Berry's World
Saturday, December 06, 2003

This tale is so heartwarming, it screams out to be made into the feel good movie of the season.

It was the care free days of the mid '50's. A group of kids in Sparks, Nevada are up to the usual pranks and hi-jinks that can be expected from ten-year-old boys. The mischievous rascals put frogs in the Deer Park pool, causing the public pool to be temporarily shutdown because the pool drain was clogged. No real harm was done, and the event became known as the 'Polliwog Caper'.

However, one of the little shavers never forgot the damage he and his friends had caused. He carried an '...enormous guilty conscience...' with him for nearly half a century. Luckily, he was in a position to make amends. He got a few of his friends to donate $225,000 to fix up that same Deer Park pool, now in it's 6th decade of serving the good people of Sparks, Nevada.

Of course, the story is a little less heartwarming when you find that the boy who carried around the guilt for damaging the public pool is Rep. Jim Gibbons (R.-Nev.), and the friends he got to fix up that old pool aren't really friends as much as they are the American taxpayers. Yep, Congressman Gibbons got $225,000 tacked on to the year-end spending bill in Congress to assuage his enourmous guilty conscience.

You know, in retrospect, this story would be a lot better had Congressman Gibbons ponied up his own cash to pay for the pool's repairs.

Justice Potter Stewart, using a common sense that often seems missing on the Supreme Court, couldn't give a legal, binding definition of pornography, but wrote '...I know it when I see it...'

Well, along that vein, I may not have some big fancy computor like the BCS, but when it comes to what team should play Oklahoma for the National Title, I know it when I see it, and I saw it beat the snot out of Oregon State today. If, somehow, LSU sneaks into the National Championship game (Thanks Notre Dame!) ahead of USC, it will be the biggest travesty of justice since the last biggest travesty of justice.

"We're a free-trade nation, and in order to remain a free-trading nation, we must enforce the law. That's exactly what I did."

President Bush, March 2002.

"Today I signed a proclamation ending the temporary steel safeguard measures I put in place in March 2002."

President Bush, December 2003.

Just out of curiosity, when was it exactly that President Bush decided to stop enforcing the law?
Friday, December 05, 2003

Moon project could be Bush's big idea is the funniest headline I've read in a while. I hate to be a cockroach in the rice pudding, but isn't it a bit sad that President Bush's 'big idea' would be to repeat a trick that was perfected before President Nixon became a national disgrace? Besides, doesn't President Bush realize that for the same price he could invade two more Middle Eastern countries?

T.J. Simers is the funniest sportswriter in America, and may be the reason Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Kevin Brown agreed to waive his no-trade clause, but, surprisingly, some people don't care for him, as today's column suggests.

On the great TV series Homicide, there was an episode called Subway about a guy, played by over-rated actor Vincent D'Onofrio, who either falls or is pushed in front of an oncoming subway train. D'Onofrio is pinned between the train and the platform, and only the pressure of the train is keeping the man from bleeding the death. It was left to Detective Pembleton (played by Hack's Andre Braugher) to tell D'Onofrio of this distressing news.

In the last couple of days, it's become quite clear that Senator John Kerry is figuratively pinned between the subway of politics and the platform of the presidential primaries, and needs his own Detective Pembleton to let him know that he's history.

A new Zogby poll in South Carolina shows Senator Kerry in 7th place with 4%, down from 8% in September, and while this may not be the news that kills Sen. Kerry's campaign, the Zogby poll showing Governor Howard Dean with a 30 point lead in New Hampshire just might.

Like it or not, and I kind of do like it, it all seems to be coming down to Governor Dean and General Clark for the Democratic nomination.

Alexei Yagudin won a gold medal in figure skating in 2002, and at the Salt Lake City Olympics he received 4 perfect 6.0 scores while no other man in Olympic history has ever recieved more than 1 perfect score. But that pales in comparison to the Smuckers Stars on Ice tour.

"It has been my dream to be on this tour." the straight-faced skater said on the Today Show.
Wednesday, December 03, 2003

I was in high school when MTV made it's debut, and J.J. Jackson was one of the original vee-jays. Tonight, 'Triple J' was hawking a Roy Orbison DVD during a fundraising break on my local PBS station.

In another of a growing list of changes I will mandate when I take over, any cell phone user who begins a conversation with 'Guess where I'm calling from?', will have their cell phone confiscated and have their cell phone privileges revoked for one year.

11-1-03 UCLA loses to Stanford, 21-14.

11-8-03 UCLA loses to Washington State, 31-13.

11-15-03 UCLA loses to Oregon, 31-13.

11-22-03 UCLA loses to USC, 47-22.

12-2-03 UCLA (6-6) proudly accepts an invitation to play in the Silicon Valley Classic bowl game.

Orcinus points out that we've found more Weapons Of Mass Destruction in Texas than we have in Iraq, raising concerns that President Bush will invade his home state.

Democrats were quick to jump on the President for what Representative Dick Gephardt (D.-Mo.) called an '...election year stunt.' Leading contender for the Democratic nomination for President , Governor Howard Dean was appalled at the idea of the invasion of one of the United States.

"This is typical of President Bush, attempting to score political points by putting America's young people in harms way for the absolute wrong reasons," said the Governor at a campaign stop in Iowa. "It is quite clear to anybody with a lick of common sense that we should be invading Alabama before we even think about invading Texas."

Republicans, on the other hand, supported the possible plan of invasion. Representative Tom Delay (R.-Tex) warned that waiting to invade Texas will just give the terrorists more time to build more weapons.

"Do we want to wait for a mushroom cloud to be the starting gun in the war on domestic terrorism?" asked Delay. "Besides, I have it on very good authority that the only terrorists in Texas reside in districts held by Democrats."

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card would not comment on the plan to invade Texas other than to say that if such a decision were made, it certainly wouldn't be '...marketed to the public' until the spring.
Tuesday, December 02, 2003

After landing at LAX last night, the stewardess was making the final announcements when she said:

We hope you enjoyed your flight with United. We appreciate your business, and we certainly need it.

Then, as I was taking the bus to the Van Nuys Flyaway Station the driver made this announcement:

If traffic is moving, it shouldn't take more than 45 minutes to an hour to get you folks to the Van Nuys Station. If traffic is bumper tp bumper, it shouldn't take more than a couple of days to get there.

My current leanings: (Last week's leanings in parenthesis, margin of error 100%)

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK---21 (18)---The General impressed me in the last debate.

GOVERNOR HOWARD DEAN---20 (22)---I like Governor Dean, but I do have doubts about his electability.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY---13 (11)---Trying to fight the medicare bill scored some points with me. Senator Kerry still compares anything and everything to Governor Dean, and that bothers me.

SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS---10 (10)---I really wish Senator Edwards had spent a full term in the Senate before running.

REPRESENTATIVE DICK GEPHARDT---9 (7)---Representative Gephardt has a great personal story to tell. I wonder if he should have been telling it sooner.

REPRESENTATIVE DENNIS KUCINICH---8 (6)---If Representative Kucinich were the nominee, I don't know if he would win a single electoral vote, although he would have my personal vote.

REVEREND AL SHARPTON---4 (3)---I admire a guy who stands by his convictions, even when most people think he's dead wrong.

AMBASSADOR CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN---1 (0)---Ambassador Moseley Braun is clearly intellegent, but the time has come to figure the best exit strategy.

SENATOR JOE LIEBERMAN---0 (0)---Is Senator Lieberman still running?

Flying from Charlotte to Chicago yesterday, I sat next to a very nice man named Howard. Howard is an older gentleman from a small town in rural North Carolina who was on his was to Yuma, Arizona to do some consulting work for the U.S. Marines. We chatted about our home-towns, our families, current events and the like. However, it seemed like we were both avoiding talking about Iraq.

Finally, looking at the USA Today I was reading, Howard broached the somewhat dicey topic when he asked me "So, what do you think is gonna happen in Iraq?"

I've seen enough of these conversations turn ugly that I try not to get into them with people I don't know, and I wasn't real sure how a rural North Carolinian was going to like hearing that this younger guy with no military experience disagreed with the Commander In Chief on the war. But, when I'm asked a direct question, I try to give a direct answer.

"Howard," I said, "I mean no disrespect, but I think that going into Iraq was a huge mistake. I don't think Iraq was a threat to us, I don't like the idea that we have become a nation that throws the first punch without any cause, and for my money, I'd rather we were trying to get that bastard Osama Bin Laden."

As I held my breath, Howard looked at me with hardened eyes, paused for a second, and said "You know what Keith, I agree with you completely."

We spent the rest of the flight talking about the war, and Howard had some fascinating stories about the Vietnam war.

Hey, here's something you don't hear about everyday. My younger brother and I disagree about the invasion of Iraq. We both made out heartfelt opinions known and actually respected each other's point of view. We didn't get into an exchange of petty insults, nobody's patriotism was questioned, and we still love each other.

Strange, huh?

There were two incidents this past week that cause me grave concern with my aforementioned 11-year-old niece Meagen. At one point, the pint-sized little terror was pontificating on our President when she said that he was a cowboy because he was born in Texas, starting this conversation:

ME: "Oh, huh! He was born in the Northeast, like Connecticut or Kennebunkport."

MEAGEN: "He was born in Texas!"

ME: He was not!

MEAGEN: Was so!

ME: Was not!

MEAGEN: Wanna make a bet?

ME: OK, how much?

MEAGEN: I'll bet you 20 bucks!

Luckily, at this point, cooler heads prevailed.

MEAGEN'S DAD: Meagen, do you have 20 dollars?


MEAGEN'S DAD: Where is it?

MEAGEN: I'll have it after I win this bet!

(For the record, President Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut and not Texas, and no bet was officially made so Meagen was not on the hook to me for a pair of sawbucks, even though I argued making her pay me would teach her a good lesson.)

Later in the trip I mentioned to Meagen that I liked former President Bill Clinton. Meagen was appalled. She lit into me wondering how her big, smart uncle could like somebody as evil and despicable as President Clinton, and then went into a tirade about how President Clinton ruined the country. (I don't know where she gets this stuff.) I tried to point out that she was mainly just giving me her opinions, but not backing them up with facts, when she hit me with this zinger:

You want some facts? Here's one: Bill Clinton is a bad, bad man.

Betting money she doesn't have? Spouting her opinions and calling them facts? Then it dawned on me that my sweet little niece, the most beautiful and funny 11-year-old girl on the planet, was well on her way to becoming a (gasp) Republican!

Some news and notes from my sojourn to North Carolina:

I like Charlotte, North Carolina, however I'm not all that sure the Charlotte sports fans are looking forward to my return, as I may be bad luck for the home teams. While enjoying my stay in The Queen City, we trekked to the beautiful and historic Cricket Arena (apparently the arena was built by crickets in the mid to late '40's) to see my new favorite minor league hockey team, The Charlotte Checkers, lose to their hated rivals, The South Carolina Stingrays, 4-1.

Then we scampered over to Erickson Stadium in time to see the beloved Carolina Panthers lose to the evil and despicable Philadelphia Eagles, 25-16. While my dad and brother were quick to point out that the Panthers were having a great year, and they had NEVER seen the Checkers lose a home game before I arrived, I don't think I'm totally to blame. I mean, Panthers' kicker John Kasey was missing kicks like he was condemned to the electric chair, and most of the Checkers played like they were allergic to the Stingrays' goal.

Highlight of the trip? During a break in the action of the Checkers-Stingrays game, they have a contest allowing fans to throw a foam-rubber puck on to the ice. Whoever throws their numbered puck closest to the center ice circle wins a cash prize. After watching my teenage nephew, who for some bizarre reason I nicknamed "The Professor" on this trip, and my adorable 11-year-old niece make pretty decent throws, I was quite nervous about having the worst throw in the family. Being out-thrown by a younger family member is the kind of thing that will get you mocked mercilessly amongst my kinfolk. When I saw my puck take a wicked and inexplicable bounce to the wrong side of the blue-line and roll almost to to the Checkers' goal mouth, I knew I was in trouble. Thankfully, my dad's throw was not only short by a mile, but it also sailed directly into the back of the head of a teenage Checkers fan. Needless to say, I was laughing so hard I had to call for an oxygen tent. When I finally was able to control my incessant giggling, it felt like I had done 250 stomach crunches (or, considering that I've never come close to doing 250 stomach crunches, at least what I think it might feel like to actually do 250 stomach crunches.) Naturally, my dad did the only reasonable thing a Berry would do in the situation. He denied that he hit the kid. Of course, that didn't wash and my dad, the guy who has done more to help me and my brother in our entires lives, was ridiculed to within an inch of his life the rest of the weekend.

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