20 November 2006

Why, America? Why?

In what has to be a first for me, I was part of two completely separate conversations about turduckens today (neither of which was started by me, I might add). If you don't know what a turducken is, where have you been these last few years? Obviously not listening to John Madden broadcasting football games, that's for sure. At any rate, the long and short of it is that it's a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey. I like turkey and chicken, and duck is fine when prepared right, but all three together seems perhaps a bit much. My biggest concern is that it's all meat with no room left over for stuffing, which is really the best part of a Thanksgiving turkey. Could anything be more emblematic of our gluttonous culture? Yes, it turns out. Check out this Wikipedia article to see not only a picture of a truly horrifying bacon-covered turducken (which propriety forbids me from posting here), but to read about variations that involve birds ranging in size from quails to ostriches. You can also learn that like so many unwanted things in American culture, the blame for the turducken can be placed squarely on - you guessed it - the South.

18 November 2006

Mighty Oregon

I went to my first Oregon football game today. As a student, I get free tickets, and as this was the last home game of the season, I figured I really ought to head up to Autzen Stadium and experience the cultural phenomenon that is Ducks football. Don't think I'm lapsing into hyperbole when I use the phrase "cultural phenomenon:" the city of Eugene effectively shuts down each Saturday during the season. People who you would never think of as sports fans will move mountains to attend home games and scream at the top of their lungs for three hours. I've never been to a school that took football this seriously before, and I have to say it's pretty fun (I thought I knew what a big deal college football could be from growing up near Husky Stadium, but sorry UW: Oregon fans have you beat hands-down on enthusiasm and sportsmanship, though I do think you have the edge stadium-wise). I'm also glad to say that while football is a big deal here, people don't lose sight of the fact that it really is just a game and means almost nothing in the real world (unlike some of the fans you encounter in the Midwest, who are prone to suicide if their team doesn't perform to expectations). They're also civil - even friendly - to visiting fans, which in my opinion is the way things ought to be. Finally, how can you not love a team that has a duck as a mascot (and once had a player whose last name was Mallard)? Sadly, the game today ended in an embarrassing loss to a mediocre Arizona team, once more proving that it's true what they say about where nice guys finish.

13 November 2006

What's in a Name?

My homework load has taken a sudden, and no doubt temporary, downtown these last few days, so I went ahead and did something I've been meaning to do for a while: I made a name plate for my office door, which had formerly only had my officemate's name on it. That's it at left; pretty wicked awesome, eh? Bonus points to anyone who can name all of the animals on it...

11 November 2006

'Neath the Mistletoe

Do you think of mistletoe as a nice bit of Christmas greenery and an opportunity to steal a kiss? If so, you really should learn more about it. It's a nasty parasite that leaches water and nutrients from host trees; you might just as well be kissing under a tapeworm. What, you may be wondering, prompted this odd little discourse? I spent all morning with my Population Ecology class clambering around the soggy slopes of Mount Pisgah monitoring the population of Phoradendron mistletoe for our final project. We tramped through both poison oak (which, thankfully, has largely died back by this time of year) and blackberries (which are a pain at any time of year) and wound up collecting far less data than we'd hoped. For all that, it was still a good time. The sun managed to break through once or twice, there was still some Fall color left on the trees, and the knoll on which we stopped for lunch had a pretty stunning view of the south end of the Willamette Valley. There was also a swing hung from an oak branch at the edge of the cliff that made you feel like you were flying - great if you like cheap thrills. How do I follow up such a busy morning? By writing this, eating pickled okra, washing my poison oak-ridden clothes, and watching Oregon play USC. Hey, not every hour of every day can be eventful...

06 November 2006


George W. Bush has been an unmitigated disaster for our country, and at the risk of sounding self-righteous, I don't know how any rational person could disagree with that. He has consistently spat in the face of the ideals that made this country what it is, and he has made us pariahs throughout the world. That said, we all have a chance tomorrow to go to the polls and do something about it. My old jazz teacher, of all people, once likened every national election to an organized revolution, and that really sums it up marvelously well. The Founding Fathers knew what they were doing when they wrote the Constitution (which, if you haven't read it, you really should). Jingoistic as it may sound, the US system of government is the best out there. All of us have probably been frustrated by its bureaucracy and inefficiency in the past, but efficient governments tend to lie frighteningly far down the road to despotism. I think that the greatest testimonial to the foresight of Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and the rest of their cohort is that a would-be despot like George Bush has been able to get away with relatively little. It's sometimes hard for those of us of the liberal persuasion to find things about the US to be proud of anymore, but the fact that we have a chance to go to the polls tomorrow and affect the course of world history should be enough to make us all feel optimistic.

03 November 2006

Turning Japanese

Konichiwa, and Happy Godzilla Day! Yes, according to my "this day in history" calendar, this is the 52nd birthday of everyone's favorite giant radioactive lizard/dinosaur. I'm particularly grateful to the creators of Godzilla (or Gojira, for those of us in the know) for supplying me with the only Japanese phrase I know ("Godzilla is eating Tokyo"). Japanese things have been on my mind quite a bit lately, and not just because of Engrish.com. After pumping a couple of thousand dollars into repairing my Taurus last month, I've just learned that I need to pay another four-figure bill to repair my radiator system. The upshot is that I'm selling the Ford as soon as the repairs are finished and swearing off American cars. So, if anyone knows anybody who a) wants to buy a recently-repaired Taurus or b) is selling a decently-priced Japanese car, please do let me know. Sayonara!