Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Father-in-law's acts of kindness go awry

Our Man in LA is proud to bring you another entry from one of our favorite guest bloggers, namely Our Father-in-law in Carolina, Harold Glazer. Like the Larry David of the Southeast, Harold spends a good deal of his time getting reamed for doing something that - in its conception - seemed like a nice idea. You'll see what I mean when you read this entry, which he has titled:

"Random Acts of Kindness - Bullshit."

In reading this, we at Our Man in LA ask you, the reader, to imagine that every word is being spoken in a deep Brooklyn accent with just a tinge of Carolina southern accent. Trust me on this one. You'll enjoy it more.

Take it away, Harold.

"In our neighborhood it is not rare for the children to leave various objects all over the place. Often, we have to pick up soccer balls, hockey sticks, helmets, etc. from our front yard. So it did not seem out of place to have a school book bag on our front sidewalk. This book bag just remained there for a few days with no one claiming it. Finally, with an impending rain approaching, I brought the bag into the house to find its owner.

After going thru three loose leaf books, a few text books etc. I came across the student’s name. The child was not from our neighborhood. I called some of our neighbors to see if anyone recognized this student. No luck. I called information to try to contact the student via the telephone. No luck.

The next morning on the way to work I planned on bringing the books to our local high school. Driving into the school complex, it was obvious that the only place I could park my car was about a half mile away. In a flash, I made a critical decision – park in the no parking area in front of the entrance – put on my flashers – bring the books into the main lobby – leave them with the security guard – get back to my car and leave. The whole process should take about 12.875 seconds.

As I approached the main doors, alarms started to ring. A rush of thousands of students was heading my way. Think of Yankee Stadium being evacuated and you trying to go past the mob. As I was being forced to retreat, I noticed a teacher and asked what is going on. She informed me that they were in the early stages of a fire drill. I told her about finding the books – she thanked me - took the books – and I returned to my car.

Try to picture me sitting in my car with no where to go - hundreds, if not thousands of students all around. I was in it for the long haul. I turned off the engine, lit a smoke and watched all that was going on until I heard a knock on the roof of my car. Startled, I look up to see one of Raleigh’s finest.

The conversation went something like this…………..
Raleigh’s Finest – “Do you know how to read?”
Harold “Yes”
Raleigh’s Finest – “What does that sign say?”
Harold “What sign?” (there was a sarcastic tone to my voice)
Raleigh’s Finest – “The no parking sign”
Harold “I was just trying to …………..”
Raleigh’s Finest - “And the smoke free campus sign”
Harold “I was just trying to……………”

The parking ticket was $25.00 and I have to sign some bull shit paper about about acknowledging the “No Smoking Campus.”

Random Acts of Kindness – My Ass"

For Our Man in LA's money, one of the most amazing parts of this story is how quickly Raleigh's finest arrived on the scene to do mortal combat with someone who was double parked and smoking on campus. Whew. All of Our Man in LA's readers in the Research Triangle area should breathe a deep sigh of relief knowing that there's a strong police presence out there looking to protect your urchins from the dangers of someone smoking in their car.

Meanwhile, I wonder how many murderers and armed robbers that cop has caught lately.

Friday, January 27, 2006


We don't need another hero . . . We just need to get some soooo-da!

So it's lunchtime, and I'm getting my Friday feed at the Baja Fresh on Wilshire. The place is always crowded - lines to get in, lines at the salsa bar, and my God, lines at the soda fountain. So I'm waiting in line behind a guy who's getting his super-sized cup of Sierra Mist. He finishes up, sees me standing there. This is the exchange:

Sierra Mist Guy: Sorry about that. I'm taking up the whole fountain.

Me: No worries. It's every man for himself.

Sierra Mist Guy: Yeah, man. It's like Thunderdome.

For a moment there, I was transported to a post-apocalyptic world. Mel Gibson as a long-haired Mad Max. Tina Turner as the villainous Aunty Entity, forcing bedraggled survivors to do battle over nachos, baja ensaladas, and burritos.

And then the moment passed. Got my food and left.

Remember, in Thunderdome, Max gets the Mahi Tacos.


The Truth will set you somewhere . . . Or something like that

I'm taking a break from talking about the really unimportant minutiae of life in LA (and my fairly silly life in general) to talk about something that's equally unimportant, but that everyone is taking sooooo seriously.

The wife and I sat down last night to watch the Oprah she'd TIVO'd from earlier in the day. You've no doubt heard about it. It's the episode where Oprah piled on faux memoirist James Frey for putting lies - LIES - into his best-selling book A MILLION LITTLE PIECES, which Oprah made part of her reading list (and thus catapulted to Best-Seller status).

The whole thing pretty much made me sick. There were so many layers of hypocrisy and ritual chest-beating, not to mention a good solid round of ego masturbation. Our Woman in LA was forced to stop the TIVO a number of times so that I could roundly bitch about the show.

If you don't know about this power hour of daytime TV, Slate's got a pretty good piece about it, which you can read here:


First you had Oprah sitting there, playing the part of the good gal done wrong, seething but telling her audience how she made a mistake in defending Frey, and then actively going after him and just about everyone else in the Chicago metropolitan area for the sweet, sweet blood of redemption.

She went after Frey. How could he have lied?! HOW!??! He made her somehow complicit in the lying because she recommended the book.

Ahem, no, Oprah, you did that yourself, by calling Larry King. It's still a pretty good book, no? And seriously, does anyone at all believe that the queen of all media would have done this "Very Special" Oprah show if her fans hadn't called in and taken this whole thing a good more seriously than it needed to be taken?

Then she piled on Nan Talese, the book's publisher. How could she not have doubted, well, just about every detail of the book when she read it? You know, even though, Oprah herself didn't doubt anything until she was told that the book was more fiction than fact. I dug how Nan tried to explain that memoirs aren't exactly the same thing as journalism or autobiography, that there's a place for artistic license in the genre. It would have been nice to hear more of that, but alas, it was drowned out by a Greek chorus demanding retribution.

Oprah Rex.

Then there were the chorus of journalists who joined the posse. One gentleman from the New York Times, a publication that used to be the gold standard of objective journalism in America. But by the way, how is Jayson Blair these days? Oh and yeah, it's been pretty cool watching the old NY Times spending the last couple of years on scapegoat patrol. We've watched them take potshot - and often highly inaccurate - blasts at every easy target industry and individual who stands one side of the ethical center.

Frey's just next. Sorry, James. As big a tool as you seem to be, you're really just another victim of a publication looking to prove that they're better and more ethical than, well, someone. Which is why they then targeted old Nan and the publishing industry.

"We have fact checkers, Nan. Do you?" No. But she had lawyers, who made sure there was no libel in the book. To this point, I can't recall hearing that Frey libeled anyone so much as he just made stuff up. And again, where were those fact checkers in the Blair case? Or why not ask your colleagues at the New Republic if high-level fact checkers, too, can be duped.

Or does nobody remember Stephen Glass, either?

Oh, and by the way, isn't a little bit less of a crime to make up something in a memoir than it is to invent stories for the newspaper and major news magazines? I'm just thinking. Blair fabricated stories about military hostages in the Iraq war. Glass made things up about the security of computer systems at major corporations, and how they could be hacked. Frey made ridiculous claims about his own personal experience of drug rehab.

None of it's good at all. But Frey's affects a whole lot fewer people. Anyway, back to the show.

Then we had more pile-on by Maureen Dowd, a woman whose own nonfiction book ARE MEN NECESSARY? has come under attack because she allegedly used only anecdotal and out-of-context evidence in her book, which contends that American men are never, ever attracted to women who are smart or successful. Her contentions might be true, but when she's under fire for creating her own story out of thin air, for massaging a few facts here and there, is she really the paragon of truth that should be allowed to publicly poke holes in Frey - or anyone?

Seriously. How sanctimonious can you get? "Well, my book's under attack for not being a very truthful non-fiction book, too, but we really can't allow these people like James Frey to get away with this."

I suppose once you've shattered all the walls of your glass house, you might as well keep on throwing.

OK, look. I'm not defending Frey. He misled a whole bunch of people, and he made a big mess bigger. Probably when this book was rejected by publishers as a novel, the best policy was not to re-pitch it as a memoir. If it's as good as advertised, it probably would have been picked up. He's a jerk and a loser, and yeah, he's a liar.

Everybody knows it. His contract is "under review" by his publisher, which is code for "he'll be cut loose later when all the hoo-ha dies down and we don't look even worse."

But let's cut the blame game, guys. Oprah, you screwed up, too, and it's your fault. New York Times and Washington Post guys, to say nothing of Maureen Dowd and Joel Stein (Joel Stein? Why was he there?), the dude from the Poynter Institute and the one from the New York Daily News: Enough. Scrambling around to decry James Frey doesn't do much service to make you look better. Just more pompous.

So there you have it. Here endeth the rant. Back to minutiae. High of 65 in LA today. At least that's my story. But feel free to check my facts.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


An early Thursday post from your benevolent King in LA

Now that Our Man in LA has been elevated to Our King in LA (it's true! There's even a TV network named after him! Look at the earlier post if you don't believe me), he will have to leave some of the blog-writing duties to other members of the extended Wieland-Glazer family.

Pinch hitting for the King tonight is Our Woman in LA's father, Harold Glazer, otherwise known as Our Father-in-Law in Carolina. If you can, try to imagine the following in a deep, Brooklyn meets North Carolina accent. Trust me. It'll add to the experience.

Take it away, Harold:

"You all know that both Pamela and I love pets. We have had many pets that are no longer with us. Currently we have Bogart (the cat from Hell), Willie (the cat with no eyes), Barney (the screaming SOB bird) and Otis, man’s best friend.

But this vet shit is getting out of hand. I have to get a second job to support him.
I cant even begin to tell you the monies that we spend this last month on vet bills (not counting play school for Otis).

First, Willie the no eyed cat gets sick. He’s coughing, sneezing, etc. Go to the vet. Blood test-----meds------ $85.00

Then Bogart (the cat from Hell) stops eating and drinking. Off to the Vet. Blood Test. Results:
Heart mummer.
Kidney problems.
Some other shit I can't even pronounce.
Vet Bill - $385.00.
Plus…..now he has to take 3 meds a day and a special kidney diet.--- $3 a day (That’s $150.00 a month).

Then Otis gets sick.
First he gets something called a papalomia. Vet says probably nothing to worry about….but….lets take blood.
Bingo – that’s $85.00.
Then, this nothing papalomia (or however you spell it) has to be removed. $210.00.

A week later---he has something new. I think the vet said it’s a lick-a-roma.
Anyway, we got off easy - $115.00.

Now they tell us that all the animals need to have their teeth cleaned. If we don’t do it, they teeth will fall out, they will shit all over the house, the Norse gods that protect animals will land at our house and take our Capital One Card, etc.

So……………..We have to make a choice.

Let’s send that cat from hell in first. As you must already know, cats usually don’t keep their mouths open during this procedure…………..so……………it costs an extra $45 to put him to sleep and then do the cleaning.

Now folks, I try to keep my oral hygiene up. I go to the dentist two times a year for a cleaning. They probe, scrape, brush, pick, etc. When I’m finished the dentist bill was $115.00. With that in mind……How the heck could the vet bill cost $145 for a cat dental cleaning. It cost more money to clean the cat’s teeth then mine.

Sure hope they don’t need braces."

Just so everyone knows, Our Man in LA, ahem, Our King in LA, has one rule, and he holds hard and firm with it. And that rule is that when all else fails, you blame it on the lick-a-roma.


Finally, the respect Our Man in LA deserves!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I knew this day would come. Never doubted it. Never even thought about creating a "Plan B". I knew that someday, people - and important biz people, mind you - would choose to recognize me in a very public display of adulation.

It came yesterday, when CBS and Time Warner decided to team up and pool the resources of their two fledgling television networks - the WB and UPN - into one stronger, better network.

What're they calling it?

Ahem. It's the CW. That's right. The CW. Like the way I sign a lot of e-mails. The CW. Chris Wieland. The CW.

Our Man in LA is pleased. This is a worthy gift to bestow on him, after years of watching the odd WB and UPN show here and there. Both he and Our Woman in LA like EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS, and we used to watch SMALLVILLE and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (which called both networks home at one point or another). Friends of ours watch GILMORE GIRLS, AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL, and VERONICA MARS (which I swear I'm going to start watching on DVD).

Of course, the Wieland network will still feature some pro wrestling shows, I understand. But no gift of this magnitude is ever completely perfect. I understand that old man Washington sits around the afterlife complaining about obelisk-shaped buildings, but in his quiet moments, he probably doesn't mind having a giant monument to call his own.

This will do. The CW will be a strong reminder of the glory it is to be Our Man in LA.

It's good to be king.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Not all good: The Bottom One

Carl's Junior is a fast food chain out here in California, related in some ways to Hardees, which pockmarks the Midwest and Southern states of this great land. They're known for their pretty distasteful and ridiculous advertising.

They're the ones who had Paris Hilton washing a car in her bikini, then eating a burger.

They're the ones who had old time rocker Eddie Money spilling the contents of his messy burger onto a page of music, only to have us believe that the splatter pattern made out the notes to his late 80s hit "Living in Paradise".

Well, they've got another one. It involves some Okie looking guy, more or less molesting a cow to the tune of one of those dance party songs whose title and artist I don't really know.

What're they advertising? Milk shakes.

What's so bad about it? A couple of things:

1) You'll have that "Shake. That. Thing. Duh-duh-duh-duh-duh. Shake. That. Thing" tune going through your head for the whole day.

2) While that annoying song goes through your head, you'll imagine an Okie shaking and molesting a cow.

Over and over again.

Don't believe me? Fine. Here's the Carl's Jr. website:


Have at it.


Back again, at long last, with a new TUESDAY TOP FIVE!

It's a new year, both out here in LA and everywhere else, and Our Man in LA has been waylaid recently with the need to see Oscar-bait movies, to catch up in the workplace, and complete the new script. Hence, the list-making and generally snarky editorializing that goes on here has been sorely lacking.

Well, not anymore. Our Man in LA is back, and there's a Top Five for Tuesday.

As regular readers know, Our Man in LA often struggles with not making this listing longer than the average Russian novel. To that end, we're going to strive for shorter entries in the Top Five, and our other two regular Tuesday features - the Bottom One, and the Father-in-Law note of the week - will get their own postings.

But on with that there top five:

5) JOLIE BLON'S BOUNCE by James Lee Burke. Our Man in LA likes him some detective fiction, and occasionally he strays from his regular faves (Robert Parker, Michael Connelly, and classics like Hammett, Chandler, and MacDonald) to read something else on the market.

Burke's one of the best out there. His recovering alcoholic detective, Dave Robicheaux, solves intense and twisted murder mysteries in semi-rural Louisiana, but there's more than just startling puzzles and the occasional dead cracker in these works. Haunted by booze dreams and a less-than-perfect nature, Robicheaux often finds himself immersed in semi-metaphysical struggles between good and evil. Are the killers he faces really just bad men, or are they part of something greater, or more weight than the average conspiracy?

Check it out. Won't take no for an answer. And don't tell me you're not interested because you saw the movie version of the Robicheaux novel HEAVEN'S PRISONERS (which you only watched because of Teri Hatcher's nude scene) and didn't like it. Not a good movie, but a very good series.

4) The Library Ale House in Santa Monica. Pretty much everything you need in a bar and grille. Good, obscure beers on tap. Decent bar grub, running the gamut from the fried stuff to the more healthy and eclectic (fish tacos and the like). Dimly lit, with a long bar and tables, loud enough to enjoy a game but quiet enough so you can talk to your buddies. And a cool patio built into a hill.

Good stuff. And it's on Main in Santa Monica, one of the few remnants of small town California living still in existence in modern LA.

3) The NFL. One game to go, and as I mentioned in a previous post, the league is bullet-proof. Who's playing in the big game? Pittsburgh and Seattle. Do I care about either team. Nope. I should hate Pittsburgh because they're rivals to my beloved Bengals. But I'm probably rooting for them. Our Woman in LA's disappointed in the Panthers not making it, but she'll be on hand to watch it too.

The Super Bowl is the closest thing the modern USA has to a pure secular, non-historical holiday that we all love. It's Christmas and New Year's and Easter and Thanksgiving all wrapped up into one. Sure, there's probably some beret-wearing guy out there who'll say that it's endemic of some sort of loss of liberty to a consumerist culture or some claptrap. But we don't like that guy, anyway.

2) MAUS by Art Spiegelman. All right, this one's a no-brainer, but I've been reading and re-reading a lot of the classics of the graphic novel genre, and I finally got back to this one. I first read Spiegelman's opus in the 80s, when I was in high school and it was new on the shelves. Loved it then, but re-reading it today (with the added material of Maus II) took me back to just how crushing a document of humanity this is. We all know Spiegelman's a genius, but this is a piece of art of just plain devastating clarity and power.

Dead serious here, ladies and germs. I'm hoping that the next generation of kids raised in this country will have to read this book when they're in junior high or high school. It's a classic of 20th century art and lit, and it must not be ignored. If you haven't read it, do yourself a favor. Pick it up. Like a lot of great art, it's more than just the sum of its parts. More than just panels of a graphic novel. More than just a metaphor where Jews are presented as mice, with the Nazis as cats, Americans as dogs, and Poles as pigs. There's so much more.

1) 24. From the sublime to the ridiculous, I suppose. From a great work of art to a really fun one.

24 is just about my favorite TV show, year in and year out, and certainly my favorite drama. I've been waiting since the fall to see its return, and I surely haven't been disappointed.

What makes this Kiefer Sutherland vehicle so great? Frankly, it takes risks. I never know what's going to happen, never see the action coming, and am always blown away by the complex, intricate plotting. We're about five hours into the fifth really bad day in Counterterrorist Jack Bauer's life now. And what's happened?

* Two major characters, who have been with us from nearly the beginning, are dead.

* Another major player is clinging to life in the hospital after an attack.

* There's been a terrorist attack on a major Los Angeles airport.

* Jack's been framed for something really, really horrific.

Do I know what's going to happen? No. But I have a feeling it'll involve Jack kicking some ass.

So great to have this show back.

Monday, January 23, 2006


One other sports note

OK, just real quick-like, Our Man in LA wants to sound off on the Super Bowl, coming to a TV screen near you in just under a couple of weeks. Who wouldn't want a sound-off from the likes of me, a guy with rudimentary viewing knowledge living in a city without its own team?

Not to mention a guy who is greedily disappointed that one of his teams didn't make it to the big game. Nope. No Bengals here. None of my wife's Panthers. But whatever.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks will face off from Detroit (Garden Spot of the Midwest) in a couple of weeks to determine pro football majesty. And it just makes me think that this game shows exactly how bulletproof the NFL really is. Think about this. Can you come up with two smaller, more essentially blase markets in professional sports than these two.

Well, OK, I can too. But work with me on this one. Before you bitch to me that a Cincinnati fan has no room to judge Pittsburgh and Seattle, I'll already concede that you're right. Still, I beg that you listen.

The point is, that the Super Bowl will feature teams not from one of the big, interesting, powerhouse markets. There won't be a New York team, a Washington or Dallas team, a Miami or Chicago or San Francisco team. There will not be the kind of team that comes from an area with millions and millions of TV viewers. But the Super Bowl will still do boffo in the ratings.

It'll be huge.

No other sport could pull this off. In baseball this year, a team from the third largest market in the country (the White Sox) played a team from the fourth largest city in the country (the Astros). The result? A 30 percent decline in the ratings from the year before.

Let's be honest. If the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, or Cardinals aren't playing, baseball fans just don't tune in in droves. Even in the World Series.

Well, OK, I know the Cubs are never in the World Series.

Ditto basketball. You know what TV execs and NBA staffers call last year's pretty interesting Championship series between San Antonio and Detroit? That's right. They call it a disaster. And it was, ratings-wise. Folks don't tune in.

People look at Tim Duncan, arguably the best basketball player of this era, and you know what they say? "He's boring. And he plays for San Antonio. Small market teams are boring."

Not in the NFL. Ben Roethlisberger will QB the Steelers on Super Sunday. Great young player. Can you tell me much about him? No. Does it matter that he's boring? Not if his play is exciting. Ever heard of anyone on the Seahawks?

Ever heard of the Seahawks? They're 30 years old.

Nope. But you'll watch. And so will everyone else.

Bulletproof, I tell you. Bulletproof.


The Wind's a factor . . .

Greetings and salutations from Los Angeles, where the high today was 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Sunny and beautiful all around. You know, we Angelinos (and Our Man in LA in particular) don't complain about the weather much, unless we're someplace else. Hard to bitch about the endless summer we have out here, but if you take a couple of SoCal transplants like the Wielands, drop them in a cold climate (like, say, any of the places they used to live), and you're in for an hour of ranting and raving about windchill, dewpoint, and overall moisture.

Hell, it's in the mid 50s most nights around here, and Our Man in LA has taken to wearing fleece every night to bed (and complaining about how cold it's gotten).

We California Wielands realize it's stupid. We know we've lost our toughness (which is fine, honestly - who really wants to be tough?). We've been lulled into a complacency that makes the slightest weather blip shock us.

Like last night, when the Santa Ana winds started up, big time. Like 35 to 40 MPH big time.

How big? Our Woman in LA and I thought a traffic helicopter might be right over our house. Those wind chimes we have on the porch, usually so soothing? Noisy last night.

And we didn't even get the worst of it. One friend of Our Man in LA saw her family's outdoor kitchen destroyed by wind damage and falling palm fronds. No joke. I know, I know, it sounds like a joke. It sounds so ridiculous anywhere in the world where they have snow. I get it.

These Santa Anas can make a man do crazy, crazy things. It's true. They can commit murders and gruesome crimes. They can stay at home and watch too many hours of football.

Or if they're pro athletes, they can score 81 points and become the leading scorer in Laker history.

Anyway, that's what Kobe Bryant did last night, against the hapless Toronto Raptors (currently ranked #11 on the list of "Stupidest names for a sports franchise"). That's right. Kobe, smug wild child of the NBA scored more than 80 points (second only to Wilt Chamberlin's legendary 100-point game in Hershey, Pennsylvania about a million years before I was born).

I'm convinced the wind had something to do with it. Perhaps dust and palm fronds got in the eyes of the Raptor players. Maybe the raw power of the Santa Anas gave Kobe a little extra push. You know, like maybe when those winds blow, he gets a temporary super power - like when Superman got exposed to red kryptonite. You know. Maybe he channels something extra.

Of course, nobody denies that Kobe, smug and disgusting though he might be, is a great player. He's in the same league as the biggies of all time - Jordan, Bird, Johnson, O'Neal, Chamberlin, Robinson and so on.

But super powers or no, there is one, extremely mysterious question about last night's game that hasn't been answered yet. Namely this:

"Did you realize that the Lakers needed a ridiculous game out of Kobe to beat the Raptors? The Raptors The ones who have won just 14 games all year?"

Nobody's asking that? Well, maybe they are. It's hard to hear over all this wind.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Julia Roberts ain't got nothing on this guy

It's not very often that Our Man in LA sites girlie date movies, but some days they just cry out. Remember the beginning of PRETTY WOMAN? That bum on Hollywood Boulevard? What's he say?

"Welcome to Hollywood. Everybody's got a dream, what's your dream?"

Wait till you hear Chuck Lamb's dream.

Our Man in LA has lived out here on the Left Coast long enough that he's seen more than a few people with the dream of making it big in the entertainment game. There's the dude who wrote screenplays, then took out billboard space on La Cienega telling movie stars that he'd written something for them, and that they could check out his work on his website.

Sometimes, if the right star wouldn't respond, he'd cross out that star's name, replace it with someone else. Thus, Harrison Ford became George Clooney became Matthew McConaghey.

No word yet on whether any of these stars ever bit on one of his scripts. I'd guess no. Otherwise, every writer starting out in LA would be renting billboard space. Our Man in LA has one billboard picked out special, just in case.

This brings us to Chuck Lamb. Chuck has a dream. It's not a big one - it's not world peace or less traffic or another season of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.

Nope. Chuck wants to be dead. That's right. Dead.

And, you know, on TV and stuff.

Chuck's got a website, www.deadbodyguy.com, where he shows his fervent desire to appear on a network television show as a corpse. Doesn't matter if it's one of the Law and Orders or one of the CSIs, or The Shield or LOST, or whatever. TV producers and casting agents, Chuck Lamb wants to be your corpse.

To that end, the website includes photos of Chuck's demise in a variety of positions, apparently done in by a number of creative and disgusting methods. He even spent some time on the Today show this morning, begging the entertainment industry to let him appear as a dead guy on one of their shows.

Once again, that's www.deadbodyguy.com.

Our Man in LA finds himself a little bit speechless about this. On the one hand, good for him that he's set his sites on something that should be reasonably attainable. On the other hand, what's the pathology of someone who hopes to be beamed into millions of households as a bleeding, eviscerated corpse?

Insert joke about the Detroit Lions or New York Jets here.

Also, Our Man in LA really, really wishes that Dead Body Guy wasn't from Ohio, official home state of Our Man in LA (and practitioner of Intelligent Design teaching in the high school). Makes an Ohioan ex-pat like me feel just the slightest bit peevish, truth be told.

Sigh. I can't even make jokes about it. Too simple.

At the end of the aforementioned PRETTY WOMAN, Julia Roberts tells Richard Gere that, in fairy tales, when the Prince saves the girl, the girl saves the Prince right back. Hollywood Gods, Chuck Lamb doesn't want to be saved! Don't save him!

Just murder the bum. And show it on Law and Order.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Identity Thieves Vanquished, News at 11

Over the past week, Our Man in LA and his lovely bride were embroiled in an epic struggle with the vicious Identity Thieves who tried to steal Thanksgiving and the slow and malicious Bank who wanted to rob us a second time.

Folks, it was like something out of a comic book. A six-part, death-defying adventure where a certain mild-mannered super-hero faces not only criminals but lazy, infuriating corporate stooges ready to give the bad guys a leg up.

Finally on Friday, it ended. The bank resolved the issue and elected not to take back the $1,000 that was taken way back in 2005. So Our Woman in LA and I remain solvent.

It's a little dehumanizing being the victim of Identity Theft, and then having your victim status questioned by the bank that's supposed to do a better job protecting your money than, say, the bottom of a mattress. You feel very alone.

Or at least, I did, until I read this column in the LA Times over the weekend:


Steve Lopez, the writer who handled the Times' coverage of LA's skid row homeless problem, returns here with sometimes hilarious and sometimes downright tragic stories about how banks across the Southland have mishandled cases of identity theft. Like Our Man in LA, Lopez is too discrete to name the bank that done him wrong. If I infer correctly, however, I think he and I are like victims.

Read on.

Friday, January 13, 2006


And a word of congrats . . .

To Hans Noel, political scientist and official buddy of Our Man in LA.

Hans just snagged himself an assistant professor post at Georgetown University, to begin not long after his current post-doc deal at Princeton. Congrats to Hans, who'll be making DC his home for the foreseeable future. And go Hoyas!


Goodbyes, West Hollywood style

Spent a good deal of yesterday in one celebration or another, bidding goodbye to Laura Rosenberg, a longtime work pal and up and coming standup comedienne, who's leaving Our Man in LA's office for a more lucrative position with the Boy Scouts of America.

The first was an all-office lunch at Maggiano's about which the less said, the better. Nothing against Maggiano's at the Grove - it's employed several of my friends over the years - but anytime a laudatory meal ends with the following statement, you know you've got trouble:

"Well, those of us who chose to drink water and not some soda or iced tea owe $23.75. If you did have one of those drinks, you owe $2.50 more."

To be honest, Our Man in LA believes that there's an entire circle of Hell where all you do is calculate - for all eternity - who owes what on a meal at a place like Maggiano's, Marie Callendar's, or any other sit-down family restaurant. The moment someone pulls out a calculator, and starts subtracting and adding the exact amount each person owes for a drink, you've got trouble.

It's not as deep into the cavity of Hell as the movie THE FAMILY STONE, but it's pretty deep.

So on the heels of that meal, a few of us from the office (and Our Woman in LA) visited the West Hollywood hotspot O-Bar to give Laura a proper, alcohol-saturated sendoff.

What was O-Bar like? Basically, it's exactly what you imagine going out for drinks in LA to be like. Picture this. A dark bar and restaurant. Curtains around the booths that you can pull if you need your privacy. White spotlights dancing across the room. Hanging coral mobiles from the ceiling throughout. Thick hardwood tables. A pounding, throbbing dance beat. Bartenders in sleeveless shirts. A men's room three times as big as the ladies' room.

And then at a certain hour, the curtains go down and a projector sends images of all the male characters from the Super Friends doing their derring-do amidst messages like "Guys in tights rock!"

Yeah. OK place, but not Our Man in LA's usual kind of scene. They did make a good mango mojito, though.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Mr. McGee, don't make my . . . uh . . . pig angry . . .

You really wouldn't like him when he's angry.

This has nothing to do with life in LA (current weather: 71 degrees and hazy), but it's one of those sad things worth mentioning in the world. Check this link:


Apparently, scientists in Asia have now created - through genetic manipulation worthy of characters appearing in Marvel Comics - a glow in the dark, green pig.

Yup. That's a glow in the dark, green pig. And it's green through and through, the BBC tells us. Which means that we're only a couple of green eggs away from a really good old fashioned Seussian breakfast.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


A Day Late and a Dollar Short . . . But still a Tuesday Top Five

I know it's late, and I'm sorry. I really had every intention of getting the Tuesday Top Five back on track yesterday, but you know how it goes - plans, mice, men, the whole thing.

Whatever. Our Man is back in LA, he's back from his travels, and he's ready to reflect on possibly the greatest Tuesday set of Top Fives (and Bottom Ones) ever to be released on a Wednesday.

So here goes. And I'll do my best to keep everything relatively brief. I know you're busy, and Our Man in LA appreciates whatever time you're stealing from your employer to read this blog. So here goes . . .

5) Shakespeare & Co Bookstore in Greenwich Village, New York City. The second half of Our Woman in LA's and my travels took us to the New York area to visit Steph's brother Mike and his wife Mayu. A few days before the New Year, we headed down into the city, and I got a chance to spend an hour or so wandering my old haunts in the Village.

Our Man in LA loves New York, and the Village in particular. Spent a great summer in my youth taking classes at NYU, wandering Bleeker Street and Washington Square, going to flicks at the Angelika. Every time I come back, I have to hit Shakespeare & Co.

What makes it different from other bookstores, Our Woman in LA wondered. Not a ton, really, other than where you are. It's got a lot of the same books as your average Border's or B&N. A lot of folks would say they prefer the Strand bookstore, with its acres of dusty used books. The Strand's super cool, too, but Shakespeare & Co just feels like New York to me. There's a vibe to the place. There's something about browsing around for books, looking out on Broadway and NYU's Tisch school across the street. And there's a plain old terrific mystery section. Great drama section, too.

Just feels like New York. If Our Woman in LA and I lived on the other coast, you might well find me here any day when I had some free time.

4) L & B Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn. More from the New York trip. On my brother-in-law's birthday, we headed over to Brooklyn to chow at this place in Bay Ridge, some of the best pizza I've ever had. Took in both a regular cheese pie and a piece of Sicilian which was drop dead fantastic.

I'm a big fan of the New York pizza to begin with. The thick crust and over-cheesy nature of the pizza in my former hometown of Chicago hasn't done much for me since my metabolism slowed down at age 19. I like the thinner, wider pieces. And this was a, ahem, slice above your average Famous Ray's, Original Famous Ray's, Ray's Famous Original, or what have you.

After the pizza feast, we all went over to the other half of the restaurant and feasted on three different flavors of spumoni - sort of halfway between ice cream and sherbert. Which is to say, pretty freaking amazing.

It's a good thing that the wife and I don't eat pizza much out here in SoCal anyway. Very few places could do anything but suffer in comparison.

I do have a runner-up in the food department this week. Also in New York, Mike and Mayu took us to a Japanese place in midtown (just down the street from Midtown Comics). Amazing food, great service. What an awesome place. Alas, I can't remember the name of it.

You wouldn't either. After about six beers and three sakes each (the women drank sochu instead), we stumbled to another bar, where we drank until time for the train back to Jersey. Then we got on and almost slept through our stop in New Brunswick. After that night, I'm lucky to remember my own name.

3) Best of the Spirit by Will Eisner. Took this with me for my travels to New York and North Carolina. As you all know, I'm a huge Will Eisner fan. But it's difficult to be one if you're simply middle class like Our Man in LA. DC Comics is releasing Eisner's entire run of The Spirit in its Archive editions right now, but there are 15 or so of them, and they all run about 50 bones apiece.

So this is a good solution. In this less expensive volume, you get 25 or so of the best stories the man ever wrote and drew, most of them in the period after Eisner returned from active duty in World War II. Additionally, as the owner of my local comics joint pointed out, the stories are back on regular newsprint, which is the way they were intended. The glossy paper of the Archive editions tends to absorb the colors differently, and so in this book you see Eisner's stories as they were meant to be told.

Here's the thing for Joe Average Comix fan to remember about Eisner. You'll read some of these stories and think, "Whatever. Alan Moore's done something like this, too. Same with Neil Gaiman. But it's even more refined and literary."

OK, fine. But Eisner invented the form. The distance between the early comics writers and Will Eisner is a lot further than the distance between Eisner and today's great comics creators. You might prefer Springsteen to Elvis or Bob Dylan, or U2 to the Beatles, but what those later acts did was build from something groundbreaking and amazing that had already been done.

Eisner is one of comics' original innovators. Read this volume, realize when it was made (largely between 1946 and 1950), and you'll marvel.

I'd also like to bring up the extremely modern runner-up on the comics front. My good buddy Hans Noel gave me the first story arc of Warren Ellis' very good Transmetropolitan book. A lot of fun, hilarious in parts, this is a good read. Imagine a guy (sort of a cross between Hunter S. Thompson and Alan Moore) working as a gonzo journalist in a post-cyberpunk world. There you go. I'm hooked.

2) BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. I finally went to see it, under threats from Our Woman in LA that "I had better not hear anything about gay cowboys eating pudding".

It's brilliant. Seriously. I loved it. Only thought about Cartman from South Park, and whether the characters would be eating pudding one time during the whole flick. It's that good.

Heath Ledger turns in just a drop dead astounding performance. The guy does so much with so few words. I'm just stunned. Michelle Williams is likewise great - you'll certainly forget that she was ever the bad girl on Dawson's Creek. The two of them bring such pathos and emotion, in their voices, in their physicality, and in their silence. Wow.

The rest of the cast is good, too. Strike that. They're probably great, actually. It's just so hard to speak in superlatives given the way that Ledger and Williams hit the ball out of the park. I'm no huge Gyllenhal fan, but he more than holds his own. Ang Lee more or less makes me forget about HULK.

Steph thinks it's the best movie of the year, and I can't disagree. GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK comes close. I haven't seen CAPOTE, HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, or MUNICH. But this will be hard to beat.

(Special Nugget Review): While out and about on the East Coast, the wife and I took in KING KONG with Steph's mother. Here's the basic review from Our Man in LA. It's good. Really good. Also really long. It's a four-star movie that becomes a three-star one simply because they could have lost an hour and not missed a beat. But there's really great work from Naomi Watts, Jack Black, and Peter Jackson.

1) Texas Hold Em. Let me set the scene. Our Man in LA isn't a big gambler, and neither is the wife. But we were looking for a chill New Year's Eve out there in the NY metro area, so we stayed in at Mike and Mayu's place in New Jersey, drank and ate, and eventually decided to play some cards. Hans Noel joined the crowd.

At first, Mayu and Stephanie weren't going to play. The game was Texas Hold Em. They didn't know how to play (I really didn't either, but that's neither here nor there). But then there was a lot of insistance that the girls join in . . . probably because it was assumed that they'd be easy marks.

Mike printed out a cheat sheet for the ladies, telling them the values of the various hands. We all put in our ten dollars.

And then Steph proceeded to win virtually every hand. Seriously. Our Woman in LA was on fire. She could beat virtually anything. And she did it. Over and over again. What's more, every time she won, she celebrated, with hugs, with laughter and screams. It was something to see.

I didn't even mind losing my ten bucks. After all, we have joint checking.

Unbelievable. Mayu had to buy back into the game twice. Mike had to buy back in once. And Steph just kept on winning and celebrating. Then more winning. Then more celebrating.

A serious game? No. But it was a fun one. Probably the best time I've ever had at a card game. Steph might not have known whether a straight beats a flush or not - but she got a lot of them. Won her hands over and over again.

Toward the end of the game, Hans and I both crapped out. He turned to me and asked if I was buying back in.

"Are you kidding?" I said. "She's already got all my money. Let's just watch her win."

Which we did. And win she did. All night long, channeling Kenny Rogers in THE GAMBLER.

It wasn't a lot of money at the end. Forty or fifty bucks. But it seemed like a particularly happy New Year to me.

Thus ends our Top Five. There's not much time left on the day, but how about one little . . .

BOTTOM ONE: It's a little movie called THE FAMILY STONE.

Wow. This flick will play forever at the multiplex in HELL. Rare is the time that I go to a theatre and have nothing positive to say at the end. Nothing. Not a damn thing. Not even, "Sure was a great Diet Pepsi".

Congrats, Family Stone. You made it. This is one of the most maddeningly awful abuses of celluloid that I've ever seen. Moreover, I'm going to give this movie an award:


Because it's not fair to compare this movie against the purely incompetent filmmaking that occasionally makes it onto the big screen. You can talk about Ed Wood's work all you want. How angry can it really make you?

This movie made me furious, though. How completely awful, ugly and smug can one picture be? I thought this would just be a cute little waste of time. But nooooo.

Here's the story. Imagine the most annoyingly smug (but calculatedly liberal) New England family in the world. Awful and boring and irritatingly witty. Dad smokes pot with son. Mom and daughter are rude and shallow to everyone, but it's lovable, I guess. To someone.

And then the oldest son brings home his uptight, conservative girlfriend. And smug family doesn't like her. Why? Well, we're not sure. I mean, she is uptight and boring. But they hate her before they've met her. And they're so actively, ruthlessly rude that you almost begin to side with her. After all, she's played by Sarah Jessica Parker, and you get the feeling that she means well . . .

And then it turns out that she's a racist, homophobic bigot. So all bets are off. Of course, by the end, the Family Stone is able to put that aside and let her marry one of their children . . . just so long as it's not the one she came in with.

To quote Roger Ebert reviewing a different movie (Rob Reiner's NORTH, which, if you ask me, is leagues better than this pile of bat crap): "I hated this movie. Hated it. Hated hated hated hated hated hated it. Hated it."

Amen, brother. I give you the Family Stone. This is the most calculatedly awful Hallmark Hall of Crap, Gump-tastic movie I've seen in a long, long while. The characters come down on the right side of every social issue, so we know we should root for them. One of them's dying of a disease, so we had better feel sad.

Ugh. After a movie like this, I have to take action. There are only a handful of movies in history that have ever made me this angry.

How bad was it? Halfway through the movie, when all the characters are at dinner together, my wife saw me counting something. She looked over, whispered: "What are you doing?"

"Counting," I said.

"Counting what?" she said, her eyes rolling a little.

"Counting all the people onscreen that I hate."

What action can I take? Well, one of the cast - at least - is going to have to lose a year of my moviegoing dollars. There's precedent for this. After seeing Moulin Rouge (don't even get me started), I took a year off all movies featuring Nicole Kidman and the entire rest of the cast.

To this day, my pledge to avoid those actors still has resonance. Ewan McGregor? I can get through the Star Wars movies by suggesting to myself that his Ben Kenobi might be CGI. And anyway, it's not like he acts in those movies, anyway.

Nicole Kidman? Decided to give her another shot, and went to see THE HOURS. Don't get me started on that one, either. At least now she's only doing movies like BEWITCHED and STEPFORD WIVES, so I won't have to go see her.

John Leguizamo? Look, if I'm ever forced to watch one of his films at gunpoint, I'll eat the bullet.

So who should lose a year of my movie money? It's not much, but it's a few hundred bucks, and I'll feel better.

Should it be Sarah Jessica Parker? I mean, even though she was a racist homophobe and I hated her, I actually thought she did the best job in the movie.

Or Craig T. Nelson? It might be another year till he's in another movie.

Or Diane Keaton? I did actively root for her character to die.

Or Rachel McAdams? If Diane Keaton's character didn't die, I certainly hoped Rachel McAdams' would. Still, I liked her in Mean Girls.

Or Luke Wilson? I generally like him, so it might bum me out to drop him, but then again, he shouldn't be blameless.

And I can't do Dermot Mulroney or Claire Danes, since I probably wouldn't go to another one of their movies anyway.

So help me, folks. Who should lose a year?

See you tomorrow.

Brrrrr. Now, I've got Family Stone in my brain.


The identity thief laughs again

If you were in Los Feliz this morning, and you heard angry shouting, it might well have been Our Man and Our Woman in LA having an angry "discussion" with our bank over the phone.

As you might remember, Our Man in LA was the victim of identity theft over the Thanksgiving holiday. Some evil miscreant managed to make a copy of my ATM card and get my PIN information. Resulting cost: nearly $1,000. Our Woman in LA and I reported the matter, got the money restored, and, we thought, closed the case.

Or so we thought. On Monday, we received a letter from our bank, which will remain nameless, informing us that their investigators had determined no fraud to have been committed, and as a result, we would lose the nearly $1,000 again. Forget the fact that the transactions were made in parts of LA far removed from our house and in Arizona. Forget that it's rare that Our Man in LA even withdraws $100 from the ATM, let alone the $800 from the joint checking account done in less than 24 hours. Never mind that two of the transactions occurred in our bank's machines, meaning that all you'd have to do is just look at the video from the ATM.

Nope. No proof of fraud.

Talked to the bank Monday morning. Oh, they were sure going to appeal the decision for us. Don't you worry. Call back Wednesday.

Called them this morning. Nope, no appeal made. Why can't you people be more patient with us? You have to calm down and be patient.

But yeah, we're taking your money on Friday morning.

The long and short is that Our Woman in LA and I have now re-appealed, and this request is going before the Executive Committee of the bank's fraud squad. That's right, the Executive Committee. Not a few men tremble in fear at the sound of that.

But we're still losing the money on Friday morning. Might get it back. Might have to appeal the Executive Committee's decision. We'll see how that'll work out.

But anyhow, losing a bunch of money again sure did get Our Woman in LA and I in a lather. When we get angry, we get really angry. How do I know? Well, looking at the evidence of this morning's, ahem, discussion with the bank, I can site two pieces of pretty strong evidence:

1) Well, there was the time that I broke the phone by slamming it too hard against the desk in the office; and

2) There was Our Woman in LA's repeated use of the word "bull-s%!t" in describing how we had been treated by our bank.

I mean, it's not ironclad evidence, but it's solid.


Just to make myself clear, too, I'd like to talk a moment about the punishment I'd like to see visited on this particular identity thief. As you all know, Our Man in LA is a fierce opponent of the death penalty. And that goes for this person, too.

No, sir. Death is too good for this one.

Maybe he or she should have to be on the receiving end of a phone call from Our Man and Woman in LA. That he or she can't hang up from. While he or she is being stung by bees and having lit cigarettes put out on his or her stomach.

That's the punishment that fits, in my opinion. It's either that or face the Executive Committee.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Wieland's personal football season comes to an end

Sure, Our Man in LA will watch the gridiron all the way through the Super Bowl (but not through the Pro Bowl, because it's usually boring), but my personal season officially came to an end yesterday, when my beloved Cincinnati Bengals went down to the hated Pittsburgh Steelers.

Can't really feel bad about the Bengal loss. Maybe in part I'm still basking in the glow of Texas pulling it out against USC. Maybe it's because I go to sleep every night imagining that big orange #1 on the U of Texas tower. Maybe it's because I know that next year, LA still won't have a pro team to call its own, and so I'll still get to watch the best games around.

Sure, I'm disappointed by the Bengals losing. Sure, I'm worried about Pro Bowl QB Carson Palmer (savior of the franchise) going down with not one but two ligaments torn in his knee.

Can't really think about that right now.

No, what I'm still thinking about is that the Bengals made it to the playoffs. We won the AFC North - a division with two playoff teams - and we went to the playoffs. After 15 years of hopelessness, there was something to cheer for. And if Palmer's back next year (which I have to believe he will be), we'll be back here. And we'll stuff those stupid yellow terrible towels right down Ben Roethlisberger's throat.

Here's the thing you realize after being a football fan for a long while. Only a couple of teams really end the season feeling perfect. In college ball, maybe you win that bowl game. If you're really lucky, you win the national championship (like a certain team from Texas . . .). If you're a pro, you want the Super Bowl.

Everything else is all about you and your team either getting closer to one of those goals or moving away.

After 15 years, the Bengals are closer. Much closer. If Palmer stays in the game, I think maybe the orange and black win one for the first time since the Super Bowl year. That would be something. Maybe next year. I have hope.

And here's the other thing. You have to keep that hope. I don't know about you, but Our Man in LA can't just stop rooting for his teams because they hit a snag in the road. Just like he can't stop rooting for his teams because they reach the pinnacle.

That's why we like sports. This is the part that serves as life metaphor for those of us not talented enough to play on Saturday and Sunday afternoon before hundreds of thousands of people. We can't all win the big ones, not every time. But we keep going, keep working, keep believing. In the end, it's worth the struggle.

James Thurber, official favorite author of Our Man in LA, once wrote about a moth who instead of setting his sights on the lamp in the living room, like all the other moths, set his goal as huddling around a star in the sky. He lived longer, worked harder, and was happier in the end - even though his moth brethren derided him throughout. So it's worth it.

This season's over for me now, but I got enough out of it to keep at everything, just like that moth. Cool, huh?

Go Bengals. Go Longhorns. Go Buckeyes.

It's been a pretty good year.


Nothing LA about it . . .

But it sure is damn funny.

My good buddy Rick forwarded me this from a Saturday Night Live a few weeks back. Good stuff, and these guys bring their rap hard. Check it out . . .


By the way, the cupcakes at Magnolia in New York really are pretty good.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Elmo goes postal

It was only a matter of time before Our Man in LA retreated from the sweet euphoria of the Texas Longhorn national championship and began talking about things that are truly ridiculous once again.

Who'd have thunk it would take just a day.

Put this link in your browser and check it out:


Apparently, a TV station in Central Florida (home to the happiest place on Earth) is reporting a totally family un-friendly story.

I guess there's a new book out for little kids about Sesame Street regular Elmo becoming potty trained. I for one had no idea that Elmo wasn't already potty trained, but I try to avoid all the celebrity gossip shows on TV. I could easily have missed it.

The book comes with an Elmo doll, an Elmo commode, Elmo TP, and so on. Just the kind of gift that little boys steer waaaay clear of.

Or maybe not. We all know how prone to violence us young men are. Apparently - and this is the crux of the story - when you push a particular combination of buttons in the "Elmo Goes to the Potty" book, Elmo's got a question for all the bad little boys and girls out there (particularly the ones in diapers just a little too long):

"Who Wants to Die?!?"

Parents are protesting this as a sick joke. I for one am celebrating Elmo's reinventing himself as a darker, edgier muppet.

Seriously. Who knew Elmo could be so cool? The Trent Reznor of the Jim Henson crowd? Oscar the Grouch has got to get a whole lot grouchier to compete with this.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


The Eyes Of Texas Are Upon Y'all

Our Man is back in LA after travels to the deepest, darkest corners of the United States. Over the holidays, the wife and I criss-crossed the country to visit family and friends, and to ring in a terrific new year.

But I had no idea how terrific it was going to be until last night.

Truthfully, I was going to let my hiatus from the blog stretch until next week, giving me a little more time to adjust to being back home, back at work. Give me a little time to finish the mammoth task of finishing the first draft of the new script. You know how it goes.

Brother, there are some things out there that just force you to write. Vince Young, leader of the Mighty, Mighty University of Texas Longhorns is one of them.

If you haven't heard by now, my beloved Horns hooked it to the USC Trojans last night, winning college football's national championship in the Rose Bowl, right here in Southern California. Superman Young found himself responsible for more than 460 yards of total offense. And this was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.


Seriously, dude. Wow.

Let's address this mammoth victory one point at a time, shall we?

First, let me say that I love the Horns. I'm a graduate of their film school, and I'm as proud of my time in Austin (the best college town in America bar none) as I am of just about anything else in my educational background. I was going to love the Horns whether they won or lost. That said, I have to admit winning is better.

Second, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the sports gods out there. Thank you, sports gods, thank you. The new century has been pretty good to me and my teams. After a particularly rough 1990s - when Ohio State couldn't beat Michigan, Texas couldn't beat almost anyone, the Bengals were the worst team in the NFL virtually every year, and Northwestern, although bowl eligible, was embroiled in gambling scandals - I've been very pleased with the first half of the 2000s.

Think of it. Ohio State, national champs. Over Miami. Northwestern, still bowl eligible and without scandal. Scandal-monger Gary Barnett out of a job. The Bengals back in the playoff mix.

And then last night, the best of all. Hook 'em Horns. Bevo gets it done (with the help of a QB so amazing that comparisons to both Michael Vick and classic Brett Favre don't seem to completely tell the story).

Third, I'd like to amend any and all earlier statements I had about Texas' coach, Mack Brown. Mack, you're not John Cooper. You never were, and I'm sorry for putting you in his sorry-ass company.

For those of you who remember, Cooper was Ohio State's coach during the aforementioned ugly 1990s. Great recruiter, great coach against mediocre teams, but couldn't beat Michigan or a team in a bowl game to save his life. Early on, Mack did similar things. Had great seasons against the Baylors and Iowa States of the world. Couldn't get it done against the hated Oklahoma. Couldn't win the big bowl games.

It started to change last year, with that miracle against Michigan in the Rose Bowl. What I should have understood then is that it was all a matter of taking the right steps. All part of the journey for Mack and the boys. Like Mr. Miyagi, he had to have Vince Young-san wax on and wax off before he could pull any crane-kicking mojo.

Vince Young arrived last year against Michigan. This year, in the same venue, the man showed us what he can do, why he's special. You made it happen, Mack.

And best of all, Mack made it happen with the right set of priorities. In his press conference after the game, Coach Brown said that he hoped, great though this national title game was, that this January night in Pasadena would not turn out to be the greatest moment his young men ever had. He said he wanted them to be great fathers, great men. That's a better reward than just playing a great game.

No word on whether Vince Young heads to the NFL draft or stays at Texas for his senior year. We'll know soon. Coach Brown has never lost a star player to the NFL before he's completed his eligibility. When you have a mentor talking to you about making you a better person, and not just about X's and O's, is it any wonder?

Fourth point in this ramble. As I mentioned above, this is the second time in a few years that one of my teams has won the national championship.

This one is better. Way better.

There are a couple of reasons why. First, Ohio State was my father's team. I love them dearly. I'll root for them in virtually every game.

Texas is my team. I went there, earned a degree from there. I cheered them in 90-degree October weather, back in the days when they were still in the beloved Southwest Conference. I suffered through every loss to Oklahoma. I swallowed my pride when they lost to Barnett and his Colorado squad. They're the guys I would watch every Saturday if I could.

Moreover, it happened here, in LA, and it happened to LA's favorite college team. For weeks, local and national pundits had been celebrating this class of Trojans as the greatest of all time, an unbeatable juggernaut that could easily dispose of any college team from any era, not to mention a few pro teams from this one.

You hear that kind of crap long enough, and you really, really want someone to take them down a notch.

Enter Vince Young. Wax on, wax off.

Fifth point in the ramble. This game proved that college football matters to the country. Early reports were that the game received a higher rating than anything broadcast on ABC for the past six years, other than the Oscars and the Super Bowl. Even if you're not a sports fan, you knew about this one. You probably watched.

This one didn't just matter to a bunch of goons in some cultural backwater or hillbilly college town. This one mattered in the major markets. This was something we all want to watch.

I prefer college sports to pro. Always have. It was nice to see one of these games not only living up to the hype, but surpassing it.

Sixth point. Final one, though I could probably go on for another ten. And that point's about the future.

I said before, I don't know whether Vince Young will stay or go. He was leaning toward staying in Austin. Then again, up until last night, some pundits said he probably wouldn't go in the top 7 of the NFL draft, meaning he wouldn't make top money.

Those pundits have been more or less silenced.

As a greedy Longhorn fan, I want him to stay. No question. I'd like to see him defend this championship, win the Heisman, be back in the final game in January 2007 in the Fiesta Bowl playing for all the marbles.

I'll love him either way. If he goes, the rest of Longhorn nation and I will always have the Rose Bowl, which I still think is the best venue and bowl of them all. You can have your Cotton Bowls with all their history. You can have your Sugar or Orange or Fiesta or Carquest.

The Rose just feels different. So Vince has given us this.

If he goes pro, that'll be fine, too. I'll follow that. The first slot in the draft belongs to his hometown Houston Texans, but it's unlikely he'll go there. One scenario has him going to New Orleans. That could be fun, since most people are pretty sure that the Saints will eventually end up as the team of record in Los Angeles, likely coached by none other than Trojan coach Pete Carroll.

Any way they could pull that together, and play their home games in the Rose Bowl?

Another scenario has Vince headed to Tennessee, where he'd be groomed to replace the amazing Steve McNair. That'd be cool, too.

Whatever. Mack Brown's not going anywhere. Why would you? You're in Austin, one of the great places on Earth, making good dough, coaching an elite team, and you're a god to one of the largest campuses in the country and virtually the whole state (except for those poor, ridiculous souls that prefer A&M, or God help us all, the Red Raiders of Texas Tech).

So Mack's still there, and he'll keep the program strong. If Vince stays, we might be back here again next year. If Vince goes, good for him, and we'll still be pretty good.

Anyway, this ends my Texas love column for now. I could (and will, if you see me) talk for hours about how this victory impacts the "Who Have They Played?" argument of sports fandom, the importance of defense in a title bout like this one, and any number of other minutiae.

Tomorrow, the blog will return with its tidbits of LA life, its talk of comics and movies, and with ridiculous stories of holiday travel and encounters with friends and family.

For now, the sun is setting over the Pacific. I can see it retreating into pink sky, the black horizon of the water. At a time like this, on a day like today, I have a simple plan.

Raise a Shiner Bock to the sky and toast once more the Mighty Mighty team from the University of Texas.

Hook 'em, Horns.

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