10:30 AM: Hey there, football fans, good morning to you. The remaining games of week thirteen are drawing nigh, and I must do my bloggerly duty of setting out the Virtual Couch™ and assorted other virtual furniture before embarking on my project of the day, installing the base for our new mantel. It is certainly a good day to be inside the house working, as we've got snow coming down outside with sleet and freezing rain in the forecast as well. (So much for getting the X-Mas lights up today.)

My day would be looking really nice, truth be told, were it not for the inconvenient fact of the Stupid Patriots bumping my Jets off the television for a second straight week. Now, last week was fun. The Jets were playing early and we hadn't been out to a bar to see a game in quite some time (the Palazzo in Vegas being the notable exception) so what the hell, sure, let's go out for a change. This week? Eh, no. Don't really want to spend the money to go out two straight weeks, I've got work to do at home, and I don't like going out for late games anyhow. So it's looking like we're going to miss seeing the Jets romp over the Broncos in the Meadowlands today. Again: Stupid. Fucking. Patriots.

In fantasy news, I got reamed eight ways from Thursday on the Thanksgiving games. I faced Lendale White (106 RuYd, 2 TD) and Chris Johnson (125 RuYd, 2 TD) in my work league and am now trailing 56 - 17 in that matchup, which I need to win in order to have a shot at the division title and first-round bye in the playoffs. I faced White, Larry Fitzgerald (65 ReYd, 2 TD) and the Titans Defense (10 PA, DTD, Int, 2 DFR, 4 sacks) in my frat league and now trail 53 to 4. The only road to the post-season in that league is to win my division (the wildcard is already clinched) and the guy I'm tied with for that honor has a substantial lead in his game. My opponent in Angelos' league also had the Titans D (good for 34 points in that ridiculous scoring system). I'm tied for the division lead in that league as well, and have a shot at the wildcard if I slip, but every win is precious with only one game remaining after this week. Lastly, I trail Furious 35 to 0 in the TwoGlasses league. He started McPuke, who of course decided to bounce back with a 4 TD performance this week. Not that I'm really in contention in that league. Assuming four teams make the playoffs (?) it would take an act of FSM for me to squeak into a wildcard spot. In fact, I may already have been eliminated for all I know. So yeah, a lot to grumble about on the fantasy front.

Our lineup for today: At 1:00 PM on FOX it's Giants at 'Skins, while across the dial on CBS we have Colts at Browns. (If you'd told me a year ago I'd be opting to watch the Giants over the Colts, I'd have laughed in your face.) At 4:00 PM on CBS it's the aforementioned Stupid Fucking Patriots hosting the Steelers. I called this one a Lock for the Pats, but I would be ecstatic to be proven wrong. Tonight, Da Bears play Da Vikes in Da Completely Uninterested Bowl. Tomorrow night, ESPN strikes ratings gold with Jaguars at Texans. Not the most exciting slate of games. The Giants game will be fun, but after that it's all downhill.

Know what though? It's almost December. That means fantasy playoffs and the NFL's stretch run towards the post-season. So let's just consider this the lull before the really kick-ass storm that is surely to come.

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[2008.11.29 - 11:20 A.M.]

My apologies for the paucity of posts; I am preoccupied with a plethora of pending projects.

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Hey all. Tracy and I are up in Reading, MA at my mother's place. We'd been planning to attend the Melrose vs. Wakefield football game, but had to scratch that as my services are required here. Specifically, I have been tasked with carving the turkey my mom's cooking before we bring it over to my aunt's house for dinner. This, despite the fact that I do not have the carving gene that is supposed to be part of that option package that comes with the Y chromosome.

Hope you and yours are having an excellent Thanksgiving, wherever you are. Have fun stuffing your faces. Oh, and please consider this your Couch™ for today's NFL action. (We should be home for the night game.)

Update: Speaking of Thanksgiving football, can we start a petition to revoke Detroit's "Featured Team" status? Oh, wait - somebody already did. (Have to call a 15-yard "Improper Use of Thesaurus" penalty on the author for his choice of "exorable" to describe Detroit. Yes, the Lions are pitiful; but not in that sense of the word.)

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This meme actually is quite silly, but hey, all the kool kidz are doing it, and I'm just such a follower:

  1. Witness Protection Program Name (motherís & fatherís middle names): "Ann John"

  2. NASCAR Name (first name of your motherís dad, fatherís dad): "Joseph Antone"

  3. Star Wars Name (the first 2 letters of your last name, first 4 letters of your first name): "Sajose"

  4. Detective Name (favorite color, favorite animal): "Blue Bird" (I would just make it "Bluebird")

  5. Soap Opera Name (middle name, city where you live): "Thomas Weatogue"

  6. Superhero Name (2nd favorite color, favorite alcoholic drink, optionally add "THE" to the beginning): "The Black Scotch"

  7. Fly (?) Name (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name): "Joos" (Pronounced "Juice")

  8. Gangsta Name (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie): "Pistachio Macaroon"

  9. Rock Star Name (current petís name, current street name): "Stone Colonial"

  10. Porn Name (1st pet, street you grew up on): "Caesar Stevens"

2, 5 and 10 are actually pretty good. 1 is awful. The rest are just odd.

I tag Tracy. Also, I invite her to do this meme.

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I have to say that, at least in terms of political optics and media strategy, attaching a price tag of $700 Billion to the economic stimulus package being cooked up by Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration-in-waiting was pretty shrewd. Let's hear the GOP explain why that was a perfectly legitimate amount to spend bailing out Wall Street but it's just an outrageously high, totally unacceptable sum to spend fixing Main Street.

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Good morning, pigskin fans. Welcome to Week 12 of the NFL here on the Virtual Couch™. For the first time since week one the Patriots are bumping the Jets off of CBS so Tracy and I are headed out to the Cambridge House Brew Pub to watch the early games. Rumor has it Fridge will be meeting us there, and given that two out of three Howards have a baseball tournament to attend, it could be a slow afternoon around here. Nightshift and Chemist will simply have to redouble their commenting efforts in order to compensate.

Huge game for the Jets today, obviously, taking on the 10-0 Titans. Both teams feature a strong rushing attack and a stout run defense, so this could wind up being a low-scoring affair. Favre, who has cut down drastically on his mistakes over the last two weeks, will have to be the difference maker for the Jets if they're going to pull off the upset. I'd give Gang Green about a thirty-percent chance to win this game. If they do manage to walk away with the "W" it will virtually assure them a playoff spot, given the soft schedule they've got down the stretch (home against the underachieving Broncos, at the putrid 'Niners, home against the stumbling Bills, at the Shithawks, and closing at home against Chadwick's mighty 'Phins). Big game. Very excited.

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If you read one thing this weekend, make it this outstanding piece in the New Yorker on Dogfish Head Brewing. Beer Geek or not, you will enjoy this fascinating yarn about Sam Calagione's colorful and inventive craft brewery. I didn't think I could love beer any more than I already did, but reading this hoppy epic has proven me wrong on that score. Great stuff. (h/t: Sullivan)

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Gorgeous Saturday here in the Shire. Gonna go for a walk, come back and do a few chores, and maybe even watch a game at some point. Oh, and the name change? We're going multi-purpose. After all, it's college hoops season! Sort of. You know, in that early, non-conferency kind of way...

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From the Department of Headlines You Really Don't Want to See (Especially if You're An Astronaut):

Space Station's New Urine Recycler Has Glitches

"Umm, guys? This water tastes a little... off..."

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I've been tagged by the wife with the latest incarnation of the "N Interesting Things About Me" meme. 'S'funny, after five-plus years of blogging I'm not sure there's much in the way of interesting about me left that I haven't already shared. But here goes:

OK, so that's five facts. Interesting? I report, you decide.

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The New York Times is reporting that Hillary Clinton has accepted the Secretary of State job. Sigh. I am decidedly unthrilled. Benen has a good post running down the pros and cons. Why Obama would pick an Über Hawk to carry out his foreign policy agenda is a mystery to me, but as Furious points out, second-guessing Obama is a bit of a mug's game. I just hope she does a better job of running the State Department than she did running her campaign.

On a side note, a lot of ink has been spent over the last few weeks wondering why Hillary would give up a safe seat in the Senate for a short-term gig in Obama's cabinet. My take? Being a Senator was never her ambition. She took the job to build her resume for a presidential run, nothing more. And I don't even mean for that to come across as a criticism -- "Look how self-serving she is!" -- I just think that was her angle and now that the direct route back to Pennsylvania Avenue has been closed she's decided this is her next best option.

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Whether I'm working from home or just hanging out in the office nights and weekends, I always have iTunes fired up on the computer playing something. (Hell, even when I'm not here I still leave it on for the birds.) Sometimes I'll listen to a specific album or a playlist I've put together, but more often than not I'll have it in Party Shuffle mode, rifling at random through my entire collection. I like the variety. I like the weird juxtapositions of songs (at the moment, Ministry is following up Paul McCartney). And more than anything, I like it when stuff pops up that I haven't heard in so long I forgot I owned it. Sometimes a song will come on that's been gathering dust in the basement of my hard drive and I'll be like "Oh yeah, I like these guys" and then go listen to an album by the band in question.

But then there are those times - very rare, it's true - where something comes up in the shuffle that just makes me stop and go...

"What the fuck?"

Case in point: I'm sitting here eating lunch and catching up on my RSS feeds just now, and suddenly I find myself listening to Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes singing Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer.

I have no idea how that song got into my collection. I clearly remember purchasing the single of The Gambler from the iTunes store, but that's the only song by Rogers that I like enough to buy. Dreamer is, well, just a terrible, terrible song. And try as I might, I can't figure out why it's in my collection. It is apparently part of an album called "42 Ultimate Hits", but as far as I can tell I don't have the other 41 Ultimate Hits kicking around. I am well and truly baffled.

So, Question of the Moment: What was the last song and/or artist that you found in your iTunes/iPod collection that left you scratching your head wondering how it got there?

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I've been pleased, on the whole, with the moves that the Obama transition team (heh - almost typed "campaign") has made since winning the election. The president-elect's picks for staff and cabinet thus far have been absolutely solid (Hillary-to-State rumors being the exception) and his aggressive posture in reaching out to the Other Side indicates that - like it or not - he's dead serious about forcing us through the stalemate we've been in seemingly forever. So with all that said, I have to admit that I find this news on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" front troubling:

President-elect Barack Obama will not move for months, and perhaps not until 2010, to ask Congress to end the military's decades-old ban on open homosexuals in the ranks, two people who have advised the Obama transition team on this issue say.

Repealing the ban was an Obama campaign promise. However, Mr. Obama first wants to confer with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his new political appointees at the Pentagon to reach a consensus and then present legislation to Congress, the advisers said.

"I think 2009 is about foundation building and reaching consensus," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. The group supports military personnel targeted under the ban.

Mr. Sarvis told The Washington Times that he has held "informal discussions" with the Obama transition team on how the new president should proceed on the potentially explosive issue.

Lawrence Korb, an analyst at the Center for American Progress and an adviser to the Obama campaign, said the new administration should set up a Pentagon committee to make recommendations to Congress on a host of manpower issues, including the gay ban.

"If it's part of a larger package, it has a better chance of getting passed," he said.

Uh... "passed"? Correct me if I'm missing something here, but there's nothing to "pass". As George Bush has taken to reminding us daily for the past eight years, the president is the Commander in Chief. He gives the order to rescind DADT and the military commanders either follow it or hand in their resignations. End of argument, right? That's how I've always imagined it playing out.

Steve Benen thinks that the tentative approach the Obama transition team is signaling on this issue is part of a larger effort to "learn from history" and not repeat the "early mistakes" that past presidents have made. If so, this is exactly the wrong move. Clinton's mistake wasn't that he needed to spend more time pondering the status of gays in the military before issuing his considered judgement; it was that he lost his nerve and backed down like a coward in the face of resistance from the big meanies at the Pentagon. Obama cannot afford to repeat that performance. Getting rid of DADT is one of those very rare instances where it's absolutely the right move for the president to say "my way or the highway".

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Yesterday, Angelos threw down the gauntlet with the Toaster League Pick-'ems Challenge, a pool-within-a-pool wherein competitors submit their weekly STONE cold LEAD pipe LOCKS each week and Angelos tabulates the result. It's an interesting concept, tracking just those games where one thinks "Where the hell did that spread come from?" or "There's absolutely no way I'm wrong about this game." I emailed him with my lock for the week yesterday and will face my first test tonight as the 1-8 Cincinnati Bungholes travel to Pittsburgh as 10-1/2-point underdogs to take on the 7-3 Stillers. (My take? No way Pittsburgh covers. Now just watch them blow out Cincy by four TD's.) If you haven't already thrown your hat in the ring, I encourage you to do so. No money involved that I'm aware of, but it will be fun to see how everyone ranks just on the picks they're "certain" of.

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[2008.11.19 - 12:00 P.M.]

Al-Nader? If these quotes from Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri are any indication, the terrorist organization won't be breaking out the noise-makers and party hats on January 20th:

Al-Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri is criticizing Barack Obama in a new message, calling him a demeaning racial term implying that the president-elect is a black American who does the bidding of whites.

Al-Zawahri says in an audio message, which appeared on militant Web sites Wednesday, that Obama is "the direct opposite of honorable black Americans" like Malcolm X. He calls Obama a "house negro."

Hmmmm, a "black American who does the bidding of whites", huh? Who would have thought that an Islamist Terror group would get caught stealing a page from a certain consumer advocate famous for moral grandstanding and vanity-driven presidential campaigns?

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Faith is a fickle bitch. Remember how, in the aftermath of the 2004 election, we had to listen to a seemingly endless lecture series from Amy Sullivan, Nicholas Kristof, and the rest of their ilk about the need for Democrats and liberals to reach out to "people of faith" lest they slide into permanent irrelevance? Funny what four years can do. Here's conservative columnist Kathleen Parker in today's Washington Post:

[T]he GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle.

..

It isn't that culture doesn't matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts. And shifting demographics suggest that the Republican Party -- and conservatism with it -- eventually will die out unless religion is returned to the privacy of one's heart where it belongs.

I'm torn: On the one hand, part of me would love to see the GOP go all-in with their religious-right whackjob contingent for a few more election cycles, because I think Parker's right that it would further weaken and possibly mortally wound the Republican party. On the other hand -- and it's the greater of the two hands -- I feel compelled to support anyone who's trying to put all this God Talk that's plagued our political discourse back in the basement storage bin where it belongs.

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Going vertical. My frequent complaints about Brett Favre's penchant for desperation heaves aside, nobody should get the idea that I don't love it when a QB chucks the deep ball and does it well. Big, dramatic, game-changing plays are a wondrous thing to behold. And the good news is, Rahm Emanuel agrees:

President-elect Barack Obama's incoming White House chief of staff challenged chief executives and other business leaders Tuesday night to join the new administration in a push for universal health care, saying incremental increases in coverage won't be acceptable.

"When it gets rough out there, a lot of business leaders get out of the car and say, 'We're OK with minor reform.' I'm challenging you today, we're going to have to do big, serious things," Rahm Emanuel said, speaking to The Wall Street Journal's CEO Council, a conference convened to elicit corporate opinion on the challenges facing the new president.

..

He stressed that the new administration would "throw long and deep," taking advantage of the economic crisis to push wholesale changes in health care, taxes, financial re-regulation and energy. "The American people in two successive elections have voted for change, and change cannot be allowed to die on the doorsteps of Washington," Mr. Emanuel said.

Now that sounds like change we can believe in.

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I didn't much care about the Marc Rich pardon when it went down, and eight years later it hasn't taken on any greater salience. It was a petty and venal abuse of executive power by Clinton, but compared with pardons past (Caspar Weinberger, anyone?) and pardons future (the first three weeks of January '09 should be very interesting) it's strictly small potatoes. If that's the best the Wingnuts can do against Holder, he should sail through confirmations.

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"Jesus was an illegitimate child born to backward hicks who didn't have the intellectual wherewithal to plan ahead enough to get a room on a trip they knew they had to take." -- Stephen Suh, at Cogitamus, preparing for the War on Christmas

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1:00 PM: Fantasy Update:

11:45 AM: There is something incredibly liberating about sitting down to a full day of football action with your team's W already in your back pocket. Week 11 is in the book for the Jets - in a good way - and now I get to kick back, feet on the coffee table, beer at my side, and watch all the rest of the action play out. Good times. Stress-free good times.

Here's what's on tap for today: At 1:00 PM we've got Ravens at Giants on CBS (Go G-Men!) and Bears at Packers on FOX. At 4:00 PM, it's Chargers at Steelers on CBS. Speaking of that game, how sad is it that Commissioner.com has LaDainian Tomlinson - LaDainian Fucking Tomlinson - as their "Sit of The Week"? Pretty freakin' sad, if you ask me. Almost as sad as the fact that, in my work league where I own LDT, I made the call to sit him in favor of Eddie Royal - Eddy Fucking Royal - before I even read C.C's advice. My, how the mighty have fallen.

Enjoy the games, people. May all your real teams march to victory and all your fantasy teams crush their opponents. (Unless you're playing me.)

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This post by Kevin Drum, which I am copying in its entirety, made me feel all tingly inside:

THE SOUTH....For many years, the Democratic Party controlled the agenda of American politics and Southerners controlled much of the Democratic Party. So the South had enormous political influence.

Later, most Southerners switched to the Republican Party, but by then it was Republicans who controlled the agenda of American politics. So the South still had enormous political influence.

As of January 20th, however, the Democratic Party will control the American political agenda once again. But Southerners are still Republicans, which means that their political influence will be nearly nonexistent.

In other words, for the first time since Reconstruction, the South will be almost completely shut out of national power. There are still a few liberal Southerners who belong to the Democratic Party, of course, but the reactionary, traditionalist South is, for the time being, nearly powerless. They will not control anything, their caucus is a discredited rump, and their influence will be negligible. There is no reason to fear them or to care what they think. Their power to filibuster, itself guttering and only barely alive following the 2008 election, will be all they have left.

This is the first time this will be true in well over a century. So say it again: The South will have essentially no influence over the course of American politics for the next eight years. We live in momentous times.

Indeed we do. Tom Schaller was right: We whistled right past Dixie in this election, a fact which must have "Mudcat" Saunders seething with resentment wherever he is. And if that's not reason to smile, I don't know what is.

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Executive Summary: Daniel Craig's outstanding portrayal of 007 is smothered by disjointed pacing, a sketchy and generic plot, and too many superfluous action scenes.

Thoughts: Expectations in the Toast household for Quantum of Solace were sky high given how the Bond franchise's stunning Casino Royale reboot rocked our world, so it would be a convenient out to say that our disappointment on leaving the theater last night was just the predictable let-down that often results from a follow-up to a masterpiece. Alas, there's a lot more to it than that.

The structure, pacing and plot of this movie were, simply put, a complete and total clusterfuck. The central plot line is treated like an extended sidebar which begins with the most tenuous of connections to the end of Casino Royale -- why is Bond suddenly flying off to Bolivia to break into some Geologist's apartment? Your guess is as good as mine, and I bet you haven't even seen the movie -- and ends up being summarily dropped as if it never happened with five minutes of movie still to go. The film proceeds at a breakneck pace for the most part, even though the need for urgency is never quite clear. There are a total of four chase scenes stuffed into the proceedings: one by car, one on foot, one by boat, and one by plane. I'm quite sure that, given a little more time and money, director Marc Forster would have thrown in a train chase and a hot-air-balloon chase for good measure. (Note to action film directors: Chase scenes are way over-rated.) And yet all this rushing around seems somewhat pointless and perfunctory, especially given the tiresome, half-baked conspiracy that the central plot revolves around. (Seriously: not since Star Trek: Insurrection has the central conflict in a story evoked in me such an overwhelming response of "So What?")

Aside from Craig's still-sizzling rendition of a fierce but conflicted 007, there are a handful of semi-decent performances in Quantum. Olga Kurylenko manages to rise above her character's trite backstory and give us an unusually three-dimensional female protagonist named Camille who is, by turns, Bond's sidekick, protege, and almost love interest. The more traditional role of two-dimensional Bond Chick is delegated to Gemma Arterton, whose character appears on behalf of MI6 just long enough for a quick boink and is then quickly relegated to the sidelines. The primary villain, Dominic Greene, a man who spends his time buying up land from unstable third-world regimes in order to horde natural resources -- told you it was yawn-inducing -- is played by Mathieu Amalric, who appears to be about 4'9" next to Craig and Kurylenko and comes off as a bit too much of a weasel to be a convincing adversary for the world's most bad-ass secret agent. Judi Dench again does an admirable job as M, although the script they gave her to work with often had her acting in a most strange and inconsistent fashion. Giancarlo Giannini and Jeffrey Wright give solid supporting efforts as MI6 agent Mathis and CIA agent Felix Leiter, but their screen time is so brief as to appear an afterthought.

I don't know where they're going to go with the next Bond movie but it would be a crying shame if they wasted Craig's excellent reinvention of the Bond character with more of this dreck. If they want my opinion, I think they should go back to remaking the early Bond films that were based directly on Fleming's novels. The plots would have to be modernized, and there would no doubt be an outcry from Connery connoisseurs, but the final product would be much more rewarding than anything you'd get from another shitty screenplay like the one they whipped up for Quantum.

Bottom Line: Not worth your hard-earned cash. Wait for the DVD or, better yet, catch it free on cable some night a few years down the road.

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[2008.11.15 - 12:00 P.M.]

UConn vs. Syracuse tonight. Not on my TV, of course. Just as well, I suppose, as I've got the Blazers on NBA League Pass at 8:00 PM...

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8:30 AM: Last night, as we turned off the light to get the six hours of sleep traditionally allotted to fans of East coast teams who stay up to watch nationally-televised sporting events, Tracy said to me, in a quiet voice brimming with disbelief, "Wow. First place." I thought about it for a moment and replied "This is the first time that's happened since you started rooting for them, isn't it?" "Yeah," she replied, "I think so." Now, technically, I can't say for sure whether that's true. At some point in the last five years the Jets might have been 1-0 or 2-0 and "in first place", but this is certainly the first time in a long time that they've been In First Place. You know, in a meaningful way; late in the season. Long-suffering Jets fans (is there any other kind?) can be forgiven for asking someone to pinch them this morning.

Of course, being a Jets fan, it would hardly be possible for me not to mention the bad that came with the good. Our defense did allow late touchdown drives at the end of both halves, the second such march being one of the most atrocious non-efforts I've ever witnessed, a don't-even-bother-to-prevent fiasco that allowed Matt Cassel to find Randy Moss for the tying score and put the outcome of the game in the hands of the referee flipping the coin for overtime possession. (You think the Jets D wasn't giving up three points if that slice of legal tender came up the other way?) There were also the eight or nine times where our secondary locked down Cassel's receiving options on third and long only to see him scamper for first-down-and-more yardage. What the hell was that all about? On offense, Favre did a solid, mistake-free job of moving the team down the field on several key drives, but you still have to wonder 1.) What the fuck happened to our pass protection in the second half? and 2.) Why does Mangini insist on calling pass plays inside the 5 when he's got two kick-ass running backs in TJ and Lightning Leon who can punch it in up the middle or around the outside, respectively? So yeah, questions still abound.

But I sure do feel a lot better asking those questions from atop the division standings.

11:45 PM: First place in the AFC East. That feels pretty damned good.

11:45 PM: Field Goal! Jay Feely! J! E! T! S! Jets! Jets! Jets!

11:08 PM: Touchdown! Thomas Jones! J! E! T! S! Jets! Jets! Jets!

10:48 PM: This game went from dream to nightmare in 17 minutes of football. What a fucking disaster.

9:23 PM: Touchdown! Favre to Cotchery! J! E! T! S! Jets! Jets! Jets!

9:06 PM: Touchdown! Leon Washington on the kickoff return! J! E! T! S! Jets! Jets! Jets!

8:27 PM: Touchdown! Favre to Leon Washington! J! E! T! S! Jets! Jets! Jets!

7:30 PM: The battle for AFC East supremacy goes down at 8:00 PM tonight as Eric Mangini's 6-3 Jets collide with Bill Belicheat's 6-3 Patriots up in the cold, wet Foxborough night. Which Brett Favre will show up, and how many picks will he throw? Will Ty Law see any playing time against his former team? Will Belicheat and Mangini warmly embrace after the game? These questions and more will be answered shortly.

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[2008.11.12 - 06:45 P.M.]

Q: What should the Democrats do about Joe Lieberman after his despicable behavior during the election?

A: Strip him of his committee chairmanship and his seniority and kick him out of their caucus.

Q: No, seriously, what should they really do?

A: All of the above, but first write "TRAITOR" on his giant bald head in permanent marker, superglue his mouth shut, strip him naked and then literally kick his ass out the basement door of the Capitol building into a dirty alley in the dead of night.

Q: What do you think the Democrats will actually do?

A: Mild verbal rebuke followed by a group hug.

Q: Will it matter?

A: Only if you care about Homeland Security, which Lieberman will continue to ignore, or Governmental Affairs - aka Executive Branch oversight - which the grandstanding little chinless douchebag will no doubt suddenly find a zealous taste for now that a Democrat is going to be in the White House.

Q: What can we do about this unacceptable state of affairs?

A: Call your Senators! Tell them-- Ah, fuck, probably not a damned thing. Obama is right to stay out of it (at least publicly), Reid's a pussy, and Lieberman has already enlisted a team of Senators -- including Chris Dodd, who should absolutely know better -- to run interference for him.

Q: But... But... But...

A: I'm sorry, but you're just going to have to be patient. Holy Joe probably thinks four years is long enough to work his way back into the good graces of the voters of Connecticut who he lied to and screwed over. He's wrong. The Land of Steady Habits will not soon forget Lieberman's betrayal. Rest assured that when the 2012 election rolls around, that punk-ass motherfucker is going down.

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[2008.11.12 - 04:30 P.M.]

Last thirteen:

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When I woke this morning, I sensed it immediately: Something had changed between me and Tracy. I rolled over and there she was, curled up on her side of the bed as always, and yet she felt a million miles away. The feeling persisted as we went through our morning routine. Our cherished rituals were performed in a perfunctory manner that lacked any of our usual sickeningly sweet charm. Tracy got her own coffee. I got my own towel. The birds, strangely quiet, seemed to sense the abrupt slackening of family cohesion. The capper came when Tracy "forgot" to bring my breakfast upstairs, instead leaving my shredded wheat biscuits down on the kitchen counter, alone and rapidly getting soggy.

Something was terribly wrong. Our marriage felt... weaker.

But why?

Sad and confused, I brought up the front page of the Hartford Courant, and suddenly it was all too clear.

Damn you, same-sex Connecticut couples. Damn you to Hell.

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It's weird not having the election to obsess about anymore.

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3:28 PM: Touchdown. Thomas Jones. J. E. T. S. Jets. Jets. Jets. Fucking killing Favre's production.

2:33 PM: Jets lead the Rams 40 to nothing at the half. I may have to flip around and see if there are any actual football games on.

2:28 PM: Touchdown! Favre to Dustin Keller! WOOT! J! E! T! S! Jets! Jets! Jets!

1:54 PM: Um, I've got Favre going in three fantasy leagues. Could we see a little love for #4 in the red zone please?

1:53 PM: Touchdown! Thomas Jones! J! E! T! S! Jets! Jets! Jets!

1:30 PM: Touchdown! Calvin Pace! On the fumble recovery! J! E! T! S! Jets! Jets! Jets!

1:10 PM: Touchdown! Thomas Jones! J! E! T! S! Jets! Jets! Jets!

12:00 PM: Hello, Football fans! It's week 10 of the NFL season and this house is ready to rock! We got chips, we got dip, we got beer, and we got birds! That's right, Stonie and Ozzy are downstairs, front-and-center in their cottage by the front window, ready to enjoy their first-ever football Sunday with the parents. Can you feel the excitement? (Truth be told, I think they're way more interested in all the birds on the front-lawn feeder array than they are in watching football, but what can I say? They're birds.)

Our lineup for today is as follows: At 1:00 PM on CBS we've got the Bills of Buffalo coming into New England to take on the Patriots. (Go Bills!) Across the dial on FOX, it's the 2-6 Saint Louis Rams at the Meadowlands facing the first-place New York J-E-T-S. (Yeah, it's a three-way tie; it's still first place, dammit.) My Jets have not handled the league's bottom feeders very well this year, so I'm taking nothing for granted. Still, unless Favre completely implodes, there's no reason they shouldn't get to 6-3 easily. Later this afternoon, Peyton Manning and the woeful Colts take on the frustratingly adequate Pittsburgh Steelers in Steeltown. Sorry, Peyton; it's just not your year. Sunday Night Football offers us the G-Men at the Iggles. (Go Giants!) And Monday night gives us 'Niners at Cardinals. Uh... Go Brook Burke!

OK, I need to go suck some leaves for forty-five minutes or the wife's going to revoke my Couch privileges. Back for kickoff.

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[2008.11.08 - 04:40 P.M.]

Rainy Saturday afternoon and I'm feeling too lazy to do much of anything besides zone out in front of the computer. Still, I figure the least I can do is describe what I'm drinking. So how about a little beer blogging? First up on the agenda is Samuel Adams Imperial Pilsner.

The Pour: The burst of floral hop aromas that wafts up as I pour this brew into a tall, frosted pilsner glass suggests that this is not going to be a typical Sam Adams-ish offering. Well, OK, full disclosure, I've already had one, so I kinda knew that; but really, it's a nice bouquet. (Shit, I just went to sniff the head again and I snarfed beer foam up my nose.) A head of off-white foam builds to a peak of about half an inch and sits atop the cloudy, honey-colored body for two or three minutes before burning off. Healthy carbonation levels are evinced by the two dozen or so streamers of fine bubbles making their way to the surface of the beer.

The Taste: The folks at the Boston Beer Company are not wrong to label this beer an "intense hop experience". Sam Adams Imperial Pilsner unloads its payload with a vengeance, filling up the mouth with a metric ton of dry, bitter hops. I may have mis-read the floral notes in the pour, because these hops are not the subtle, flowery variety; they're much more agressive, attacking the tongue's bitter sensors along multiple vectors and leaving their target awash in a dense, pungent haze. Lest you think this beer is one-dimensional, however, I assure you there's quite a bit going on in the malt profile as well. A big sour note accompanies the initial hop burst, and if you poke around a bit before swallowing there's a hint of nut and barley in there as well. All of this is wrapped in a big-ass body; heavy mouth-feel, weighty texture, a bit cloying around the lips. The aftertaste is dry, bitter and looooooooooong.

The Verdict: Frankly, everything about this beer defies the label "pilsner". I know, I know, I'm sure it's technically a pilsner or they wouldn't call it that, but believe me when I say it's unlike any pilsner you've ever had. This feels like a double-IPA cross-bred with a Belgian. We can forgive Sam Adams for their taxonomy-bending recipe, though, and instead tip our hat to them for really taking a chance with this brew. You know my knock on Sam Adams: All their beers taste like variations on a single base recipe so that there's little difference from one incarnation to the next, right? Not this time. They started from a blank slate here and concocted something challenging and original. Muchos kudos.

Next up, we've got a Halloween Ale from Gritty McDuff's Brewing of Maine. I had planned to have this beer before leaving for my birthday, but I dropped the ball. Better drink it now, while we're still in Samhain's shadow, or I'll have to leave it in there until next year.

The Pour: Transferring the beer into a wide-mouth frosted mug, I detect a hint of... root beer? Despite my best efforts at provocation, I can barely get a quarter-inch head of coarse tan foam to build up, and it's gone inside of a minute, leaving film and a few clots of bubbles on the surface. The body is copper-colored and translucent. Carbonation appears quite scant.

The Taste: Tracy actually took the first sip of this beer and liked it immediately. That should tell you something about the malt versus hop balance. Yes, we are in malt land, people. I'm detecting a lot of brown ale flavors, notably almond, wood, and a hint of caramel. This is a relatively sweet beer; an observation which is borne out by the sticky film each sip leaves on the lips. As for the hop characteristics of this brew, there's little to report. I'm picking up a little bitter flourish on the sides of my tongue - you have to look for it - but in all honesty the biggest hop giveaway is the dry, crisp finish to each swallow. Now, so far, that's still a decent fall seasonal. Gritty's fell woefully short, however, in a key department for a fall beer: The body. There's simply no foundation to this beer. The malt flavors seem like they should be more robust, but they struggle to fully come out because they're being conveyed by such a thin, insubstantial liquid. The aftertaste - mostly dryness and almond - never even makes it down your throat. Instead, the final impression left behind by each swallow is one of wateriness. Not a strong parting shot.

The Verdict: Boy, this kills me, because I love Gritty's, but I have to report that I'm disappointed in this offering. The flavor starts out promising, but in the end there's not enough there there. For a Halloween beer, this ain't scaring anyone.

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[2008.11.08 - 12:00 P.M.]

Sadly, no football watching or other sedentary activities for me until the rest of the leaves are mulched.

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I'm not sure how many of you have NFL Network, and I'm pretty sure those of you who don't aren't burning up your cable company phone lines to get it so you can watch Broncos vs. Browns (aka The Suckfest in the Midwest), but hey, the NFL is on, and that demands a Couch™, dammit.

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[2008.11.06 - 07:00 P.M.]

From Barack Obama's statement on his selection of Rahm Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff:

"During his seven years in the Clinton White House, Rahm was the point man on some of the most difficult issues, from the passage of landmark anti-crime legislation to the expansion of health care coverage for children. In just six years in Congress, he has risen to leadership, helping to craft myriad important pieces of legislation and guide them to passage..."

How cool is it to have a president who not only uses the word "myriad" but uses it correctly? No "a myriad of" for this president-elect. No sir.

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[2008.11.05 - 11:25 A.M.]

I woke up at 10:30 AM to the sound of 'Stonie ACK-ACK-ACKing in the office and U2's Beautiful Day in my head (I think I was humming it to myself when I went to bed for some reason). I haven't slept that late in a long time. I credit Barack Obama. Also, when we got home yesterday, we noticed that someone had done our lawn as it was completely leaf-free. I think that was him too.

My agenda for the day involves unpacking, doing laundry, and reading every single piece of post-election news and analysis I can get my greedy little eyeballs on. Seriously, folks, this is going to be an all-day festival of electoral victory porn. On this, the fifth of November (ahem), I invite you to join me for a very special some-some we're going to call... Slices of Hope!

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Tracy: "It's Guy Fawkes Day! And we don't even have to blow anything up!"

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Franklin Foer at The Plank:

Itís good to have a president again. The last couple of years we havenít had one -- or rather we have one who decided to give up after failing badly. This has been an especially painful vacuum during the collapse of the economy, and in the face of our diminished reputation in the world. Thereís been no one to reassure the country, and no sign that a leader was actually tending to the national well being.

Watching the tears flow tonight -- and shedding a couple myself -- the toll of the last few years came home. Of course, the historic dimensions of tonight inspired these. But we also needed a good national cry, and, more to the point, a leader. As others have noted tonight, Obama won't have to do much to look good in comparison -- a little energy, a bit of heartfelt optimism, a sense that we put a modicum of forethought into our policies. I have some hope that Obama can do more than clear that low bar. (His speech tonight struck all the right notes.) But for the time being, Iíll take having a sentient being in charge.

Me too. In fact, if George Bush has given us anything good at all, it's exactly this: A newfound appreciation for mere competence in our leaders. I doubt it's something any of us will take for granted ever again.

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Barack Obama just gave our parakeets some millet. Because, like all the creatures of the Earth, they too have a reason to celebrate today.

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Michael Schaffer, also at The Plank, shares a scene:

I'd shortchanged the dog tonight while I was geeking out with election returns. So I set off on a trot with him once Obama's speech was done. A few blocks away from my house in Philadelphia, I found a block of Baltimore Avenue shut down by about 200 people beating drums, pots, and pans and dancing in the street. It occurred to me I'd never actually, literally seen people dancing in the street. The crowd waved Obama signs, hoisted T-shirts, chanted the victor's name, interspersed with chants of "Yes We Can" and "U-S-A." The scene was your basic Red State nightmare: Marijuana and incense in the air, rings in noses and tattoos on the arms that waved above the multi-hued throng. The gathering took place roughly where hipster enclave, African immigrant neighborhood, and older black neighborhood overlap (there's an Ethiopian restaurant and an anarchist bookstore on the block) and the sense of shared jubillation was evident, in all its cheesy, John Sayles-y glory. Periodically, the crowd would open up to make way for cars, who would oblige by laying on the horn and waving Obama paraphernelia from the windows. Even the public trolleys got in on the act, the drivers honking and waving as they passed. The whole scene seemed surreal: These folks are about to be the champions of the ins of American politics. Having lived most of my adult life in neighborhoods populated by the self-consciously alienated, it's amazing. Sitting back home now, I can still hear the honking of cars outside the window.

Haven't you heard? Blue is the new cool.

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I expect that, for the next couple of weeks at a bare minimum, we'll all find ourselves experiencing moments where we stop and go "Wait... Holy fucking shit... Seriously?" This picture, for example, nearly blew me off of my chair:

Just... wow.

This must be a Hollywood movie of some kind, no? I can't actually be living this. (h/t: Lisa)

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From The Onion:

Carrying a majority of the popular vote, Obama did especially well among women and young voters, who polls showed were particularly sensitive to the current climate of everything being fucked. Another factor contributing to Obama's victory, political experts said, may have been the growing number of Americans who, faced with the complete collapse of their country, were at last able to abandon their preconceptions and cast their vote for a progressive African-American.

Citizens with eyes, ears, and the ability to wake up and realize what truly matters in the end are also believed to have played a crucial role in Tuesday's election.

As for the citizens who, after these eight disastrous years, still lack said faculties and ability, well, that's kinda sad. But it will be a lot harder for them to do any more damage now, and whether they know it or ever choose to admit it, we're going to make things better for them too.

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There is, of course, a big turd in the punchbowl today, and that's the Proposition 8 results in California. Angelos is right; the fact that black and latino voters played the decisive role in denying -- not even just denying, but taking away -- a basic civil right from another oppressed minority is just stunning and saddening. Sullivan, as always on this issue, has the right take:

In the long arc of inclusion, we will miss our goals along the way from time to time. Today, we have full marriage rights in two states, we have many civil marriages in California that will remain in place as examples of who gay people really are, we have civil unions in many more places, and marriage rights in other parts of the world, as beacons to America. And this is a civil rights movement. It goes forward and it is forced back. The battle to end miscegenation took centuries. These are the rhythms of progress. Sometimes losing, and being shown to lose, shifts something in the minds of those watching as a small group is punished for daring to dream of full civil equality. In this battle we have already had far more defeats than victories. But each time, we have come closer to our goal. And in the hearts and minds and souls of so many, we have changed consciousness for ever.

It's the "long arc" that gets me. After centuries of struggle, wherein one out group after another has to reprise the same battles, echoing the same themes, over and over and over, you'd think that eventually people would just get it, no?

In any event, take heart, my gay and lesbian fellow citizens. You too shall overcome someday, and hopefully that someday will be soon.

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Ezra Klein gets a little gloat on:

Ackerman asks, "Remember in 2003 and 2004, when there was all this talk about how the Democrats were in danger of no longer being a national party?" I do remember that. I also remember how Democrats had to get religion if they ever wanted to be competitive again. I also remember how they had to appeal to the white heartland by nominating candidates more culturally recognizable to rural voters. Instead, they went in the opposite direction, running a candidate who was recognizable to the majority coalition Democrats hoped to have in 10 years. It seems to have worked out pretty well. It's almost as if pundits don't really know what they're talking about.

This surely will not be the last time I say this: We are not a "center-right" country. We are a progressive country, still in our adolescence but achingly close to adulthood. We're still saddled with some childish self-image issues -- most commonly seen in our outbreaks of mindless nationalism and reactionary right-wing cultural nonsense -- but we will outgrow them. We are outgrowing them.

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Steve Benen on the failure of fear:

I started making some notes the other day about the presidential election, the turning points, the strategies, etc. And it occurred to me that the entire Republican strategy was based on nothing but fear. Fear of change, fear of hope, fear of a skinny man with a funny name. Fear of socialism, fear of a tax increase, fear of government. Fear of anything that looked, sounded, or might be perceived as foreign. Fear of the light at the end of the tunnel -- it might be a train.

It was an offensive, demagogic strategy, but it was not, on its face, ridiculous. Fear is a powerful emotion, and people made to feel fear can act with clouded judgments. Fear helped propel Republicans to significant gains in 2002 and 2004, and with even McCain's own top aides unsure how to make the case for a McCain presidency, fear must have looked pretty good.

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It was striking to see how Americans responded to the fear-mongering. Obama's lead over McCain in the polls grew in the face of the economic crisis, but the lead grew even more when McCain and his party tried desperately to scare Americans. The more we were supposed to feel afraid, the more voters responded to Obama's message. The more intense the smears against him, the higher Obama's favorability ratings.

There were quite a few messages for the political world yesterday, but one came through loud and clear: We don't want to be afraid anymore.

No, we don't. Why we ever did is a mystery to me.

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Hilzoy:

After eight years of assault on our Constitution, we have elected a President who teaches Constitutional law. I cannot express what this means to me.

Word.

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Michelle Cottle at The Plank:

Being a maverick is great and fun and sexy. I mean, who didn't love the pre-nutty Tom Cruise in "Top Gun"? But it bears recalling that Cruise's showboating Maverick didn't win the honor of best flyboy. Rather, he crashed his plane and killed his best friend and came in second to Val Kilmer's not-as-flashy-but-eternally-unflappable-and-brutally-competent Iceman.

But is Barack America's wing man? Or are we his?

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We had a little back-and-forth in the comments section last night about McCain's "gracious" (excuse me while I barf) concession speech. I found Mike and 'Shift's conciliatory take startlingly wrong. McCain is not, at heart, a good man who did bad things. McCain is an egoist and an opportunist, and because those things get him in trouble fairly often he's also mastered the art of being something of a serial apologizer. Well, as Ankush Khardori says this morning at Cogitamus, Apology Not Accepted:

Last night's "classy" concession speech was the first part of an attempt McCain will make to rehabilitate his image with politicos and commentators. It should be rejected. And frankly, I'm surprised to see so many people in the media .. being taken in by this transparent gambit.

I'm surprised too, especially when I see this unjustifiable lurch towards unearned forgiveness coming from hardened skeptics and self-proclaimed realists. McCain was a scumbag yesterday and he's a scumbag today. Don't forget it.

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The New York Times lead editorial on the election today makes for very good reading:

This is one of those moments in history when it is worth pausing to reflect on the basic facts:

An American with the name Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a white woman and a black man he barely knew, raised by his grandparents far outside the stream of American power and wealth, has been elected the 44th president of the United States.

Showing extraordinary focus and quiet certainty, Mr. Obama swept away one political presumption after another to defeat first Hillary Clinton, who wanted to be president so badly that she lost her bearings, and then John McCain, who forsook his principles for a campaign built on anger and fear.

Read the rest. The Gray Lady failed us quite spectacularly at times during the Bush years (almost over!), but they seem to have their head out of their ass at long last.

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[2008.11.04 - 02:45 P.M.]

12:25 PM: I'll have more to say tomorrow (gee, ya think?) but for tonight I'll give the last word to my beloved wife: "We can be proud of our country again, and we can have a smart president, and we can do good things in the world, and... everything's gonna be all right."

11:35 PM: Oh, and McCain's concession speech was gracious enough, but if you think that makes up for the last three months of dirty campaigning -- hell, for the last four years of reversing every critical position he held and punting every time he was called upon to be honorable -- you're high.

11:33 PM: Florida goes to Obama, and Virginia. He's got a slim margin in Indiana. He's well ahead in Montana and Nevada although those are early in the count. This could be shading into rout territory.

11:22 PM: McCain is conceding. It's really, really real now.

11:10 PM: That's it. All the networks are calling it for Obama. 297 electoral votes and counting. Florida and Indiana could put him in the mid-300's. Know hope, America.

9:30 PM: OK, tonight is officially shaping up pretty well for the Democrats. All the networks have PA in Obama's column and Ohio is teetering on the brink. If Obama wins PA and OH, this election is over. The Senate and House are looking pretty good too.

8:30 PM: Early coverage of the results has been sketchy so far. MSNBC is going with the irresponsible "FIRST!" approach, calling virtually every state as soon as the polls close (based on what, I have no idea). CBS just called PA now, at 8:30 PM, nearly 45 minutes after MSNBC did. I'm sticking with them for the time being.

6:05 PM: I've been skimming the continuous stream of reader correspondence Andrew Sullivan is presenting in his "The View from Your Election" series. For the most part, they've been hopeful anecdotes telling of never-before-seen levels of voter turnout and happy African American families leaving the polls with tears in their eyes. This one, however, really got to me. Know hope? We'll know in a few hours.

5:10 PM: Stop me if you've felt this way today: You're a blogger. You got into this pastime of such dubious value because it was the only outlet you could find to express your outrage about what Bush and the GOP were doing to our country. You've lived through the stolen 2000 election, 9-11, the Iraq War, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, FISA, Katrina, and a litany of other horrors. You've put up with shit from Karl Rove, Ann Coulter, the Swift Boat Liars and the vast Winger Hoard that occupies the far side of the blogosphere. It's been a long goddamned eight years, in other words.

Now, it's almost over. There's every reason to believe that Obama is going to win in a walk and that the Democrats are going to greatly fortify their hold on Congress. America seems to have finally come around. And you? You want so badly to write something that expresses your hopes. You want that release that comes when your side doesn't merely score a win, it makes a statement. You want to finally talk about your hopes for the future and the possibilities before us. That moment of catharsis is almost here...

But you don't. Dare. Write. A fucking. Thing.

Because you, my friend, have been punched in the gut one too many goddamned times this millennium, and until this thing is securely in the bag there's no goddamned way you're putting all that out there.

4:55 PM: The Election Night Pizza has been ordered. In honor of Obama, we got a large Hawaiian.

3:50 PM: So, anyone feeling nervous? Or are you taking Senator Obama's advice?

3:05 PM: Our trip to the polls early this afternoon was predictably uneventful. We were in and out in five minutes. The only difference from previous elections was that we filled out optical-scan paper ballots. Personally, I miss the old mechanical lever voting booths.

2:45 PM: Tracy and I came into Bradley this morning with three items on our agenda for the day: 1.) Pickup the birds, 2.) Nap, and 3.) Vote. Turns out we did them in that order, which is why this post is getting up a little late. Despite being completely wiped out after four days of non-stop partying and then only getting 2-3 hours of sleep on the plane last night, I'm pulling myself together and getting into Election Day Mode. The Big Day is finally here, and I don't want to miss another minute of it between now and (fingers crossed) McCain's concession speech.

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Hoooooooo, Boy! I have got the rock star hangover going on. You know, the "been partying for three straight days and my brain only feels tenuously connected to what's going on around me" hangover? Yeah, that one. Tracy and I are getting ready to meet VMH and head down to the sports book at the hotel Paul is staying at. Rumor has it the place has couches tiered stadium-style around a mind-boggling array of flat screen HDTV's. I like the couch part of that description the best. I need a couch right about now. And a Bloody Mary or three.

Hey, speaking of couches, welcome to the Virtual Couch™! Our NFL lineup in Vegas for the day is... everything! Yes, we will be watching pretty much all the games. And we'll be done with them by 4:00 PM in the afternoon! I love west-coast time. Anyhow, won't be checking in much during the day, but you kids have fun.

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