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What’s going on around here?

Last year, during Weblog Awards Week, I switched templates and blog formats and even prose styles with Sadly, No! in order to . . . well, I forget why we did it, exactly, but it was convoluted and in-jokey and involved all kinds of wacky hijinx that demonstrated once again the amazing frictionlessness and vertiginousness of the Internets.  But I couldn’t do that again this year—it would be too obvious!  Also, I’m not in Sadly, No!s category this time around.  They’re in some kind of “humor” competition that involves one smart and principled conservative blogger, Jon Swift, along with a bunch of wankers—but the category doesn’t even include The Poor Man Institute, so, I mean, come on already.  You call that “humor”?

Besides, my student papers came in on December 5; I spoke at The Tank (and journeyed to Lands Unknown on December 6; and I’ve been grading papers and preparing exams and doing sundry other end-of-semester things ever since.  So I knew there was no way I’d be able to do any serious posting this week, and it seemed like bad manners to go on hiatus when I’m supposed to be some kind of educamacationalist blog.

So Oaktown Girl and spyder and Bill Benzon and Peter Ramus and Chris Clarke (yes, even Chris Clarke—he has confessed his crimes and has been readmitted to the fold) stepped in, first with the Ted Haggard Cage Match and then with the Chris Clarke Show Trial.  Dozens of regulars and irregulars chimed in with brilliant comments.  And on my side, papers got graded and exams got prepared and even one long-overdue essay got written.  (No, not that one.  Another one.)

Now, I know that some of you found all of this kinda convoluted and weird and maybe even offputting.  “I don’t get all these in-jokes,” you said.  “What, is Bérubé assuming we’ve read every single last one of his comment threads for the past three months?”

To you I say this:  you know, in-jokes get lonely too.  I thought it was really nice of Oaktown Girl and Associates to convene this forum so that a massive bunch of in-jokes in the progressive blogosphere could get together and have a year-end reunion.  “The in-jokes they’re using to run this show trial could power the entire town of Elko, Nevada,” Clarke wrote.  “It’s just wasteful.” Wasteful to whom, might I ask?  Those in-jokes were just floating around unharnessed until this week.  And Elko didn’t mind the rolling blackouts, anyway.  We told ‘em it was all Enron’s doing.

And was it all too convoluted? Compared to what? Goodness gracious, people, two years ago a mysterious blogger known only as Tristero mock-accused me of inventing a batshit insane essay by David Gelernter and creating a parody of the Weekly Standard website, and in response, I mock-confessed to the forgery, and the whole exchange was festooned with Borges and Nabokov allusions and hyperlinks that went nowhere and lots of sly Pynchonian puns.  Now, that was convoluted.  This here Show Trial and Cage Match was sincerity itself by comparison.

But what you didn’t know is that, quite apart from the end-of-semester crush, I’ve been in no shape to blog this week.  Every keystroke is an agony.  OK, not an agony, exactly, but a bit of a pain.

Here’s why.  Last Saturday morning, I showed up to my regularly scheduled Nittany Hockey League game.  I was tired and distracted and not at all in the mood for hockey.  Worst of all, I hadn’t worked out all week—and thanks to my insane schedule since mid-October, I’m barely in any kind of game shape anyway.  How distracted was I?  I forgot to pack nice thick skate sox in my bag, and therefore had to play in my thin black dress sox, and I didn’t notice that the attachment doodads on my garter belt had disappeared, rendering the garter belt next to useless.  “Just let me get through this one,” I thought, “and get back to paper-gradin’ and overdue-essay writin’.”

So you can guess what happened next, right?  Ten minutes into the game, I came deep down the left wing alone, cut hard toward the middle, and, just as I was crossing the goalmouth, shot five-hole to give us a 2-1 lead.  One shift later I flipped in a rebound to make the score 3-2.  A few minutes after that I came down the right side this time, and, instead of repeating the move from goal number one, cut across the goalmouth, waited for the goalie to commit, and then tucked a little backhand in the far side from a sharp angle.

“Yikes,” Janet said when I told her this tale later that day.  “That goalie must’ve hated your guts.”

Well, yes, he did.  He began slashing me in the crease and uttering imprecations of all kinds, and though I probably shouldn’t admit this, those imprecations really hurt.  Anyway, with the score now 5-4 I came in alone on a breakaway, having stripped their defenseman of the puck at the point, and because I’d already used Move One and Move Two on goals one and three, simply shot high glove side over his left arm for goal four.  And what do you think this goalie did?  Fully extending his right leg (for those of you keeping score at home, that would be the limb furthest from the shot, a limb whose extension was not at all necessary to stop the puck), he neatly sent me flying through the air to the left side of the net and into the boards.

The right-shoulder crash into the boards didn’t do any damage, but let me tell you, that ice is hard and unforgiving.  I got up unable to extend my left shoulder, with which I’d hit the ice when I was all done with flying through the air.

Just for good measure, though, I put yet another rebound off the far post and in with five minutes left to make the score 7-5.  We added another late goal as well.  Heh heh heh.

I haven’t had a five-goal game in three years—since a wild 6-6 tie on December 13, 2003.  And it was only my third since moving to Pennsylvania.  But just as I injured my hip in a game in October in such a way as to make it very difficult to get in and out of cars, I injured my shoulder in such a way as to make it very difficult to close car doors from the driver’s seat—or raise my arm above my head, or put on a jacket, or blog.  All this week, I’ve been typing hurt, people.  So I owe an extra special thanks to Oaktown Girl and Associates for stepping up in my time of need.

Besides, people have been complaining for months that my blog is graphics-poor.  “What I like about your blog,” said one reader, “is the endless columns of scrolling text, followed by more endless columns of scrolling text.” So my thanks to peter ramus and Bill Benzon and company for fixing that!

And last but not least, thanks to everyone who’s voted for me in the Educatic Blog race.  Today’s the last day for voting, so please stop by and help PZ and the Giant Squid defeat the Bad Half-Naked Astronomers from Planet Xycron, too!  Right now that wonderfully diverting race is 7418-7382 in favor of the shirtless ones, and the drama is only gonna get better as the day wears on.

Posted by on 12/15 at 08:57 AM
  1. Oooh.  Take care of that shoulder, Michael.  Both of mine have met the ice awkwardly more often than I’d care to remember, and somehow the ice has gotten the better of the encounter every time.

    Posted by Dr. Marita, Ph.D.  on  12/15  at  10:51 AM
  2. Thanks, Marita.  And because you’re a goaltender with a kind word, I’ll admit to you—and only to you—that I actually ran into a goalie the week before.  I was pushed:  an imperceptible but decisive shove in the small of my back from the defenseman I’d beaten.  But, of course, the goaltender didn’t know that.

    Both of his shoulders, and all the rest of him, came out just fine—as he pummeled me in the crease and I assured him that his own man had had a helping hand in the collision.  But I think my own injury six days later was basically Instant Goalie Karma.  You all swap notes with each other after every game, don’t you?

    Posted by Michael  on  12/15  at  01:07 PM
  3. You are welcome Michael.  And a huge thank you for providing the space, for being the most gracious host, and for generally keeping the place respectable even though we were dumping a lot of “stuff” onto your site.  May your shoulder be healed.  Oh wait, i don’t have a degree in evangelical healing, nor did i ask you to place your hand on the monitor screen.  drat.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  01:36 PM
  4. Injuries that hurt you while typing are bad.

    I basically missed the entire show trial because I’ve had a bad cold, and my sense of humor went with it.  On the other hand, _Rhetorical Occasions_ just arrived—at my local library, which has purchased each of your last two books based on my scrawling their names down on scraps of paper.  It’s double good: I get to read your books *and* annoy a libertarian somewhere as I direct tax monies towards my own goals.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  01:39 PM
  5. We do swap notes after every game, Michael.  In fact, we have a database that’s constantly updated.  Not only do we keep track of players who run the goalie, we also take stock of stick-happy shooters who always take one last jab at the puck (or the face mask) after the whistle has blown, and forwards who don’t backcheck.  We have to stick together, you know.

    It’s good you didn’t hurt the other goalie, although I must say my shoulder injuries have always been from Marita vs. Ice, not as a result of someone slamming into me.  People are totally softer than ice.

    Posted by Dr. Marita, Ph.D.  on  12/15  at  01:42 PM
  6. homeschoolers 5393

    Berube 5390

    come on people...... there is still time
    don’t let them get away

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  01:43 PM
  7. Michael,

    First off - apologies for posting my mini-meta-complaint in the middle of the sentencing thread yesterday. I realized my ettiquite faux pas immediately after hitting post. I did end the comment wishing you success scoring goals and finished the sentence deliberately with a preposition. Little did I know you already had your goal scoring success a few days earlier. 5 goals - wow.

    Second - I cast my vote for you, hope it wasn’t in vain.

    Third - the goalie thing. They don’t need to swap notes. I’m sure it was written all over your face as you kept scoring and scoring and scoring on the poor guy. He saw you coming, looking sheepish for all the goals you already scored, plus that extra little look that read ‘yeah, you don’t want to know what else I did to one of your buddies last week’. I’m sure he didn’t know exactly why you ‘had it comin’ (other than your ability to go all Gretzky on his backside), but know he did.


    Posted by  on  12/15  at  01:52 PM
  8. Thanks, Saisl.  And remember, there are no vain votes—just vain bloggers!

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  01:54 PM
  9. Hmmm . . . . the vote counters have been moved backwards:

    Bérubé: 4963
    Spunky: 4501

    * * * * * *

    Speaking of set-backs, Michael, don’t forget you’ve got a doppelgänger wandering around in The Land That Time Forget with some kind of Tiger Test to pass and then there’s some sort light-thingie under a tree and, I believe, some heroic posing.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/15  at  02:17 PM
  10. And exactly how could I forget that?

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  02:27 PM
  11. Well, you know, if the memory were vested in Stix, but not Doc . . .

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/15  at  02:40 PM
  12. Again with the sports injuries? There is nothing more pathetic than a man in his mid-40s trying to deny the passage of time by indulging in physical activity for which he is no longer equipped. (I have much more to say about this subject, and will do so after I put Icy Hot on my shin splints.)

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/15  at  06:08 PM
  13. How come so many of your hockey stories end with one of your competitors turning into Todd Bertuzzi?  There must be more that you’re not telling us.  I think you must taunt them.  “I’m sorry, were you trying to poke check me?  Did you forget I’m dangeral?” After a score: “Who’s dangeral, baby?  Who?  Who?” Or something like that.

    Posted by Heraclitus  on  12/15  at  08:19 PM
  14. To you I say this:  you know, in-jokes get lonely too.  I thought it was really nice of Oaktown Girl and Associates to convene this forum so that a massive bunch of in-jokes in the progressive blogosphere could get together and have a year-end reunion.

    But in all the talk of IP addresses re: the Weblog awards, did anyone mention a certain lawsuit-happy mechanical engineer whose name shall not be spoken lest he Google himself and appear here?

    I’m sure he gets lonely these days, too.

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  12/15  at  08:23 PM
  15. Is self-googling one of those post-modern reflexive thingies?

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/15  at  10:02 PM
  16. There must be more that you’re not telling us.

    Well, there’s stuff I can only tell Marita.  Dr. Marita, I mean.

    But in all the talk of IP addresses re: the Weblog awards, did anyone mention a certain lawsuit-happy mechanical engineer whose name shall not be spoken lest he Google himself and appear here?

    You mean Rumpelstiltskin?  Ah, those were good times.  But no, I have no information on him—just a theory.

    Posted by  on  12/15  at  10:58 PM
  17. Thanks, get better, and the show thingy *was* entertaining once it got going even though I’d missed the foundational texts.  I see Pharyngula won and Althouse lost, so all’s right with the world, yes?  And the home schoolers kind of grew on me. 

    captcha: like, as in what’s not to?

    Posted by  on  12/16  at  03:10 AM
  18. Hey Folks -
    I’m putting up my slightly belated thank you’s now because I was too exhausted immediately after the CCST to do it then.

    First, I cannot be anymore eloquent in saying what spyder has already said in thanking our most gracious host (#3). So I’ll just say once again, thank you, Michael.

    Second, I cannot thank Chris Clarke enough, not only for being such a good sport, but for actually finding the time to participate in the Glorious CCST at a time when Zeke was so incredibly frail. Chris, I’m sure you did not know who and what you were dealing with when you tossed out what you surely thought was some throw away line, “I offer myself up for a show trial..” all those weeks ago. Well, now that you know exactly who and what you’re dealing with, I’m sure you’ll be much more careful with your “throw away” lines in the future...at least on the blogs Oaktown Girl is known to frequent.

    To my chief prosecutors - spyder and Christian in the Ministry of Offense and Defense, and Foucault on the Civilian Prosecutorial team - I can only say that your Minister of Justice could not be more proud of your unquenchable bloodthirstiness. 

    spyder - Minister of Offense and Defense: Thank you for all the extra time you put in behind the scenes writing and being so supportive. When I said that it meant the world to me, I wasn’t kidding.

    Bill Benzon - Minister of Visual Propaganda, bringer of Gojira and 3Tops, teacher of How to post Images on Blogs, always there when I needed you, fount of infinite support and enthusiasm. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - Best...MVP...EVER!!

    peter ramus - Thanks for allowing me to goad you into artistic endeavors you had no time for. With apologies to the dial-up folks, (and believe me, I’m most empathetic!), your Cage Match and Chris Clarke Show Trial posters really made those events sizzle. And thank you for being my Supreme Attaché. I couldn’t have a better High Advisor if I’d been paying for one.

    Central Content Publisher - Thank you for the original artwork of Astaroth. That your “Astartoth 2006” gave PZ Myers such a complete meltdown made it all the more sweet. (By the way, Astaroth ‘06” has filed a formal sexual harassment/stalking complaint with the WAAGNFNP’s Ministry of Justice against PZ Myers. So there may be one last little bit of MOJ business to settle before the end of the year if the MoJ can recovery some of her energy.)

    To everyone who participated in the Cage Match and CCST, thank you for making it so much fun. I hope that even the “lurkers” got some smiles out of it.

    Yours in Service Always,
    Oaktown Girl

    Posted by Oaktown Girl  on  12/17  at  08:55 AM
  19. And Thank You, of Minster of Justice and Mistress of Fierceness for organizing this shebang so the kids could play play play! It was a Waggamuffin’s deligt.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/17  at  02:18 PM
  20. Extra! Extra! Calm Comes to the Land that Time Forget


    What’s going on? Are we in a post-apocalyptic world? Are we in the rapture? How else can we explain the friendship that has come about between plush and plastic?

    As I was saying

    Was it the Show Trial, the Cage Match, or was it Stix?

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/17  at  07:07 PM
  21. How did Peter Forsberg end up here with the Flyers when they are so poor?

    Posted by  on  12/17  at  07:21 PM





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