Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Phonograph X-Posed!

This blog is not into the muckraking journalism style of Woodward and Bernstein, or even really into "journalism" in general. But there comes a time every once in a while where you need to write an Expos-A. This happened recently to Pun City, when it read that Phonograph's AJ "Ronk" Romens denies all knowledge of the Sconnie-Coastie debate.

The truth is, Phonograph not only knew of the debate, but was personally embroiled in the debate. In 2002, Romens was enrolled in a American Jewish History course at UW-Madison. Also enrolled in this class was a Jewish New Yorker named "Chuck." Chuck was the type of guy that assumed he was going to get an A in the course just because he was Jewish. This is a tolerable assumption (albeit incorrect), as long as one does not disrupt class or ramble about topics unrelated to class. As it turned out, Chuck did tend to disrupt class and go on pointless diatribes. Beyond this, Chuck would also argue with the Teaching Assistant.

At this point, you may be asking yourself, "What does this have to do with the Coastie debate?" That would be a fair question. Well, here is where the plot begins to thicken. At the end of one of his long-winded, pointless comments, with practically the entire class thinking he was a complete dolt, Chuck looks straight at Romens and concludes his remarks with "If you keep looking at me like that, I am going to go over there and punch you in the face."

This is clearly not an acceptable reaction in any case, however this was especially perplexing given that Romens was not looking at Chuck any differently than he might look at an oak tree or a fridge. Or possibly a college student falling asleep in discussion class.

Naturally, AJ's response was a stunned, "What!?" At this point, the Teaching Assistant stepped in and cut the turf war short, before Romens could take this punch. If this wasn't bizarre enough, later in the same class period, Chuck decided to talk about the disproportionate amount of out-of-state students that live in Madison's private dorms, the State Sider and the Towers. To punctuate his remarks, Chuck briefly mentioned how this group of students often are segregated, then pointed to Romens, exclaiming "And this guy knows what I'm talking about!"

At this point, Romens again issued a denial, stating "No." Chuck then accusingly said to Romens, "You knew, you knew." Romens deferred to the TA, throwing his arms up in an exasperated stance. The TA asked that both Chuck and Romens remain after class. After the discussion period had ended, the TA asked if there was something going on between them. Chuck claimed that he didn't have a problem with Romens, and AJ explained that he didn't even know this guy.

Unfortunately, there were no more flashpoints in the Chuck-Romens rivalry, only a few unfriendly glances. Rumor has it that Romens' insistence on bringing free weights and drinking motor oil in each class curtailed any ideas Chuck may have had of revisiting the unpleasantries. After a time, Chuck stopped going to class, and the greatest rivalry in Jewish-American history sputtered to its end.

The result, however, was Romens decisively declaring his allegiance to the Sconnies in the debate, as well as a lifelong disdain for the Coastie extremists like Chuck.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

McDonald's: This Site's Rankin' It

Most people don't know about this next fast food chain, but that's okay. This blog has got you covered.

McDonald's is a fairly large chain of restaurants based in Oak Brook, IL. The first McDonald's restaurant was in Des Plaines, IL. Apparently there are 20 McDonald's establishments within 16 miles of this blog's home base, so it's possible there's one near you. It would seem that McDonald's is in 61 different countries, so it's also possible there's one near you if you're in, say, Oman.

Pros: Quite a few here. First, McDonald's is somewhat of a measuring stick for other fast food companies. Besides this, locations are everywhere, making it convenient to grab some McDonald's whenever you want (especially since many now offer 24-hour drive thrus). McDonald's burger menu is pretty solid, and their restaurants are usually pretty clean. Even though their burgers have a lot of extra condiments on them, it's a good combination and it's pretty palateable. This blog's chicken correspondent aptly describes McNuggets as "a classic fast food staple." A double cheeseburger is only 1 cent more than a regular cheeseburger, so that's a nice upgrade. McDonald's offers USA Today for sale if you want to read the paper while you eat, and many locations will have couches or other comfortable seating. For this site's money, not much is going to beat the Shamrock Shake when they offer it. An advantage that is unfortunate to even have to list is this: because McDonald's offers a lot of salad and fruit options, it's at least conceivable to drag your dieting friends there. Also a place that everyone wanted to go as a kid, so it's a good spot to bring kids. Playlands are definitely the best set up in fast food. McDonald's is the only fast food burger spot to offer Orange Hi-C, so that's a plus.

Cons: Also quite a few here. Because they have so many locations, service is erratic. You really have to feel out a particular location's service for yourself. Variations exist on friendliness, efficiency, product offerings, happy meal toys, and fry saltiness. This blog even knows of a location whose burgers are extremely prone to having grease drip off of the burger (not an altogether negative thing, but annoying when eating in a car). A very obnoxious con for McDonald's is their reactiveness. Because they're so huge and try to appeal to everyone at all times, bad ideas happen a lot. Among these include the decision to stop offering "super sizing," and starting up all of their health food garbage, like salad, fruit, and some parfait junk. This while very good items like the Big N' Tasty and the McRib fall by the wayside. Other than this, their apple and cherry pies are now baked instead of the delicious fried options they used to have. In order to standardize and save money, McDonald's stopped offering chocolate ice cream. The chocolate chip cookies McDonald's used to have were fantastic, but for some reason they are gone. Because of all the new healthy options, the extra value meal lineup was revamped, dropping this blog's favorite "2 Cheeseburgers" option. Single cheeseburger is overpriced if it's only 1 cent cheaper than a double. McDonald's always is searching for new good offerings, and may not give some ideas a fair shake. If someone likes a new McDonald's offering, there's half a chance that it won't be around next time they go there. A disadvantage is the afforementioned Playlands. Because of these, lots of kids are around, which isn't the greatest thing to have while you're eating. Lots of germs are present, and occasionally the kids are crying or in the way. Beverage options are not good at all. Regular Coca-Cola is the only non-diet dark soda offered. Thankfully Mello Yello and Orange Hi-C are there, but Coke is not the soda to have as your only non-diet dark cola. Especially when Powerade seems to be occupying a dark cola dispenser. Bad news.

Overall Ranking: 6.5 Fryers. It's a good spot, can't beat the convenience, thankfully they haven't wiped out the cheeseburger yet. Hard to maintain service consistency across so many locations, so this blog almost gives a pass to that. Bringing back chocolate ice cream and offering another dark soda would really help out their ranking. If McDonald's reversed their health initiative (this blog realizes the chances of this are low, but who'd have thought they'd go healthy 20 years ago?), brought back fried pies, backed off on the exercising stuff, and promoted super sizing once again, they could have a huge boost in ranking. The upside is so great, because after all, this is the place that everyone wanted to go to when they were a kid.

Burger-only Ranking: 7.0 fryers. Any time a burger has mustard and onions on it, and this blog doesn't deem it necessary to special order, it is a good thing. This blog thinks that the reason people go to McDonald's initially is because of the burgers, so it's hard to knock them. That said, they could take off the onions and mustard, or at least take less than 5 minutes to handle such a request, and be in better shape. They could also lower the price of the single cheeseburgers since there's likely some room for doing so.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Cardinal sin and L To The Izzo

Two big upsets from Saturday, you probably already heard about them: 1. Hawaii blows out Michigan State in Honolulu. 2. UC-Irvine beats Stanford in Palo Alto. Both of these were big-time resume builders for the underdogs.

Interestingly enough, this blog saw all four of these teams play in person last year. Michigan State's loss at Wisconsin in the regular season; Hawaii's WAC Tournament 1st round loss to UTEP in Reno, NV; UC-Irvine's 1st round win vs. Idaho in Anaheim, CA; and the Stanford Cardinal's PAC-10 semifinal loss to Washington in Los Angeles, CA. Actually, the last 3 teams (UC-Irvine, Hawaii, and Stanford) were all witnessed in a 3-day span (March 9-11).

This blog doesn't remember a great deal from last year (and questions its relevance), but does recall UC-Irvine guard Aaron Fitzgerald looking relatively unstoppable in the Idaho game. Maybe not as unstoppable as this blog was in the halftime bungee-cord-shooting contest, but still pretty good. Stanford probably knew this going in, and held Fitzgerald to just 9 points, but his 7 assists show that he was able to find Big West pre-season All-Conference teammate Ross Schraeder enough for 19 points in the 79-63 win. The Anteaters were picked to finish 6th in the Big West this year, while Stanford was picked to finish 2nd in the Pac-10, and 14th in the nation by Sports Illustrated.

The lesson this blog takes from the Irvine-Stanford game is that UC-Irvine has been significantly underestimated. The Anteaters return 3 starters from last season, and 2 of them are pre-season All-Conference. This blog predicts at worst a 3rd-place finish, and Irvine might make some noise, especially with Colorado, Santa Clara, and Pepperdine on its non-conference slate.

The lesson out of the Michigan State game is nothing new: Tom Izzo is a whiner. This blog gives Izzo all the credit in the world for going into Honolulu to play Hawaii, not many big-time programs will do that (probably less after Saturday's game). But after having 4 starters cramp up badly enough to exit the game, Michigan State was not conditioned well enough to earn a victory. This is after Paul Davis had cramped up during the NCAA tournament last season, which should have been a giant red flag to Izzo and the MSU training staff not to let that happen again. Hawaii's fans booed MSU's Shannon Brown when he went down with cramps and caused an extended break in the action. Izzo took issue with this, as he does with just about any other action that might possibly be construed as a possible slight towards him or the Spartans. This time Izzo went as far as to disingenuously give credit to Hawaii, and claim that the booing shouldn't be the story, (knowing full well his comments would have the opposite effect). The media is always more than willing to patronize Izzo, probably because it makes for an enticing sound byte. This is a tired practice, and this blog is eagerly anticipating the day when the wins stop coming for Izzo and this classless behavior is no longer tolerated.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

John Wilkes Ticket Booth

Here is a story from this blog's Thursday. Consider it a way to blend in with every other blog in the world. On lunch, this site went to the Bradley Center to purchase one of its relatives a birthday gift, tickets to a Milwaukee Bucks game. Keep in mind that this blog usually has to debate whether it's worth putting a dime in a meter down there because it only should take about 6 minutes to get in and get out.

Alright, somewhat rocky start getting down there and not being able to find the Bradley Center (construction has knocked out the 2 exits with the easiest Bradley Center access). But, this site found it. The Bradley Center has a lane near the entrance with 15-minute parking, designed for ticket purchasing patrons. Though none of these 15-minute spots were open, this site actually found a spot on an adjacent road right next to the BC, and when it went to plug the meter, this website found that it had 1:01 left on it. So this was really awesome, free parking. Walked up to the arena, there's one window open, 2 people in line. About normal, maybe not having people in line, but acceptable for 11:30 AM.

The guy behind the window is pretty slow, but not horribly so, and the first person maybe takes 3 minutes to get his tickets, fine. At this point, the 2nd person in line goes up to the window. It's a middle-aged woman, wearing sweatpants, so obviously not working today, and as this blog would soon found out, completely in no hurry.

She goes up to the window, asks if there's any seats left for tonight's Michael Flatley show. Key words: 1. Tonight, 2. Flatley. This, one could let slide though; if you want to go to that show, go for it, and if you want to get seats the day of the show, also fine. The goal if attempting such a stunt is to be discreet though, since you know you will be in line with sports fans that probably don't share your taste in Irish dance.

This woman was not choosing to take the discreet route. In fact, she also chose to forego the sane route. She wanted a seat, for cheap, the day of the show, with a guarantee that no one would be in front of her, blocking her view. Oh yeah, and it had to be close. This, combined with the senile old man behind the counter, collaborated to waste a solid 17 minutes of this website's life. Various topics discussed by the two were: 1. The length of a football field and its relation to her seat. 2. Where the basketball court is in the Bradley Center. (How can you not know where the court is in a stadium!? "It's probably in the northeast corner in this stadium, no need to surround it with seats." Beyond this, you're not going to be watching basketball, so this fact is almost completely irrelevant. Then again, maybe Michael Flatley's Celtic Pride is now a basketball team). 3. The likelihood of a railing being in front of her seat. 4. Who of the crazy unemployed woman, or the guy who does this for a living, is a better judge of a good seat and its sightlines. 5. How hard it is to hear the old man from behind the glass. 6. How she wished she could point to the diagram instead of having the glass obstructing her. 7. Whether or not there is a service charge (Why go to the stadium? Why?)

Now this was mildly amusing for the first 5 minutes, but after that, it really just grated on this blog, because this site literally needed about 25 seconds to place its order, and this dumbass was impeding Pun City. This blog had not previously seen them open up another line during a non-event time, but they actually did. So this blog never did get the honor of having the senile dude "help" it out. And, sure enough, the transaction with the girl that opened a new line took about 45 seconds, including ticket printing and paying by credit card. This blog now honestly believes this woman was some type of alien on a mission to annoy the crap out of the world. At one point late in her discussion, after she asked to see the seating chart for the 4th time, this blog jerked its head skyward in a classic "You've got to be kidding this blog" pose. She must have seen the reflection on the glass, because she turned around and said, "I'm sorry." At that point, no apology was going to undo the 15 minutes of pain this site had endured. Most likely it was only because the line had grown to 4-deep that this blog is not still there. So, according to the 0:44 left on the parking meter, what normally takes about 4 minutes, and could possibly take about 2 minutes; had amazingly taken a whopping 17 minutes, all chewing away at this site's limited lunch hour. Waiting in line for NBA tickets. It's FAN-tastic.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

An Upsetting Post, With Pun-ful Results

This blog's got a lot to cover tonight, so let's start slowly.

First off, just after this blog reported Bowling Green's upset over Virginia Tech on Saturday, a much bigger upset happened last night. Sam Houston State, picked to finish 4th in the Southland Conference, went into Missouri and beat the Big 12 school on their home court, 80-77. Missouri was picked to finish 8th in the Big 12, however last season the Big 12 was 3rd in the nation in Conference RPI. The Southland Conference finished 26th (out of 31 conferences) in the same measure.

For some additional perspective, last year in the Southland Conference, the biggest non-conference victory was Texas-Arlington's win over San Diego, who finished 120th in team RPI. Missouri will most likely end up finishing around 75th in team RPI this year, the average Big 12 school finished 82nd last season, an average that would have been significantly higher were it not for abyssmal Baylor (282nd). For the record, Missouri finished 84th last year.

Also of note Monday night was Air Force's victory over the ACC's Miami Hurricanes. The combination of this loss and Virginia Tech's shows that the ACC may not be as deep as expected this season.

This blog should live up to its name at least a little today, so here's some stale puns to end this post with a whimper:

After getting stuck at a railroad crossing, Crystal was late for work. She found that she had to train herself to leave earlier.

Or perhaps to make tracks earlier. This blog is always the conductor in a symphony of puns. Puns by the shovelful, that's the stone-coal reality. A "L" of a way to end the string, and this blog was just gaining steam.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Hokies Bowled Over - To The MACs

Some college basketball news for you from over the weekend. After losing to Western Carolina on Friday, Bowling Green came back to beat Virginia Tech 72-71 on Saturday. This coming on a last-second shot, tipped in by a VT player, off of a broken play. Any time a MAC school goes into an ACC school's arena and comes back with a victory is monumental, but this was much more stunning than if MAC powers Miami (OH) or Ohio had accomplished the same feat. Bowling Green was picked by the MAC media to finish last in the MAC's East Division, and 11th out of 12 teams overall. (Last season BGSU was 3rd in the Division, and 8th out of 13 teams).

Virginia Tech was predicted to finish 8th out of the 12-team ACC. Last season, Virginia Tech finished 4th in conference. The MAC was 9th in conference RPI, sending only one team to the NCAA tournament (Ohio). The ACC was 1st in conference RPI, earning 5 NCAA tournament bids, including eventual National Champion North Carolina.

Another neat part of this victory is that Bowling Green has a great logo. Always good to see a logo like that get a big W. It gives this blog a good excuse to post a neat-looking logo too.

Monday, November 07, 2005

CSTV: A Completely Sweet Time Viewing

A fairly new TV station to the game is College Sports Television, or CSTV. For this blog, it's especially new, since Dish Network just added it to their Nation's Top 120 package. Since Pun City's a huge fan of college sports, this was good news.

So far, this blog has only watched a few shows on CSTV, but they were exactly what this site looks for in a TV show. The Mountain West Conference Media Slam and Conference USA Media Slam were both fantastic previews of their upcoming basketball seasons. Any time mid-major basketball conferences get 1.5 hours of consecutive coverage, this blog is going to be watching.

Another cool part of the show was that Seth Davis was in the house interviewing all of the coaches. Davis is a decent reporter, this site likes that he's a college basketball specialist, and relatively knowledgeable. Unfortunately, he's another ACC grad (Duke, 1992) that inevitably brings some east-coast bias. This blog supposes that going to an ACC school would automatically make a student a college basketball fanatic, so the disproportionate amount of ACC alumni analyzing college basketball at least makes sense.

Another awesome show CSTV airs is Total Access, where a college team's lives are chronicled. It's always pretty cool to see relatively famous athletes living in either cramped campus housing or cramped and unkempt off-campus housing. Probably the coolest part is that they'll show multiple teams on different campuses, for instance while in Palo Alto, CA for Stanford, they visited the women's volleyball, football, and men's basketball teams. Interestingly enough, the living arrangements were comparable across all sports.

A cool piece of information this blog learned from watching CSTV is that Notre Dame's hockey team has gone back to gold helmets for this year, for the first time since the 1970s. They look pretty slick, and re-establish a unique identity for the team. So check those out if you get the chance.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Stupidity Killed The Radio Star

Today, this blog is commenting on a radio "hoax" that is somehow still in process, but fooling nobody. A Milwaukee radio station is the proprietor, however this site will not celebrate the station, merely forewarn other would-be radio "pranksters" that this is a poor idea. Well, perhaps an average idea being very poorly executed.

Alright, the first part of the "prank" is that the station had a $10,000 prize to give away. This is reasonable, radio stations have "nutty" giveaways like this all the time. The second part was the morning Shock-Jock wanting to give it all away in cash, so that they could hype up the contest by showing what $10,000 actually looks like. This blog could realistically see this happening, especially since one of the pre-requisites of being a local radio DJ is high stupidity.

This is where the "hoax" begins and the believeability goes out the window. Much like a Dick Tracy villain, the shock-jock decides to send his intern Big Loaf to cash the check and procure the money. As you might imagine, Big Loaf is known for two things: Obesity and Incompetence. So he was a natural choice for a job that, if screwed up, has major consequences.

In case it was not stupid already, this is where the story gets completely ridiculous. In a stunning turn of events, Big Loaf gets the money, but on his way back to the station, he gets into a 1-car accident (that suspiciously, no one sees). Because Mr. Loaf is such a genius (and is unharmed), he decides to go walk to a pay phone for help. This is especially believeable because no one has a cell phone these days and surely no one would have stopped if they saw a disabled motorist. In another spectacle of brainpower, Big Loaf decides he doesn't want to carry that much cash on his person, so he should just carefully "hide" the $10,000 under the seat.

This blog wasn't listening at the time this part of the yarn was unfolding, but it surmises that this turn of events was being broadcast on the air, encouraging potential thieves to seek out the car and claim the prize. This site would additionally guess that he was purported to be in a station-issued vehicle with giant logos on the side of the van, screaming "loot me."

Anyway, predictably, once Fat Loaf gets back to the car, the money is astonishingly all gone and replaced with a note. The note, which looks to be written in Lazy DJ Scrawl font, says "I've Got Your 10 GRAND...I'll Be IN CONTACT"

Seriously, does anyone leave a note anymore? Which 1st Grade class would fall for this?

Well, naturally, because of his lapse in judgment (in cashing the $10,000, unfortunately not for starting this moronic prank), the head shock-jock gets suspended indefinitely at this point. The story gains added credibility when the rest of the station's DJs go on and on about the topic throughout the day instead of talking about ways radio stations could recoup $10,000, like canning multiple DJs.

Completely insulting every listener's intelligence, the morning show awoke today to find that their website had been "hacked into" by the crook, and now all that is displayed is a copy of the ransom note. When they lost their last $10,000, the station must have fired their IT department, because the site is inexplicably still facing this predicament. Amazing how this "petty thief" also is a very skilled computer hacker. Chicks must totally dig him.

Perhaps the only funny part of this test of this blog's patience occured this morning, after "the culprit" called the station using a tinfoil voice muffler. The remaining DJs, unsatisfied with the initial call, appealed for the guy to call back. Most likely because they couldn't find someone to join in with this fiasco, they actually took calls from listeners at this point (Uh, guys, this is where you get your buddy on his cell to call in from inside the building, or better yet, have the sound tech act like he's calling from the outside). A priceless line was delivered by a caller, who stated "When are you going to quit the charade?"

Very timely call, and it garnered a realistically pissed-off comment of "When we say 'Nobody call in,' don't call in!" from one of the DJs. Her comment should have been, "Come on, we've still got ourselves fooled." Certainly no one else is.