Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Good, The Bad, and The ESPN

I have a love/hate relationship with ESPN, but I guess that's not unusual when you spend 18 hours a day with someone. So in no particular order, I present my list of things I love(d) and things I hate(d) about the original sports network.

Keith Olbermann and Dan PatricStewart Scott and Kenny Mayne(I just don't get that guy)
"It's deep and Idon'tthinkit'splayable!""Boo yah"
SportsCenter Ads with famous athletes and college mascots engaging in witty banter with ESPN personalitiesMilwaukee's Best Beer Ads featuring any man not expressing a Cro-Magnon thought being crushed by a giant can of beer
The sexy lady who does "World Series of Poker" voiceoversThe annoying man who does the SportsCenter voiceovers like "Brought to you by ..." He sounds like he's simultaneously smoking an entire pack of cigarettes and having his testicles crushed in a vice while chugging a beer. I have nightmares about this voice.
"The World Series of Poker""The World Series of Darts"
The intro music and graphics of "ESPN Original Entertainment"The content following the music and graphics of "ESPN Original Entertainment" that doesn't involve poker


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

New Definition of "Potty Mouth"

A friend of a friend sent this link, which I reproduce here along with the first user-generated comment on the site, which literally generated a spit-take.

Man gets new tongue made of his buttocks

A Polish man has a new tongue - made out of his buttocks.
Jarislav Ernst, who underwent surgery at the Gliwice General Hospital, is delighted with his new fully functioning tongue.

Doctor Stanislaw Poltorek said: "The new tongue is alive and well-supplied with blood, and the patient is doing well." Mr Ernst's original tongue was removed after it was found to be cancerous.

Dr Poltorek added: "We removed the tumour-filled tongue and then collected skin, fat and nerve tissue from the man's buttocks and modelled that into a new tongue, which we sewed into his mouth."

The first comment left by a user:

Not surprisingly, everything tastes like @!$%#.

You know you can't resist making your own witty puns here, so by all means, please take it to the comments and let 'er rip! Err, come to think of it, maybe that's not the best phrase to use on this particular story ... ahem.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Personal Religious Revelation As Evidence for God

As promised, I am going to be posting a series of thoughts on religion. I realize this isn't everyone's cup of tea, so as I post them I'll put the bulk of the content below the fold. Just click on the button if you're interested in reading more, or ignore it if you're not.


This is one of a series of posts in response to comments made at

GeoPoet Said:

That definition of agnosticism is interesting - I always thought of it as not really having an opinion either way (Scott Peck calls it laziness born of immaturity)

I run into this attitude a lot, on all sides of many issues. It's very tempting to infantilize someone whose beliefs are contrary to yours, but in my experience it's a really bad idea. For example, you can easily see how arrogant and misguided that statement is if it is changed to read “religion is laziness born of immaturity”. When I have in the past found myself thinking in the kind of simple-minded, black and white, condescending way exhibited by Peck's quote (which happens more often than I want to admit), I have generally found it a significant barrier to wisdom and understanding. Oversimplifications scare me.

GeoPoet Said:
Certainly, if one has actually experienced what they absolutely believe is the presence of God, then this is a reality that cannot be denied without prejudice.

Subjective, personal experience of God is often held up as powerful evidence for His existence. But if such intense subjective episodes are in fact divinely inspired, what do they tell us about the nature of the divinity -- or divinities -- responsible for them?

First, they are common to humans throughout the world, in a variety of religious traditions. A Hindu feels that same subjective sense of God as strongly as you do, as strongly as a Muslim does, as strongly as a Mormon does, as strongly as those Aztec Sun-God Worshippers did. Can you doubt that their strong subjective religious feelings were as valid and as powerful as yours? That they believed as completely as you do? How can one tell the difference between the "real" sense of God you feel as a Christian from the "false" sense of God felt by that Muslim, Hindu, Aztec, or Mormon?

If religious revelations do spring from divine sources, therefore, any religion that claims there is only one aspect to God must be mistaken on that point. Why would a singular god appear to affirm the essential rightness of multiple religions? The most logical conclusions you can draw from that (in my mind at least) are either a) there are many gods, or b) there is only One and He doesn't particularly care which religion He inspires people to follow, or c) there is a physical, non-supernatural explanation for the experience.

One of the most moving treatments of this subject is by someone named Mark I. Vuletic, here. I'll quote just a small part of it, but I found the entire essay one of the most moving I have ever read, on any subject.

The second problem doesn't have a name that I know of, but its essence is captured by a question I had wondered about long before I began to have personal experience of god: what would things seem like to me if I had been raised in Iran? Well, no doubt I would be a Muslim, and believe in Allah, my mother told me. And of course, she was right. Now, this was not much of a problem in my liberal days, because all religions worshipped the same god, and were thus equally legitimate. But when I started to have personal experience of the Christian god, this knowledge took on more of an edge. I viewed it as a given that Islam and Christianity could not both be true, and that Christianity was true, and that Islam therefore must be false. But could I imagine a Muslim who experienced the reality of Allah in exactly the same way as I experienced the reality of the Christian God? If I could, then that would mean that it was possible for a person to seem to have an absolutely convincing experience of a deity, and yet be mistaken. But if it was possible for an absolutely convincing experience of a deity to not really be a true experience of that deity, then wouldn't that imply that my experiences might not be true? Could I blithely assert that perhaps it might be possible for Middle Easterners to deceived, but that I was so much better than them that there was no chance of my being deceived?

Second, we would need to discover if there are any other times the same intense personal sensation can occur without being tied to divinity. Those experienced in transcendtal meditation report many of the same feelings when deep in their practice, and brain scans performed during the meditation seem to confirm this. The same is true of many people when their temporal lobes are stimulated by intense magnetic fields. There is no way to absolutely compare subjective experiences, of course -- what person A describes as touching the face of God may be completely different from what person B describes as the same thing -- but what evidence we do have indicates the experiences are very similar.

So, given that personal revelations can occur across all cultural and religious divisions, and that those who are non-believers can experience the same sensations when not engaged in religious pursuits of any kind, I am inclined to believe that these phenomena are not divine in nature. If they are, then the picture that emerges of the divinity (or divinities) responsible is far different than advanced by any Western religion, and certainly precludes the traditional Christian conception of God as being jealously singular and completely intolerant of any other form of worship (i.e Commandments 1-4).

In my opinion, therefore, personal religious experience is not particularly compelling evidence of the existence of some sort of divine being, at least of the kind put forward in the Judeo-Christian tradition.


Katrina Relocations

I just saw this graphic from the New York Times showing where New Orleans residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina now live. I am sobered to see graphically how far that storm blew people. Most moved elsewhere in the New Orleans area or other South Louisiana locations, but almost 60,000 are in Texas, 11,000 in Atlanta, and a fair number went as far as Seattle.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Church Chat

In a recent comment, the Cow Whisperer asked some good questions, and I wanted to respond to them on the front page rather than in comments since, if you're like me, you never read the comments on blogs you don't happen to own :-)

I'll be talking about subjects like atheism and agnosticism, so if that's not your cup of tea you should probably skip this one. I'll put the rest below the fold for those of you who are interested.

The Cow Whisperer said:

As your resident "MethoBaptyrianist," I am confused. You call yourself an atheist/agnostic. While I confess I'm not sure what agnostic really means, it seems to me that the definition of atheist means that God is not important to you. Yet in your post, religion is the first subject that is mentioned as important enough to write about, study, and comment on. (emphasis added)
I emphasized the line "the definition of atheist means that God is not important to you" because I think it's unintentionally misleading (and interesting) in a subtle way. The way the question is phrased implies that an atheist believes God exists, they just don't think He's very important. But in fact an atheist doesn't believe God exists at all. It's a subtle difference, but one that I think gets to the very heart of the matter.

According to, an agnostic is "a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable." In my mind, that means an agnostic is fundamentally humble, willing to accept that there are Mysteries that we can never fully understand, and that everything we think we know may, in the end, turn out to be wrong.

Agnosticism deals with knowledge, while atheism/theism deals with belief. You can believe without knowing -- that, after all, is the essence of "faith." That means you can, for instance, be an agnostic Christian, believing that while we can never really know whether or not God exists, nonetheless you believe that Christianity is right.

Atheism is, simply, the lack of belief in a divine being of any sort. It is the negative form of "theism", which is belief in a divine being regardless of what form that belief takes. Hindus, Christians, Muslims, and Aztec Sun-God Worshippers are all theists. A theist has a god-belief, an atheist does not. It's pretty much that simple.

So I used the term "agnostic atheist" (or something like that) to describe myself. Given the above, what that means is that I fundamentally don't think the true nature of an immortal, infinite God is knowable for mortal, finite humans. Whether God exists or not, I can't claim to know. However, my belief is that there is no God, and what you see around you is all there is.

In other words, I don't believe in God but I admit I could be wrong. Humility is the key, at least in my mind. People who claim to know scare me.

So if I don't personally believe that God exists (certainly not the God as described in modern Christianity), why do I consider it worth studying and writing about? You can consider a position important and worthy of study without holding that position yourself. I don't believe in Young-Earth Creationism, for example (the belief that the universe is only 6,000 years old and was created exactly as described in Genesis), but I consider knowing about it and discussing it important because Young Earth Creationists are trying to introduce that belief into public school science classes. That's important to me, so even though I don't believe as they do, I find the subject interesting and worthy of study.

Nothing has dominated human history as much as religion has. In some ways it is responsible for both the noblest achievements and most despicable horrors this world has ever experienced. It is also a subject of deep importance to people I love very much, and thus it is of interest to me. What is it about religion that is so all-consuming for so many people around the world? What does that tell us about the human condition, about how we perceive each other, about our relationship with the rest of the universe? How do people reconcile contradictions in what their faith teaches and with what their senses tell them? All of those subjects interest me.

And because I humbly admit that I could be wrong on the whole concept, it's important to me that I've carefully considered all of the alternatives. At some point you have to shit or get off the pot (and I have), but I think it's irresponsible to commit to something so important without knowing what you're talking about. If there is a God, then I would hope He would be offended at blind faith, at people who claim to believe without having a clear idea of what they're claiming to believe in. Or not, of course -- maybe He hates librarians most of all and we're pissing Him off every time we open a book. I have no idea.

Finally, I listed it as one of the important topics I want to discuss because, even though I don't believe in a God, it's a subject I never bring up with my family and friends. It's a subject I've run from, and as I said in that post, I'm tired of running. I'd like to be able to be honest with my friends and family, and not be afraid to say what I really think -- acting that way creates walls between people and I don't want to create walls any more.

So, there you have it. I've not started on "Mere Christianity" yet (though I've previously read the first third of it) as other things have had to take priority, but I hope to soon. In the mean time, I guess we'll have to count this as the first in the "Great Religious Questions" series :-)

I'd encourage anyone who wants to read further on all this to visit's pages on atheism and agnosticism-- that's where I started several years back when I started thinking about the whole thing. Both concepts are a lot more varied than I'd ever imagined.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Croatian Hawks!

I wanted to post a comment made on an old thread here to the front page because it was so cool. The poster's name was Mario Profaca, and he's from Zagreb, Croatia, yet he stopped by our little corner of the Internet:

Mario Profaca said...

Hi Jeff!
Greetings from ocean away Zagreb, Croatia!
Just thought you might like to see hawk's nest built at my balcony at 20th floor three years ago. Two squadrons of hawks have been born there on my balcony this so called 'wild birds' chosed for their home.
Obviously, there is no Empty Nest Sindrome here!
(Unfortunately, only in Croatian language so far).

Isn't that amazing?! Two gorgeous hawks nesting right under his porch, and he lives literally half a world away. Now when I watch the swallows under the porch, I can't help but think of those hawks and how incredible this thing we call the Internet is at bringing people together.

If you're reading, Mario, THANK YOU for sharing your great story with us!


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Not THOSE Wrinkles!!

My parents were in the middle of one of their separations, and Dad had moved out to the middle of nowhere in a trailer. He was surrounded by woods and had a creek running along the back of the property. It was very secluded and peaceful, but isolated.

One day my mom and two of my sisters went to visit him to make sure he was all right. On the way in, they noticed that there was an ironing board outside on the porch, an unusual placement to be sure. While they were chatting, one of my sisters thought to ask him about it.

"Hey Dad," she said, "why is your ironing board outside?"

Now it's very important that you remember the question. The question again is, "WHY is your ironing board OUTSIDE?"

To which my father replied, "Because, sometimes I like to iron in the nude."



So, the question is, "WHY is the ironing board OUTSIDE?" and the answer is "BECAUSE, sometimes I like to iron in the nude", as if, were one going to iron naked, outside is the only place one could possibly do so. God forbid you iron naked INSIDE, where you're private, oh no! THAT would be WEIRD, what are you, some kind of pervert? No no, my friend, when it comes time for old-man-ironing-naked, there's only one spot for it and that, clearly, is out on the front porch.

Geez, some people. Next thing you know someone might even question the wisdom of an older man with all of the attendant wrinklages and vulnerable body parts standing around naked holding a scalding hot hunk of metal in the first place, and then where would we be? Communist Russia, that's where!


Monday, August 14, 2006

The Charmin Equation

I've recently marshalled the massive power of my intellect to answer an age-old question that has puzzled the minds of philosophers and mathematicians for thousands of years:

Why do men refuse to put a new roll of toilet paper on the roll when the old one runs out?
Wives, girlfriends, mothers, sisters, daughters, granddaughters, female janitors, lady co-workers and/or bosses, and dates have been struggling to answer this conundrum for as long as we've had toilet paper -- a time period I could look up on the internet, but let's be honest, do you want someone of my breathtaking genius wasting time on a Google search? I think not. So, off we go!

First, let's say that the likelihood of the toilet paper running out while a person is "on the throne" is USC (for "Up Shit Creek", which is what the other USC -- University of Southern California -- was last year when UT kicked their butts for the national championship). Women seem to feel that the actual value of USC is somewhere close to 40%, but for this discussion it doesn't really matter what the actual value is.

There are several important factors affecting the odds that a man will be present at the USC moment.
  1. A woman needs to use toilet paper every single time she uses a restroom, whereas a man needs to use toilet paper only when it's ... let's see, how to phrase this in a family-friendly way ... only when it's time to take the Browns to the Super Bowl. Ahem. So immediately a man's odds of being present at a USC moment is USC/2 (which is being generous, since generally a guy's only needing to "Drop the kids off at the pool" once a day, but usually he's making the trip to the porcelain temple for a good ol' fashioned lizard-draining at least 4-5 times a day).
  2. If the woman stays home while the man is at work, the woman will be exposed to the toilet paper roll much more often than a man. The odds for a man now fall to USC/7.

As you can see, a woman is up to seven times more likely than a man to find herself in a sitation where a roll of toilet paper even needs to be replaced. This does not, of course, excuse the man from taking action should he find himself suddenly bereft of squeezable relief at a key moment, but it does mean he won't find himself there all that often.

"Aha!" many of my female readers will be saying right about now (assuming they made it past the "Taking the Browns to the Super-Bowl" comment), but my husband/lover/boyfriend/concubine/male slave/son/father/plumber/proselytizing Mormon visitor never replaces the roll!

I would reply that this is only partially true, because many women suffer from IIDDIIDC Syndrome, or "If I Didn't Do It, It Doesn't Count". What often happens is, the man does replace the roll, but since the woman was not there to witness it and thus probably didn't even know the roll was getting low, the replacement passes without notice or comment.

Now, I do not mean to argue that every man replaces every roll that needs it on every occasion it is needed -- far from it! I am fully willing to concede that we can, from time to time, be an obnoxious, dirt-blind, funky and lazy gender far more interested in seeing how fast we can unwind a suitable spool of tissue from a new roll stuck on our fingers than on replacing the expended one. However, I do believe that the rate of failure is far, far lower than commonly conceived of in the female universe.

I hope this very mathematical treatise has given you something to think about while you replace the toilet paper on the empty roll next time, ladies.


Friday, August 11, 2006


I wasn't going to review "Who Wants To Be A Superhero?" (WWTBASH) because I have a (very) small affiliation with the show, having done a custom HeroMachine version for their website. But I love it so much, I can't help myself. So with bias firmly established beforehand, here's my review of the new Sci Fi original series, "Who Wants To Be A Superhero?", airing Thursdays at 8/7 Central.

First of all, the show's cheesy. Let's just get that out of the way right up front. But it's a good cheesy, the same level of geeky, harmless fun you find in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", old versions of the "Batman" TV series, or even hopelessly dated episodes of "The Lone Ranger" and "I Love Lucy". It's a show that doesn't take itself too seriously, and that's just the light touch that makes it work.

On the other hand, it isn't farcical or satirical at all, and that's important, too. It's obvious the show was made with love by people who really believe that comics offer something good to the world, and without that affection the show would be too snarky to be enjoyable. It's tough to hit the right balance between cheese and serious, and Sci Fi has nailed it with this show.

For those who do not know already, WWTBASH is a reality TV show that features a number of regular people whose goal -- brace yourself -- is to become the main character in a super hero comic book to be produced by none other than Stan "The Man" Lee, creator of most of the Marvel Comics characters including Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, and many more.

Each week features two "Challenges" in venerable reality-TV tradition, seeking to measure the heroes' character and moral fiber. Stan Lee appears in the secret lair's television monitors to announce challenges, eliminations, and plot twists while the spandex-clad participants look on.

And I have to say, Stan himself is one of the main reasons this whole silly schtick works. He's a perfect host, full of enthusiasm but also dead serious about the issues being discussed when the situation warrants it. He's engaging and funny, but like his comic book plots he also can impart wonderful and important lessons. You can easily see how this guy was able to create such memorable characters and found one of the all time great comic book companies.

Then we have the characters themselves, the erstwhile participants in this odd little drama. In almost every face, every week, you can see the same thought racing through their minds:

"What the hell have I gotten myself into?"

Some of them hide it better than others. Major Victory, for instance, plays along and is hilarious to watch. He's got the hair and chin of a bona fide Superman, and the red tights to match. He has a lot of fun with whatever he's doing, and that makes him a pleasure to root for. He's also a former stripper, which makes you wonder if maybe Clark Kent couldn't take some lessons in earning a little extra scratch. Stripping has GOT to pay more than that lame gig at the Daily Planet.

The other major character who seems not to be stunned at finding himself in such a strange situation is the guy who plays "Feedback". Unlike Major Victory, however, Feedback doesn't seem to be having fun at all. Instead he constantly looks like his nuts are being squeezed by some sort of nefarious device. I fully expect that each week this guy is just going to go postal -- he's taking the whole thing VERY seriously. If or when he gets kicked off the show, I genuinely fear he's going to head to the roof and try a little solo flying, if you get my drift. Definitely not a stable dude.

The challenges each week are creative and unusual. Watching these regular folks in spandex trying to outthink Stan's devious mindgames is a hoot. For instance, in the first week their challenge was ostensibly to change into their superhero outfit and race through a gate as quickly as possible. Along the route, however, was a little girl crying because she couldn't find her mother, and naturally that was the REAL test -- who would stop and help her? Sadly, most of our erstwhile heroes pelted past her faster than a speed freak at the express checkout lane with a bag of Doritos. Not pretty.

I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen the show yet, but I have to say this is a thoroughly enjoyable series. I look forward to watching it every week, and always get at least a half dozen genuine belly laughs out of it. So far they've been hitting just the right balance of cheese and drama, interesting challenges with great "superhero" lessons, and typical reality show schtick with innovative takes. I highly recommend it.


Thursday, August 10, 2006


This was a recent e-mail exchange between me and my father-in-law, George.

Me:So how's life in the Great White North?
George: It's so much fun. I haven’t worn long pants in two months.
Me: I'm very glad you have the word "long" in there. Had it read "I haven't worn pants in two months" I'd be worried.
George: Go to your room.
Is it any wonder I love the guy?


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Grave Thoughts

Jumping from my Uncle Howard's funeral immediately into Las Vegas debauchery was a jarring experience. One day you're confronted with the absolute finality of human existence and all its attendant sorrows -- pain, loss, anger, depression, sadness -- and the next you're wandering down a neon-lit boulevard, surrounded by billion dollar temples to excess -- lust, passion, illusion, greed, you name it and it's for sale.

Jarring, indeed.

One thing the priest said at the funeral stuck with me, even through the din of slot machines and the cheap promises of free liquor and easy money. As he did at my grandmother's funeral (yes, the same priest presided over the passing of both my grandmother and my uncle), he said something I've not heard at any other funeral before:

Let us now bow our heads in prayer for the next member of this assembly who will join Howard in death, for though we cannot know to whom this burden next will fall among us, fall it surely will.
(That's paraphrased from memory, so probably way off, but you get the idea). Since he said it at Grandma's funeral and since I was too out of it mentally to remember much about Dad's, I thought it was just a standard part of the Catholic service. But my sister (who's also my godmother so she ought to know) said it's not -- she's never heard of it before. So I asked some of my friends and coworkers and they've never heard of it at any of the funerals they've attended, either.

Personally, I liked it very much -- it really brought home for me that death waits for all of us at the end our journeys, and none of us really know when that time will come. It could be the youngest, healthiest person there just as easily as the oldest or frailest. With a coffin literally sitting right in front of you, with sorrow fresh and full in your heart, it's a reminder that while this particular service is about your loved one, eventually it's a ceremony we all will be the main attraction of.

My sister hated it, thought that it was a downer and that it took away from focusing on Uncle Howard. But to me, funerals are only half about the person who's gone; the other half is about those left behind, and how the loss will be dealt with by them. That's why we come together for funerals, so that we can comfort each other and remember that although we're lessened by the loss, we are still not alone.

So I'm curious -- have you ever heard of a funeral officiant saying something like that at a funeral? And what do you think of it?


Friday, August 04, 2006

The Cab of Doom

We were in Vegas with a couple friend of ours, having a good time, when we stepped into a rather nondescript van-type taxi cab. The driver resembled Odd Job from the James Bond movies, heavyset and bald, swarthy and solemn-faced.

"To the Rio!" we ordered, and immediately hit Mach 9. The tail lights of the other vehicles became streaks, like the stars on the Enterprise's viewscreen as Kirk kicked it into warp drive. I'm pretty sure my jowls are still somewhere on Las Vegas Boulevard, ripped from my head by the g-forces.

Other cars posed no challenge for our grim-faced chauffeur, whipping his vehicle to the left, to the right, and sometimes I swear right effing OVER any obstacle.

In a flash we were within sight of the Rio when Darth Vader appeared to block our path. Unlike in the movies, Darth Vader is not seven feet all and draped in black. He is, in fact, a smallish white woman driving a suburban, but there's no doubt in my mind that this little lady was evil incarnate. I can tell because her mere presence in our lane, impeding our light-speed progress, was enough to drive our cabbie insane.

"Drivers here are fat and stupid!" he roared. "This woman is too busy thinking about her next slice of cheesecake to drive!" Foam was actually flying from his lips in his rage. "Oh I hope she's going to the Rio. I pray for her to go to the same hotel, she is going to pay, please God let her be going to the Rio." More foam, more spittle, more invective, and then It Happened:

She flipped him the bird.

My friends, there are certain things one does not do, as immortalized by the great Jim Croce. You don't tug on Superman's cape. You don't spit into the wind. you don't pull the mssk off that old Lone Ranger and you don't mess around with Jim, our cab driver. I've seen volcanoes erupt with less vehemence. I've seen Starbucks double-mocha lattes with less foam. I've read dictionaries with fewer four-letter words.

"If there is a God this woman will go to the Rio!" he was yelling. And sure enough, she pulled into the same driveway, and headed right towards the drop-off. I began to worry that we'd spend all day down at the courthouse filling out murder witness affadavits. "Fat and stupid, that's what people are here, go get your cheesecake you moron, you are going to pay!" he was growling.

Then, at the last moment, mercy -- she pulled off into the parking garage and we turned off into the valet area. "That's one lucky Darth Vader," I thought to myself.

"Sorry for the aggravation," I said, reaching for the door handle. How the hell does this thing open, anyway?

"No problem," he grunted. No, that's not the button, do you pull on it or is there another handle somewhere? Damn thing ... "You guys aren't from around here, you're not the stupid fat bastards." No, not us, nosiree, we're not stupid, and HOW THE HELL DO YOU OPEN THIS FRIGGING DOOR?!?!

A blank stare, the faint hing of a sneer, and -- is that foam on his lips? Gulp! "Push the button and pull," he says contemptuously.

As we exit the Cab of Doom I'm thankful -- there were witnesses there at the Rio so we were likely safe. But every time we see a cab now I look to see if our friend is driving, so I can dodge behind a pillar.

Or even better, some fat idiot from out of town. I'm pretty sure that's the best decoy.