Saturday, May 10, 2003


8 PM (Fox) Cops: Cedar Rapids, Iowa: officers investigate a report about a man who lives on the odd-numbered side of the street watering his lawn on an even-numbered day; an elderly woman doesn't like the looks of some teenagers.

According to the Des Moines Register, it's Omaha. Yes, that Omaha.

Crimony, I'm busier today than I ever am during the week. Don't expect much out of me until tonight, when I'll need to decompress.

Friday, May 09, 2003

BY THE WAY . . .

. . . yes, I've finally discovered the "blockquote" HTML tag. This site should get easier to read now. Weill, at least the parts I didn't write, anyway.

Bonus! An extra Tuesday Morning Quarterback column dealing with Michael Jordan and the way he was unceremoniously run off by the Washington Wizards. And, as usual, he's in the zone:

All the Washington rumors say Jordan was fired in order to appease the Wizards' other players, who thought MJ was holding them back and hogging the limelight. Jordan was hogging the limelight. But to think of it: Washington has fired the greatest player in the history of the sport, and the man who single-handedly sold out the MCI Center for two years, in order to appease the other Wizards players. To appease a bunch of listless good-for-nothing losers who, next year, will be listless good-for-nothing losers, only before much smaller audiences.

Ouch. Read the whole thing; he's got his usual bits of trivia at the end. (Does that remind anybody else of the little bits of fried fish dip you used to get at Long John Silvers?)

Out of nowhere comes a new name as a possible Larry Eustachy replacement: Tennessee-Chattanooga coach Jeff Lebo, a former Tarheel. Fresno State's Ray Lopes, who played the Harvey Keitel Pulp Fiction role for Jerry Tarkanian, has withdrawn, leaving just Lebo, Steve McClain, and Wayne Morgan as candidates. Expect an announcement Sunday night or Monday morning; I'll be very shocked if it's anybody other than McClain.

They're gonna regret looking past Carroll and Sundvold, though.

If, say, you're a waitperson at a restaurant, and say, if one of your soups on the menu that day happens to be split-pea soup, and if, say, a customer should happen to order said soup, when you bring it to the table, it is best not to say, "Who had the bowl of pea?". There is, after all, more than one way to understand that sentence.

While they haven't been living up to their usual standards lately, The Onion is back in its old form in this piece about a horrible tragedy striking Chicagoland. To say more would be to give it away.

I know it's fashionable to think of poor Blogspotters like me as being stuck in the AOL of the blogworld, but this stuff about Blogger permalinks not working just is not true. They work fine; you just have to manually republish your archive every once in a while. Like every time you write something trenchant that you think people might be interested in linking to. And if that ever happens here, you'll be the first to know.

Once again, here's the Friday Five:

1. Would you consider yourself an organized person? Why or why not?

Semi-organized. There's a cloud of chaos continually surrounding me, but seldom do I lose or forget something completely.

2. Do you keep some type of planner, organizer, calendar, etc. with you, and do you use it regularly?

Yes. I've learned the hard way not to be without it. I used to have a giant 9x12 DayRunner, but now I'm down to a pocket-sized organizer. It's all I really need.

3. Would you say that your desk is organized right now?

They're redoing my office, so for the next two weeks, I don't even have a desk. So I guess I'd have to say "yes."

4. Do you alphabetize CDs, books, and DVDs, or does it not matter?

No. I organize them by genre, which, if you think about it, is a much more logical scheme. I often think to myself, "I'd like to hear some laid-back music," but I never think, "I want to hear something by an artist whose name starts with 'C'."

5. What's the hardest thing you've ever had to organize?

Coordinating all the necessary arrangements for two funerals in the same day while my boss was on vacation. I went home and slept 13 hours that night.

Thursday, May 08, 2003


Real Live Preacher has been en fuego recently, and if you're not reading him, you're missing out on some great writing. Today he's talking about visiting a house built with some creative carpentry. Go read, I'll wait for you to come back.

WOI-TV, which I remember from back when it was still in Ames, still owned by Iowa State, and Betty Lou was still in "The House with the Magic Window," reports on some Iowa State coaching candidates who may or may not be receiving serious consideration. They are reporting that Dana Altman has told Cy to buzz off.

Most interesting rumor: former Clone stars Jeff Grayer and Barry Stevens are lobbying for one of them to be made head coach and the other to be made a top assistant. No word on which would be what. Grayer and Stevens were big Clone hoopsters in the early-to-mid 80s. To give you some sense of perspective, they both played with Jeff Hornacek. Both Grayer and Stevens have NBA playing experience, and both are currently coaching in the CBA, Grayer with the Great Lakes Storm, and Stevens with the Gary Steelheads. But neither has any college coaching experience.

I've said my piece about who ought to get the job. Look for it to be given to Wyoming's Steve MacClain in the next few days.

Mike Shula to Bama. It's a done deal.

Pat Summerall is leaving Fox's NFL coverage. For many years part of the #1 broadcast team with John Madden, Summerall found himself demoted to working with the rarely-insightful Brian Baldinger last season. Summerall says he's had enough; he'd rather stay home now, but he might be willing to do local work for the Dallas Cowboys.

Summerall is the voice of the NFL in many ways (John Facenda is in many others), and the game sounds different without him. His economy of words left plenty of room for the action on the screen, and he never really betrayed any bias. He'll be missed.

Still, my favorite NFL play-by-play guy is and probably always will be Charlie Jones.

Say you need to make 1,000 photocopies of something. You set up your photocopier (if it's like mine, it can't make more than 99 copies at a time), and you settle down with a nice magazine and a cuppa joe and you watch the copies start piling up.

Take my advice: leave the freakin' room. The fumes created by a thousand copies made on a cheap copier would gag a maggot. My head's still spinnin'.

Since I started blogging about these two troubled coaches, here's some interesting stats:

Number of hits from people searching for 'larry eustachy photos' or some variant thereof: 143

Number of hits searching for 'mike price scandal', etc: 78

Number of hits for 'destiny stahl picture': 585, and that was just yesterday.

I'm throwing this one to Price, with the mother of all assists to Ms. Stahl.

The Des Moines Register is still piling on Eustachy (just check out the first sentence of this article) at the same time they're also reporting that Larry Eustachy's replacement just might be, uh, Larry Eustachy's replacement, Stew Morrill, who followed the ex-Cyclone coach at his previous employer, Utah State. (Which was also ISU athletic director Bruce Van De Velde's last employer. Ne'ertheless, no one has yet begun to refer to Ames as "East Logan.") For its part, the Cyclone Nation is beginning to rally around Wyoming head coach and Iowa native Steve McClain as their favored choice. (Dana Altman's star appears to be fading fast.)

Look, I'm tellin' ya: Terry Carroll or Bob Sundvold. Those are your best choices, Cy.


There are strong indications that Mike Shula will be the next coach at Bama.

The same person who challenged me to find a Festiva now thinks I should look for a Plymouth Valiant. They stopped making them 27 years ago, but if I can find a non-running Fiat Strada, I'm sure I can find a functional Valiant. The People's Republic of Madison ought to be a good place to start looking . . .

Wednesday, May 07, 2003


I'm sure one of my readers will be pleased by this: I saw a Ford Festiva today, moving under its own power. I saw it as it rocketed past me on the Madison Beltline. Which means that, not only did I see a Festiva, I got smoked by one.

I feel somewhat less manly now, I guess. It's been a long day, and I'll think of a cruddy car which I haven't seen a while by tomorrow morning, I'm sure. Or, since I know some of you are still looking for those Destiny Stahl pictures, why not fire off an e-mail or leave a suggestion for a crudmobile in the comments? It's the least you can do, since I've already done your dirty work for you.

Donald Sensing is pondering today why churches hire youth pastors, when most churches have more elderly than youth. He raises some good points, including this:

"[N]ot only the elderly themselves are coping with their end-of-life issues; so are their children. It's quite ordinary for men and women to live well into their eighties now, many into their nineties. That means that their children are in their won sixties when mom and dad pass away. Sixty-something is no longer considered elderly, but in my childhood it was. But it is when people reach their sixties that they start to feel the first flickers of old-age maladies - arthritis, for example.

The stresses of aging are thus compounded. Men and women who feel themselves at the cusp of old age are being challenged to care for their truly elderly parents. It is exhausting all around. I remember reading a long time ago that the average American woman spends more years caring for her parents than she does raising her own children.

But I frankly don't see churches providing assistance and spiritual care for them, mine and me included. But we should."

I hear you, Donald, but here's a few thoughts from a 30something pastor in the field, serving a mainline church in a small Midwestern factory town:

--I actually surveyed the folks in my congregation and found that 33% (roughly) were 65 or older. But more than 50% of the time I spend with other people, I spend with the over-65s. Obviously, the over-65s are the group most likely to have health issues requiring hospitalizations, or to be grieving the loss of a spouse, or to be shut in, and so on. So there's really no way I can reduce the amount of time I spend with the over-65s--nor would I want to. But it doesn't leave me with very much time to tend to the needs of the other 67% of my congregation. So that probably explains why there are so many "youth pastors"--they meet a need that many of us (especially us solo pastors) simply know we cannot, at least not until the 25th, 26th, and 27th hour in every day materializes.

--Similarly, while it's important to remember the needs of the elderly population, if you don't emphasize the needs of the young people whose parents still bring them to church in this day and age (and let's face it, that's becoming a bit of a quaint notion), you devalue their presence. I swear, every time somebody tells me "the children are the future of the church," I fill with rage, for two reasons: (1), the children are a very important part of the present of the church, and (2), if you don't acknowledge the importance of (1), they're not going to be part of the future of your church., because they've already gotten the message that they're not important.

--Sensing has made this (correct) observation:

"I learned a couple of months ago that for Americans in certain "age brackets" (say, 18-30, 31-45, etc.), there are clear denominational patterns. Of Americans who attend church in the youngest adult bracket, most go to evangelical churches, especially Southern Baptist and "community" churches. (I have noted before that a great many community churches actually are denominational, not independent, but don't advertise it.)"

True. I've cautioned my own folks that there is no such thing as a truly "non-denominational" or "community" church, and if you think you've found one, just stand up in it and start supporting infant baptism--you'll find out very quickly that they're at least functionally baptist (with a small "b") even if they're not nominally Baptist.

But I digress--one of the reasons why these sorts of churches are so appealing to younger folk is that they have no history. Nobody's still mad about a perceived snub from 1968, nobody's fighting every possible change to worship because they just know Aunt Edna would turn over in her grave if she knew they were using guitars in her church--the very lack of a community history, and the very lack of traditions which people might resist changing, makes it easier for such churches to be more responsive to young people's needs. I realize that I'm flirting with Granny-bashing with the statement (flirting, nothing--I'm down on my knees proposing marriage), but I call 'em like I see 'em.

Young people want no part of this sort of antiquated internecine warfare. It's silly and un-Christian. I can't blame them for preferring churches where this month's idea becomes next month's reality, without having to be sorted through a Byzantine political structure, and then being subject to broadsides from the folks in every congregation who fear even the most minute changes. And I'm sorry to make this observation, but nobody under 65 has ever told me they didn't want a single thing to change about their church, ever. Lots of folks over 65 have, however.

--But lots of churches knuckle under and let this group dictate how the church will minister to everyone, not just their own age group. I still recall one conversation I had with a sweet older woman who was upset about our plans for the youth group. She didn't like the idea of us taking the kids on a ski trip to a local slope about an hour away. She wasn't fond of sending the kids to regional youth gatherings, or us having lock-ins, or video nights, or, well, anything that might be perceived as the least bit fun. "So what should we be doing?" I asked her.

"You should teach the kids to love the Lord in everything they do," she replied.

She's right, we should. But how are we going to do that if we don't let the kids do anything? And why should we base our youth ministry on what appeals to 80-year-olds, anyway?

Anyhow, the long and the short of all this is that the age imbalance in many congregations is a predictable result of churches failing to consider that not only are the times changing, they've already changed. No matter how much we think and hope and pray, next year is not going to be 1954. It will never be that easy to be the church again. If we're going to be faithful to our mission to make disciples, we have to focus our efforts on reaching younger people. And the people of all ages who really love God already understand that churches should not exist primarily for the benefit of the people who already belong to them.

The underrated Sean Keeler has some sage advice for Iowa State athletic director Brunce Van De Velde in the wake of the Eustachy mess. Among his rantings:

"Van De Velde is a classic example of the loser in the game of Spin Or Be Spun. He declined a request to be interviewed Tuesday. He has not made any public statements of note since his recommendation that Eustachy be fired last Wednesday.

That's too long. Too long for a man who's been accused of letting his men's basketball coach twist in the wind. Too long for a man who may have known this was coming. Too long for a man who has to come to Edwards and her fellow Cyclone fans, hat in hand, on the rubber chicken circuit."

I don't know, I don't think Van De Velde has long left at his job, either. The Cyclone Nation is most unhappy with him right now. Just check out the message boards here to see how unhappy they are.

Bear with me . . . I think my comments should be working now, but I'm not sure.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003


Comments are temporarily disabled due to problems with eNetation. They will return shortly, once that company gets its act together . ..

I've been a little too serious today, so here's a link to a bunch of pictures of one of my favorite 70s cars: the 1973 Ford Gran Torino. I owned a '74, which taught me a valuable lesson: Never buy a car out of a tralier park.

Click on the copper-colored coupe in the first row of pics to see a car almost exactly like one I fell in love with when I was a senior in high school. It was in nice shape and I could have bought it for $1500--if I'd had $1500, of course. What a beauty--copper bronze with a dark-brown vinyl roof and a light-tan interior, slotted mag wheels, the whole nine yards.

Somehow, my current daily driver (a '96 Neon) just isn't the same.

Donald Sensing has written an excellent brief history of Christian fundamentalism on his blog. Here's his "money paragraph":

"The basis of fundamentalism is an insistence that the biblical texts should be understood only literally. The Bible means just what it says; there is no need to interpret it. The Bible is the literal Word of God and is therefore inarguable. Its human authors set into words what the Holy Spirit inspired them to write, and this inspiration resulted in a text that said precisely what God intended with no human error or input. Fundamentalists insist that the Bible is entirely inerrant and therefore is the final, un-appealable authority on any matter of human inquiry."

He's promising that soon he'll explain why Biblical literalism is impossible. I'll give you a hint: Trees don't have political systems.

It's political season again, almost, and as a public service to Bemusement Park readers, I'm proud to present a brief synopsis of where the major political parties stand on farm and agriculture issues, for the none of you who care. This is offered without much commentary; certainly, I've got my opinions on the matter, but all I'm doing here is pointing out what the parties themselves are saying.

Democrats: No official plank in the 2000 platform regarding farm policy. This is as close as they got:

"In rural America, we have the opportunity to create a rural renewal on our nation's farms with improved transportation and infrastructure, better access to capital and technology, reduced concentration in agribusiness, and an expansion of new markets for our crops, and strengthening our ability to compete in world markets. The Internet can break down barriers of geography and isolation and bring the rural economy into the new economy. Farmers should receive incentives to conserve soil and improving farming and forestry techniques. The Republican Freedom to Farm Act has resulted in years of low prices and necessitated billion dollar bailouts. It is misguided and must be changed. Family farmers who work hard and smart should be able not only to survive but to thrive. Democrats will strengthen, not shred, the safety net for family farmers; we will open markets abroad for them. And we will not turn our backs on rural communities; we will work to ensure that they share in the new prosperity we are building for all of America."

Republicans: Gave a little more attention to agriculture than did the Democrats. Called for reductions in inheritance and capital-gains taxes for farmers. Supported additional biotechnology research.

Libertarians: Have a separate plank for agriculture, the cornerstone of which is the abolition of the US Department of Agriculture. Also favor the abolition of all inheritance taxes, and the ending of all farm subsidies.

Greens: Strongly in favor of sustainable agriculture and predictably against corporate farming and genetic engineering. The national party has a statement on its webste (however, it's trapped in Frame Hell and I can't link to it directly), but the Wisconsin Green Party spells out its beliefs very well here (it's right after the preamble).

Reform Party: Yes, they're still around; no, they have no official stance on agriculture policy.

Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, the John Wooden of the blog world, noticed the same thing I did in James Lileks' Bleat for today. Great minds do think alike; however, unlike Reynolds, I don't put puppies in blenders. However, in this post-Eustachian universe, I must admit that I've killed lots of bugs with Windex.

Blah blah James Lileks blah incredible blah blarg blubble must-read blah blah blah.

A good quote from today's Bleat:

12:24 PM Note to people who feel compelled to begin talk-radio conversations with “long-time listener, first-time caller” - no one cares. Least of all the host. Nor should you say “as I told your screener . . .” because A) it eats up time and B) reminds everyone of the process that weeds out long-winded dullards, and C) how this process has failed.

Gee, I never would have guessed him for a Jim Rome listener. I've grown to like Rome a little but I think his show would be infinitely better if he never, ever took any phone calls from the general public.

Early names surfacing in the ISU hoops search: Creighton's Dana Altman, Wyoming's Steve McClain, Denver's Terry Carroll, Mark Turgeon of Wichita State, and Wayne Morgan of the current ISU staff. Look for an announcement within the week.

Monday, May 05, 2003


PHI 1 Final

The Senators win the series and advance to the Eastern Conference finals. You can read about it here.

I know many of you are here looking for pictures of Destiny Stahl, the stripper in the Mike Price case. I found one, and even though it's safe for work, be careful what you ask for.


Another, "better" picture can be found here. Still safe for work, although not safe for much else.

As expected, ISU reached a settlement with Larry Eustachy: $110,000 now and another $850K on January 1. That's $960,000 not to work there any more. They should have contacted me instead. I would have agreed to not be their basketball coach for a cool half-mil, and I'd be willing to negotiate.

The 5 PM CDT deadline has passed, and there's no report that Larry Eustachy filed an appeal. Every Des Moines area TV station is reporting that a buyout agreement has been reached, and a news conference will be held at 6 PM to announce Eustachy's departure. ESPN feels pretty confident about this too.

Let the rumors and wild speculation begin, I guess . . .

As of this writing (3:24 CDT), Larry Eustachy has about 90 minutes to file an appeal if he wants to fight for his job at Iowa State. Sources are telling ESPN that Eustachy is fairly certain he's going to be fired no matter what. My hunch is that he's trying to negotiate some sort of severance package, which he is going to find difficult, since at this opint he has very little leverage against the university. Even though a survey commissioned by ESPN found that 67% of people familiar with the case thought Eustachy should keep his job, the jockocracy remains unmoved. Maybe even Larry knows it's a lost cause at this point; fighting his firing would only delay his team's progress, hurting the people he least wants to hurt: his players. Don't be surprised if he just gives up, takes whatever ISU offers him, and looks for another job--which he certainly will find.

Terry Carroll of the University of Denver (formerly of Iowa's Indian Hills Community College, where he won back-to-back national titles, and later of Eustachy's staff) is still the early, sentimental pick to take over the ISU program, but there's a fine coach on staff already: Bob Sundvold, who had considerable success coaching the Kangaroos of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (which, by the way, has a gorgeous campus). Time will tell--but not much time. Eustachy may have only 88 minutes and counting.

After what we've been through in the last week, it's nice to read a story about a college coach whose current problems only involve broken bones.

Well, not nice, exactly, but you know what I mean.

A piece I wrote last September. --mh

Ever see something that pretty much ruined your whole day?

Happened to me on a very recent trip to Chicago. OK, I mean it was on Friday, on a trip to visit chief "why don't you write more often?" nag Mike Scott. After Paula and I spent an hour traveling about 6 miles on the Edens Expressway (leave it to us to time our trip to arrive at the height of rush hour) we turned off on Irving Park Road and I was pointing out all the various ethnic mini-neighborhoods to my lovely bride. That's when I saw it: an otherwise innocent-looking blllboard on the side of a 3-story builiding.

So what was so horrible about it, you ask? Nothing much. Just three words, in Spanish: CLAMATO Y CERVEZA.

"Y CERVEZA" I had no trouble figuring out, even though I don't even speak menu Spanish. It means "AND BEER." But, for the life of me, I was hoping "CLAMATO" meant something in Spanish that it doesn't in English.

(For the benefit of the uninitiated: Clamato is a registered tradmark of the Mott's Corporation for its clam-and-tomato-juice beverage. You read that right. Clam juice and tomato juice mixed together in a bottle. It smells like the laundry basket at the Red Lobster after a brutal Saturday night.)

Any hopes that there was a secret Mexican snack called "CLAMATO" faded when I got close enough to get a good look at the picture on the billboard. There it was: a lager glass filled with a red-orange liquid with a foamy white head on top, with a great big bottle of Clamato sitting next to it. They were suggesting that Clamato and beer was really something worth trying.

Frankly, I doubt it.

I am willing to grant that the flavor of Clamato would be greatly improved by mixing it with almost anything: beer, cheap vodka (Bloody Mary the Clamshucker?), stale coffee, kerosene, concrete, maybe even Diet Coke. But I cannot think of a beer worthy of the Clamato treatment. Not even Old Style that had been left in the back window of a '67 Impala for the better part of a Texas summer would be improved by the admixture of liberal amounts of Clamato.

Honestly, have you ever tasted ANY beverage and said, "Know what this is missing? Clams. And not only that, but tomatoes too."

The whole "CLAMATO Y CERVEZA" debacle raises a number of questions, all of them troubling. Did Mott's marketing department cook up this idea themselves? Or were they responding to an already-existing trend in the community? Who the heck ever got the bright idea for "CLAMATO Y CERVEZA" in the first place? Was it a fraternity initiation prank?

Even more disturbing is the thought that, somewhere out there, somebody's got the job of Brand Manager for Clamato. Somebody out there devotes his or her life to the promulgation of a fluid (sorry, but I CANNOT call it a "beverage") that sounds like the result of poor industrial sanitation practices. When I ponder things like that, I rejoice that I opted out of corporate America.

Mostly what I can't figure out, though, is why this sign was in Spanish. I mean, it was obviously in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood, but still! Is there something about Hispanic culture which would make the thought of "CLAMATO Y CERVEZA" less disgusting? If I'd walked into one of the
neighborhood bars and asked for "un Clamato y cerveza, por favor," could I even GET it? I will admit to having been in a bar or 3 in my day (hey, I was in a band), and I've never seen a bottle of Clamato in and amongst the tipples offered.

What did they do? Have a big, long meeting at which the Clamato Ayatollah and the Assistant Vice President for Mollusk By-Products brainstormed ways to get people to consume a substance nobody in their right mind would drink straight? Did they settle for beer because they cynically assumed that beer drinkers would guzzle just about anything? Did they target the Hispanic market because, at least that way, Customer Service wouldn't be able to read the letters of complaint from gullible dyspeptic beer drinkers? Or was this just a random combination of flavors? Because, hey, I can DO that!

In fact, I DID that, last night, when I couldn't sleep. I just could NOT imagine a worse combination than Clamato and beer. But that didn't stop me from trying. Here's my marketing pitch for some taste sensations you will NOT soon be seeing at your local Quik Trip:

DILLIGATE--For years, professional sports teams have been relying on Gatorade to keep their players' stamina up during games. But a couple years ago, trainers for the Philadelphia Eagles began to swear by the powers of pickle juice. (No, I am NOT making that up.) The debate over the best sports drink rages on, but I say, "Why choose if you don't have to?" Well, now you DON'T have to! Now there's DILLIGATE, the only sports drink to combine the power of Gatorade AND pickle juice! You'll love the way DILLIGATE combines the sharp, vinegary tang of pickle juice with the vague,
lugubrious lemon-lime flavor of Gatorade. And boy, it sure is green . . .

DR. PEPPERONI--Hey, who doesn't love pizza and an ice-cold soda? But sometimes a hot, floppy, greasy slice of pizza just doesn't fit into today's busy lifestyles. Well, rejoice, pizza fans: Now there's DR. PEPPERONI. It combines that cool, "what is it?" flavor of Dr. Pepper that we all know and love with the finest herbal oils, tomato puree, chunks of real onion and garlic, aged Parmesan cheese, and essence of the finest pepperoni imported from Italy. It's a portable pizza party!

And, just in case the Assistant Vice President for Mollusk By-Products happens to read this website, here's why I think I can do a better job than your current Clamato pimp:

CLAMBUNCTIOUS--What do you get when you combine the smooth flavor of cream soda with salt pork, potatoes, and clams? CLAMBUNCTIOUS, the world's first chowder-flavored soda. Try it today with a big fistful of crackers! CLAMBUNCTIOUS--It's like Boston in a bottle!

"CLAMATO Y CERVEZA." Sheesh. Why do I get the feeling last night was not the only night I'll be terrorized by the thought of that sludge?

Sunday, May 04, 2003


Hey, it's almost vacation time, and I do have some Illinois readers, so I thought I'd help you all plan ahead. I gotta say, the burgers in Wisconsin are better than they are anyplace else I've ever lived, so forthwith, here's my annotated burgliography:

1. Kopp's. The mack daddy of Wisconsin burgers. Big, oniony, and juicy. I don't know anybody who could eat a Kopp's double cheeseburger; the thing must weigh a pound and a half. The frozen custard there is also excellent, but the fries are total duds, limp and soggy. I usually skip the fries and just get a burger and a malt--but I only let myself go to Kopp's 2 or 3 times a year.

2. George Webb. (Ironically enough, they've no Webb site.) These 24-hour greasy spoons are all over the place in southeastern Wisconsin. They've got a full menu, but I've never gotten past the double cheeseburger. It's skinny, unlike Kopp's, but it has the same excellent flavor. The fries are also better, but at Webb, you can get hashbrowns with your burger, which I prefer. Excellent soups, too.

3. Tom's Drive Ins. You'll have to head to Appleton or Green Bay for this place, where you'll get another good, basic "fast food" type burger. Or if you don't want a burger, they've got a huge menu--chicken about 3 or four different species of fish, salads, custard, the whole nine yards. Interestingly, this is the only place on this list where you can get a bratwurst, a meatless veggie burger, or popcorn.

4. Gilles Custard. Another place with giant burgers and good frozen custard. Definitely a notch above the next place on my list, but not a huge notch.

5. Culver's. If there isn't one near you now, just wait; there will be one opening soon. Good burgers, and the choice of American or Swiss cheese is a plus. Fries are excellent too, but the other places on this list are just better. I'm not fond of their custard--too sugary.

My old favorite burgers were at B-Bop's (Iowa and Nebraska; winner of my "tastes just like homemade" award) and Don & Millies in Nebraska. I never did find a burger I liked in Minneapolis, which, in my opinion, is probably the worst city in the country in which to find a good place to eat.

I look forward to your comments, since I know nothing inspires pointless Internet bickering like greasy food.

300 miles under the belt yesterday, and not one Ford Festiva. But I did see a Lincoln Mark VII, and, while I saw a Buick Skyhawk this morning, it wasn't moving, so it doesn't count.

Anyways, new to the list: a Mercury Capri, any generation. My dad had a '74 Capri, a lot like this, only his was copper-colored and didn't have racing stripes. It was definitely the coolest car he owned while we were growing up, but he didn't keep it very long. I think he got it when I was about 8 and sold it a year or two later. My senior year of high school I saw it in the parking lot of my school, which gave me pause. It looked great for a then 15-year-old car. I was driving a four-door Chevy Citation at the time (it was the official car of working-class high school kids with no mechanical aptitude), so it set off a serious envy attack. But, I got over it. Someday I'll have my cheap, sporty little two-door. After all, I'm married now, so I can afford the insurance . . .

There's a great background article in today's Des Moines Register about Larry Eustachy and his time in Ames. It reads like bascially all the signs of a serious problem were tehre if anybody wanted to see them.

Many voices in the jockocracy are lambasting Eustachy, saying that all he's doing is putting on an act to try to save his job. I happen to disagree, and if you go read the article, I think you will, too. It sounds like Eustachy is a classic case of a talented introvert in an extrovert's job. I oughta know, I'm one, too. I love people--I'm in a danged peculiar line of work if I don't--but I need time alone to let my mind wander and process what I've been doing.

I still think ISU would be making a mistake to fire him, but I'm pretty sure that's what they're going to do.