Monthly Archives: September 2008

Top 5 — People You Shouldn’t Hug

1. An Iowa City Police Officer.

2. U.S. Treasury Sec. Henry M. Paulson Jr. (He’ll swipe your wallet and slip your dough to the CEO of Goldman Sachs)

3. A Cedar Rapids city-paid consultant. (Hugs cost $125 each)

4. A Hawkeye kick/punt returner (You will be fumbled to the Wildcats)

5. Fannie Mae (Freddie Mac gets super jealous)


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Debate Drinking Games

Some folks will spend this Friday night imbibing, while some will be glued to their TVs watching Barack Obama and John McCain duke it out in the first presidential debate.

And some will do both. For them, there are several Web sites out there featuring debate-themed drinking games. No, I’m not kidding. Here are three:

Comedy Central has one.

So does author DL Schleicher’s blog

I found this one on Huffington Post

And if a debate and an economic crisis aren’t enough reason to drink, here are The Nibble’s recipes for candidate cocktails Barack Rocks and McCain Straight Up. (Barack Rocks is pictured above) Both are too fruity for my taste, but go ahead if that’s your bag. Also, here are the McCain Martini and the Obamatini. Again not my style.

I think Bourbon is the perfect American drink for an American debate, now that Bud has gone all Belgian. But that’s just one man’s one vote.

And please, debate-watch responsibly.

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Sleepy and Famous

After hearing about Mayor Kay Halloran’s much-chronicled sleep apnea diagnosis this week, I wondered whether any famous people had the same problem.

A Web search on apnea came up empty, but I did find a Wikipedia list of noteworthy people with narcolepsy, another disorder that causes people to nod off at inopportune moments, like at City Council meetings, for instance.

One name that caught my eye was Jimmy Kimmel. Imagine being a late-night talk show host with narcolepsy. I found some excerpts from a an Esquire magazine piece he wrote in 2003:

“I had no idea I had it until recently. All I knew about narcolepsy was a character on Hill Street Blues, Vic Hitler the Narcoleptic Comic, who would fall asleep in the middle of his act. But I did know that every afternoon between about three and six, I would get very tired for no reason. I would doze off in meetings, watching TV, even driving. You know how when you’re regular tired, your whole body is tired? With narcolepsy, just the inside of your head is tired. It’s like somebody’s gently sitting on your brain. You have almost no focus.”

Also on the list is former Clinton White House deputy chief of staff Harold Ikes. You might remember his last gig was trying in vain to line up legions of superdelegates for Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary fight this year.

Here’s an interesting snippet about how Ikes coped with his problem from the Mental Floss Web site:

“During staff meetings, he stood in the corner and took notes, rather than sitting around the table. But Ickes wasn’t being rude; he was trying to keep from falling asleep.”

Earlier this week I wrote that I’m not going to jump all over Halloran for nodding off during council meetings. I’d certainly rather she didn’t take these unscheduled micro siestas, and I’m glad to hear she’s getting medical treatment. If it works, maybe we can go back to debating the merits of what she’s doing or not doing while she’s awake. If not, there will be trouble, right here in Cedar city, with capital ZZZZ.

But I ask her critics, have you ever once offered to buy her a Red Bull? Seriously. OK, not seriously.

Anyway, Mayor Pro Tem Brian Fagan appears to be fully conscious at last check. He’s really the one people are looking to on the council for leadership right now. That’s one reason I’m not losing any sleep over napgate.

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What Else Would $700 Billion Buy?

Network World has the answer, and a slideshow.

I can’t decide between the jewel-encrusted bras or the pair of Denmarks. Tough choice.

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Today’s Big Idea — Health Casinos

I’ve figured out how to forge a compromise between bickering casinos, gambling expansionists and health  advocates — create “Health Casino.”

Please, hold your applause until the end.

Casinos want to keep their hard-fought smoking ban exemption, which allows smoking on gaming floors. But health advocates want that loophole filled, pronto.

Gambling expansionists want more casinos in places such as Tama and Fort Dodge, Hampton and Ottumwa. But casinos fear lost business.

That’s where Health Casinos come in.

Existing casinos can keep smoky gaming floors, but any new casinos opened from here on out will be smoke-free. That way, health-conscious gamblers will have a smoke-free place to lose money or watch D-list entertainment. Everybody gets what they want.

It’s sort of like those great pre-Civil War compromises, but better, because I believe Iowa’s gambling industry can exist part-hazy, part-clear. And besides, a house divided will stand on 16.

But the new casinos would not only be smoke-free, they would be fitness clubs with chips.

Imagine slot machines mounted on treadmills and roulette powered by stationary bikes and black jack yoga. Burn calories while you burn your money. Get rock-hard abs while your assets go liquid. Lose your shirt and show off those chiseled pecs.

As for the buffet, goodbye fatty prime rib and hello free-range tofurkey. Don’t want anyone’s arteries clogging up before their wallet’s been bled dry.

Health advocates will love it, because people will be healthier and live longer. Casinos will love it because people will live longer and gamble more. Gambling expansionists will get the new casinos they pine for and a chance to tap into the growing health/sin tourism market. Oh, it’s out there.

Smoking gamblers can still puff away, swill drinks and gobble red meat at non-health casinos.

I know what you’re wondering. How does he do it? Clean living, if you must know.


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Grub — Beef O’Brady’s

A month or two ago, while driving north on Edgewood Road approaching Blair’s Ferry, I first saw a sign for Beef O’Brady’s. It made me laugh. No offense, but it sounded made up, likes something from an SNL sketch.

Turns out it’s a real place, the latest addition to the area’s lengthy list of strip mall bars/chain restaurants. (The chain’s based in Tampa, according to the company Web site.)

Beyond the name, marrying the promise of seared cow flesh with Irish tipsiness, I was also struck by the fact that Beef O’Brady’spromotes itself as a “family sports bar.” I have a family, and I often enjoy sports, not to mention bars, so this concept seemed appealing. We checked it out.

“Welcome to Beef’s,” said the waitress who greeted us and seated us. Snort. I can’t get over the name. Sorry. 

The bar is a medium-sized space filled with tables and video games with a smallish bar where no one was  sitting during our visit. The walls are home to several flat-screen HD TVs, including one very large screen, and lots of sports posters, signs etc. A good portion of it invokes local high school teams, so  you might never guess you are sitting in one of 225 Beef O’Brady’s nationwide.

You are sitting in Iowa’s first and only Beef O’Brady’s, however.

It does look like a decent place to watch a game/games, if you get a strategic seat in the middle. There’s a typical beer selection and a good-sized list of appetizers, although I didn’t sample any. 

The menu is filled with burgers, sandwiches and other bar grub. The food is reminiscent of other bar-grill chains and is on the good side of passable. If you’ve ever been to an Okoboji Bar and Grill, a place I used to go in Ames, the food was very comparable.

I had a steak sandwich that was ordered medium rare and arrived perfectly cooked with sauteed mushrooms. But it was served on garlic bread that was overpowering and frankly unnecessary. My wife had fish and chips that were declared “good.” My daughters continued their effort to eat chicken strips and fries in all the world’s restaurants. Service was fine. Bottom line — no big complaints.

We ate at Beef’s on a Thursday night and the place was fairly busy. It’s the only tenant in a three-unit strip mall and sits just south of another strip mall that’s home to Beckett’s, a larger, locally owned Irish joint. We’ll see if Edgewood is big enough for the both o’them.

I also heard a rumor that a Pork O’Paddy’s is opening down the street. Nah, I made that up.


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Extended Forecast — No “Perfect Storm”

I wish “perfect storm” would blow, or dissipate or move harmlessly out to sea.

There it was again this morning, tucked into the investigation of the University of Iowa’s handling of a sexual assault report last fall. An investigator cited a “perfect storm” of miscommunication.

Now, I’m not passing judgment on my journalistic pals. I’ve used it in my stories and columns, too. I just think it’s a cliche whose time has passed. Overuse has watered down its meaning and impact. We need to have a retirement party for “perfect storm.” I’ll bring the cake.

It’s been 11 years since Sebastian Junger’s truly good “The Perfect Storm” book hit the shelves and eight years since the movie by the same name. And what started out as a punchy, fitting term describing the extremely rare confluence of bad circumstances into a massive, memorable and tragic event is now used to describe things far less rare. Such as an inept, bumbling university bureaucracy.

I know my fight is uphill. Plug “pefect storm” into Google news and you’ll get 7,562 references. Sarah Palin is out talking about a “perfect storm” of economic problems. The term is being used to describe oil prices and homebuilding and an Australian rugby team and employment woes in New Zealand and airline troubles in the UK. Yeah, and sometimes it’s still used to describe weather.

I’m issuing a no perfect storm warning. Join me.

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