Sunday, October 29, 2006


Arnold "Red" Auerbach passed away at the ripe old age of 89 on Saturday. Red was synonymous with the Boston Celtics, and the NBA really, for 60 years. He was the coach of the Washington Capitols for the NBA's first season in 1946. In 1950, he signed on with the C's and has been the czar ever since as coach, GM, and president. As coach, he won 938 games and 9 championships; as GM/President, he was instrumental in all Celtics' wins and championships since. As Shaughnessy put it in his article today, "the old saying was that Red was playing chess while the rest of the coaches and GMs were still playing checkers". The old man will be missed. See full coverage by the Boston Globe here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Happy Anniversary Von Trapper Keeper

Seems like a lifetime ago. Or at least a year. One year ago today, I kicked off the Von Trapper Keeper experience and, well, it's been a ride befitting Mr. Toad himself. There were 160 posts, including plenty of lively discussion from all you Von Trapper Keeperites in the comments sections. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the year (excluding all references to J____ McG__ and The New York Yankees - no need to plunge us into unnecessary negativity). Happy Birthday, VTK:

- First Post – Wine Cork Push Pin Alligator - This guy's been holding down the back end since day one. Kudos to you, sir. And Kudos again.

- Detroit Stalker - The first in a series of creepy photos of me. Some people just are not photogenic. And that's ok.

- The Other Dan Nolan Chicago Portrait Painter - This dude's been trying to steal some of my glory. I tried to hunt him down on my recent trip to Chi-town but he evaded me.

- And who can forget The Shark Hunter Guy from my Fido days. kinda miss that guy. detailed:
------ here
------ here
------ here
------ and the book of job section of here.

- Valerie and Eddie – A Timeline - One of my personal favorites.

- Creepy Photo Two - Not uncreepy.

- Journalist vis-a-vis Blogger

- Philosopher vis-à-vis Blogger

- The effortless elegance of Maria Von Trapp's Meadow and the austere functionality of a Trapper Keeper. Updates on the namesakes:
------ here
------ and here

- The Jesus Larry Bird Year - Dan's going to hell.

- Shepherd Nails - definitely.

- Fat Guy In A Little Batman Suit - What's to explain?

- Steelers Win The Super Bowl - Just a reminder since they're clearly not going to win again this year.

- YouTube played a prominent role in VTK’s rise to power. One of my favorite random finds was this one. And of course, there was this one.

- Creep.3 - Would you let this man past security?

- Dude v Cart - Always on the cutting edge, VTK was the first major media outlet to publish the cult classic, Dude v Cart, starring yours truly.

- Cambyland - VTK's pub trivia team nearly duplicated this epic comeback last night. Sadly, we came up 2 points short. Even sadder, the waitress skipped me on the last round of the night. What was she thinking. Know your clientele, dear. The scruffy guy with the fat Irish face wants another beer too.

- Warnock’s Dilemma, A self-conscious rant about the forum nature of online crap, aka Dan Has Too Much Time On His Hands.

- Anne Frank – The Lost Pages – For a while, Screenhead was a fountainhead of genius clips. Now it’s a lame-o movie/tv review site. One of my favorites from the Good Ol’ Days was this failed pilot, which YouTube apparently removed, but can still be found HERE.

- Adieu YouTube – Speaking of YouTube removing clips, there was a time 4 months ago when you could document an entire tv series on your blog by using random videos from people's YouTube accounts, like this, but now they done gone all google (owner of blogger/blogspot too) and we can’t publish this quality programming any more. That's a shame.

- VTK also provided an entire month’s worth of exhaustive World Cup coverage. I won’t recount it all in detail, but I will link to my two favorite Argentine goals: here and here. Viva Gauchos!

- Sweet Curry Chicken - There’s only been one recipe post so far, but I’m planning on posting more in the future.

- The Evolution Post - A classic VTK crackpot theory.

- Business Casual Stag Devil Death Boy - The first VTK affiliated graphic novel, coming soon.

- There have even been a couple reader’s stories that are so good that they warrant their own post. Keep 'em coming, kids.

- VTK also dabbled in political discussion, including this post about the (then-imminent, now-actualized) abolition of the writ of habeas corpus by our shameful, shameful government. Shame on you fucking cowards.

- But let's not dwell on politics; let's focus on Japanese game show videos like:
----- Silent Library.
----- Ignore The Guys In Black

Quite a year. Thanks to all you readers who have helped shape the VTK. Barring any further legal action from Reginald Luchetti, VTK will continue to bring you entertaining and educational content with effortless elegance and austere functionality. Hasta La VTK Siempre!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2006

Reporters Without Borders just came out with their annual global freedom of press rankings, and it's not looking good for the Ol' US of A which slipped into a tie for 53rd with Botswana, Croatia, and Tonga. Upon hearing the news, The Tonga Kid phoned Sergeant Slaughter, to gauge his interest in forming a tag team for the WWE Senior Tour. For the third year in a row, the lads and lasses in Ireland were ranked # 1. Fair play to ye. Also of note to some VTK readers:

8. Switzerland
10. Portugal *
14. Belgium
16. Canada
35. Bulgaria
50. Israel
58. Hong Kong
70. Burkina Faso
76. Argentina
115. Venezuela **
119. USA (extra-territorial)
132. Mexico
168. North Korea (ranked the worst)

* While Portugal should be commended for jumping 13 spots to a tie for 10th, it should be noted that they slipped to 168th place in the freedom of non-dirty soccer players index.
** Venezuela dropped to 115th, though RWB notes in their regional breakdown that "the consequences of the 'media war' between supporters and opponents of president Hugo Chavez persist". The rankings are based on questionnaires "sent to partner organisations of Reporters Without Borders (14 freedom of expression groups in five continents) and its 130 correspondents around the world, as well as to journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists." And the media has a long-standing war with Chavez, so you have to wonder how objective their questionnaires are. I don't say that to blindly defend Chavez' gov't, but it's certainly a consideration. That's probably an issue in many other countries' media's responses as well. Are the US media respondents exagerrating their scores as retaliation for 6 years of Bush Administration media bullying? Dunno.

This is unrelated, but it's about politics, I don't feel like doing a separate post for it, and it's certainly worth mentioning. Daily Kos is reporting (circa Washington Post) that, due to some "computer glitch", George "Welcome to America, Macaca" Allen's opponent's name got cut off on the electronic ballot and there isn't time to rectify it. So, voters in Northern Virginia will now be left to decide between George Allen, who is desperately trying to lose this election by being an enormous ass, and James H. "Jim" instead of James H. "Jim" Webb. The Webb campaign is "uhappy" about it but doesn't think it can be "remedied" by election time. Are you fucking kidding me? What? Put aside all the outrageousness and obvious illegality of this for a second. Here's a quick little solution I came up with: how's about dropping the 5 character "Jim" in favor of your 4 character last name. Seems like that would be the more important name to have on the ballot.

[CLARIFICATION UPDATE from the Post article: Although the problem creates some voter confusion, it will not cause votes to be cast incorrectly, election officials emphasized. The error shows up only on the summary page, where voters are asked to review their selections before hitting the button to cast their votes. Webb's full name appears on the page where voters choose for whom to vote.]

And definitely unrelated but notable nonetheless is the revelation that Troy Polamalu has 3 legs. Certainly explains why he covers more ground than anyone since Rod Woodson in his prime.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tale of Two Cities

My foray into the Heartland concluded with stops in two of the United States’ finest cities, both ranking in the middle digits of my top ten, Chicago and Nashville, aka Delicious and Delicious. The former I’d been to, in fact it’s where I started; the latter I enjoyed for the first time. I’ll try to avoid the then we went here, then we went there, narrative style but that’s the way it goes in short visits to big cities.

That Toddlin’ Town

The Ole Man lived here for 15 years and loves to go back, so it was to good to get him out of duck hunting country and back to the pavement. And I was definitely itching for some city. As soon as we made it to the city, we popped in an IHOP for a restroom/coffee stop and as we were leaving I witnessed a [note: I’m about to stereotype a guy in a story about stereotyping] classic mustachioed Chicago white guy explaining to a cop that he was “just trying to keep our country safe”. The cop then asked the young arab-american looking guy his side of the story and he started explaining how he was just waiting to be seated with his sister and girlfriend when this guy started staring them down. I was outraged at this apparent racist incident that I was witnessing, but then we heard on the radio that there was a rash of incidents in North Chicago in which Arab-Americans were starting food fights in IHOPS. This type of terrorist mischief cannot stand. Not only do they hate our freedoms, they hate our pancakes. Kudos to you Mr. Mustache for pre-empting another possible pancake attack.

Moving on, we found the famed Wrigley Field (2nd oldest ballpark in the US), had a Goose Island Honker’s Ale at Murphy’s, and wandered around Wrigleyville, which is a very cool area to surround a ballpark. That must be a great place to hang out before, during, and after Cubs games. I’m going to have make a road trip to watch A-Rod play there next year – for the Cubs. (Please, please, please, Sweet Lou, make it happen. For old times’ sake. Give us Zambrano.) The rest of the trip consisted of a series of places that I would recommend and am happy to describe in more detail if anyone should so desire:

- Portillo’s Italian Beef
– Pat’s style beef with gravy soaked bun and peppers instead of the cheese wiz and onions.
- State Street – great street
- Billy Goat Tavern – home of Belushi “Cheeseborger” SNL skit, origin of Billy Goat Curse on Cubs, located under the Tribune, watering hole of 75 years of Chicago reporters
- O’Neil’s Bar and Grill – the JJ Foley’s/Hugo’s of Chicago, 152 East Ontario St off of Michigan Ave.
- Twin Anchors – Frank Sinatra’s rib and steak joint in North Chicago. No wait, reasonable prices, good atmosphere, tasty vittles.
- The Original Pizzeria Uno – actually I realized I’m not crazy about deep dish pizza, but this would be the place to go if one were.

Love Chicago. Great town. Toddlin for sure. Check out the 1973 Presidential Inauguration parking sign hanging in my bar, O'Neil's - 5 miles away from the hospital I was born in, dated 5 days before my birth, referencing the biggest Inauguration protest in history. All that and they serve Goose Island IPA on tap. Love O'Neil's.


I’ve never been big into country music itself (though it’s influence on many bands I like is clear), so I never figured to go to Nashville. I would have thought that I would have gone to the more blues based Memphis to pop my Tennessee cherry, but a girl I once dated introduced her friend to my friend and then three or four years later, there I was for the wedding. And I gotta say, I like that town. It’s a classic example of the progressive, artsy community that forms like a pearl in response to the irritating parasitic Christian Red State South (also see St. Petersburg FL, Austin TX, and I’ve heard, Athens GA). After meeting a bunch of family, we went to a great little vintage store named Katy K’s to get some country gear. I purchased my first real belt buckle. It’s pretty much the best. Later in the weekend a Nashvillian asked me if we were making fun of Nashville by wearing our gear or giving props. I assured her that there was no making-fun involved; we’re just tremendous dork jackasses and really do love this stuff.

Nashville is probably most famous for the Grand Ole Opry and it’s former and sometimes current home at the Ryman Auditorium downtown. This was apparently a non-alcoholic venue back in the day, but fortunately for Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, etc., they could run across the side alley between sets and go in the back entrances to any of several honky tonks on the strip for a few quick shots. Nowadays they’re very touristy and you can see live music every day all day at any of these places. We went to Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Legend’s Corner Bar, Robert’s, and pretty much all of them. Of greater interest to me on the strip was Jack’s Bar-B-Que, where I had possibly the most delicious beef brisket dinner I’ve ever had – twice. I couldn’t even order anything else the second time; the brisket was like I don’t think so, kid. Get some. So I did. I’d put it up there with Stubbs in Austin.

On the afternoon of the wedding, the groom, the co-groomsman, and I hung out around town. Of note, was a war reenactment that we stumbled upon at the Tennessee Heritage Festival. It was a reenactment of WW2 though, not the Civil War. I’m not a fan of war reenactments – I just think it’s weird and creepy that people do them and people enjoy watching them – but if I had to go to one in the South, I would have preferred to see one of the Civil War, if only so I could gauge the crowd. It’s not like anyone watching was rooting for the Germans, though the park was right next to Germantown so it’s possible that there were a few Nazi's in the crowd. Germantown was actually having an Oktoberfest which was fun. We didn't wait in line for any beer but I did pick up a plastic cup chicken toy which would figure prominently in the rest of the day.

The wedding was a traditional Jewish ceremony in a beautiful setting at the Country Music Hall of Fame. As one of the two groomsmen, I was responsible for one of the speeches after dinner, so I was sure to moderate my intake. In addition to the speech, I handled the emceeing duties for the string of speeches in front of the crowd of approx. 250 people. First up was the father of the bride, who I introduced and then interrupted 15 seconds later to move the microphone closer to him on a request from a member of the wedding party. He shot me a look which I didn't quite understand at the time but in retrospect was something along the lines of "kid you have no idea how much I'm about to blow the doors off this place. get away from my mic". And that he did - brought the house down. It was later described as the "best speech I've ever heard at a wedding". Then her sister got up and delivered a poignant speech that touched the crowd. So at this point, they've laughed, then they've cried, and then I had to step up for my speech. Fortunately, I had my little plastic cup chicken squeak toy in my pocket as a prop in case my speech started to crash. But, following those two speeches I didn't have much choice, so at the beginning of the speech I pulled that little baby out of my pocket, held it up to the microphone, and let her fly. Between that and the Conway Twitty joke, I managed to get through it. Great times had by all.

And that's about it for the Heartland Tour Wrap-Up. I was glad to get away and now I'm glad to be back. Congrats to NR and AK on your weddings.

Since U Been Gone - A Costingo Revue

As you might recall, during my Heartland Tour, my internet access was limited and of questionable quality. As a result, I was unable to provide pictures to accompany my description of Costingo (here). In the comments, I mentioned that I would make amends by compiling the photos into an iMovie set to Since U Been Gone, a Costingo classic. I ended up going a step further: I got the kids together and we borrowed the step-sister-in-law's friend's music studio space and they sang it themselves. Enjoy:

Final Heartland Wrap-up coming soon...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Back In The Bean

What's up all y'all VonTrapperKeeperites!! I'm back in my perch on Norfolk Street, pecking away at my beloved powerbook, drinking very strong coffee, and listening to WZBC. It is MYTCOOL I tell ya. I'll work up a proper VTK Heartland Revue, including details about the flavors and shenanigans of Chicago and Nashville, a possible video of me spanking some girl in a bar in Nashville, a likely video picture review of Costingo, and a picture of the plastic cup chicken that saved my ass from choking on Saturday night [insert your own choking the chicken joke here. e.g. for years he choked the chicken, and then the chicken saved him from choking. what a christian chicken. something like that. see, I didn't actually make the joke; rather, i presented it in hypothetical form, thus absolving myself from crassness. see? no?]. The short side of the story is that it was a great trip through the Hahtland and I'm psyched to be back home. In closing, I offer you the advice of my crazy little step-niece, S____ :

Saturday, October 07, 2006


What else can you say about the Yankees tanking 3 straight to a floundering Detroit Tigers team. Pathetic. Credit Verlander, Rogers (who I have bashed for 10 years), and Bonderman. But still. Dreadful performance by the Yankees. And did they have to do it while I'm surrounded by nouveau Tigers fans who don't know shit or really care but feel entitled to taunt me anyways. Kiss my ass, Tigers fans. At least Sox fans have the decency to accept a little hostility in return for their taunts without appealing for "good sportsmanship". Goddamn passive aggressive friendly Heartland bastards. Anyways, there is always talk about real Yankees vs non-real Yankees, and it's mostly bullshit, but there is a little something to it. For instance:

Real Yankees

Derek Jeter - 8 for 16, scored 30% of Yankees' runs in series.
Jorge Posada - 7 for 14, yankee pride dinger with 2 outs in the 9th today.

Non-Real Yankees

A-Rod - 1 for 14, no RBI, critical error today, gobs of men left on base.
Randy Johnson - 7.94 era, asshole.

That's pretty much all I have to say about baseball for the year. Today was full of other Heartland excitement: it was the first day of duck hunting out here, my step-nieces had a riveting soccer game this morning, I upgraded this pc to XP (but am too pissed off to post any pictures right now), and U of Michigan beat Michigan State.

Tuesday morning I exit Michigan for Chicago and Thursday I arrive in Nash-Vegas. I can't wait to smell some city again.

Monday, October 02, 2006


[note: I am using a dinosaur machine running on Windows ME OS right now and have been trying to load pictures all day without success. I'll post pictures of Costingo in my Heartland Wrap Up in a couple weeks. Until then, let your imaginations run wild.]

Week one of Western Michigan is in the books and it's been a Heartland Hoot. Gun Lake Jake and Bonus Mom Annie have been more than gracious out here in Middleville. You gotta love having the laundry and cooking facilities of a home environment in the middle of a month long voyage into the Heartland. Most of the week was spent hanging out, visiting with the step-fam (including the 6 adorable step-nieces/nephews), cursing out the cable guy, working on an art project, hitting the race track with step-bro, and watching football. Thursday night brought special guests: lil bro, longtime VTK reader lc, and lc's cousin, mac. The new NYC blood immediately dialed it up a notch - beers on Thursday, gallery hopping and wine tasting on Friday, mangotini's, high balls, dinner party, cards, uno, and parlor game on Friday night, blah blah blah, but that's not why you're here. You're here to hear the much anticipated review of ... Costingo!! [trademarked].

It goes without saying that Costingo kicked ass; the question is just how much ass did Costingo really kick. For those readers who are not in the know, "Costingo" is a type of costumed bingo dance party that you throw with much gusto for the locals lucky enough to receive a ticket. Only 20 tickets were printed and hand marked, and I'm quite sure each one will be a collector's item by the end of the year. We began preparations on Saturday at noon: VTK designed the graphics, mac and Annie made the cupcakes for the cupcake frosting competition, lc pumped up the jams with a mixed cd for the dance party (Madonna and Kelly Clarkson were both well represented), lil bro set up the 8 foot inflatable ghost, and the whole gang put up the characteristic hodge podge decorations that set Costingo apart from your run-of-the-mill costumed bingo dance party. It's not Halloween; it's Costingo (which is also distinguished by the excessive use of the word "Costingo"). When the kids first showed up in their cheerleader, rockstar, "Incredibles", pirate, football player, and ... stylish beach girl rockstar (?) outfits, they seemed a little confused by the random decorations, the apparent overhyping of "Costingo!!", and the poindexter, gypsy fortune teller, stripe man, spot lady, phantom of the opera, and hippie outfits of their hosts. But once the dance party and the cupcake frosting competition got underway, they put the go in Costingo. Champagne and Costingo High Balls got the adults (the aforementioned hosts, princess leia, fisherman, and clown) in the groove and Costingo was officially ragin like a cajun. A rousing game of bingo, hot dogs and mac and cheese, more dancing, and paper plate pumpkin drawing competition later and it was time for the awards ceremony. Luckily, all the Costingitos/as won prizes and the only tears shed were a brief fuss by the 2 year old and a well managed cry by the 7 year old who smacked her teeth into the top of my head while bouncing around on one of my patented Worm Rides. We capped it off with one more dance session and in the end, in the words of one of the Costingitas, it was the "best party ever". Naturally. A party is one thing. Costingo is quite another thing.

And then, as all great party weekends should end, we all drank too much, played "flip cup" and the parlor game, everyone got competitive and pissed off at eachother and went to bed mad. ah, family. Fortunately, we had a nice sunny day on Sunday after 3 days of rain and we got to go on the boat on the lake and play with the kids (including facepainting where the requests I got were for a butterfly on the cheek, a basketball on the cheek, and a black and white portrait of their late great grandmother on the calf (she settled for a bumblebee on the cheek)). See you next Costingo, lil bro, lc, and mac. As for the VTK, I escaped Boston to enjoy my Yankees in the playoffs in neutral territory and ended up in Michigan, home of the Detroit Tigers, who made the playoffs for the first time in 19 years and will be starting the Division Series tomorrow against ... the Yankees. At least I won't feel homesick for that enemy feeling.