Monday, March 27, 2006

Zombie Rave

So for those of you NOT distracted by the discovery of Our Lady of the Underpass down there by Harold's-Under-the-Bulldozer, you might have noticed the story in the news about the kid in Seattle who went mental and killed 6 other kids and then himself.

You might have ALSO read that the kids were all at an afterhours gathering after they had all attended some rave in Seattle.

This makes me have to talk.

For adults, "rave" is a dirty word. It brings to mind Dateline-esque horror stories about the abuses of Ecstasy and having your kids stay out 'til the wee hours of the morning doing all kinds of nasty stuff. And see, now, thanks to the Seattle story, we now have the added stigma that People Who Go To Raves Can Get Shot.

For kids, "rave" is a played-out word. Real raves died ages ago. The fad is dead. Nobody throws illegal all-night dance parties any more, and if they DID, hardly anybody would go. What's left is sort of a commercialized version of the classic "rave," usually held at clubs or concert venues with appropriate licensing. Often with paid, uniformed security and sometimes even a police presence. The only time you hear the word "rave" associated with one of these parties is if a promoter is (a) being corny, or (b) trying to capitalize on the rebellious stigma of a past phenomenon.

Why am I getting all riled up over raves? Because, prior to my cushy little job at the Dispatch/Argus, I spent 4 years of my life as a rave promoter in the Quad Cities area.

"But, but, BUT..." you're saying, "raves are baaaad, m'kay?"

No, they weren't. Still aren't (though there hasn't been a proper one in the Quad Cities in years.) If you think that raves are evil, bad places where evil, bad people hang out, you've seen one too many episodes of Dateline NBC.

If your kid has ever expressed any interest in rave culture, that means that your kid is into electronic dance music. You'll know it by the unending dance beats coming out of his or her bedrooms. It might be house, it might be techno, it might be trance, it might be breaks... and its pulsating rhythms may just keep you up all night routinely.

The problem is: If you're a kid into that kind of music... ESPECIALLY if you're in an area like we are, there's simply NOWHERE to go to enjoy it. You won't hear that kind of music at teen dances - it's just not sock hop material. You can't hear it on the radio (unless you've got Sirius.)

That's where rave culture comes in. At raves, DJ's spin electronic dance music all night long, from dusk til whenever the party ends. This is DJ culture -- DJ's fly into these parties from all over the world, and if it's your thing, big-name DJ's command the same kind of respect and fan worship that bands and movie stars get. (Think I'm kidding? We flew DJ's in from the east coast who spun records for the low, low fee of $1000 PER HOUR.)

At raves and like-minded gatherings, kids get together on the dance floor and just share their love for the music. Whether it's dancing like loons, hanging out in the corners, socializing, chatting, checking out the DJ... they're just there for the fun of it all.

The mentality of kids at raves is like nothing you've ever seen. Let me put it to you this way. In our day, we probably threw around 100 parties. Thousands and thousands of kids. AND NOT ONE FIGHT. IN 4 YEARS. That's a better average than ANY dance club or bar you might happen to frequent.

I've seen strangers become best friends at these parties. Race, religion, sex... it doesn't matter. Everyone's just ACCEPTED at these events. I work at a "proper" nightclub on the weekends now, playing the usual mix of Top 40/hip-hop. And I've seen people get RIDICULED in my club by others for looking different, dancing weird, what-have-you. At a rave, you could be THE WORST DANCER ON EARTH, and noone cares. It's just a melting pot for kids of all types whose ONLY common ground is their shared love for the music.

I WILL be a realist, though. Largely thanks to programs like 20/20, Dateline, etc., raves in the 90's became synonymous with drug abuse (primarily the "club drug" ecstasy.) Am I going to sit here and tell you that noone was on drugs at one of our parties? Of course not. I'm sure it happened from time to time, despite our diligent efforts to curb it (we frisked every kid who walked in the door, we confiscated any illicit substances we found, and we tossed anyone caught.)

But it wasn't prevalent. There was no peer pressure. No one ever offered me ecstasy in all my days. I've never even SEEN an ecstasy pill with my own eyes. The VAST majority of the kids at our parties were there for the music and the socializing and NOTHING else.

You're just going to have to trust me on that one. Just like you should trust your kids not to be stupid. I'd love to show you guys videos from our parties - you'll see that it's just a bunch of fun. Nothing sinister and nothing illegal. Nothing you wouldn't lose respect for your kids over.

The reason I decided to rant tonight? Because I can already imagine the producers of Dateline and 20/20, sitting around SALIVATING over the prospect of another "raves are evil" piece. Back when we were throwing events, those stories would run and cause us to roll our eyes.

If anything, the slanted news reports INCREASED our crowds, because, let's face it, kids want to go somewhere dangerous and cool. And when a concerned parent would show up? We'd welcome them inside so they can see "the dangers of raves" for themselves... not once did we get a negative comment.

At the VERY worst, your kids might have ringing in the ears the next day -- the music is LOUD, I won't kid ya there -- but that's honestly the worst of it.

So parents of the Quad Cities, don't flip out over this idiot in Seattle. The kid was toting around a truck full 'o guns -- the victims could have been in a McDonalds, wandering down the street, or doing homework in a library. They were just tragic victims of a crazy killer, and he just happened to pick a rave afterhours to go horribly insane.

If your kids are into club music, let them be. It's harmless and fun to dance to. Just be a good parent and make sure they're not hanging out with stupid kids doing stupid stuff... and they'll be just fine.

End Rant.


Do you guys doodle? You know, when you're thinking about something or talking on the phone, and suddenly you look down and realize that you've just absent-mindedly drawn a little spaceship and two aliens strutting around the margins of your notebook page, as though they're about to claim your piece of paper in the name of Betelgeuse? If so, what do YOU draw? Little aliens? Random shapes and designs? Epic pen-and-ink historical reenactments?

I occasionally worry about myself -- and one of the principal reasons is my doodles. I doodle all the time when I'm on the phone or preoccupied with portions of my brain switched to the "off" position. The problem is: I don't draw little pictures or little shapes. I SIGN MY NAME. Over and over and over again.

There's no way to make that come across well. I shudder to think what a coworker would make of me if they were to walk by my desk and see a page covered over and over again in my name. Surely I must be some sort of egomaniacal nutbag so in love with myself that I practice my own autograph for kicks.

Truth be told, I guess I just like the way the pen feels when I'm signing my name, skating from a swirling S to a harsh straight H and so on. The other day I looked down to find a page full of my signatures and once again it got me thinking about names.

I've said before in these pages: I like the name my parents gave me. It's unique, but not weird and unpronounceable. At least, I thought it was unique until I Googled myself and found out there's a whole lot of Shane Browns out there. One of them, in fact, recently released a Christian country album called "Thank You Lord." Just to spare the confusion, that's NOT me.

There's one thing that stinks about my name, though: it's highly uncooperative when it comes to nicknames. There's no way to shorten my name. James gets to be Jim. Robert gets to be Rob (or even Bob!) The best I could muster is "Ane," and I'll pass on that one, thanks.

I DJ on the weekends -- and I'm pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. Therefore, I should have some kind of equally cool DJ nickname. Usually these come in two varities: (1) name yourself after natural disasters (DJ Hurricane, DJ Typhoon, etc.), or (2) give yourself an edgy urban name (DJ Pimp Daddy, DJ MakeMoney, etc.) Well, natural disasters are pretty picked over unless I want to be DJ Mudslide (and I don't.) And the day I could pull off "DJ Pimp Daddy" would be the day Snoop Dogg releases an ode to Johnny Cash. It's not happening.

Therefore, I've just always been "DJ Shane Brown." This hasn't bugged me much. Some big-name DJ's go by their normal names. There's a popular trance DJ who just goes by John Digweed. Granted, it's likely not his real name as much as a guy named John who happens to dig, err, weed.

Back in the glory days of the internet, I used to hang out in a chat room full of fellow music geeks. One day, the founder of the chat room announced to the entire group that he had dreamt the previous night of meeting me in person, and that I weighed 300 lbs. and danced about with tacos in each hand. Within minutes, one of the regulars in the chat room called me "The Taco Lad." Sadly, it stuck. To this day, you can find me on IM under the handle "Tacolad." This is clearly an example of a Nickname Gone Wrong. Tragically, it may have happened again.

This weekend, I played with my usual team of friends at a charity trivia event. One of the questions asked was as follows: "The movie title 'October Sky' is an anagram of the title of the book it was based on. Name that book." I really suck at anagrams. Some people can see a bunch of jumbled up letters and instantly start turning them into words. These are probably the same people who do those Sudoku puzzles in the paper every day and have a completed Rubik's Cube somewhere in their homes. I, on the other hand, was born without the ability to process such puzzles.

Ergo, while my teammates figured out the anagram in record time ("Rocket Boys,") after ten minutes the best I could offer up was "Coot Skerby." No sooner had I shared it than my teammates started calling me "Coot." The next night, we had ANOTHER trivia event, and by the time I walked in, they had already registered me as Coot Skerby.

The more I think about, maybe Coot Skerby would make for a good nom-de-plume. I mean, noone's going to read The Great American Novel if it comes from Shane Brown, are they? I can see the About the Author now: "Shane Brown lives alone in Rock Island, IL. He, umm, watches a lot of TV."

But Coot Skerby? Coot's got some stories. You can't walk around with a name like Coot Skerby unless you've seen some action. Maybe you've even done some hard time. Coot might be an adventurer. Or he might be the sagely old guy who offers homespun wisdom. Or maybe he's just the backwards-baseball-cap wearing comic sidekick. Either way, he's far more interesting a guy than Shane Brown could ever be.

So maybe I'll take the Coot Skerby nickname in stride. Maybe one day you'll see him on the cover of a book. If nothing else, it gives me a new name to mindlessly sign over and over again. Then my coworkers won't think that I'm an egomaniac. They'll, errrr, just think I'm obsessed with a guy named Coot.

On second thought, maybe I'll just stick with Shane after all...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Be Ready for South Park

This week's South Park should make some SERIOUS waves. Wednesday night is the premiere of the show's 10th season, and it comes on the heels of some serious controversy. Following the show's HYSTERICAL attack on Scientology last season, Isaac Hayes (a devout Scientologist and the voice of South Park's Chef) quit the show. Last week, the Scientology episode was to rerun on Comedy Central, but was instead magically changed to an older episode instead. Word on the street is that Tom Cruise threw down the gauntlet and told Viacom that if they reran the episode, he'd pull all promotions for Mission: Impossible III. Now rumor has it that Matt & Trey have rush-produced the Season 10 debut in under a week, which means it's BOUND to have their response to the whole debacle in it. All we know for sure is that it features "the triumphant return of Chef!" But without Hayes' voice, apparantly.

I'm literally getting armhair tingles waiting for it. I've said it before, I'll say it again: Trey Parker & Matt Stone are the funniest, smartest two guys in television. Whether you can deal with the edginess of South Park or not, you have to respect Matt & Trey for their PERFECTLY timed social skewerings. This week's episode will make history, I'm thinkin'. Tune in Wednesday at 9.

Vote Early & Vote Often!

Don't forget, folks, it's Primary Election Day. The Quad Cities blogosphere is rife with people telling you who to vote for. In my humble capacity as a humor writer and columnist for the Dispatch/Argus, I'll rumler... err, I mean REFRAIN from making any endorsements. I'll leave the political blogging for the respective pundits. But DO go hit the polls. There's at least one underdog who needs your support today.

Monday, March 20, 2006

COLUMN: Motel Hell

I have always had a love/hate relationship with technology. I enjoy the advances of the Internet Age. I like that I can hop on the net and watch the news, download a podcast, even order a pizza. But every so often, the wonders of our era turn around and bite me in the fanny. This weekend was one of those deals.

My favorite band was coming through Chicago, ergo attendance was mandatory. (The band is Of Montreal. No, that's not a typo. No, you've never heard of them before. Yes, you should go buy their new album.) Some of my friends were interested in going as well, and we got together to plan our accommodations. That was when I opened my big mouth and suggested

I've used Priceline in the past and loved it. I mean, come on, William Shatner is their spokesperson, and Captain Kirk can never steer you wrong. The idea of Priceline is fantastic -- you log on, name the price you'll willing to pay for a hotel, and Priceline tries to hook you up. When hotels have extra rooms that aren't reserved, they release those rooms to Priceline and, if your price meets theirs, the room is yours.

There's just one catch. Once you've entered your price, Priceline looks for a hotel within that neighborhood. If it finds one that accepts your price, it automatically books the room -- no refunds, no chance to go "Hey, I actually don't so much want THAT hotel, thanks." You're stuck with what you get.

This explains how I got booked into Motel Hell, almost an hour from where I wanted. I'm a tactful guy, so I won't come out and name the hotel. Let's just say it starts with a "C" and rhymes with Kandlewood Suites O'Hare.

I knew it was trouble when I got the directions from Priceline. Getting to my hotel was just as easy as (these are seriously the directions): Take I-88 to I-294 N. Proceed 9.3 miles. Exit onto I-90 W. Proceed 0.18 miles. Exit onto I-190 W. Proceed 1.16 miles. Exit onto I-294 S. Proceed 1.95 miles. Exit onto IL-19 W. Proceed 0.34 miles. Exit onto US-45. Proceed 0.46 miles. Do the hokey pokey. Turn yourself around. That's what it's all about.

Instead I found the hotel on a PROPER map and, after driving through 10 miles of what I'm pretty sure was the Sopranos set (nothing but strip clubs and Italian restaurants as far as the eye could see,) I finally arrived at my hotel. Priceline mentioned the spacious rooms, the kitchenettes, and the satellite television.

What they failed to mention was that the hotel was conveniently located on the edge of one of O'Hare's busiest runways. Yes, there's nothing like the tailwind of a departing 727 every 3.5 minutes to gently lull you to sleep. Still, I was positive. "It's like a free massage," I said to myself. The satellite TV was fantastic -- except when the signal got blocked by the 727's. "And I say to you all that the murderer is none other than ROOOOOOOOOOOOAAR! Further, you'll be surprised to learn that ROOOOOOOOOOOOOAR is really a man!"

My first order of business was shutting off the TV and testing out the bathroom facilities. Now, we're a family newspaper, and besides, you guys don't want the grisly details. Let's just say that toilets have a function, and I was happy to oblige mine. That is, until I flushed. That's when the toilet made a sound like "blorp" and I found myself racing to the water shutoff switch. Final score: The Mighty Gastroinestinal System of Shane - 1, Toilets of the Free World - 0.

After finding no plunger, I called to the front desk.

"Err, it appears that my toilet is clogged. Can I get a plumber's helper sent up to my room?"

"QUE?" came the reply.

"Umm, I need a plunger. The toilet's stopped up."


Faaaantastic. To each their own culture, but the only Espanol I happen to habla is the Taco Bell menu, and other than the word "grande!," that wasn't very helpful. So I had to wait until the next morning, when I called the front desk and was told they'd send someone straight up. Which they didn't. Same thing happened that night.

Ergo, by the time I had to leave Motel Hell, my bathroom was approaching biohazard status. I just hope the maid had a good sense of humor when she read my note: "Sorry - toilet clogged! Not my fault! Well, kinda my fault! But I called! Three times!"

The concert, by the way, was great. Plus, I got to see them dye the Chicago River green for St. Pat's festivities, and I ended up coming home with my body weight in new CD's, so all in all it was a good time. But until Priceline allows you to specify toilet pressure and preferred-distance-from-overhead-landing-gear, I'm going to be doing my future vacation planning with the computer OFF, thanks.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Whammy 1, Peter Tomarken 0

Peter Tomarken and his wife were killed tonight in a plane crash -- the story just broke on the wire. What a shame -- he was always the ultimate epitome of Sleazy Game Show Host -- without him, "Press Your Luck" woulda just sucked.

Here's to you, Peter. Let's hope the Afterlife has big money and NO Whammies.

COLUMN: Fast Food

Once upon a time, I wasn't an impatient person.

I don't know what made me change -- perhaps the overall cynicism of growing older, or maybe just 35 years of accrued frustration -- but I've definitely lost my patience. Last week in these pages, I mentioned my growing disdain for "convenience" stores and their lack of, well, convenience. This week, I'm all riled up again, but it's not over the Kwik-E-Mart. No, this time it's a far more annoying demon. I'm riled up over chicken.

"Can I take your order please?" was how the conversation with the outdoor speakerbox began this weekend.

"Sure, I'd like a #2 with a Pep--" I tried to answer.

"ORIGINAL OR SPICY?" came the intrusive interruption.

"Original. With a Pepsi," I replied.

"Alrighty. And what would you like to drink with that, sir?"

"A...PEPSI," I retorted through clenched teeth.

"Alright," said the Fastfoodian, "I've got a #2 with a medium Pepsi and a medium Diet Pepsi."

My head was craning in all directions, but, alas, no Allen Funt. This HAD to be "Candid Camera," right? Nope, it was just another round in my never-ending battle with Fast Food.

My main problem is two-fold. (1) I'm a busy guy. I work two jobs, plus I write this column. Time is a precious commodity in my world. (2) I'm also a lazy guy. This is NOT a good combination. This means that, in the few times that I'm NOT busy, I'd rather just park it on the couch than, say, cook a meal. And I'm too busy to go to a sit-down restaurant most of the time. This means that I rely HEAVILY on the fast food empire for sustenance. Not cool.

In our culture of expanding menus and countless side items, "fast food" is a thing of the past. What we're left with now is sort of a mid-tempo food. I've figured out one simple way for these restaurants to speed up a little bit, though: get rid of the wacky scripts they force employees to read.

The other day, I was driving around and got thirsty. Rather than stop at a convenience store (see: last week's column + aforementioned usage of the word "lazy,") I instead spotted an empty Arby's drive-thru. I pulled up and ordered simply a large Pepsi. The response was classic:

"Okay, sir, please pull around WHILE ME MAKE THAT FRESH FOR YOU." Ahh, yes, there's nothing like a fresh, home-cooked Pepsi, straight from the, err, fountain, just like Granny used to make it.

But the king of weird drive-thru scripts has been and always WILL be Taco Bell. Every time you pull into one of their drive-thru windows, you're treated to a Shakespearean-like soliloque of a flat sales pitch, usually offered in the one-word, monotone style. Something along the lines of...

"Thankyouforcrossingtheborderwelcometotacobellwouldyouliketotryournew triplecheesegorditacrunchgoaheadwithyourorderwhenyoureready."

Folks, when this happens to you, do not fear the Taco Bell. This is merely the Taco Bell's way of saying "Hello."

Some fast-food restaurants realize that their drive-thrus take forever, and have kindly taken notice of the situation. So what's the remedy? Add more employees to the drive-thru? Create another lane? Streamline their cooking process? Nope.

Their answer is to put up little signs apologizing for the wait. Don't believe me? Go to Hardee's. Go to Culver's. Go to Steak n Shake. All of them now have signs outside that are various interpretations on the same theme, "Our food is freshtastic and super awesome, and this means it takes longer to cook. But it's worth it, because it's so mmmm-good."

To these places, I say: don't try to pass yourself off as what you're not. Your food might be tasty, but your restaurant is NOT haute cuisine as long as your signature dish is referred to as a "Thickburger."

Is our sacrifice as consumers not enough for you? When you see us at your drive-thru window, recognize this: we have made a conscious decision to put convenience over our own health and personal welfare. About the only thing people can agree on when it comes to fast food is that 90% of it is astoundingly BAD for you. There's no way to fake good living out of a Butterburger. There are no Diet Fries.

But we ignore that. We put it, our cholesterol levels, and our well-being aside for one simple reason: your food is fast. If they figured out a way to make McBroccoli To Go, I'd eat it. Until then, I and my weakening patience remain your humble slave. But I only want ONE Pepsi. What? Okay, yeah, supersize it.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

RIP Edgar Stiles

How could they kill off Edgar on 24 last night??? He and Chloe are the BEST parts about the show. Now Edgar's dead and Chloe's trapped in a room with pretty much everybody else who hasn't died yet. This sucks. And now the previews say someone ELSE is gonna buy the farm next week! Tenure is sure hard to come by if you're a cast member on the show. Here's hoping Louis Lombardi bounces (err... likely literally) on to future success. Until then, we toast to you, Edgar Stiles -- even though you never did the nasty with Chloe.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A Crash on Brokeback Mountain


Didn't expect "Brokeback Mountain" to NOT win an Oscar for Best Picture.

Just like I didn't expect Three-Six Mafia TO win an Oscar for Best Song.

A few random wobbling Oscar thoughts:

* Jon Stewart did an okay job. Not a great job. Not a Billy Crystal job, as much as I hate to say that. But an okay job. His best line of the night: "Martin Scorcese... zero Oscars. Three-Six Mafia... 1 Oscar."

* Man, I wanted Michelle Williams to win for Best Supporting Actress. But only because she was on Dawson's Creek. And she's gorgeous.

* Of course, by that argument, Jessica Alba should win EVERY award. That kind of cute doesn't even seem possible in nature. They should make a movie of her just sitting around for a couple hours, I'd go see it. Maybe twice.

* Something about Reese Witherspoon really creeps me out. You know in the gossip columns, when they can't NAME who they're talking about, but they tell scandalous stories nonetheless? Like "WITNESSED! An unnamed diva hiring a limousine... for her DOG?" Whenever I read one of those, I just sort of automatically assume they're talking about Reese. I don't know why. She just strikes me as the sort of person who, once the cameras go off, screams about noone removing the green M+M's from her dressing room. I might be totally off on that, but there's something about the way she carries herself... plus her acceptance speech seemed just a bit too rehearsed. I also feel the same way about Renee Zellweger, even though I love her.

* Speaking of Reese, I finally got around to watching "Walk the Line" this weekend. Man, what a great movie, though I think I side with Roseanne Cash in thinking that some of the dialogue is stuff that the REAL Johnny Cash NEVER would've said.

Right, then. Oscars sorted. I'm off to go listen to some Three Six Mafia, coz, like the OSCAR AWARD WINNERS themselves say, "I gotta stay hi-i-i-i-i-i-i-igh until I di-i-i-i-i-i-i-ie."

COLUMN: Convenience?

Ha, ha. Good one, Quad Cities!

The joke's over now, though. You guys can stop. You sure had me going for a while there. But I'm a smart cookie -- I figured you out. So you can come out now, everybody. Umm... everybody? Anybody?? (Cough.)

This HAS to be some sort of malicious episode of Prank-The-Shane, it simply MUST. If it isn't a Quad City-wide conspiracy against me, it can only mean one other thing: that humanity is intrinsically evil. I'm not really in a big hurry to buy into all that "humanity is evil" stuff, so I'll just go on assuming it's a big game.

The game works like this, as I understand it. Let's imagine that you, Joe Quad-Citizen, are out and about on your daily business. Let's say you're at a store, a restaurant... heck, any business in town. Out of the corner of your eye, you can't believe it but it really IS him -- famed Dispatch/Argus/Leader columnist Shane Brown, live and in the flesh. This is then your cue to push, shove, maim, and do whatever it takes to get ahead of me in the checkout line. Once safely in front of me, all you have to do then is come up with your favorite method to make me late for work.

The winner of the game is apparantly whoever finally causes me to have a massive stroke. +10 bonus points for you if I hit the floor while still clutching a Frappucino in my hand.

I'm not a morning person, which means that I give myself precisely enough time every morning to leap out of bed, throw myself in the shower, assemble an outfit, and get out the door to work. Every second counts when you're me trying to get to work on time, so on those fateful mornings when the lure of the Frappucino proves too much to resist, I expect to be able to dash in and out of the nearby convenience store in prompt time. You know, CONVENIENTLY.

And it never works out that way. Just yesterday, I raced to the counter, Frappucino in hand, and surveyed the situation. Two clerks present behind the counter -- one helping two customers ahead of me in line, the other just there to apparantly make me mad.

Customer #1 is shopping for the Apocalypse. He's stocking UP. It's as if the news has declared that a Nor'Easter is on its way to Rock Island, and this guy couldn't dare ride out the storm without securing at least a month's supply of Laffy Taffy. Worse yet, he's paying in POCKET CHANGE. And his math skills are as bad as mine. I, meanwhile, begin checking my resting pulse rate with some alarm.

Customer #2 gets to the counter. She looks like an up-and-comer -- a young professional, a go-getter, a take charge looking gal. Most importantly, she looks like a girl on the move. This'll be fast. The clerk finally looks up from counting change with a "can I help you?" My go-getter opens her mouth, and, with the fury and speed I was so hoping for, utters the fateful words: "Umm, yeah, I need 50 Quick Pick tickets for the Big Game."

Nooooooooooooooooo. While I stood there, transfixed by my efforts to NOT break a blood vessel, listening to the "ca-CHUD" of the Illinois lottery machine spitting out my body weight's worth of Big Game tickets, I realized that nothing is the antithesis of speedy service quite like the lottery. "Quick pick," my fanny.

At the very least, if you are a business in possession of a lottery machine, you are hereby forbidden to use words like Speedy, Jiffy, or Express in your name. It's false advertising. By the definition of the poorly-spelled word, you are officially no longer a "Kwik" Shop. You are, in fact, a Sumwhut-Slo Shop.

I realize that I could have just put the Frappucino down and left in a huff, making it to work on time -- but in doing so, the terrorists, errr I mean, the CUSTOMERS would have won. Not a chance. I will not bow down to your games, Quad Cities. I stood there, I took my licks, and I walked out of there late but proud, Frappucino in hand.

Besides, if it wasn't for me having my patience tested that morning, I would've had no subject matter for this masterfully written column. Think about that for a second, all of you. Especially if "all of you" includes the one of you that's my boss here at the paper, who stared at me disapprovingly when I showed up yet again 3 minutes late for work.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm totally parched from all this typing. Anybody up for a Frappucino?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Go, Aaron!

About six months ago, I mentioned in this very blog how I respected former CNN anchor Aaron Brown. This story is perfect validation. From

Former CNN anchor Aaron Brown has suggested that television viewers are responsible for the deterioration of broadcast news as much as the TV networks themselves. "In the perfect democracy that I believe TV news is, it's not enough to say you want serious news, you have to watch it," he told an audience in Medford, OR this week. As reported by the Medford Mail Tribune, Brown, speaking to a First Amendment forum, noted that while CNN was spending a fortune covering the 2004 tsunami, Fox News was channeling its resources into the missing teenager Natalee Holloway. The contest, he noted, was won hands down by Fox. The result, he suggested, was not lost on his former employer, CNN. "The news in this country is a business," he said. "You might not like to think of it that way, but it is." He suggested that television, instead of being diverted by scores of late-breaking trivial stories, ought to focus on the 6-10 "really important stories" that occur each day.