mixture of shame and respect. At that moment, I was a poker god. Their poker god."

No one wants that. I will tell you that my strategy was a strange mixture of not bluffing and getting really lucky. I played it pretty straight, having no real idea of what I was doing. My personal belief is that Texas Hold 'Em is like 90% luck, and I could have just as easily crashed and burned. I can't imagine watching this game on TV, unless the participants were really hot chicks and making dumb mistakes all the time.

Speaking of dumb mistakes, it is T-minus two days until the season premiere of My Super Sweet Sixteen on MTV. I'm honestly wondering if it's an idea that's still viable, or if it's played out. I mean, how can they possibly find someone more spoiled than Ava? If they do, how can we be sure it's not all an act just to get on MTV? The more I think about it, the more I'm fearing its potential suckiness. Plus, are the parties really going to be any different or better than last year? If you've seen one $250,000 party with a crawl room and a tennis court and steak, you've seen them all. I'm sure it will be ridiculous, though, and totally recappable.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Two! Two! Two Posts in One!

(because blogging as an art form is in its infancy, people aren't really sure what to do with it. This post is an experiment, born of the innovative spirit of both Howard Hughes and Brett Favre. I'll be switching quickly back-and-forth between two different subjects, and I'm sorry if that beats you down. On the plus side, you could be seeing the first post in what could be a blogging revolution.)

Sometimes you just need to do two things at once. Last night, I flipped back and forth between the Packers' exhibition game on ESPN and my DVD of The Aviator, which had been burning a hole in my Netflix queue for a week. I don't know if you know this, but I make a point of seeing all the Oscar-nominated films of the previous year just to confirm that the Oscars are a joke. The Aviator was nominated for Best Picture and Cate Blanchett actually won for her riveting (literally -- see below) portrayal of 30's movie star and 70's old lady, Kate Hepburn. So by contract I had to see it, even if it did star Leonardo DiCraprio.

I never get to watch the Packers, since I live in Dallas. We have our own NFL team here, and I am forced to watch them every week. So when I get the chance to watch the Packers play, even if its only a meaningless preseason game, I take it. I have so many questions about the Packers that I need answered: How will they replace their two guards? Brett Favre is thinner -- is he better? Does Ahman Green still fumble all the time? Can the secondary cover anybody? Will they miss Bubba Franks? Will Javon Walker purposefully drop balls just to make a point about his contract? Do they still do the Lambeau Leap?

This game was going to be the opening paragraph to the long, long answers.

Let's get one thing straight right now: DiCraprio is not a good actor. He's a pretty boy who plays "insane" very well. He's got "insane" down. In that way, he's like a cleaner and less menacing Brad Pitt, who was already pretty clean and cuddly to begin with. In this movie, he's playing an eccentric billionaire from recent history (Hughes died in 1976), and he's good in those scenes that require him to act nuts. The rest of the time, he's missing some qualities that you'd expect a multi-billionaire to have -- for lack of a better word, he's a lightweight in a role that requires a heavyweight. It's not that he's a bad actor, it's just that he's not the right actor. Happens every day in Hollywood, babe. Don't worry, it doesn't hurt the film that much.

Brett Favre -- 9 for 10, with one touchdown that took advantage of the fact that the cornerback wasn't looking. I know we shouldn't read much into the first exhibition game, but Favre looked good. Really good. Maybe not "make up for a terrible defense and the loss of two offensive guards" good, but really good nonetheless. A lot was made out of his statement that he wasn't going to "mentor" the Packers' young QB Aaron Rogers. Now the thing you gotta love about Favre is he's honest. He probably doesn't like all this talk about his replacement, either. Would you be gung-ho about training your replacement, even if you were a legend? I just think he was being too honest, and it made him sound like a tool.

Martin Scorsese probably hasn't made a good film since Casino (I say probably because I never saw Kundun -- but then again neither did anyone else.), and hasn't made a great film since Raging Bull, but he keeps getting nominated for Oscars. He should try an experiment -- take the script from Gigli, change it around just enough to make it unrecognizable but keep its incompetent spirit intact, make a movie out of it, and see if the Academy nominates it for Best Picture. I mean, this Aviator movie isn't bad, but it's got a lot of problems. And not little problems, either. He's got the lightweight in a heavy lead role, a bunch of henchmen and girlfriends who drift in and out of the movie with no seeming rhyme or reason except to put the actor's name in the credits (Ian Holm, Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, Willem Dafoe, etc.), and there's no real development in any of the characters at all. Wonder why Scorsese hasn't won a Best Picture? He hasn't directed one. Plus, God hates him after Last Temptation of Christ.

There's not much optimism in Packer-land these days, at least among the fans. They hope that new GM Ted Thompson can undo much of the damage that the previous GM (and current Head Coach) did by hiring a madman as a defensive coordinator and drafting a bunch of mushheads. It won't be an easy job, and Packer fans don't know what to expect this year. We want assurances that the team won't ever give up 35 points in a half or lose to the Bears at Lambeau again. Those assurances will take a long time to believe. Last year* did something to the Packer fan, man -- it made them see the good play as the illusion and the losses as the truth, not the other way around. For a long time, fans viewed the Packers as contenders every year. Now, they are a bunch of inept suckas until proven otherwise.

Anyone who's old enough to remember Kathryn Hepburn's shaky-voiced machine-gun style of acting should appreciate what Blanchett does in The Aviator. Now, it's annoying, and it grinds the film to a halt, but she does a winning impression. She won Best Supporting Actress for this, btw. This has to be the first time in history an actress won an Oscar for a role that's totally unnecessary to the plot. Really, did Hepburn have to be in this movie? Hughes' first wife wasn't mentioned -- why did they have concentrate so much on one of his many 30's starlet girlfriends? The movie pretty much stuck with 3 chicks -- Hepburn, some teenage girl named Faith who Hughes hires to hang around with him, and Eva Gardner. It's like they put the names of the women Hughes was attached to into a hat and pulled just three out, because they couldn't fit any more in the movie. I suppose that's an unfair criticism, but Scorsese opens himself up to it by including virutally no romantic development between these girls and Hughes. It's like, one day they're just in his life, with a bunch of emotional attachment to him that we never get to see the reason for. For example, when Faith rams her car out of jealousy into a car holding Hughes and Gardner, I was like, "Is that Faith? But she's like a hired escort! Why does she care so much about this?" The questions of Hughes' romantic life are never answered, and in fact just sidetrack the movie from the main plot, which is his fight with Pan-Am airlines during WW II. Scorsese should have just hired look-alikes for these actresses to just stand in the background and not talk. Especially Hepburn, who talks like a howitzer. Dut-dut-dut-dut-dut-dut! I'm surprised they had any scenery left, after all her chewing.

This movie needed less Hepburn and more Gardner. Whumpsch!

The person every Packer fan wanted to see was Aaron Rogers, the first real Heir Apparent to Favre the Packers have had. With Brett threatening retirement every year and no viable backup in place, they had to get him. The new GM made the right decision, at least in theory. Rogers didn't do anything that screams "He sucks" (like Tim Couch did last year), so I guess the night was a qualified success. He still holds the ball very high, and it still looks weird. This makes us Packer fans nervous.

And I'd like to thank Ahman Green for answering at least one of my above questions by fumbling. Get him off the team, please, I'm begging you. He's a time bomb just waiting to go off at any moment to kill a drive. He's a great runner, but no. No longer. Unfortunately, the Packers disagree with me.

I'm not saying The Aviator is a bad movie at all -- it's an interesting portrayal of an interesting period in a tremendously interesting person's life. The 40's political intrigue story is great, and the movie does a good job setting everything up clearly for the climax, when Hughes returns from a nervous breakdown and butt-kickingly testifies before the US Senate. Also, Scorsese is still a great director, and he portrays the things that make Hughes insane (germs, flash bulbs, people) with style and clarity. This is a good movie, but has the problems I mentioned before plus the problem of its 2:50 length, so it's not a great movie.

Side note: In the film, Hughes is driven insane by his hot mother washing him in the bathtub and making him spell "quarantine." She does this because Houston is a disease-ridden sewer of a town. His insanity consists of: an irrational fear of germs and unwashed surfaces, hatred of bright lights and people, paranoia, deafness, blinking, repeating phrases over and over, and thinking Kate Hepburn is attractive.

So at halftime Terrell Owens and his agent Drew "The Walking Holdout Machine" Rosenhaus are interviewed by the very friendly Chris Berman. They proceed to lay out their crazy case** before the football-watching public: In last year's Super Bowl, Owens signed a waiver that essentially said he was too injured to play but was going to play anyway to help the team, and that if he got more injured, he himself was responsible, and if the Eagles got rid of him, he wouldn't be paid injury insurance. At least that's what Owens was saying. What is boils down to is Owens took a personal financial risk to help the team, and now has a messiah complex. Only this messiah doesn't want to save you from your sins, he just wants more money. The Eagles kicked him out, after he did nothing wrong -- he only told Andy Reid to shut up after Reid told him to shut up. Owens explained that since Reid didn't birth him, he didn't have the right to tell him that. Owens said that he would do his professional duty by practicing with the team, but wouldn't talk to anyone outside of practice because he's "unhappy." Rosenhaus kept asking Chris Berman if it was fair that Owens wouldn't be one of the ten highest-paid receivers in the league, which Berman didn't know how to respond to because it's the type of dishonest question a telemarketer would ask.

I'm not going to comment on Owens anymore because it's not important, but I will say that he knows he's doing something wrong, and is going to great pains to justify it to himself and everybody else. He feels guilty, and is trying with all his might to convince himself that he isn't feeling guilty. You could see it in his eyes. Drew Rosenhaus is helping him do this in order to win more money for his agency, and Terrell would be smart to remember the 8th rule of sports contract negotiations:
Protracted contract negotiations always hurt the team and the player, but always help the player's agent. If your agent ever suggests a holdout to you, fire him immediately.

In conclusion, The Aviator gets 3 out of 5 overpriced popcorns, and one "I can't believe they nominated this over Eternal Sunshine" award.

The Pack is back. They won 10-7. It's exhibition, don't get excited.

*Specifically, the 2nd-5th weeks of the regular season, in which the Packers had 4 of the 8 worst weeks of the Favre era, and had them in succession. They lost to the worst team in football (the hated Bears), then followed that up with a blowout loss to Indianapolis in which they gave up 35 points in the first half, then followed that up with a offensively woeful 14-7 loss to the sucky NY Giants, then got lit up for another 35-point half in a loss to Tennessee. Four horrible, hope-crushing losses, and three of them were in Lambeau. Packer fans haven't viewed the team the same way since.

**Some back story may be in order -- Owens was kicked out of Philadelphia Eagles' training camp after he and Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid got in an argument. Owens has been vocally upset about his contract, and has refused to talk to any of his teammates or coaches until the contract issue gets resolved. What a putz.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Yay Police

This just in: An episode of "Cops" broke out right outside my window at approx. 5:40am this morning, as Police shone a bright light at a dude and told him rather forcefully to get his "hands on the wall." I am assuming he did, because we didn't hear any gunshots. One witness reportedly heard a man say, "you weren't trying to get in there, were you?"

In the spirit of building bridges I now say thank you, Richardson Police. You did something useful, saving me from a possible "waking up all scared with my death alarm going off. " This is on top of the fact that you haven't stopped me for a stupid traffic violation in 6 months. Since you have done this for me, I now vow to stop saying that you've declared war against the community. See how easy it is to be nice? All you've got to do is catch criminals.

It felt like we were at our old apartment, the one in Dallas with the fires and the painted-over roaches and the fights outside our window. Except the Dallas police would have never shown up unless there were gunshots involved, and even then...let's just say we're never moving back to Dallas proper and leave it at that, Ok? The Richardson police are a bit overzealous, but they seem to take crime personally, which is essential.

Thank you, cops in that SUV that caught that guy. But next time, I want to hear a tazer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Proper News Coverage.

Ok, that last post doesn't really count as "full news coverage." We need some more...

Sometimes news is so muddled that you don't know what to believe, or why. Take all the news about Iran resuming its insane nuclear program. Are they threatening? Are they trying to build bombs? Are they trying to power their cities more effectively? What does "enrichment" have to do with it? Stone Phillips needs to do an hour-long special on this so I know what's going on. In the meantime, here's a muddled international news article. Maybe you can get more out of it than I can.

Let's say you're on the Michael Jackson jury and you want to decide the best course of action. If you get creative, you can vote to acquit under pressure from the other jurors (so you get home faster), then write a book detailing your deep regret over the decision. That way you win on every front, and the crazy Michael Jackson lady gets to tearfully release her poor abused doves of injustice. The link is to a disturbing MTV News article, which names Paul Rodriguez as the jury foreman who threatened to throw the two old jurors off the jury if they didn't vote to acquit. If the two would have let him, they could have written a book that really matters. Also, Paul Rodriguez is probably a common name, but could it be?

We're so desperate for another Bonnie and Clyde we're making this couple into media stars. "Jenny and George" is what we'll call them on Court TV for the next decade.
And I've got a question for you -- How do you know your life is wheels-off? You're shooting at some prison guards to help your husband escape from jail.

A word of advice: When you're carjacking somebody, makes sure that person isn't a Grammy-winning recording artist. Marc Cohn, who is most remembered for his "Walking in Memphis" claptrap and most hated for his other tune I can't remember the name of* that people play at weddings, was carjacked and shot in the head. His evil assailant is now in custody because Marc Cohn is important, or at least important enough for the police to chase down somebody who shoots him. The guy who did it was probably distraught over people calling him "Bactine," and turned to a life of crime.

Jill, I think it's time to stay out of the sun.

Ah, high school kids. You need to keep your eye on them every second, or they'll pull one over one you. Check out this article, it's pretty funny.

As Technotronic would say, that's where my love ended. If you need more news, listen to stinking Paul Harvey.

* "True Companion" is the name of the song. My wife loves it, but it's super gay. Cohn is married to noted newsbabe Elisabeth Vargas, and you just know he played that song to extort love from her.

Curse You, Shyam Das.

First of all, get a real name. This isn't a George Lucas movie and you are not living on Corissant. Actually, you being an alien would explain a lot. You looked at the fact that MLB Baseball Thug Kenny "I Hate Cameras" Rogers put a cameraman in the hospital, and thought, "Let's throw this guy's suspension out on a technicality and let him claim his fine as a charitable donation. It's the least we can do, really." This makes you an enemy of baseball, America, and all hardworking people everywhere. I hope the fact that you've helped ruin baseball for the children keeps you up at night. But it probably won't because you're a lawyer, and you're probably sleeping on the big pile of money that Don Fehr gave you.

But hey, the owners agreed to this collective bargaining agreement. They put Star Wars characters in a place of power, and now they can't even properly suspend a player who beat up a cameraman. When will baseball learn from basketball, football, and now hockey? It doesn't matter how long it takes -- you must break the union's spirit and bring sanity and balance back to the game. I want to see a 2-year lockout with the players fracturing, breaking ranks, and eventually firing Don Fehr and his ilk. Then you can have people like Shyam Das deported to the planets from which they came.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Papa, I Thought You Were My Friend

You know, I bet he thought I wouldn't notice. That's the sad thing. Pathetic, really. Doesn't he know that I'm not your average delivery drone? Anyway, Papa did two things recently that have combined to create one spectacularly bad situation. First, he joined his rivals Pizza Hut and Dominos and instituted a $1 delivery charge. Ok, I understand, you want to keep up with the scumses. Plus, that's a whole extra dollar for every delivery we make, right? That could be up to $100 per store per day. Papa could no longer afford to pass that moolah up. However, for the delivery driver, this causes many problems, both short-term and long-term:
  1. Obviously, many people will assume that the $1 delivery charge is going to the driver, since he is the one who is expending the gas. This is not the case. The dollar goes directly into the pants pocket of Mr. John. Papa threw us drivers the bone of an extra 15 cents a delivery, which it's about time but that percentage doesn't even match the percentage increase in gas prices the last couple of years. People on deliveries have asked me if I get that dollar, and I say no. They act surprised. It makes one wonder how many people just aren't bothering to ask.
  2. Many people, when confronted with a new charge like this, will simply not order. This means less deliveries for me, and therefore less money. Way to make your margin grow while my tips shrink, Papa. I thought we were a team.
  3. Most importantly, the ratio of carryout to delivery has grown significantly since the delivery charge came into effect. This also affects the number of deliveries I get. The worst part is the instructions they give the phone people -- they are told to tell the customer that the reason for the delivery charge is to "keep our prices as low as they are." So, let me get this straight -- You're raising prices so you won't have to raise prices? That's what you're saying here, isn't it. How stupid do you think the customers are? Well, they aren't stupid, and can read between lines pretty well. What you're actually telling them is that "We are raising prices of deliveries so we can keep the cost of carryouts low." Is it any wonder that last night at one point we had 6 carryouts and 1 delivery?
Like I said, the saddest part is that he thought we wouldn't notice that we were making half as much money. What an arrogant little Papa. But that's not the worst of it -- he then does the second evil thing, which is to come up with a bunch of specials that nobody wants, and then hit people with a carryout-only special that's actually a good deal. What an evil, evil man. What's the point of having a delivery charge if you're going to go to absurd lengths to entice people to get carryouts? It's like the guy just has this vendetta right now against us drivers. Papa, I thought you loved us. I thought you liked delivery orders. Now it turns out you really only like carryout orders, and only tolerate deliveries because you have to. Where does that leave over half your workforce? Again, I thought we were a team!

From this point on, Papa, I resolve to go on an undelcared war against you until this carryout terrorism stops. The Delivery Liberation Front is in the house. I don't really know what that means yet, but you can be sure there's going to be a lot more standing around trying to look busy and a lot less folding boxes up in here. Maybe after you get a load of this you'll come back to the team and start acting like a Papa again. If not, I may have to tell people what's really in the Spicy Italian pizza.

My Dog is on the Juice

So my wife looks at the dog yesterday morning and sees a problem -- her little face is all puffy, like twice its normal size. It's funny, but also scary, so she takes the dog into the Vet. The Vet tells her the poor thing must have gotten bit by something in the yard and had an allergic reaction. They hooked her up to a doggie I.V. and prescribed her some antibiotics and some steroids. For those of you keeping count, this makes three dog prescriptions in two weeks, with two Vet visits totalling $230. Anyone want to buy a dog? With her puffy face, she looks extra cute these days. Plus, she can totally hit a fastball now. It's amazing.

Did you know you can get a whole bottle of dog steroids for only $13? Don't tell the Major League Baseball Player's Union, or we'll have a whole generation of ballplayers licking their privates and scratching themselves with their hind legs. Wait -- that could make baseball fun again! Go ahead and tell them.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Pictures From II and III

Top: The 10lb death pillow
Middle: A buzzard circles overhead (that blotch in the middle is the buzzard)
bottom: Needs no description.

This is the Kind of Thing That Happens Here, Part III.

This is the Kind of Thing That Happens Here, Part III


The “Hay-Ride-With-No-Hay” notwithstanding, everyone was quite subdued and chill on that Saturday night. The reason for that was 100% the fact that people still felt queasy from all the drinking they did the night before. I was not dealing with beer-pounding alcoholics here – these were people who had reached their limits, or at least were stopping before they did. I really appreciated that, even though some people may not have had as much “fun” as the previous night. The games of horseshoes were poorly and lethargically played, the alcohol was consumed slowly and deliberately, and most of the time people were just sitting in an oval of chairs on the front lawn. This, of course, led to a story, as told by me, and made up completely on the spot. It was a grave disappointment, and its failure was the lowlight of the weekend for me. And yes, I’m fishing for compliments here.

There were several reasons why the story didn’t work. I had a hard time telling whether people were interested, and at one point someone faked moving the conversation on, which kind of shot the wheels off the whole thing. Stories are built upon momentum and flashes of brilliance, and this story had neither. Normally I can get momentum back pretty easily by turning the distraction into a valuable life lesson or pointing out its absurdity. This time, it just didn’t get back on the tracks. Oh, I think most people were listening, but when the hotly-anticipated arrival of crazy cousin Anna happened (in a pickup truck, of course) I felt like it was time to wrap things up. I probably lost confidence in the story because of the many distractions and the fact that I was tired, and my stories are always far more effective when I’m alert and my mind is popping. So I’m sorry, East Texas – I’ll do better next time.

Yet another crazy cousin, Andrew, arrived with Aaron and a young-looking friend named Josh. They stated their intent to go shoot some snakes, and they left for a while. We novices quickly found out the “shoot some snakes” meant exactly what you’d think it meant, as shots rang out in the direction of the lake. Every time they did, I felt like taking cover. I’m such a suburban boy. They came back with 3 snakes, roughly 3 feet in length each. If Andrew would have been walking out of a limo, the scene would have looked exactly like that one Simpsons episode (“Whacking Day” – Prod. Code 9F18. And yes, I am that nerdy) where Mayor Quimby gets out of his car and lifts up 12 pre-killed snakes to impress his constituents. It looked just like that, with the snakes hanging down like giant beige licorice whips with eyes. Two of the snakes were “probably dead”, and the other one was curling up and trying to bite Andrew. He was making jerky arm movements to ensure that the biting didn’t happen, and warned people not to try to pet that particular snake. Again, we weren’t total hicks.

At some point Clay, Anna, and Juli left on a boat to get close to some alligators. No, they were not drunk. They apparently managed to get super close, then weren’t exactly sure what to do next. I repeat, they were not drunk. This is the kind of thing that happens here.

Josh (the little friend of Andrew) turned out to be 23 or so, a college graduate, and a serious Bushian Republican. He sells credit card deals to businesses that take credit cards, or at least that’s what I remember him saying. He goes to existing customers and sells them packages that save them money. Josh was young and full of confidence, as only a non-jaded Republican can be. Before I went to bed, Josh and a teacher friend of ours named Les got into a discussion on the Iraq War that I was literally sitting in the middle of. I would recount it for you, but what do you need to know? It was a political discussion about the Iraq War. I know some people love that sort of thing, but 5 minutes into it, I was ready for bed.


They busted out a tape of “Owl Sounds,” which amazingly caused some owls to show up and look creepily around like they do. How and why did we miss this? My friends, don’t ever go to bed early. Also, there was a bunch more political discussion, where at least one East Texan reportedly expressed the opinion that we should “Bomb Mecca.” This brings up an interesting point…

The next time you hear an opinion expressed in the “civilized” world about rural people being uneducated, stop and think for a moment. The emotion summed up by “Bomb Mecca if they bomb us again,” is merely a response to the indiscriminate hate being shown to something they love (i.e., America) by outsiders. Listen to Air America Radio during any 20-minute period and you’ll hear something equally as emotional and misguided from the opposite side of the American political spectrum. East Texas hatred toward the “Northerners” or “Yankees” or “Blue-Staters” is often misdirected and over-the-top, but if you were constantly being belittled and called stupid by equally stupid people, how would you react? When liberals roll their eyes at you for speaking your mind as if you couldn’t possibly know what you’re talking about, and then turn around and say that animals should have the same rights as humans or that war is always wrong, what are you supposed to do with that? Ignore it? Vent? Buy some guns and lock the doors both figuratively and literally and turn on some programming that echoes what you feel? Is there any wonder why East Texans don’t like CNN, and instead watch Fox News with O’Reilly and Hannity and the Lip Gloss Crew?

The closest “bigger” town to us at the lake house is none other than Jasper, TX. What do you think of when you think of Jasper? The three hicks who dragged that black guy to his death, right? The people out there must be a bunch of crazy racists, right? It’s easy and fun to categorize a whole region of people – it helps us make sense of the world. But I can tell you with certainty that the crazy cousins won’t be dragging anyone to their death anytime soon. I’m sorry if that blows up your worldview.

East Texans are, as you might imagine or have heard from news stories, almost uniformly Pro-Bush. Part of it is that he’s from Texas, but most of it is that they hate the government. When Republicans give lip service to their base, they are giving lip service to these people. They talk about lower taxes, small government, strong defense, traditional family values, and leaving people alone. These are all things the average East Texan strongly believes in. It’s not because they’re stupid or backwards – these are all good American values. They would rightly point out that if you hate these Republicans, you would also hate the founding fathers. These hicks are being marginalized, even though they have hundreds of years’ worth of history to back them up. Many of them may get caught up in emotion and take bad specific positions (like “Bomb Mecca”), but one has to admit that the goals behind them are valuable and legitimate, even if one doesn’t fully agree with all the particulars.

Ok, I realize that some people don’t agree that things like a strong defense, traditional families, and small government are valuable. These people are insane, and can never win, so let’s ignore them. This is still America, and if there’s one thing we do well it’s marginalize the weirdos.

And I do realize that there are many actual idiots out there in East Texas, just like anywhere else. You can tell who they are pretty easily – they’re the ones who want to pet the snakes.


The next morning we got up early (9am) and ran again, this time North on Hwy 92. We passed old people in a church parking lot getting out of their Buicks and Caddies and making the slow walk to Sunday Morning. We ran down a huge hill on the way out, and back up it on the way back. Man, that sun is hot when you’re running up a hill in East Texas with no shade. They should fix that. We stopped at walked for a bit, and this guy in a pickup stopped and asked us if we were broken down and needed help. Apparently the fitness craze of the late 80’s never quite made it here. We politely refused, and the confused man drove off. It’s a good thing we weren’t black, right? Just kidding.

We were about to leave this whole area of the world behind and go back to our much more urban and crime-filled existence when Kirby offered to show Jill how to shoot a gun. This is the kind of thing that happens here, but probably shouldn’t. We all trekked down to the beach and the crazy cousins set up a beer can for Jill to blast from 20 yards away. She took the gun and fired it with both hands, and busted some caps in the a__ of the sand directly in front of the can. It was without a doubt the scariest part of the weekend, albeit unreasonably so. I mean, what’s the worst that could have happened, short of her deciding that she’s had enough of this marriage and it’s time to become the star of her own real-life TV movie, entitled She’d Just Had Enough, and starring Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and Brad Lohaus. Thankfully, she resisted any and all urges to kill, and everyone escaped unscathed.

We said our goodbyes and got out of there – bug-bitten, relaxed, and (at least some of us) mad with the power that can only come from shooting a gun. We both really want to return next summer. Maybe we’ll bring the Jarts and have some real fun in the spirit of East Texas.