i am ashamed…

Posted in Miscellaneous on March 7, 2008 by brendanbourdage

…that i accidentally posted a picture of Clyde Drexler yesterday, when i meant to honor Buck Williams, his (slightly less) famous teammate…

so thanks to the walking/lumbering encyclopedia of arcane and useless sports information – also known as my roommate, kevin – i can now correct this error. 

it’s time for you to come out from Clyde’s shadow, Buck…although those glowing white spandex would be visible in or out of shadow…


and to my former roommates in georgia, DD1 and DD2 (troy and alex), i’m more than a little disappointed that all those weekends spent watching sports and hearing you two argue back and forth about which backup center for the arizona cardinals had a better college career have yielded NO suggestions for the countdown.  it’s truly a sad day when troy and alex have forgotten who played shooting guard for the 1988 denver nuggets, and where he went to college, and what he majored in, and who he was traded for in a three-team deal in 1991…(all events described in that last sentence are fictional, any resemblance to actual players and/or trades that troy and alex argued about while playing John Madden Football on hung-over saturday mornings is purely coincidental, or the product of the amount of random sports knowledge that has been stuffed between my ears, to the exclusion of important and worthwhile information, after living with DD1 and DD2).



Posted in Miscellaneous on March 6, 2008 by brendanbourdage

tonight’s channel 12 offering is “Bandidas”, starring penelope cruz and salma hayek.  vm__sy140_sx100_.jpg

and co-starring their corsets and tight pants.  because if i can say nothing else about this movie, it is historically accurate, and comes complete with training-to-be-bank-robbers montage, a scene where they practice their kissing on steve zahn, and dwight yoakam as the sage who trains the two in bank robbing.  i would write more about it, but i’m completely engrossed in the heartfelt we-used-to-hate-each-other-but-now-we’ve-come-to-respect-each-other scene between cruz and hayek.  seriously, i’m tearing up.

and i apologize for my reckless over-hyphenation in the last paragraph…and i promise to be more careful in the not-too-distant-future.  damn. 

but seriously, how many of you didn’t see that coming?

in baghdad news, our replacements are starting to roll in, and drinking from the fire hose.  it is an interesting crew, and makes me wonder how we looked to the group that we replaced.  we showed up with a bunch of Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Captains, many of whom had been out of the army for (what i thought was) a long time, maybe 3,4,5 years or so.  Enter the newest group of IRR officers, Majors this time, who have been out of the army, on average, 14-16 years, having left the army in 1992 or so.

i’m sure they’ll be able to help the team, but how deep are we digging when the folks we’re bringing in haven’t put on an army uniform since the Minnesota Twins won the world series?   

i guess this is as good a time as any to admit that i am a Twins fan, although when Dan Gladden’s mullet left, and took Dan Gladden with it, the magic went out of the team for me.  Steve Lombardozzi, anyone?  Dad?

so anyways, we’ll see how it goes with the new crew, and it’s hard for me not to selfishly be happy for their arrival, because it portends my departure.  portend might have a darker connotation than i was shooting for, given that i’ve been looking forward to leaving since i got here, bt i’ll allow it, because it’s my blog, and it gave me the opportunity to write this (i think) witty sentence).

i have to end with a caveat, about our countdown to leaving…as we will not know exactly when we’re leaving, and couldn’t share that information even if we had it, our countdown is more of a ballpark figure than an exact number to calculate our date of departure. (plus, even if we had a date, the odds of us doing the math properly in our over-caffeinated and over-power-pointed state is dubious).  so those of you planning to fly out and meet me when i land, to express your appreciation for my repeated attempts to amuse myself in a public forum, may have to revise your plans…

having said that, today is 52 – Buck Williams of the Portland Trail Blazers (from the eary 90’s).


the grind

Posted in Miscellaneous on February 24, 2008 by brendanbourdage

my theory was flawed.  i’ll admit it up front, and add a hope that i will never get a chance to test alternate 12-month deployment theories.

we are supposed to take our mid-tour leave somwhere in the middle four months of our tour.  go figure.  so, being the clever, system-out-smarting kind of guy that i believe i am (some evidence to the contrary, as you will soon discover) i pushed my leave to the very end of that period.  the logic was simple – if i could get to 8 months, and then return from leave around the 9-month mark, i would be coasting to re-deployment. 

flawed.  flawed.  flawed.

i came back from leave 3 weeks ago, and i have to say, it’s been the longest 3 weeks EVER. 

part of the problem is that about 3/4 of the people we arrived with will be leaving somewhere between 3 and 6 weeks before me and kevin. 

please step up and receive your complimentary kick in the face.  now go back to your desk and make another slide.

so as some of our friends are getting their bags packed, we are looking at 8 more weeks.  and i thought the army was always fair…

but, as my mom always says, this too shall pass.  and the weather is starting to warm up a bit (not that it was ever that cold, but i’m looking for something to be positive about, work with me…) so it could be worse.  we could be on a 15-month active duty tour, we could still be living in the roof-tar closet room, we could be in the air force.  just kidding about that last one.  but not really.

anyways, the countdown rolls on, although we wish we were in soccer midfielder territory instead of offensive linemen.

yesterday was 64 – Jim Burt of the New York Giants.  who wore cute little elbow pads to go with his 3-sizes-too-small jersey.  he said it was to keep defensive linemen from getting a hold of him.  i have my own theories.


could’ve been better…

Posted in Daily on February 10, 2008 by brendanbourdage

i’m officially back in the office now, and settled back into the soul-crushing routine of life in Baghdad, so i guess it’s time to share the high points of my vacation in Athens, and make snide, sarcastic comments about a culture that is different from mine.  but i promise it will be funny…

i’ll start with a quick list – Top Ten Things I Learned in Athens:

10) if Rick Astley or The Pet Shop Boys ever put together a comeback tour, it will start in Greece.

9) fanny packs never went out of style, they were all mailed to Greece.

8) if secondhand smoke were exportable, Greece would be the richest nation in the world.  seriously, the cooks are smoking while they prepare your food.

7)  putting a rope around a bunch of shapeless old rocks does NOT make them interesting, or worth 2 Euros to see, even if your city was the birthplace of one of the most storied civilizations in the history of the world.

6) putting the Acropolis on a huge sheer hill rising out of the middle of the city IS interesting, and it was free.

5) if you’re not yelling, you probably don’t really care.

4) ouzo is not an apertif, it is not a classic greek spirit, it is not a storied mediterranean libation…it is GROSS.  (in the interests of thorough scientific inquiry, i imbibed in small and large quantities, just to be sure).

3) the answer to “do you speak English?” is always “yes”, and is always a lie, as soon as you throw a “difficult” word like “train” or “bathroom” into a sentence…

2) Irish coffee in Athens – heavy on the Irish, light on the coffee.  delightful.

and the number one thing i learned after two weeks in Athens:

1) the sun never sets on stretch pants. 

i would love to now share pictures of my vacation with all of you, but due to bandwidth restrictions, i can’t upload.  boo on undersea cables being damaged. 

final thoughts:

– greece would be great for three or four days, but two weeks of living in the middle of the city was a bit hectic at times, given the greek penchant for smoking, speaking loudly, and driving their motor scooters on sidewalks. 

when modernizing the city, it is apparent that the city planners had two options:

1) widen the streets, paint lanes on them, and write traffic laws.

2) leave the streets chariot-width, give everyone a free motor scooter and a pair of stretch pants when they move in, and let pedestrians fend for themselves. 

three guesses which option they chose, and the first two don’t count…

so back to the grind, and counting down the days by choosing the most obscure sports figure to wear that number on each day.  today is 77 days left – Karl Mecklenburg of the Denver Broncos. 


greece, the vacation

Posted in Daily on January 17, 2008 by brendanbourdage

this is not another unexplainable absence from updating my blog.  my reason for not writing is solid this time.  i spent the 8 days immediately following my last post daydreaming about leave, and the next four days traveling to Athens, Greece, where i now find myself, sitting in a rented apartment, plowing through random bottles of greek wine, and listening to a supermix of miles davis, belly and moby.  kind of strange how music you never thought would mix merely needed the opportunity…

i am here with melissa, who i first met when she was handing out room keys at santa clara soccer camps in 2005.  she did such a fine job of ensuring all of the coaches had uncomfortable, painfully spartan rooms that i knew she would be an important person to befriend. 

after arriving last night, and while waiting for melissa to arrive and open the apartment, i found a bar called, simply, “handcrafted beer”.  obviously, i went in.  after some initial difficulty communicating with the bartender, she gave me a beer, and i sat down to wait.

just as i was finishing the first beer, another appeared, and the waitress assured me, “no money”… apparently i had impressed her with my huge backpack and inability to speak a single word of greek.  when i headed to the bar for a third beer, she asked me where i was from.  i answered “california”, which excited her, and she said, “ah! california!”  so i asked her if she had ever been to california, and she said, “no, it’s very nice!” 

i was confused, but impressed by her tight jeans and lip ring, so i smiled and went back to my table. 

for dinner, melissa and i headed to an italian restaurant called Ciao, and split a pizza.  ordering a beer proved complicated:

me: oh, you don’t have mythos, that’s ok, what kind of beer is aeschius: light, dark, etc?

waiter guy: i don’t know…it’s green.

me: ok, i’ll take one. 

turns out only the bottle was green, not the beer, which was a slight disappointment.  i thought maybe st. patrick’s came early in greece.  additionally, we were treated to the waiter’s opinion of america (you start wars everywhere, the balkans, etc..) and his opinion of us (you’re ok, though…)

point of order…if the balkans had been able to keep slobodan milosevic from massacring people, the US wouldn’t have cared.  plus, it was a NATO/UN mission.  but that seems to escape a lot of people, especially given recent US actions.  blaming the US is easy.

more to follow.  greece promises much to discuss.   


Mustache Five

Posted in Daily on January 4, 2008 by brendanbourdage

before even beginning this entry, credit must be given where it is due.  the idea of high-fiving someone while stating the reason for the high-five, i.e. “no-panties Five, Ms. Spears”, or “my-head-got-this-big-naturally Five, Mr. Bonds” was originally used in the TV Show “Scrubs”.  The proponent of the five is Dr. Todd Quinlan, known simply as “the Todd”.

toddfive.jpg (giving an “I Miss You Five”…)

given our strange fascination with facial hair (see the post “growing honor” in the Fort Riley category) which has been with us since we were just young pre-deployees at Ft. Riley, and our persistent recognition of outstanding beard and mustache prowess since then, it was only a matter of time before the “Mustache Five” was unleashed.  (note: none of the so-called “mustaches” grown by your favorite reservists-in-Iraq while in Kansas would have been deserving of a Mustache Five, except for maybe Kevin’s)

the Mustache Five is not just a concept, it has been carried out with unsuspecting air force majors, navy chiefs, and various and sundry contractors.  to their surprise and confusion, i might add.

point of order: it is OK to recognize a particularly notable milk mustache, but the term must be modified to reflect the slightly diminished stature – “Milk Mustache Five”…
even women (frida kohla in this case) can be worthy of a Mustache Five.

the Mustache Five does not even require physical contact.  i was watching an arabic news channel the other day, and they began interviewing an iraqi general.  needless to say, his mustache was impressive, and also needless to say, i gave him half of a Mustache Five, palm extended toward the TV.

in an effort to propogate the practice of recognizing tremendous whiskers, i offer the following examples of people who should be given the Mustache Five, whenever they may cross your path…

brimley_stache.jpg Oatmeal Five.

burt.jpg Smokey & the Bandit Five.

groucho_stache.jpg i’d-never-belong-to-a-club-that-would-have-me-as-a-member Five.

guzman_stache.jpg scary Five.

selleck_stache.jpg Magnum Five.

c3po_stache.jpg human-cyborg relations Five. (that one’s for you, Colin)

is this absolutely hilarious to kevin and me right now?  yes.  will it still be as funny in 4 months when we’re home?  unlikely.  so don’t be shy, give your civil-war-era mustachioed mailman a high-five today.

for more on the art of high-fiving, check out www.highfive.me.uk.  and thanks to them for the Todd picture.


short-attention-span theater

Posted in Daily on January 1, 2008 by brendanbourdage

far from letting the routine dull our senses, i find that we strive harder to invest even the most mundane discussion with some sort of intellectually stimulating content.  as the following will illustrate.

1) the scene: dinner yesterday.

the catalyst: i had just drunk a diet pepsi and a carton of soy milk in quick succession, and the inevitable mixing in my stomach was turning out to be somewhat uncomfortable.

the question: in a war between soy milk soymilk.jpgand diet pepsi, spot_dietpepsi.jpg who would be victorious?

the discussion: in order to evaluate the martial prowess of each food product, we found it helpful to pick a celebrity most like each one, and then transfer the results of that battle to the actual conflict in my stomach.  for diet pepsi, we chose Iggy Pop. 

diet pepsi is healthy (relatively speaking) but not in the wholesome way you would associate with a fruit juice, for instance.  no, diet pepsi is more like that guy who is really skinny, but only because he is strung out, not because he is fit and trim.  hence the choice of Iggy Pop, who doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him, but won’t be finishing a marathon any time soon.

soy milk was more difficult, because the healthiness had to go hand-in-hand with the slightly-less-than-heterosexual nature of drinking milk made from beans.  therefore, a compromise – the obvious athleticism of a figure skater, and the conclusions that are frequently drawn about men who wears skin-tight singlets and glitter.  i give you the soy champion, Brian Boitano.

the discussion has not progressed past the choice of respective champions, but will no doubt engender lively debate for the next few days.

having uncovered the finer points of the ages-old diet-pepsi vs. soy milk debate, we moved on to lunch today, where a new opportunity to affect the world in a positive way presented itself. 

2) the scene: lunch today

the catalyst: discussion of a drinking game known as “Thunderdome”, which Tom was introduced to during a glorious weekend at Notre Dame.

the question: could the “Thunderdome” drinking game become a viable system of governance?

the discussion: first, the rules of Thunderdome.  imagine, if you will, that an argument has broken out at a party.  not your average, everyday squabble, but a dispute of epic proportions, with far-reaching consequences of global magnitude – for the sake of this forum, we’ll say you and your best friend disagree on the best candy ever…you, being right, say Peanut M&Ms, while your friend, being wrong, says – well, it doesn’t matter, they didn’t say Peanut M&Ms.

as the volume of the argument rises, so does the chant from the surrounding crowd… “Thunderdome…Thunderdome…Thunderdome!” thunderdome.jpgat which point your fate has been sealed.  you will resolve your differences by Thunderdome. 

Thunderdome is quite simple.  you pound one cup of beer ever minute until one of you pukes.  puker=loser.  the results of Thunderdome are legally and pecuniarily binding.  it is black and white, does not require excessive legal histrionics (are there any other kind?), and at the end, everyone is drunk. 

the real meat of the discussion came when the implications of such a system of government began to be revealed.  being a good lawyer would require an entirely new set of abilities.  that guy you found passed out on the floor of the frat house every saturday morning in college?  the new johnny cochrane.  the guy you knew in the army who was the last man standing at Oktoberfest?  president of the united states.  lindsey lohan? still a mess (it’s a great system, but it can’t work miracles…)

of course, there would have to be weight classes for lawyers at each level of legal appeal…you couldn’t have a 300-pound district attorney bringing his case all the way to the supreme court without a real challenge.  i believe in checks and balances, after all. 

something to think about as we near the 2008 elections, and are force-fed endless debates and nonsense about “new directions” and “the time for a change”.  take a moment to ponder hillary clinton and john mccain, beer foam spilling down the front of their carefully chosen neutral-but-self-confident business attire, finishing a red plastic cup of beer, slamming it down on the podium, and yelling, “what now??!!??  debate that!!!”