Monday, February 28, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/28/05

"When he's not dazzling us with his acting ability, he's boring us with his politics. Ladies and gentlemen, Tim Robbins." Chris Rock introducing Tim Robbins at the Academy Awards

Oscar Wrap-up

It was the Wild Banshee herself who voted that she would "maybe" watch the Academy awards on Sunday night. Of course, in the end, I did watch the entire broadcast, including red carpet coverage on both E! and ABC. Why? Well, partly because FOX didn't air its usual Sunday night lineup. But mostly because I can't resist a spectacle. And, love 'em or hate 'em, the Hollywood elite certainly know how to put on a spectacle.

If you want a run-down of who won what award, check out This post is gonna focus on the more bizarre aspects of the 2005 Academy Awards.

First up on the hit parade has to be the Academy's choice of Chris Rock as host. Rock opened the show by mocking several actors for their lack of star power, including Jude Law. Then Rock mocked Tim Robbins' incessant political whining. Rock also did a taped segment where he visited an urban theater in L.A. and asked movie goers what films they had seen this year. The Best Picture nominees seemed totally foreign to these real people while White Chicks and The Chronicles of Riddick were favorites. The only thing that Rock did to fit in with the Academy was deride the President.

When talking about weird sights, Hilary Swank's dress cannot go unmentioned. It really looked to me like she had a Hefty bag tied around her neck. I know she doesn't earn Julia Roberts' kind of coin, but I would think that she could still afford real clothes. In all seriousness, what on earth is this thing? Is it on backwards?


Another head-scratching moment at the Oscars came when Dustin Hoffman took the stage with Barbara Streisand to announce the award for Best Picture. This is the pinacle of the night. And yet, I'm pretty sure that Hoffman was drunk as a skunk. He didn't seem to have any idea what he was doing. He was not articulate and needed Babs to prod him into every single line. Not cool, if you ask me. I was pretty sure that Annette Bening was also toasted when she made her way up the red carpet early in the evening. But she seemed pretty solid when she spoke from the podium during the show.

But, the king of the bizarre has to be Johnny Depp. He was a spectacle unto himself, and he wasn't even doing anything. Depp was wearing perhaps the most outlandish conglomeration of fashion accessories ever assembled. I don't even know what some parts of this outfit are called. E! Online summed it up best when they said, "He looks like a deranged Buddy Holly." And, as if Depp doesn't look weird enough in this photo, there is even more that is hidden here. Baby Sister told me that Johnny Depp was actually wearing his craggy, Pirates of the Caribean teeth.


And that, my friends, wraps up the Banshee's coverage of the 2005 Academy Awards.

Not the same Lutherans

The BTK serial killer was arrested this weekend near Wichita, KS. Mr. Rah brought it to my attention that the BTK was a leader in his Lutheran church. I started looking into it, and almost every news story online mentioned the fact that Mr. Rader, the BTK killer, was active in his Lutheran church. Mr. Rah and I did a little research into all this. Mr. Rader lives in Park City, KS and is a member of Christ Lutheran Church. While there are at least three Lutheran churches within 30 miles of Park City, I am almost certain that the church Mr. Rader attends is Christ Lutheran Church in Wichita, KS.

Christ Lutheran Church in Wichita, KS is an ELCA church -- not to be confused with the Banshee's version of Lutheran or Mimi's version of Lutheran.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/27/05

"Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs." Henry Ford


All eyes were on California today. Not just because the stars were gathering for the Academy Awards but because the boys of NASCAR rolled into Fontana, CA for the Auto Club 500. Kurt Busch's baby brother Kyle started on the pole for this race. At 19 years old, Kyle Busch is the youngest driver to win a pole. Kyle ended the day a lap down in 23rd place. Greg Biffle started the race from the 5th positition and predicted that he would have the lead within 5 laps. Biffle made good on that promise. Biffle then fell a lap down during the middle part of the race. But, Biffle overcame his mid-race difficulties and won the race.

At this point, I have to make a confession. Since Dale, Jr. went down two laps in the first half hour or so, I switched over to watch Kansas play Oklahoma State on CBS. I still got to see the last forty laps, though. This race started a little after 3 p.m. and dragged on till nearly 7 p.m.

It's a little early to focus too much on the championship standings, but following the Auto Club 500 the defending champ, Kurt Busch, leads the way. Jimmie Johnson is in second. Mark Martin, in his final season, is in third. Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle round out the top five.

Banshee Polling

Poll Results: No doubt about it. Banshee Blog readers are decidedly not excited about the Academy Awards. 70% of voters said that they are not going to watch the awards show. 10% said that they might watch the show. Only 20% said that they would be watching the Oscars.

New Poll: One in a while, a sports story gets picked up by the rest of the media and treated like real news. The ongoing steroid scnadal in baseball is one such story. This week, Banshee Blog wants to know: If steroid use is proven, should Bonds' records be removed from the record books?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/26/05

"Now, I want you to remember that no b*****d ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb b*****d die for his country. Men, all this stuff you’ve heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans traditionally love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball player, the toughest boxer. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. Because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans."

Beginning of the opening monologue from Patton

Sports Talk

I try my darndest to keep from saturating this blog with sports discussion. In fact, I even contemplated starting a Banshee Sports blog so that I would have a separate outlet for all my sports musings (The web space is secured. I just haven't decided whether or not to take on that commitment). However, once in a while, I just can't resist.

No hockey. While America was enjoying the Super Bowl, the heart of conference play in college hoops, and the Daytona 500, the NHL was busy canceling its season. Anyone out there notice? I noticed because NHL highlights aren't hogging up ESPN airtime. Now there's plenty of time for stuff that matters like analysis of NFL signings and spring training coverage.

Basketbrawl. This isn't a rehashing of the Pistons-Pacers debacle from back in the fall. Nope. This is a description of UConn-Pitt game this afternoon. There wasn't any actual fighting. There wasn't anything dirty at all. Nonetheless, this game was a brawl. It might have been the most physical basketball game I have ever seen. Of course, it will probably get beat out for that top spot by the Pitt-Boston College game that will be played on Monday night. If we ever need to invade France, I suggest that we just send the the frontcourt players from these three teams. Those 9 guys ought to be able to take care of business.

Rice the journeyman. There is really no debate. Jerry Rice is the greatest receiver who has ever lived. And yet, it seems that his career is going to fizzle out as so many great careers have fizzled out. It will likely end with Rice playing sparingly in a series of unfamiliar uniforms. After a glorious career with San Francisco, Rice crossed the Bay for a stint with the Raiders. Then last year, he was sent up the coast to Seattle. Now he has been released by the Seahawks. And yet, Rice is contemplating coming back for yet another season with yet another team. Rice has the right to retire when and how he wants. Yet, I am looking forward to the day that he does so that we can begin remembering him in Niners' gold and red instead of watching him fade in some foreign jersey.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/25/05

"We may not imagine how our lives could be more frustrating and complex--but Congress can." Cullen Hightower

Musical Irony

After doing a disappearing act for several years, Green Day is back in the hit parade with their new single, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

The song begins with these words:

I walk a lonely road,
The only one I that I've ever known.
Don't know were it goes,
But it's home to me, and I walk alone.

The band goes on to sing in the chorus, "My shadow is the only one beside me."

Yeah, this song is based on the typical grunge rock, navel-gazing angst. But, it is kind of catchy. Then the irony of all this hit me. Green Day is a band. The guy who is singing about his extreme solitude probably has two band mates standing five feet from him while the words come out of his mouth.

I mean, seriously, do any of these guys look like they're going it alone? If you ask me, these guys could do with a little more personal space.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/24/05

"If you don't find it in the index, look very carefully through the entire catalogue." Sears, Roebuck, and Co. Consumer's Guide, 1897

Joys of Power Point

This is probably old news to most of you, but Microsoft Power Point is a fabulous computer program. Amazingly, I graduated college and law school without even opening this program one single time. However, over the last couple of weeks, I've been working on a presentation that I have to give at my office. I have genuinely enjoyed creating slides with Power Point. My favorite feature is the extensive, online clip art library. Even with a dial-up connection, pictures are easy and quick to download. If any of you have a presentation coming up and have access to Power Point, I highly recommend giving this program a try.

Weather Forcasts in VA

I've lived in Virginia for almost four years now. It's all been in the southwestern part of the state. During this time, I have noticed that weather forcasting around here is about as accurate in predicting what's gonna happen as the fortune cookies are at the Asian Cafe. I realize that meteorolgy is a tough profession. But, I think the guys around here should seriously consider adopting the old Indian weather stick as one of their primary tools -- you know, the one where if it's wet then you know it's raining, if it's white then you know it's snowing, etc.

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, forcasters were predicting 6+ inches of snow on Thursday. By the time I left work on Wednesday, they were predicting only about 2 inches. And when I woke up on Thursday, it was sleeting, and forecasters were predicting just a coating of mixed percipitation. This really is a brilliant ratings ploy, though. You have to keep tuning in to every single news broadcast because the forecast changes hourly in order to adjust to what is actually happening outside the studio windows.

Sample weather forcast from Roanoke:
Well, folks, it's snowing a bit. If that keeps up then we'll probably
have some accumulation. But if it stops soon, then we probably won't get
too much. Of course, if it warms a bit then it'll be freezing rain which
may or may not cause some difficulties on the roads. Either way, be sure
to tune in to our next broadcast in a half an hour so that I can tell you
exactly what's happening and explain to you that if the percipitation continues then
that will mean we've gotten more of the same.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/23/05

"Friends come in and out of our lives like busboys in a restaurant." Voice-over at the end of Stand by Me.

Ask Banshee

Dear Banshee,

Can you give us a brief history of banshee blog (where the inspiration came from, is this its first version, etc.)? Also, what's the deal with banshee blog contributors? How do you know them? Why do you keep them around, etc...?

~ Curious


Dear curious,

Great question. Banshee Blog was born on December 30, 2003 -- between semesters of my third year of law school. The initial post explained the reason why I wanted to start this website, but only about twenty people probably read that post. Here is a brief excerpt from that original post:
I just finished reading In, But Not Of by Hugh Hewitt. The subtitle to this book is "A Guide to Christian Ambition." The basic gist of the book is that it is important for Christians to seek positions of influence in America. Mr. Hewitt says that one of the first steps to being a person of influence is participating in the public discourse. Thanks to the Internet, the Market Place of Ideas is not such a gated community as it once was. Mr. Hewitt recommends blogging as a great way to start sharing ideas with the public. He believes that if you write something interesting, people will find it. So, that's why Banshee Blog was born.

Sounds a lot more high-minded in that post than Banshee Blog actaully turned out to be, huh? I'm not sure Mr. Hewitt had incessant dog show posts in mind when he encouraged his readers to engage the public. I don't think there's been a single photo of Smarty Jones on Mr. Hewitt's blog.

I gave Mr. Hewitt all the credit in that original post, but really Mimi was the inspiration for this blog. She is the one that recommended that I read the book. She is also the one that encouraged me to go ahead and put something on the web. She was also the only other contributor in the infancy of the blog.

This isn't the first time that I've ever attempted a website. I had several short-lived attempts at publishing fiction online. But, this is the first blog that I've ever had. It's only about a year old, but it has had some pretty major facelifts in that year. Polling and pictures are probably two of the most notable upgrades this blog has seen. Unfortunately, you can't see the old version of the blog because the archived posts have all been converted into the current format.

As for contributors ... well, some are family. Some are friends. All are clever and creative. The contributors have a variety of different perspectives and life experiences to draw on. As such, they bring a variety of topics and opinions to the site. However, they all share certain core beliefs that give the blog some continuity. I like the idea of having contributors, because I think it is way more fun to be part of a team than to go it alone.

~ Wild Banshee

If you have a question burning in your mind, please Ask Banshee.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/22/05

"[Medicine is] a collection of uncertain prescriptions the results of which, taken collectively, are more fatal than useful to mankind." Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 - 1821)

Have you seen those weird commercials where the people talk about riding an SUV? They have a rodeo theme, but the guys are riding a creature that resembles a cross between a Snufalufagus and a Dodge Durango. The commercials are advertising

Even if you managed to figure out that the commercials are advertising a website, you probably still have no idea what this website is about. I had no idea either. But, I figured that inquiring minds would certainly want to know, so I checked it out. is a flashy but slightly creepy website dedicated to the safety of SUVs. It talks about the importance of proper air pressure, maintaning safe speeds, wearing seatbelts, etc. The campaign is brought to you by the offices of the Attorneys General of all the 50 states. Why? Search me.

Oh, and for you Super Bowl viewers, is a website where you can register domain names. There is a woman on their homepage, but she is wearing a very conservative, crew neck tee. Sorry boys. No tank tops in sight.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/21/05 President's Day

"Presidents come and go. History comes and goes. But, principles endure ...." President Ronald Reagan (January 13, 1993)

Best Pictures?

The Academy Awards will be held next Sunday. It seems like there is far less anticipation leading up to this year's presentations than there has been in the past couple of years. Perhaps that is due to the films that the Academy has chosen to nominate for its top award of Best Picture. This year's nominees are: The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, Ray and Sideways.

If you're scratching your head, wondering where on earth this list came from, you are not alone. I heard on the radio this week that these five movies have been seen by fewer people than any set of nominees in the past. That doesn't surprise me a bit. I see a lot of movies, and I have only seen one of these films. I suppose that the low attendance of these films is due in part to the time of year in which they were released.

Still, this leads me to ask a very basic question: Can a movie truly be "Best Picture" if the public didn't want to see it?

I am not suggesting that Best Picture should be turned purely into a box office award. Money is a good reward in and of itself. But, I have a hard time believing that movies are an art form that has an inherent value that transcends public approval. Of course, the film industry only remains in existence due to the dollars brought in by big budget blockbusters like Spiderman and Terminator. And yet, the Academy seems to revel in showing how much it can appreciate films that unwashed masses have rejected.

Humorless girls

I am a member of a listserv email group as a result of a summer program that I participated in following my first year of law school. Alumni of the program can email the group to pontificate and debate a range of topics from politics to religion to the law to race relations. Basically anything. Most of the time, the discussions are highly nuanced and, as far as I'm concerned, quite tedious. To be perfectly frank, I rarely ever read this stuff.

However, around Valentine's Day, this blog's own Daniel Rah sent out a very humorous email about Josh Harris and woosy Christian boys (sorry, Daniel, for the oversimplification of your email). This sparked a long chain of emails. Many guys wrote funny quips and anecdotes. The girls, in contrast, were ridiculously serious and strikingly unfunny.

This led Mr. Rah and I to renew a discussion that we have had before. The big question is: Why is it that girls are so much less funny than boys?

I know this is kind of a broad generalization. I do know a handful of funny girls. But, they are a rarity while almost every single guy I know is funny. Any table of high school boys is entertaining. A dorm room with a handful of college boys will be rolling in laughter. Girls ... not so much. Perhaps it's genetic. Perhaps all that natural nurturing instinct blocks out any potential humor. I really don't know. Can anyone out there shed some light on this?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/20/05

"People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one." Leo J. Burke

Banshee Polling

Poll results: This week's poll asked readers whether or not they were planning to give up something for Lent. Although the readers of this blog are likely a fairly religiously devout group, very few of them are sacrificing something for Lent. Only 15% of voters said they were giving something up for Lent. The other 85% said that they were not.

New poll: The Academy Awards are coming up next Sunday. Earlier this week, Chris Rock, this year's host, made some wisecracks about the lack of interest in the broadcast. So this week, Banshee Blog wants to know: Are you going to watch the Oscars?

Daytona 500

My thoughts on the Daytona 500 can be expressed in three short words: Junior didn't win.

Despite this disappointment, I will say that the 47th running of the Great American race was an entertaining event. For the first time ever, it was broadcast in high definition, and thanks to my baby sister, I got to enjoy the event in all it's dazzling visual glory.

There was a fairly boring two-hour stretch in the race where Tony Stewart led a single-file line of cars. But by the time it was all said and done, fans got to see a car rolling and flipping and twirling on its nose, multiple late-lap lead changes, and a two-lap shoot-out to the finish.

Dale Jarrett started the race on the pole. Jarrett led the first lap, but he was never a factor after that. Tony Stewart, winner of yesterday's Busch race, led the most laps. Dale, Jr. struggled during the middle portion of the race, falling as far back as 31st. Then Junior put on a stunning charge and wrestled the lead away from Stewart with only 5 laps to go. But, Junior's lead was short-lived. Though he'd been unable to give Stewart a serious challenge, Jeff Gordon took the lead away from Junior after just one short lap. Then the yellow flag dropped with only 3 laps to go. NASCAR froze the lap count while the cars slowly circled under yellow. The green flag dropped for the final time with just 2 laps to go. Junior was actually in 3rd at the restart. Kurt Busch was in 2nd and effectively prevented Junior from giving Gordon a serious challenge.

In the end, Jeff Gordon won his third Daytona 500. Kurt Busch finished 2nd. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was 3rd. Scott Riggs was 4th, and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top 5. Despite dominating most of the race, Tony Stewart finsihed in 6th place.

Next week, it's on to Fontana, California.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/19/05

"Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it." Colin Powell

Battlefield Detectives

Having your own blog is a solemn responsibility. Once you have an established readership, you must understand that your readers rely on you to keep them abreast of certain cultural developments. Therefore, it is my solemn duty to bring "Battlefield Detectives" to your attention. This show airs at many different, random times on the History Channel.

"Battlefield Detectives" dedicates an entire episode to a single military engagement. The show discusses the outcome of the battle. It also discusses the legends and traditional explanations behind that outcome. Then the show uses modern archeology and science to study what exactly happened at the battle and why that outcome occurred. For example, one episode examined how the terrain and the mud doomed the French at the famed Battle of Azincourt (the heroic British victory in Henry V). Another episode examined how the British radio technology was instrumental in the failure of Operation Market Garden in World War II (the campaign featured in A Bridge Too Far).

"Battlefield Detectives" is a good show for history fans of all knowledge levels. If you are already an expert, there are plenty of new details to stimulate your brain. But, if you haven't had time to study a lot of history, this show offers a good chance to gain a basic knowledge of some of history's most important moments.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/18/05

"Great deeds are done when men and mountains meet." William Blake


Tonight I went to see Will Smith's new movie, Hitch.

This is a romantic comedy, but the emphasis should be on the word comedy. This isn't the same kind of sappy fare as a Meg Ryan film. This movie is not the sort of film that should be overly scrutinized. The user comment on the Internet Movie Database sums it up well when it declares: Very Entertaining, Funny, Pretty Original Story.

As for my comments ... well ... I got my money's worth in the first five minutes. The opening scene features Will Smith -- possibly the coolest man in America. It also features not one ... but two dachshunds. That scene alone was worth $8 to me.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/17/05

"Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening." Dorothy Sarnoff

Twin 150s

Race week is underway down in Daytona, FL. Unlike most races, the Daytona 500 determines its starting order primarily through race action. The qualifying that was held on Sunday determined the front row for the Great American Race. Beyond that, the qualifying times determined the starting positions for today's twin 150-mile races. Half the field runs in one race and half the field runs in the other. The finishing order from the Gatorade Twin 150's determines the starting order for the big race on Sunday. The finishing order from Race 1 determines the inside starting order. The finishing order in Race 2 determines the outside starting order.

In Race 1, Michael Waltrip forced his teammate Dale, Jr. below the yellow line in order to take home the checkered flag. The DEI teammates will start 3rd and 5th, respectively. Tony Stewart won Race 2. That secures a starting position on the outside of row 1 for the Home Depot team.

The top ten starting positions for Sunday's Daytona 500 are as follows:

1. Dale Jarrett 88
2. Jimmie Johnson 48
3. Michael Waltrip 15
4. Tony Stewart 20
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 8
6. Jeff Burton 31
7. Mike Skinner 23
8. Kevin Lepage 37
9. Ryan Newman 12
10. Martin Truex Jr. 1

Coverage of Sunday's race begins at 1 pm on FOX. The green flag should drop around 2 pm.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/16/05

"The great aim of education is not knowledge but action." Herbert Spencer

Spring Has Sprung

Yeah, I know that it's pretty chilly across much of the nation, but in the Banshee's world spring has officially sprung. Pitchers and catchers reported to spring training this morning.

Ask Banshee

Dear Banshee,

Lately I've been thinking quite a bit about getting rid of all the wrinkles I'm accumulating. When I look inthe mirror, the old tired person I see just doesn't resemble the me I would like to see. Do you think I'm too vain? What would you suggest, Botox or surgery?

Aging Grace


Dear Aging Grace,

First of all, I do not think that you are too vain. I think it's entirely appropriate to spend time and money maximizing one's physical appearance. Our physical appearances are a tool just like any other personality trait. Good looks are almost essential in certain professions and aid in advancement in many others.

However, I think that you may be a bit too hung up on youth. Botox and facelifts are not designed to merely make a person look attractive. Make-up, day spas and the like are designed for that. Botox and facelifts are designed to artificially make a person look younger than they are. Perhaps I'm too young to understand the obsession with youth, but I believe that women need to embrace their age. Certainly, wrinkles are a drawback, but there is an elegance that can only be achieved with age.

I would direct you to verse three of Martina McBride's song "This One's for the Girls." Martina sings:

This is for all you girls, about forty-two.
Tossin' pennies into the fountain of youth.
Every laugh, laugh line on your face,
Made you who you are today.

But, if you're determined to do something drastic in order to appear younger, I would have to recommend Botox over plastic surgery. I'm lawyer, not a doctor. So, this recommendation is based solely on what I've seen on Discovery Health Channel. But, plastic surgery just seems a little risky. First of all, general anesthesia is nothing to sneeze at. Second, it's gonna be crazy painful. And, after you've undergone all that, there is no guarantee that you're gonna like your new look. Even when the price tag is left out of the equation, it just doesn't seem like plastic surgery wins in the cost-benefit analysis.

~ Wild Banshee

If you've got something on your mind, please Ask Banshee.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/15/05

"Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There's so little hope for advancement." Snoopy

WKC Dog Show -- Day 2

Day 2 of the Westiminster Kennel Club Dog Show began with crowning the winners in the sporting, hound and herding groups. Sporting was first. Stumpy, the highly acclaimed Sussex spaniel, was in this group, but it was a German short-haired pointer named Carlee that came out on top of that group. The hound group was next. This group has some of the largest and smallest dogs. The big surprise in this group was that Noodle, a wire-haired dachshund, got called out into the final six. However, it was Knotty, a bloodhound, who advanced to Best in Show. This was no surprise since Knotty is the defending AKC champion. The Best in Show field was rounded out when Merlin the border collie won the herding group.

These dogs joined yesterday's group winners in the Best in Show ring. This was certainly a strong field. Knotty the bloodhound and Jeffrey the Pekingese both had strong chances at victory. Coco, last year's runner-up, seemed to be the most self-assured. She even did her patented hind leg hop dance before the judge had made her final decision. But, someone should have told Coco that it ain't over till the old lady points. And, for the second year in a row, Coco was passed over for Best in Show. Carlee, the German short-haired pointer, came out of nowhere to capture the title.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/14/05 Valentine's Day

"There is no remedy for love but to love more." Henry David Thoreau

WKC Dog Show -- Day 1

Today was day one of the 129th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. America's top pooches were gathered at the world's most famous arena, Madison Square Garden. Over 100 breeds are represented, and the competition begins by selecting a winner in each breed. Each breed of dog is also a member of one of following groups: working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, sporting, hound and herding. The winner of each group then competes for the coveted honor of Best in Show.

On day one, a winner was chosen in the working, terrier, toy and non-sporting groups. A great pyrenees won the working group. Next came the spunky terriers. Coco, the beloved Norfolk terrier, returned from maternity leave to capture the crown in this competitive group.

Jefrey, a tough Pekingese won the toy group. The non-sporting group was the last group of the night. This group is basically a mish-mash of dogs that don't fit in other categories. They are companion dogs that are not bred for any particular task. A Tibetan terrier won this group.

These four group winners now have the chance to compete in the Best in Show round tomorrow night. They will be joined by three other group winners who will be chosen tomorrow evening. It's unclear whether the extra day of rest will be an advantage for these dogs or if they will have a tendency to get rusty during their layoff. Jefrey has a strong resume, but it looks like Coco is the odds on favorite heading into tomorrow night.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/13/05

"Revenge may be wicked, but it's perfectly natural." Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair (movie version)

Banshee Polling

Polling Results: This week's poll asked whether blog readers preferred Pepsi products or Coke products. Little did I know the excitement this poll would generate. 48 votes were recieved this week. The previous record for votes recieved on a Banshee Blog poll was 27.

Coca-Cola had a narrow lead during the middle part of the week, but Pepsi came out on top in the end. Pepsi received 52% of the vote. Coke received 47%. In terms of raw numbers, Pepsi won by a mere 2-vote margin.

New Poll: The new poll asks: Did you give up something for Lent?

Dog Show is Coming!

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will be taking place in the theater at Madison Square Garden on February 14 and 15. In other words, on Monday and Tuesday night. Live coverage will air on USA Network from 8 till 11 on both nights. So, if you don't know what to do with your sweetie on this Valentine's Day, consider cuddling up on the couch with a bowl of chocolate covered Kibbles 'n Bits and tuning into the show.

Josh, 2004 champion

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/12/05

"A good reputation is more valuable than money." Publilius Syrus (~100 BC)

NASCAR is back

I know that you all have been just beside yourselves waiting for weekly NASCAR updates to resume. Well, the real updates are only a week away. But, tonight fans had the opportunity to watch the Bud Shootout from Daytona. This primetime event does not count for the points race, but running under the lights at Daytona always looks cool. Jimmie Johnson won the race.

Next week: The Daytona 500.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/11/05

"If you want me to kill Jappos, I'll kill Jappos. If you want me to kill the enemies of Jappos, I'll kill the enemies of Jappos. Rebs ... Sioux ... Cheyenne. I'll kill anybody you want for 500 bucks a month. But keep one thing in mind: I'd gladly kill you for free." Nathan Algren (played by Tom Cruise) to Col. Bagley in The Last Samurai.

The Apprentice

Wild Banshee made an executive decision at the start of season 3 of The Apprentice not to do a weekly update after each episode. That's mostly because the episodes air on Thursdays, and Fridays are tough blogging days for me. But don't let that fool you into thinking that the Banshee has lost interest in the series.

In the past, the contestants were divided into a men's team and a women's team. This season, the Donald added a twist. He has one team of applicants with at least a college degree and one team that has only a high school diploma. He refers to the teams as "book smarts" and "street smarts." I personally think the concept is kind of bogus. Just because you have a college degree does not mean that you don't have street smarts. Last year's apprentice, Kelly Perdew, had an MBA and a J.D., but he certainly had a lot of street savvy from his business and military experience. And Andy from last season didn't fall short because his Harvard diploma held him back. But, at 22 years of age, he simply had no life experience to draw on. In ten years, he'll have both experience and an education. In ten years, the street smarts applicants will have also have experience but still won't have an education. So far, the book smarts and the street smarts seem pretty evenly matched. Each team has lost twice

All that aside, there seems to be a high ratio of weirdos and crazy people in this season's crop of contestants. Danny from the book smarts team was perhaps the chief oddball. He wore retro suits and seemed incapable of saying anything without bringing out his guitar and putting his words to music. Perhaps he thought he was applying to be a camp counselor rather than a corporate executive. Not surprisingly, Danny was fired in episode three. Three other contestants have also been fired, and one other left of her own volition due to lack of sleep and stress.

Despite the fact that this is the third season, the lustre has still not worn off of the Apprentice.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/10/05

"The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves." Ray Kroc, Founder, McDonald's

Phantom of the Opera

It's getting a little late in the game, but if Phantom of the Opera is still playing at a theater near you, then I highly recommend shelling out the $8 for admission. Phantom is the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's wildly successful musical. There are some changes from the stage version, but for the most part, fans of the stage show will get exactly what they are looking for. Most of the cast members are actually stage actors with several musicals to their credit. Gerard Bulter gives a passionate performace as the Phantom. 18 year-old Emmy Rossum, a veteran of the Met, is very believable in the role of Christine, the Phantom's young protege. Due to her obvious youth, she is in many ways better cast than the great Sara Brightman was in the original stage cast. Minnie Driver also adds a lot to this film in the role of the diva, Carlotta.

Some may find fault with the storyline. There's no denying that it is rather incredible. But, it's important to remember that what you are really watching is a musical play that has been taken to the screen. The music is fabulous, and the film is a visual spectacle. It is well worth the price of admission.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/9/05

“Follow me!” Teddy Roosevelt’s charge command at Kettle Hill

Ask Banshee

Dear Banshee,

I figure, when a boy and a girl are "talking" in the preliminary girl-boy stages, there is a tipping point when the guy should realize, "If I ask this girl out, she'll definitely say 'yes'". Or stated another way, lots of guys don't pull the trigger until they believe they have at least a 51% chance of an affirmative response. So tell me Wild Banshee, what are the signs that a girl might give off to signal her arrival at the Tipping Point?

Cautiously Crushing


Dear Crushing,

The first thing you need to understand is that death and taxes are the only two sure things in life. Unless the girl has taken the initiative and actually asked you out, there will probably never be a point where you know that the girl "will definitely say 'yes.'" One strong sign that the girl might be waiting with baited breath for a dinner invite from you is if she has arranged ways for the two of you to be alone in the past. Needing a ride home. Study partners. Stuff like that. If she compliments you, that's another good sign. Touching is also big. No one needs to touch another person's arm when talking.

The 51% rule makes a lot of sense. But, that neglects a very important factor. The big factor you need to consider is how happy you'd be if you are successful. No guts, no glory, right? If you really dig the girl then you gotta take a shot even if you're a little unsure.

So, I've come up with a mathmatical formula to aid in this calculation:

If ... (probablity of success) * (happiness if successful on scale of 1-10) > 2.5 ... then ask her out.

Example: If you have a 50% chance of success but would only rate your happiness at a 4, then the formula would look like this: (.5) * (4) < 2.5. Therefore, don't bother. In contrast, if you only have a 30% chance of success but would rate your happiness at a 10, then you'd end up with a 3 on the left side of the equation. That's greater than 2.5, so go for it.

There is also an excellent online resource that can help you interpret your crush's actions. The Is Your Crush Dateable? quiz was written by renowned social expert, E.G. Violette. This quiz was written primarily for girls, but I think it can still shed some light on the topic.

Good luck,
Wild Banshee

If you have a burning question in your mind, please Ask Banshee.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/8/05

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." President John F. Kennedy

Election slideshow

They say that a picture paints a thousand words, and, like Jim Croce, I believe that's true. Follow this link to see a moving slideshow of pictures from the Iraqi elections.

NOTE: If you don't have a high speed connection, you may have some trouble with this.

(Link provided by Heather DeJesus)

Monday, February 07, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/7/05

"He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met." Abraham Lincoln

Banshee Polling

Poll Results: Since the Super Bowl was late in the evening, this poll stayed up one extra day than normal. The poll asked Banshee Blog readers to predict the winner of Super Bowl XXXIX. 86% of voters correctly predicted that the New England Patriots would win the game. Only 13% voted for the Eagles. It should be added that one of the Eagles' voters said that they would actually like to switch their vote to the Pats if Terrell Owens played in the game. T.O. did play.

New Poll: This week, Banshee Blog revives an age-old debate. The new poll asks: Do you prefer Pepsi products or Coke products?

Super Bowl Recap

Well, Super Bowl XXXIX is in the books. As the Banshee and 90% of the nation predicted, the Patriots were triumphant. I don't know if the Pats won as much as the Eagles lost. The Pats played well, but the Eagles were just plain bad on offense. They turned the ball over 4 times and put on one of the worst clock management exhibitions of all time in the last 5 minutes of the game. It was horrific. In contrast, the Patriots simply did not make any big mistakes. Tom Brady was marvelous, as usual, in this big game. He threw 2 touchdown passes and no interceptions. Brady did not win the MVP this year, however. That honor went to wide receiver Deion Branch. Branch tied a Super Bowl record with 11 catches.

Congratulations are certainly in order for the Patriots. Sunday's victory makes 3 Super Bowl championships in 4 years. They have now earned a place amongst the NFL's most storied dynasties. Head coach Bill Belichick is now being mentioned as one of the greatest coaches of all time. Belichick's genius will certainly be tested next year. The Patriots will head into the 2005 season without their offensive and defensive coordinators who have left for the greener pastures of head coaching.

A Few Words for Freddie Mitchell

First, a quick intro for those of you who do not watch PTI or listen to sports talk radio. Freddie Mitchell is a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles. He was once a first round pick out of UCLA, but has barely cracked the starting lineup in his pro career. Nonetheless, he has managed to make a name for himself through his flambouyant clothes and ridiculous on-field antics.

Ever since star wideout, Terrell Owens got injured seven weeks ago, Mitchell has not been able to keep his yap shut. After one playoff game, Fred Ex told reporters that he "had to thank his hands for being so great." Mitchell, aka The People's Champ, continued to run his mouth in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. When asked by an ESPN reporter to name the Patriots secondary, he was unable to and wasn't the slightest bit embarassed about that. The only name he could come up with was Rodney Harrison. After pulling this name from the deep recesses of his mind, Mitchell added, "Harrison, I got something for you."

Yeah, right! My grandfather once said that it ain't braggin' if you can back it up. Somebody should have told that to Fred Ex. When the final gun sounded at the Super Bowl, Rodney Harrison had actually caught twice as many of Donovan McNabb's passes than Mitchell. Nicely done, Fred.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/6/05 Super Sunday

“Gentlemen, it is better to have died as a small boy than to fumble this football.” John Heisman

Kennedy on Meet the Press

This morning, Senator Ted Kennedy appeared on Meet the Press. I rarely see Mr. Kennedy or listen to him speak live. But whenever I do, I simply marvel at how entirely bereft of principles he really is. I certainly do not expect most liberals to say things that I agree with. However, there are many liberals who are committed to certain values and will answer questions posed to them. Mr. Kennedy is not one of those liberals. I cannot capture the essence of Kennedy in this post, so I will not even try. Suffice it to say that Kennedy will take any position on any topic in order to advance his own image or detract from the President's. The execution of the war in Iraq and the Social Security situation are just two such topics. And when challenged on his shifting positions, he simply makes something up or gives an entirely non-responsive answer. It is simply astonishing to me that even the citizens of the People's Republic of Massachusetts would continue to send this man back to the Senate time and time again.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/5/05

“If you can walk you can run. No one is ever hurt. Hurt is in your mind.” Vince Lombardi

Super Bowl Preview

I have resisted talking about the Super Bowl for two whole weeks. But now it is time to discuss the big game.

Super Bowl XXXIX


Tomorrow, the New England Patriots will take on the Philadelphia Eagles at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, FL to determine the NFL championship. The Philadelphia Eagles have never won a Super Bowl. They haven't even played in the big game in well over twenty years. Actually, the city of Philadelphia hasn't seen a champion in any sport for over twenty years. In contrast, the Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champs and have won two of the last three Super Bowls.

Due to their long suffering, the sentimental favorites in the eyes of the media seem to be the Eagles. However, the Wise Men of the Desert have the Patriots favored by a touchdown. And, it's no surprise. The Patriots simply do not lose big games in the Bill Belichick era. A large part of that is due to quarterback Tom Brady. In the words of Stuart Scott, "The girls think he's hot, and the boys think he's cool." But, everyone agrees that Brady is a winner.

The 27 year-old quarterback has never lost a post season game in his pro career. He is 8-0 in NFL playoff games. He also won the MVP award in both of his previous Super Bowl appearances. Not bad for a 6th round draft pick. Brady was also 2-0 in bowl games as a starter at the University of Michigan.

Don't let my admiration of Tom Brady fool you, though. My heart is with the Eagles. I would love to see Donovan McNabb finally win a Super Bowl after coming up short in the NFC Championship game so many times. Eagles' running back Brian Westbrook is also a great hometown story since he played his college ball at Villanova.

Banshee prediction: Yeah, I'm sticking my neck out again after a dismal showing in the conference championship games.

Patriots: 28
Eagles: 24

Friday, February 04, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/4/05

"I don't think Democrats have a problem with democracy in Iraq." Democratic strategist, Kristen Powers, on Fox and Friends on 2/4/05.

The Ever Cynical Left

In my brief recount of Wednesday's State of the Union address, I mentioned an embrace between Mr. and Mrs. Norwood of Texas, a couple who lost their son in Iraq, and an Iraqi woman named Safia Taleb al-Suhail. To be perfectly honest, I was writing the "Ask Banshee" column during that portion of the speech. For this reason, I missed much of the emotion of the moment. However, this embrace apparently had quite an impact on many observers. Dick Cheney could actually be seen wiping a tear away from his eye as Bush resumed speaking.

News programs and talk radio have been buzzing over this embrace. One hot topic was the accusation that "the hug" was staged by the Bush administration. Many on the left just could not believe that a genuine emotion could exist without prodding by political operatives. The rumor of the staging apparently started on Chris Matthews' program immediately following the speech. Matthews brought up the topic with conservative columnist Michelle Malkin. Malkin is not really a Bush insider, but disagreed with Matthews' assertion. In the days following the speech, both the Norwoods and Ms. Taleb al-Suhail have denied that there was any staging whatsoever. In fact, the Norwoods said that they did not even know who Ms. Taleb al-Suhail was prior to Bush's recognition of her just moments earlier in the speech.

The cynicism of the left never ceases to amaze me. I suppose that people just believe about other people what they know about themselves. A good portion of the Democratic party no longer believes in anything except their own power. Almost everything they do is calculated to gain political advantage. They rarely do anything genuine and therefore assume the same about the rest of us.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/3/04

"Think not those faithful who praise all thy words and actions; but those who kindly reprove thy faults." Socrates (469 BC - 399 BC)

Another Prognosticator

It seems that Punxatawny Phil is not the only animal who has made weather predictions on February 2 over the years. Oxford, Michigan, apparently has several weathermen amongst their animal population. Most notably, Mr. Prozac.

Like Phil, Mr. Prozac saw his shadow in his pasture this year. It appears that this was a low-key year for Mr. Prozac. Last year, Mr. Prozac was the star of the Oxford celebration. And yes, I did read last Mr. Prozac's account of Groundhog's Day 2004. Click here to read the full story of how Mr. Prozac spent Groundhog's Day 2005.

State of the Union

After much soul-searching, the Banshee did decide to watch the State of the Union Address rather than the first half of the Duke/Wake game. I felt that I owed it to the Banshee Blog audience.

In his address, President Bush covered a wide range of topics. The President spent a good portion of his speech discussing his domestic agenda. Bush specifically mentioned his continued support of a marriage amendment to the Constitution. President Bush spent perhaps the most time in his speech addressing the issue of Social Security reform. Of course, the President also discussed the spread of freedom throughout the Middle East. The most memorable moment of the speech came when the President honored a Texan couple who had lost their son in Iraq. Safia Taleb al-Suhail, an Iraqi woman whose father had been murdered by Saddam Hussein, was seated in front of the couple. When the President asked the Texan couple to stand, Ms. Taleb al-Suhail rose and embraced the couple in a show of gratitude for their sacrifice.

Obviously, the President covered many more topics than those I have touched on here. I would urge those of you who did not have an opportunity to view the State of the Union Address last night to read the text of this speech.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/2/05

"I'll give you a winter prediction: It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be gray, and it's gonna last for the rest of your life." Phil Conners (Bill Murray) in Groundhog Day.

Ask Banshee

This is the debut of Banshee Blog's new Wednesday feature. Banshee Blog received a good selection of inquiries. This letter was selected because it is particularly timely.

Dear Banshee,

I've been invited to an hors d'oeuvres party with some new friends. I know the Banshee has a good down-home love for food. Can you think of a dish that's sure to impress?

~ No Martha in North Carolina


Dear No Martha,

Thank you for this letter. Since Super Sunday is just around the corner, I'm sure there are many people out there looking for a new recipe that will tickle the tastebuds of party goers. Here are two dips that I love and have served successfully at parties and family gatherings.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip:

8 oz cream cheese
14 oz can of artichoke hearts
1/2 cup chopped spinach (I use frozen spinach. Make sure to drain it well)
1/4 mayonaise
1/4 cup shredded parmesean (not that powdery kind in the can)
1/4 cup romano or parmesean
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
dash of crushed red peppers
1/4 cup grated mozzarella

Drain and chop the artichoke hearts. Then mix them with all the remaining ingredients except the mozzerella. Sprinkle in the crushed red pepper according to your own taste. Put the mixture into a casserole dish. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top. Bake uncovered at 350 for 25 minutes. Variation: You can also put all this into a crock-pot. Heat it with the lid on until the dip is warm and the mozerella is melted. Serve with Italian toast. This can be purchased at any grocery store. It's usually in bags or boxes.

Mexi Dip:

If you don't have time to do any chopping or mixing or draining, you might try this crock-pot recipe. I originally learned this recipe from my friend and 3L roommate Bridget Blinn -- a Texan.

1 lb block of Velveeta
1 can Ro-Tel

Cut the block of Velveeta into cubes. Toss them into your crock-pot. Pour 1 can of Ro-Tel into the crock-pot (Ro-Tel can usually be purchased in the same aisle as crushed tomatoes). Heat the dip to the desired temperature, stirring occassionally. Serve with tortilla chips.

I hope this is helpful.

~ Wild Banshee

If there is a question burning in your mind, please Ask Banshee.

Punxatawny Phil

Today the prognosticator of prognosticators, the seer of seers got dragged out of his hole at the crack of dawn by a portly man in a top hat. Phil was a little squirmy this year. A bit of a handful for his handler. But, being the professional that he is, Phil settled down and whispered into the ear of the great groundhog translator. It was blazing sunshine in Punxatawny, PA this morning. So, of course, Phil saw his shadow. Six more weeks of winter.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Quote of the Day 2/1/05

"Vigorous let us be in attaining our ends, and mild in our method of attainment." Lord Newborough

Doxie in Uniform

Darla informed me that I have failed to give our dogs in uniform their fair share of glory. When this photo found its way into my inbox today, Darla insisted that I post it to the blog.

Wednesday TV Preview

State of the Union: Tomorrow evening, President Bush will deliver his annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. The Constitution requires that the President "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union ...." This was not always an annual event. In fact, the "information" has at times been given in written form. Now, the State of the Union is given each year as a speech in primetime. The speech will be at 9 p.m. and will air on most networks and cable news channels.

College Basketball: Okay, let's be honest. State of the Union adresses can be a bit boring. They either contain a lot of policy details or say nothing meaningful at all. They're rarely soaring and inspiring. What will be soaring and inspiring will be the Duke/Wake game which is airing on ESPN at 9 p.m. -- opposite the State of the Union. Choosing between these two will be a real moral dilemma for me.