Sunday, December 31, 2006

Last Redskins Comments for 2006
I watched as much of the Redskins game last night as I could stomach. But I saw more than enough to offer some comments.

First, Chris Collingsworth, who I don't really like very much as an announcer but who I admire somewhat because he actually played in the NFL despite the handicap of not having any shoulders, clearly didn't watch the Redskins very much early in the season, as he suggested, when Campbell went down, that the Giants would probably prefer to play against Campbell than Brunell. That's just moronic, and it strikes me as the kind of comment that someone would make because he thinks an old white guy is going to be better than a young black guy. Anyone that's watched both of them play this year realizes that Campbell is much better, and that the Redskins would have been better off if Campbell had played all the games this season.

Second, at one point in the first half, Collingsworth said that the Redskins' only hope was if their offense got really hot. I think Chris has inhaled too many fumes from his hair care products. If there was one consistent theme this year with the Redskins, it's that their defense, well...IT. CAN'T. STOP. ANYBODY. So even if the Redskins' offense scored every time they had the ball, they'd lose, because opponents' offenses just march down the field. Going into the game, they know who they need to stop (Tiki, Mark Bulger, Steven Jackson), and these guys end up having the best games of their careers. Pathetic.

Third, for next year, don't screw around with the offense in the off-season. Maybe get a little deeper on the offensive line, and see if you can ditch Jacobs and James Thrash (seriously, what's with him?), but don't mess with anything else.

Fourth, on defense, you have to look at it like this. Gregg Williams surely deserves to be fired. Seldom has a defense deteriorated so quickly from one season to the next, and I hold him responsible. So you can fire him and hire someone else, who will bring a whole new scheme, new opinions, new thoughts on players. The decision that has to be made, though, is who is more likely to succeed next year -- a (hopefully) more humble Gregg Williams that realizes that his career is truly on the line, or a new guy, who, knowing the Redskins' luck, isn't likely to be much better than Williams. That's a hard decision to make, and as much as I don't like Williams, I think, for next year, the Skins may be better off with him.

Fifth, Jason Campbell is good. I didn't hear the announcers say this, with the belching and all, but Campbell looked much more like Peyton Manning than Eli did. Just think how good he'd be if he'd been playing instead of watching Brunell throw balls sideways for a season and a half. I hope nobody screws him up.

Finally, is there a way to trim some of the jerks from this team? I don't know what the "braintrust" was thinking last year when they signed Brandon Jacobs, but a good rule is not to sign a guy who's involved in a rap career. Joe Gibbs, as we all know, is a religious man. I've always understood humility to be a big part of religion, which is why I'm puzzled as to why all these Redskins, who Gibbs repeatedly says he personally likes, exhibit no humility whatsoever. The Redskins' first offensive series last night, we were treated to Mike Sellers making a big show with his first-down sign, and then Santana Moss spinning the ball after his first catch. Hey, you guys have won five games, and you're not going to win this game. Put the ball down and go back to the huddle. Geez, and Sellers and Moss are two of the more mature guys on the team. And stop with the personal fouls. That's just poor discipline, and thugishness. Nobody on this team is good enough for that kind of crap to be tolerated.

It's been a long, disappointing year. I can't even really say that I look forward to next year, because, realistically, there's no reason to think that it will be much better than this one. Which is sad...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes
Last night, I had tickets to see Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, along with John Eddie, at The Birchmere. Unfortunately, I didn't bring the tickets with me. The deal at The Birchmere (in Alexandria, Virginia, a great place to see music, if you don't already know that) is you get there at some point after 5:00PM, and you're given a number as you enter. Then you drink outside the concert hall until 6:00PM, when they start calling numbers, which allows people to proceed to seats in the concert hall in a fairly civilized manner. My number was 66, when they got to about 60 I pulled the tickets out of my pocket. And realized I had mistakenly grabbed tickets that I had gotten my girlfriend for Christmas for a Tyler Perry play. Oops.

I hustled over to the box office, and was told that the show was not sold out. When I explained what had happened and that I needed to buy another set of tickets, the woman at the box office charitably said that this "happens all the time," and then gave me replacement tickets and said I could bring the forgotten tickets by in the next couple of days and she wouldn't charge my credit card. Her name was Kay, and she is my hero!

So then the show. John Eddie is a Richmond, VA-born 46-year old, who's been around for a while. His favorite adjective is "fucken" and he, and his songs, are funny and self-effacing. Though in his younger days, he was supposed to be the next Springsteen, he reminded me more of John Hiatt or Steve Earle. He's got a strong voice and a tight band, and he was one of the best openers that I've seen for Southside, who sometimes makes some odd selections there. (I'd say he wasn't quite as good as Rick Derringer at the Capital Centre in 1980, but way better than most others, particularly the comedian at the Bayou at some point in mid-80s. That guy sucked.)

After about a two Dominion Ale break, the woman that had been sitting two seats down from me mysteriously appeared on stage and introduced Southside and his Jukes, who then stormed the stage and charged through a heavy dose of the Southside classics (Paris, Take it Inside, Broke Down Piece of a Man), giving ample time to the Jukes to show off their skills. Southside's usually perfect voice was a little ragged at parts, but, hey, it's the holidays, and he's fucken' 58 and his enthusiasm more than compensated. A James Brown tribute featured vocals by keyboardist Jeff Kazee and guitar hero Bobby Bandiera (who has the James Brown growl down). Bandiera also did a great version of Summer Wind. As things reached, well, a fevered pitch, John Eddie came to the stage for The Fever, and added his vocals, at least for the parts of the song that he knew the lyrics for. They played two encores, and the show ran until shortly after 10:30, which is late for The Birchmere. I can't pretend to be objective about a band I've been going to see since I was 18, but it was a blast, and I'll be happy to see them next time they're in town.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wednesday Video: James Brown and Alfred Hitchcock

Here's a clip from The Mike Douglas Show where an earnest James Brown asks Alfred Hitchock a question about a movie that Hitchcock didn't make. Hey, I would have guessed that it was a Hitchcock film, too. Also notice Joan Rivers, before hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of plastic surgery.

Monday, December 25, 2006

RIP James Brown
Evidently James Brown wasn't feeling that great, as he the Godfather of Soul passed at 1:45AM this Christmas morning. He was hospitalized on Sunday, with pneumonia. Here are some good words, including a clip of him in the Blue Brothers movie. Here is an excellent recent Rolling Stone feature on The Godfather of Soul, which gives some insight on a musical genius, who was also a complicated and troubled man. Like so many other musical geniuses...

Thanks for the music, Godfather.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wednesday Video: Nuthin' Wrong With James Brown

I didn't know that Nancy Reagan ever interviewed James Brown, but here it is. The picture quality isn't great, but it's still worth it, and the sound quality is fine, so you get a full taste of the insanity that is James Brown.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

December 18 Sports Illustrated in Review: Wonderlic, Schmonderlic
Titan Vince Young is on the cover this week. Somehow, I don't think they're going to get into the whole Wonderlic thing, and how the vast majority of sports media latched onto the story of Young only getting a 6 on the Wonderlic test, which clearly meant that he would suck as a pro., which just got bought by Wikipedia, had an assessment of Young that was fairly typical -- "Vince Young is dumb as a brick, and isn't ready to start in the NFL yet, so I seriously hope they are pursuing Kerry Collins, because if they don't, they could be pushed by Houston for third place." Kerry Collins, ha, good one. Had anybody asked me, I would have said not to put too much faith in a test with as dumb a name as "Wonderlic." It's a good fish name, though.

We proceed:

Leading Off - Cool shot of the Bird's Nest, which is a stadium being built in China for the 2008 Summer Games. Astonishingly, it was built by eight guys, who are shown walking home after a rough day at work. Another shot of bodybuilders from the Asian Games, short guys with greased up muscles. If that's your thing, I guess.

Letters - Not much here, this Ohio State/Michigan stuff will never end. Next week we'll get the Sportsman of the Year protests.

Air and Space - Steve Rushin talks about how great the NBA League Pass is. He's right, it is great. I used to have it, but it contributed to excessive couch-surfing, and I need to save up my chits for baseball. Rushin likes that you get the regional commercials, and I agree with him, those are a hoot. I also like that you get to get a look at what kind of fast food people in other regions are wolfing down. The local announcers are cool, too. They've also got a channel that shows up to eight games on the screen at one time. Excellent. I hope they do that with the baseball package.

Scorecard - They love AI in Philly, but everyone knows he's got to go. Damn, he was great in the 2001 NBA Finals. Maurice Taylor appears to enjoy the ganja. Or something. But probably weed. Josh Hamilton, repeated MLB substance abuse policy violater, has been signed by the Reds. I'm drafting him for my fantasy team. So bid him up. Pacman Jones bought his own car back at a policy auction. What a character. Another arrested Bengal. Terrell Owens has a big birthday party for himself. That's something I don't really get, these rich people throwing really huge and expensive parties for themselves, and then publicizing them. Look at me! Macy Gray, who sang Happy Birthday to Owens, is the gratuitous babe shot. Only not so much. Without my glasses on, she looks like Hendrix.

The Year in Sports Media - Here they recap stuff that already happened. Like Emmett Smith winning that dancing show. That happened, what, a month ago? Thanks for the memories. We Are Marshall should be good, though Matthew McConaughey seems kind of goofy in the clips. Rocky's back. I think the new Rocky just opened this weekend, and the Marshall movie isn't even out yet. So between that and Emmett Smith's dancing, they're really recapping things this year that just happened, or haven't even happened yet. Short memories, I guess. They talk about books, most of which were featured in SI, or published by SI. I need to read that Clemente book, though. I can't read anymore about Monday Night Football, sorry. Eric Byrnes, they say, has a promising TV career. Just what we need. They talk about how bad Dave O'Brien was doing World Cup. I just realize that he was the Nats radio announcer in 2006. He was pretty good at that, actually.

Fantasy Plus - The more I read this column, the more I realize that you'd do just as well flipping a coin. Seriously. They review some lessons that we should have learned this year. Drew Brees, Steve Smith and Javon Walker were all great pick-ups, as they rebounded well from injuries. In my league, I had Brees (maybe I mentioned this before) and Walker. My early picks were busts, though -- James, Lewis, Hasselbeck. I suck. How could I have passed on those guys, though. They say if I were smart, I would have dumped James in September. Well, that would have worked if I was in a league of morons. Speaking of Hasselbeck, they say to start him. Which turned out not so great. Artose Pinner has no fantasy value, they say, so he should have a good game. Don't start Vince Young, they say. Or Santana Moss. They say to sit Kellen Winslow, that's my pick for bad SI advice of the week.

Let's talk Fantasy Basketball. Look out for Andrea Bargnani, set aside your rule about not having guys named Andrea. He's good. Pau Gasol is coming back. Gilbert Arenas plays better at home.

Finally a feature. Vince Young is on the cover, but they only give him three pages, one of which is a photo. He's no Tony Romo. Vince isn't exactly loquacious, I guess, he doesn't have much to say. He does what it takes to win, he says. Can't argue with that. His mom's happy. Sure thing. That's it, not exactly an in-depth profile by Jeffri Chadiha, who got his name smack dab in the middle of the cover for this weak effort.

Greg Oden's playing, and he's as good as they thought. He had a nice game against Cincinnati today, actually. Grant Wahl is able to bring out some of Oden's personality, and he seems like a good guy. He thinks it's funny that people think he's 40. He likes being in college, cooking on his George Foreman grill. Whenever he goes pro, probably next draft, he'll be number one. Sonny Vaccaro of Reebok says that he'll get the biggest shoe contract ever for a big man. That's great, I always want to see how these guys fit into the shoe contract puzzle.

Yay, baseball. Tom Verducci reviews the free agent insanity. I'm with him on this. Here are the two deals that I really don't get. The Royals give Gil Meche $55 million over 5 years. What? If you're the Royals, and you finally spend some bucks, why Meche? And why would anyone even want to go to the Royals? But that's still not as bad as the $20 million over 3 years that the Cubs are giving Jason Marquis. What the hell? Marquis played for the Cardinals, the Cardinals won the World Series. But without Marquis. Not because he was hurt, but because he had pitched so poorly that he wasn't on their post-season roster. They didn't even want to keep him around in the bullpen. Why? Because he's no good.

If you're wondering why things got so crazy with baseball free agents, Verducci tells us it's "being driven by record crowds..., growth in revenues from traditional and new media, revenue sharing and labor stability." XM Radio and international business, too.

Karl Taro Greenfield has a big old article on Tiki Barber. He's definitely going to retire, and he's going to become a media giant. Look for him on Good Morning America, or 20/20. Evidently he's lost his passion for the game and is ready for the next chapter in his life. Greenfield talks about how Tiki and his twin brother Rhonde's mom worked her ass off to make life good for her boys, and to expose them to a big slice of life. Good for her, I hope she's reaping the benefits now. Tiki says that Matt Lauer is his hero, which kind of gives us an idea of what kind of newsman he's going to be. That's unfortunate. Greenfield gets about halfway through the article before he uses the word "articulate" to describe Tiki. It'll be interesting to watch Tiki, though I figure it's still 50-50 that he'll end up playing next year. We all know how these things go.

This Week in Sports Inside starts out with a picture of John Wooden. Man, he's old. All these years, and he still hasn't cracked a smile. Darrren Collison may lead UCLA to an NCAA championship. I remember their last championship, which was also the peak of my gambling career. Good times. How did Wichita State get so good?

Julian Peterson predicts that his Seahawks will win the Super Bowl. How about beat the 49ers first, Julian? Falcons owner Arthur Blank expects his team to do better than just make the play-offs. Jim Mora's job is pretty safe, though, they say. Unless there are complications from foot in mouth disease. What's with these Moras? It looks like the Falcons are going to lose tonight (though I'm watching the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship, which is cool). Should be a nice Christmas for the Mora family.

Rick Reilly goes to the Word Series of Video Games, and finds out that dorks with names like XiT Woundz and LiL Poison are making bucks playing video games, and think they're pretty hot stuff. Not really that interesting, Rick.

Overall Grade- Eh, not so great. I'm glad they covered baseball. Their heart didn't really seem to be into the Vince Young thing. I think Jeffri Chadiha just couldn't get fired up about a guy that got a 6 on the Wonderlic. Nothing really new about Tiki Barber. The Greg Oden article was good, I'm glad I read that. Nothing great, though. Overall Grade - C.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wednesday Video: Wilco's Jeff Tweedy Punches an Interloper

At an October show in Springfield, Illinois, Jeff Tweedy and his Wilco cohorts are just getting into an encore edition of Airline to Heaven, when an overly enthusiastic fan hops on the stage. After the usual waving to his friends, he touches Tweedy in the face, which results in Jeff giving the guy a brief rendition of Wilco's new song, I Am Going to Punch You in the Face. There's another clip of right after this, where the famously troubled and self-loathing Tweedy self-loathes for a while ("I feel terrible, nobody wants to punch a guy in the face..."). I don't blame him. While I'm sure the interloper was no more dangerous than the Soy Bomb guy, who knows. As slim a possibility as it was, the guy could have been a representative of one of Tweedy's arch-enemies Jay Farrar or Jay Bennett, with who knows what kind of intentions.

Monday, December 11, 2006

ACC Hoops Venues To Be Renamed After Bassists
Insides sources have revealed that ACC officials are on the verge of announcing a new ruling that would require ACC basketball venues to immediately be renamed after rock and roll bass players. This move follows the resounding success that the University of Virginia has had with it's new baskeball venue, John Paul Jones Arena. Sources say that a top secret taskforce has made this recommendation, and such a move would have been made sooner except for it took the taskforce a while to determine which schools are now members of the diluted, yet profitable, conference.

ACC officials had monitored the Unversity of Virginia move, which was not without controversy. Current Virginia students, and some younger alumni, favored Stefan Lessard Arena, while some much older alumni actively lobbied for Charlie Pastorfield Arena. The move to name the new arena after John Paul Jones was considered a compromise, found acceptable by both groups.

After closely watching the process at Virginia, ACC officials secretly put a taskforce together to consider making a similar change, conference-wide. There was a great deal of controversy within the taskforce. Special permission was given to Duke University, after much debate, to be allowed to retain the word "Indoor" as part of the name of its venue. University officials successfully argued that, otherwise, the name would be confusing to students. Another controversy involved the University of Miami taskforce representative, who was adamant that the Miami facility be named after the bass player for 2 Live Crew. The representative initially refused to believe that such a musical ensemble would not have a bass player. The school's second choice, Meshell Ndegeocello Field House, was also rejected, as it would have been impossible for Dick Vitale to pronounce.

Basketball venues at ACC universities will be renamed as follows:

Boston College - Tom Hamilton Hall
Clemson - Littletommy Caldwell Coliseum
Duke - Corey Parks Indoor Stadium
Florida State - Lamar Williams Memorial Arena
Georgia Tech - Mike Mills Municipal Center
Maryland - Tina Weymouth Field House
Miami - Bootsy Collins Civic Center
North Carolina - Flea Hall
North Carolina State - Faye Hunter Auditorium
Virginia Tech - Les Claypool Gymnasium
Wake Forest University - Phil Lesh Center

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sports Illustrated in Review: December 11
This week's SI is the Sportsman of the Year edition. And the winner is....Dwyane Wade of the champion Miami Heat. This seems to be a pretty controversial selection, and I'm sure they'll be a zillion letters to SI next week telling them how wrong they are. I was skeptical at first, but after reading S.L. Price's piece, I'm on board.

Here's how this issue goes:

Leading Off - Great pic of a jumpshot shooting Yao Ming. He's having a great year. There's a picture of a Sepak Takraw match during the Asia Games. I think I had Sepak Takraw at Urban Thai the other day. That and one of those Thai ginger iced teas that they have. Those things are great.

Letters - No big arguments going on this week. Benihana sponsors Hideki Matsui's first at bat at each Yankee game. A teacher and her fourth grade class correct Steve Rushin's history of Michigan.

From the Editor - Stuff about Dwyane Wade. He's from the bad part of Chicago. Then, SI's offering customizable webpages for those that would be interested in such things, which does not include me.

Air and Space - Chis Ballard, a guy with a Deadhead beard, sits in for Steve Rushin. Pretty good column, about how NFL pre-game shows have degenerated into a lot of guys who are not very funny, acting like not very funny guys who think they're funny. TV suits think that this is what viewers want. This is a good article, and timely, as I've still got that image from a few weeks of Jimmy Johnson and Terry Bradshaw dancing seared into my mind. Who wants to see that? I googled Terry Bradshaw Fanclub, and there isn't one. But then I googled Terry Bradshaw Fan Club, and there is one. But it seems like really a front to sell stuff autographed by him. There's nothing about people wanting to see him dance.

Scorecard - Stuff about Mark McGwire and voting for him for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Tom Verducci isn't going to do it. He admires Ken Caminiti for going public about the steroids thing. But he's not going to vote for him, either. Speaking of steroids, Justin Gatlin tried out for the Houston Texans. They're not going to sign him, though it doesn't have anything to do with the steroids. A blind 94-year-old lady bowled a perfect game. Matsuzaka isn't the only baseball player in Japan. I think I had heard that, even before Japan won the World Baseball Championship. Here's something crazy: former tennis hotshot Andrea Jaeger is now a nun. There's a picture of her in her habit. She likes to help kids. She sounds cool. The Beat mentions Jessica Simpson, but this week's gratuitous babe picture is of Mia Hamm. She's having twins. Sometimes people play polo on elephants.

SI Players - Dr. James Andrews is a busy guy, working on Daunte Culpepper and Donovan McNabb. He did a great job with Drew Brees, only those with keen fantasy football, playoff history aside, would have known to draft Brees. NFL players aren't so unlike you and me, they also find TO annoying. They find Doug Johnson fifth most annoying. He must be really really annoying, since he rarely plays. Monta Ellis of the Warriors reads SI every other day. I'm not sure what that means. Stuff about kickers. More high school football players. They're all going to USC or Florida. Lots of young Somalian guys run cross country in Minnesota.

The first big article is about Dwyane Wade. I hate to say it, but his trip to where he is today is pretty inspriational. He's overcome a lot of crap to become such a great player, and he still seems like he's a pretty good guy. He's married to his high school sweetheart, his mom's had a great comeback from drug problems, he's tight with his sister. He's not afraid of Gary Payton. And, you have to admit, he pretty much dominated the NBA playoffs. So I'm on the Dwyane bandwagon, good for him, though the spelling of his first name kind of bugs me. I'm glad that horse doctor didn't win.

Next, Fantasy. No apologies about the Jamal Lewis thing from last week. That's OK, I'm kind of glad fantasy is over for me. Expect Reggie Bush to go nuts. Sounds plausible. Take a flier on Arnaz Battle of the Packers who will "have a field day." I doubt it. Next week, play Jamal Lewis. Have they seen any Ravens games this year? In week 16, expect to see Cedric Benson play for the Bears, as they'll rest Thomas Jones. Benson is the guy his teammates hate. That might be interesting. They think Randy Moss will have a good game next week. It's part of that, "well, he has to have a good game eventually" strategy. That's a flawed strategy. Edgerin James. Brett Favre might not be a good choice. Thanks.

Then a feature on Tony Romo. Coming into this, I knew that Tony Romo was a former Division 1-AA quarterback that had stuck around a while with the Cowboys, longer than some over-hyped baseball players, and when Drew Bledsoe played bad there was a groundswell to start Romo. Parcells finally gave in, and the Cowboys have played well since. I was ready to dislike this guy, but he seems OK. He's a scrappy guy, a hard worker and dedicated, he's spent hours after practice trying to prepare himself for any possible throw he'd have to make. Sounds good, I hope Jason Campbell does the same thing. Despite the whole Jessica Simpson thing, he seems like he's pretty level-headed. So I hope that the Cowboys lose the rest of their games, but I can't really muster a hatred of Tony Romo. Maybe after he starts pounding the Redskins.

Then we have the inevitable article on the BCS. For those of you that don't know, it's controversial. For a number of years, people that care about college football advocated a playoff system. Several years ago, NCAA authorities, instead, started the BCS system. Which then resulted in the invention of sports talk radio. Or at least you'd think. Anyway, most people, including the guy who wrote this article, still thinks a playoff system would be better.

Here comes some college basketball. Michael Jordan loves Chase Budinger of Arizona, who's also a great volleyball player. Arizona has lost to Virginia, by the way. I'm just saying. It was Virginia's first game at John Paul Jones Arena. I listened to Houses of the Holy today.

It's starting to get cold, so we get some coverage of skiing. The Olympics are over, and Bode Miller is back. Him and his damn RV.

Mike Modano, may be the best American hockey forward ever. He's good. He dates Willa Ford, who apparently is a pop star. Got me. She looks OK, though. He lost $5 million in a bad business deal. Yikes. He was fired as team captain during training camp. That hurts, he's trying to be big about it, but you can tell he's pissed.

Now it's This Week in Sporst Inside. More stuff about Ben Wallace's headband. Vince Young, the real deal. Forget about his weird arm angle and his poor test scores. Jason Taylor's not big on Bob Kuechenberg. Peter King thinks Caleb Miller plays like Ray Lewis, and J.P. Losman may be OK afer all. Teflon Matt Millen. Dr Z picks the Giants over the Saints. I go with the Saints. Dr. Z's 49-47 for the year. Flip a coin.

Rick Reilly writes about Rick Barry shooting free throws underhanded. This article has been written before. The usual stuff -- Barry's way definitely is better, but none of the NBA's non-foul shooting stars will give it a try. Bye Rick.

Overall Grade- I thought this issue was pretty good. I learned things in the Wade and Romo articles. And Andrea Jaeger's a nun. Could have used some baseball, weren't the winter meetings going on? I guess that'll be next week. Overall Grade - B.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Rock Bottom Redskins: How Low Can You Go?
In this morning's Washington Post, Michael Wilbon's column about the Redskins, with a secondary headline of They've Hit Rock Bottom, and That Starts at the Top, hits the nail on the head with his assessment of the Redskins' problems. It made me think, though, that the Redskins have spent a lot of time in the post-Joe Gibbs I days at rock bottom. I think what we have here is what is known as a "recurring theme."

So, thanks to Google, here's a chronological history of the Rock Bottom Redskins:

December 5, 1994
In an article by Jim Ducibella of The Virginian-Pilot, Norv Turner said, “I told the team five weeks ago that we’d hit rock bottom. It wasn’t. This is as low as you can get.” The Redskins lost to Tampa Bay 26-21, with the Redskins running game gaining 10 yards on 12 carries. Nice.

December 18, 1994
The Newport News Daily Press observed that “Every time Washington Redskins coach Norv Turner thinks he and the Redskins have hit rock bottom, it seems his sneakers sink a few more feet…After losing 17-14 to Tampa Bay on Sunday in RFK Stadium, Turner is finding that this disastrous 1994 season is a bottomless pit. Seven weeks ago, Turner said he thought the Redskins had bottomed out. Two weeks ago, he changed his mind and said a 26-21 loss to the Bucs was the real low point. Sunday, the Redskins dropped a peg lower.” Hey, at least they only have to play the Bucs once this year…

October 19, 1998
In a Post article, Redskins Hit 'Rock Bottom' with 41-7 Loss, Norv Turner called the team’s offense “totally inept.”

October 29, 1998
In an article headlined Redskins Crash, Hit Rock Bottom, Post writer Mark Maske wrote that “The calendar hasn’t turned to October and already the Washington Redskins’ season of high hopes appears to be slipping away. Even without quarterback John Elway, the defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos raced to an early lead on a steamy afternoon yesterday at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium and never looked back, defeating the Redskins, 38-16.” The Skins were booed off the field. After the game, Leslie Shepherd suggested, “It’s rock bottom.” I remember that game. I was at my cousin's wedding reception that Saturday evening, which was at the same hotel that the Broncos were staying. The Broncos kept trying to crash it.

September 1, 2000
Adam Kamans of the Tufts Daily News took a break from his studies and weighed in that things had hit rock bottom after a 16-15 defeat by the Arizona Cardinals. Those Cardinals losses were always painful.

October 17, 2001
Clay Fowler of the Daily Texan took a break from whatever they do at the University of Texas to correctly note that “the only reason the Cowboys haven’t hit rock bottom was because the Redskins were there to break their fall.”

December 21, 2003
Mark Zuckerman of the Washington Times wrote that “Things hit rock bottom last week. Quarterback Tim Hasselback suffered through a nightmare of an afternoon…posting an embarrassing 0.0 rating.”

October 4, 2004
Mark Zuckerman of the Washington Times wrote that, after the Gibbs II-era began with a victory followed by three losses, "the Redskins have hit rock bottom."

November 14, 2004
After a 17-10 loss to the Bengals, the USA Today noted that “It took 10 weeks for Joe Gibbs’ comeback to hit rock bottom.” As if... In this game, Gibbs finally benched an ineffective (1 for 8 for six yards, with one interception) Mark Brunell at halftime and replaced him with then-quarterback of the future Patrick Ramsay. Talk about recurring themes. This move, poor Mark Zuckerman of the Washington Times noted, signaled Gibbs' acknowledgement that things had hit rock bottom.

November 29, 2004
Jim Rodenbush of the Pittsburgh Tribune wrote that “The Washington Redskins thought they had hit rock bottom with their offensive struggles when they gained just 213 net yards in their 28-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week… But that was before they ran into the No. 1 defense in the NFL.” That would be the Steelers, who held the Skins to 156 yards, beating them 16-7.

November 13, 2006
After a 27-3 loss to the Eagles, Rick Snider of the Philadelphia Examiner suggested that the Redskins add yet another consultant, Leslie Shepherd to teach players to say “rock bottom.” Good one, Rick.

There we have it. It's not a pretty cycle -- bad individual losses, bad strings of losses, confounded coaches and bad quarterbacks, who often had the benefit of some awfully misguided loyalty. I can't say I'm expecting things to improve anytime soon.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wednesday Video: A Carvel Christmas (And Chanuka)

That crazy Jim Carvel dressed up Fudgie the Whale as Santa, and gave Cookiepuss a makeover, too. Now available at Mario's...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wizards Win, and Some Nationals Stuff
I was at the Wizards game last night, which was their best game of the season as they didn't have much of a problem with one of the best teams in the league, the Mavericks, beating them 106-97.

Thanks to the eBay-savvy of my friend Greg, we had excellent seats, in the end zone, behind the media section. We saw Ed Tapscott, Lindsay from Channel 4, and Post columnist Mike Wise. Wise got to his seat after the game started, and he didn't seem to be around much during the second half. At one point, I headed out to the concourse for yet another drink, and heard him on his cell phone:

"I don't know, it just doesn't seem to be working out for me here. I can't get anybody excited about changing the name of the Redskins. Nobody believes that I played basketball in college. That's so unfair, nobody questions Kelli Johnson! Tony's still mean to me. And then I get to the game tonight, and Lindsay's there with a date!"

I felt bad for the guy.

Baseball's winter meetings are happening, and the Nationals seem determined to not make any moves at all, and just pocket the money that they'll save by not having to pay Alph and Jose Guillen. I guess Stan Kasten really is a genius. This lack of activity resulted in a strange article by Dave Sheinen, where he tries to make a story about the possiblity (denied by Nationals' management), that the Nationals may be a "conduit" in a Manny Ramirez deal. Seven hundred words into the article, he gives us a hint of what he's talking about, suggesting that the Red Sox need a shortstop or a closer, and Guzman, Lopez or (gulp) Cordero might be players that interest them. Getting rid of Cordero, who is one of the best and most popular Nationals (behind Zimmerman and the departed Alph), would be a big mistake. But it wouldn't be surprising, at this point. I've read some rumors about Chad going to the Red Sox for Wily Mo Pena, which is a move that Jim Bowden should make if wants to go back to Cold Pizza soon.

Barry Svrluga writes in Nationals Notebook that the Nats are looking to move Ryan Church, who decided not to play winter ball in Mexico, which might have helped him improve his hitting of off-speed pitches. Church's agent, Jeff Borris, defends his client, saying that he had nothing to prove down there. Ha. Borris is also Barry Bonds' agent, and I wonder how long into their relationships it was before Bonds and Church (not exactly known for their intellects) realized that they hadn't hired Scott Boras.

Finally, Dan Steinberg mentions, in, that he saw Mike O'Connor at the BB&T Classic over the weekend, and O'Connor said that he hasn't heard from new skipper Manny Acta. That's not a good sign. What else does Acta have to do at this point that he hasn't had time to talk to someone who may be one of his starting pitchers?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Gator Baiter 911 Call
You have to hear this. A naked guy in Florida was using crack in a swamp, where an alligator latched on to him. This article includes a link to the 911 tape, which is a classic, as the emergency operator goes from sounding like he's annoyed that his Tetris game was interrupted, to telling the caller to suggest to the crackhead that he punch the alligator in the nose, to sounding like he's going to start crying. Great stuff.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sports Illustrated's Football America: Most Boring Issue Ever?
This morning, I took the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated to the gym in the basement of my building, straddled an excercise bike, and plugged 60 minutes into the timer. Turns out, I should have brought more reading material.

The December 4 issue of SI (if anybody can explain to me why it's a good idea to no longer put the magazine's issue date on its cover, I'm listening), is billed as Football America. SI editors made a bold decision, got a little crazy, and decided to put Bret Favre on the cover. Genius. The cover also notes that senior editor Austin Murphy has contributed an article on Why Football Works. Now anticipating a somewhat shorter read, I looked around the gym for more reading materials to scavenge, and felt some relief when I saw a stray copy of Cooking Light.

Here's how my read of SI went:

Leading Off - Cool picture of some hockey players with giant shadows, and a bunch of people in Brazil getting ready to do the swimming part of a triathalon. A picture of the Lions-Dolphins game that I immediately flipped through after I saw mention of the Lions.

From the Editor - A blurb about the Sportsman of the Year Award, which seems to have degenerated into an opportunity for various SI writers to call attention to themselves by making silly nominations. The head-butting French soccer player. Mark Cuban. Right.

Letters - Some indignant responses to a recent feature on God's Linebacker (former God's Accessory To Murder) Ray Lewis. I can't get too worked up about that. Some stuff about Tiki Barber.

Steve Rushin Column - I flipped right on by this, as always.

Scorecard - A highlight, this included an amusing breakdown of Isiah Thomas fueds. It also reminded me of an old SI profile of Jeff Ruland, when he was asked about a particularly brutal pick he set on Isiah one game. He said something to the effect of, "Oh, yeah, on that one I was trying to send Isiah to the Children's Hospital." Scorecoard has some other good stuff, I learn that Ben Wallace had a game where he didn't get a point or a rebound, and that Pat Dobson died only a day after he was diagnosed with leukemia. Wow. I remember when Dobson was part of that Orioles' rotation of four 20 game winners in 1971. That's something that gets more impressive over the years. There's a Q&A with Lost's Matthew Fox, who's going to be in that new movie We Are Marshall, and who played football in Columbia. He says nothing about where Lost is headed. The Beat's not too interesting, a bad picture of Tiger Woods' wife.

Then there are a couple of articles about high school sports. I read the basketball stuff, flip by the football.

Next, Austin Murphy's ode to Football in America. Eh. The pictures are good, the story is trite and sentimental, and pretty much snooze-worthy. Then an article about college football rivalries. Apparently Ohio State and Michigan don't like each other very much. Great stuff.

We move to pro football. An article about the Patriots beating the Bears. There's really not too much more that I want to know about that game. So I flip. Then the Favre article. Nothing here. He's withstood adversity. He's old, at least for a football player. He might retire, but he doesn't really know. Neither does his wife. Packer fans. Next.

Next, their always entertaining Fantasy section. We should try to get Reche Caldwell (he's caught 38 passes, he's been gotten), DeAngelo Williams (yeah, we know, he's a starting running back, he's also gotten) and Aaron Brooks (no, thanks). We should start Jamal Lewis. We did, actually. We got eight points from him, which was good for him this year, but he's sucked this year, that's why I'm going to miss the play-offs unless Drew Brees sets some kind of record on Sunday. You should sit Santana Moss if you have him. I disagree, and think he'll score some points.

Peter King shares his insight. King really bugs people, I know everybody at Deadspin hates him. I just never read the guy, call me a rube. Those guys at Deadspin are smart. Some of them are lawyers. They read everything and watch everything on TV. They've memorized a lot of lines from movies and tv shows. I think I've seen every episode of Family Guy about five times now. But I can't recite any lines. This I attribute possibly to too much alchohol in college. Maybe a couple of years after. I remember the Family Guy where Peter got into a fight with a chicken, though.

Anyway, now I do have an opinion about Peter King, and it's that he's not particularly insightful, because he says that Mike Vanderjagt (and Olindo Mare) will be great the rest of the year, Vanderjagt benefitting from King's presumption that Dallas will score a lot down the stretch. Ha.

Then there's some college basketball. Moderately interesing piece on Julius Wright of Kansas. Inside the NBA tells us Zach Randolph's OK.

Inside the NFL, no gems here. More hopping upon the Tony Romo bandwagon. More Peter King stuff. Joe Gibbs is definitely coming back to the Redskins next year. Poor Joe. I'd make a run for it if I were him. Paul Zimmerman says that the Bengals will beat the Ravens. Nice pick.

Rick Reilly writing about A good cause, and a nice column, which is not something I say often about Rick Reilly.

Then a VW ad. And that's it.

Not a strong week for Sports Illustrated. Lots of writing about football, nothing too revealing or interesting. I don't really see a need to theme an issue to Football America. There was no golf or car racing, that was good at least. I wrapped it up in about forty minutes, and grabbed a nearby Cooking Light. Good stuff there, some nice salmon recipes.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Nats New Store is Puzzling
The Nats opened a new retail store earlier this week, on Connecticut and L, which is the same building where they had the "Let's Get Acta-vated" press conference, and where, according to today's Post, they're going to have offices.

I went by the store on Wednesday. I wasn't going to blog about this, because I hate to always be so negative about the Nationals. But the store, which is very small, is not exactly chock-full of treasurers. When you walk in, the first thing that you see is a display of "game-used" jerseys. Which is fine. Until you see that they're jerseys that were "game-used" by Nationals greats like Endy Chavez, Mike Stanton, Rick Short, Brendan Harris, Tohma Ohka and Darrell Rasner. That's it. These cost $199 to $299. Darrell Rasner pitched like 7 innings for the Nats. And they didn't even let him keep his jersey? I'd feel sorry for him if he wasn't with the Yankees now. Who's going to buy these things? Brendan Harris went to William and Mary (a moot court school, that's put out some good baseball players lately), so maybe one of his former roommates works downtown and will grab that one. But Tohma Ohka? It would be a clever gag Christmas gift for Frank Robinson, but who even knows how to reach Frank anymore.

The jerseys are just an appetizer, though, to the true treasures at the Nationals store -- game used bats. More specifically -- a bat used by that legendary National....Damien Jackson! He of the 23 hits and .198 average in his 67 game career with the Nationals. How'd they wrestle that away from the Hall of Fame? The crazy thing about it is that the bat looks like it's about 100 years old, it's got all kinds of pine tar and tape and ball marks and stuff. It looks like something used by someone that could actually hit. I'm not sure how many bats a monster like Jackson goes through in a year, but it's possible that he used that bat for all 23 of his hits for the Nats. And this can be yours for $189!

As I said, I tried to not blog about this, as I'd like to give the Nationals a break, and the guys at the store were very nice and pretty much aware of how lame it was to be selling game-used equipment by guys who were barely on the team, while not having any (game-used or otherwise) Ryan Zimmerman or Chad Cordero jerseys (which, they say, may be in by Christmas). One of them even laughed when I observed that the Jackson bat looked broken, and "no wonder he couldn't hit." But, geez. I can't understand how a team can not have jerseys of their most beloved players available a month before Christmas. I just kind of feel insulted by such a lame attempt, and it makes me continue to feel that the people that are making these kind of decisions about things for the Nationals don't really have much of an idea about what they're doing.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Wednesday Video: Old School Plymouth Commercial

This is automobile advertising the way it should be -- no John Cougar, no spokesmodels, no yelling. Just cool cars, and some classic cartoon characters. It's from 1969.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Redskins Miss Arrington
I think everyone has heard about the ESPN Magazine article by Tom Friend, where an unnamed Redskin blasts Gregg Williams as being an egomaniac who is hated by his players.

Although I appreciate the job that Williams did with the Redskins defense prior to this year, I've never thought he's the savior of Redskins football. The three years he was head coach in Buffalo, he was 3-13, 8-8 and 6-10. After he was fired, Bills officials noted that the team had regressed in his third year. Hmm. So I didn't think appointing him future head coach in waiting was really a great move.

When Williams first got here, Lavar Arrington quickly established permanent residency in Williams' doghouse. Poor Lavar couldn't do anything right. Williams, seemingly with the support of Joe Gibbs, missed few opportunities to bash Lavar. Lavar could take it, though, he didn't hide from the media, he defended himself, and sometimes even said that, well, the coaches have somewhat of a point about some of his weaknesses. Lavar's teammates defended him, and seemed to take inspiration from the fact that their coaches were giving their friend and teammate a hard time. And they played well. When Lavar got to play, they played better, as their friend fired them up.

This off-season, Williams and Gibbs got their wish. Arrington goes to New York, and Williams loses his scapegoat. Now, instead of focusing on bashing Lavar, he bashes his whole team. They don't like it. Nobody likes to be yelled at by a guy with breasts. He humiliates new guy Adam Archuleta, which can't make his bosses, who made Archuleta the highest paid safety in NFL history, too happy. He's hard on the other defensive backs, who perhaps shouldn't be playing, and wouldn't if the Redskins had made some better personnel decisions. He's made some questionable decisions about the defensive coaching staff. And what we have is a defense that makes stars out of pretty average players.

While it's unheard of for a head coach to be fired mid-season, it's not so much with assistants. Fire him. Not because of some comments by an unnamed player. Because he's doing a bad job.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wednesday Video: The Weight

There are many great versions of The Weight, it's been covered by everyone from the Allmans to just about every bar band in the country. But this version, by The Band with The Staples Singers, is the best. It was part of The Last Waltz, but it was filmed in studio. I've heard (and seen) it a zillion times, and it still gives me goosebumps every time.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Porn in the Workplace
So this afternoon at work I was minding my own business, involved in some mind-numbing project, when the phone rang. The caller identified herself as being with the building management company (a well-known property management company that has a particularly ridiculous ad campaign on WTEM, with sell-out Andy Pollin doing fake interviews with a company executive whose judgement is so warped he thinks people are interested in hearing about his insights on, say, the commercial real estate market in the Tysons Corner area).

Her: I just got a disturbing call from someone at the AFTA, next door to you. Someone in your office is looking at porn on their computer, and the AFTA people can see it, and it's bothering them.

Me: Huh?

She reviewed. At this point, I want to go officially on the record as not viewing porn at work. It would interfere with managing my fantasy teams, reading Deadspin and, uh, blogging. Nevertheless, I instintively glanced at my computer, which confirmed that the last thing I had done was run a Google search for "Matsuzaka," "Red Sox," and "gyro-ball."

I didn't really understand how the people next door to us would be able to see a computer in our office, as our building has this innovative feature that separates different suites, known as "walls." I told the woman that a) I didn't think anyone in our office would do such a thing (they're usually too busy playing internet poker, except for the one guy who's had a baffling internet solitaire addiction for like eight years -- there's a zillion damn things on the internet, yet he plays solitaire over and over...), and b) I didn't really understand how our neighbors would be able to see computer screens in our suite. She said that the complainant was actually in the building next door, and was seeing the porn through a window, because the alleged porn viewer had his blinds up.

Me: Well, there are only three people here today, and two of them have offices that overlook K St., and if anyone is able to see those computer screens then, well, I think the issue of them spying on us outweighs the issue of what they see when they're spying.

Her: What about the corner office, next to the alley?

There is, indeed, a corner office that has windows looking out on K St. and an alley. That office is inhabited by my boss, whose idea of internet craziness, I'd guess, would be using Mapquest. Also, his computer screen faces away from the window. And his blinds on that side are always closed because, apparently, the pigeons freak him out.

I explained all of this to the woman, who assured me that the building engineer had "checked the blueprints" and that they were confident that it was someone in our office. I assured her that it wasn't, but invited her to stop arguing with me, go a little crazy and walk away from her desk and take the elevator up two floors to view the configuration of our office. She finally said she believed me, and ended the call.

I, of course, immediately walked into my boss' office, told him what was up, and we pulled up his blinds and peered into the office in the next building. We didn't see anything. I think we were both a little disappointed not to see the outraged faces of, say, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Rumsfeld and Bill O'Reilly, pressed against a window on the other side of the alley. No sign of any humanity, though. We concluded that the accidental porn viewers, while adept at snooping on other peoples' computers in completely different buildings, erred on either counting floors or counting windows.

After work, I walked out to the alley and looked up. The window configurations made it evident that the alleged porn viewer was in the office next to my boss, in the neighboring suite, which is used by some "financial people" (one of whom looks like the love child of Beavis and Butthead). I feel like slipping a note under the door, suggesting that the person in that office get a Stop Snitchin' screensaver.
Wednesday(ish) Video: Swing Blade

Well, it's Wednesday somewhere. I guess.

Anyway, this week we have a short clip from a ficitional movie called Swing Blade, which is a cross between Swingers and Slingblade, two of the all-time indie classics. I guess this has been around for a while, and I've heard that it may an extra on the DVD for one of the aforementioned movies. But I hadn't seen it. (I have a theory about extras on DVDs -- nobody watches them.)

It's very well done, and the guys that made it are very clever. There's a follow-up, which is a fictional E! True Hollywood Story: The Swing Blade Guys -- What Happened?, which is actually even funnier, but you need to watch Swing Blade first.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New Nats Manager -- Let's Get Acta-vated!
The Nationals had a press conference today to announce Manny Acta as new manager. Since it was right around the corner from my office, I went.

I had camped out at the bottom of an escalator, figuring that I could get a nice pic (for a camera phone, at least) of Nats brass and Manny descending to the meeting. Then I happened to look through a glass door that was right behind me, and who was standing there talking to a bunch of guys in suits --Screwed Out of Rookie of the Year Ryan Zimmerman. I spotted Manny in there, too. He's a big guy, too bad he apparently can't hit.

The pic is of Zim and GM Stan Kasten, walking to the podium. I'm not sure what's going on with Zim's left leg there, it looks a little whithered and also like he's trying to step on his bosses' foot. Weird. I thought it was Nick Johnson with the bad leg.

The conference began with Stan Kasten uttering the usual, uh, utterances about the process, and the plan, and how great DC is. He introduced a sober-seeming Jim Bowden, who said that Manny was the most prepared for the interview of the pool of potential managers, he knew the Nats well (which makes sense, as the Nats and Mets played 50 times last season). He talked about what a great job Manny had done with the Dominican team in the World Baseball Classic (not to be cynical -- it's hard -- but they had some pretty good players, and they didn't win the thing). Bowden, never one to miss a chance at self-promotion, said that this hiring reminded him of when he was with Pittsburgh and he announced the hiring of someone nobody had heard of -- Jim Leyland.

Bowden then introduced Manny, by announcing that it was time to Acta-vate! They did that awkward thing where they put a jersey (#14) on Manny, over his suit (he kept the jacket on), which signaled to me that the Nats will still have the same boring uniforms next season. Manny seemed cool, he was very gracious. He talked about how proud he was, an immigrant who is now the manager of the team in the nation's capital. He's now a citizen, so at least he doesn't have to worry about Bush running out and building a fence around him or something.

Manny said that Alph called him two days ago to congratulate him on taking the job. That's interesting, since Manny benched Alph in the WBC, and since we suppose that Alph won't be in Washington more than a couple of times next season. He said that the two enjoy an "outstanding relationship," and later said that the Alph situation was a financial issue, beyond him.

Manny took some questions, none of them were particularly interesting or revealing. I was a little distracted by how the Nats p.r. woman kept calling Manny "Skipper." It just seemed awkward, much like all of the Nats' p.r. efforts. So we'll see what happens. I expect free agent signings to start soon. Please let us get some pitchers...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Not Much to Say about the Redskins
The Redskin game went about the way that you would have expected. About the best offense faces about the worst defense, not hard to figure out how that will work. I wonder how those sideline conversations between Joe Gibbs and Greg Williams go.

I think Mark Brunell has got to be close to some sort of record for sideways passes, or completions before you get to the line of scrimmage or something like that.

If the reason the Redskins got TJ Duckett was to prevent him from going to the Eagles, I wonder how that deal's now being interpreted in Danny World.

Other than that, the only other thing I have to say is that the Eagles' cheerleaders looked like wet hookers.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Election Wrap Up

I was walking home from work today, almost three blocks from the subway stop. When suddenly I heard this huge roar of people. It was a "Red Sox Win The World Series" type roar. It took me a second to figure out that Webb must be at Courthouse Plaza, accepting his victory. I got home in time to see the last bit of the rally on tv, which didn't really capture the loudness that I heard. Webb wasn't a thrilling candidate, to me, but it's time for Senator Allen to polish up those stupid boots of his and hike back to California. I did like the thing about Webb and his son's boots. It's at least nice to know that now we have someone representing us who has such a personal stake in the war.

With that, Adios, George Allen.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wednesday Video: Live from the International Accordian Festival

This is a clip of part of Lower 48 by the Gourds, filmed at last month's International Accordian Festival, which was in Tulsa. I know you're saying, What, didn't we just have a Wednesday video of the Gourds? What the heck?

Yes, the Gourds were featured in the original Wednesday Video, only a few weeks ago. And they're back because they rock. So enjoy. Kevin seems a little slimmer to me, but not slim enough that he could use his upper body for a washboard, which is what he looks like he's attempting to do. Jimmy seems to have been, uh, really enjoying the festival.
Working at the Polls
Yesterday, I served as an election officer at my precinct. We had about 1100 people vote over the course of the day. About 850 voted for Webb, the rest for Allen, which gives you an idea of the demographics in my precinct.

Our precinct house is a rundown recreation center. During previous elections, we were in a spacious room. This time, we were in a very small, windowless room, with a posted capacity of 30 people (which, presumably, didn't take into account that the room had to hold four election machines and four long tables). This made for some long lines, which led to some cranky people, especially in the early morning. I suggested to my precinct chief that I could lighten the mood by walking down the line, instructing everyone to remove their shoes and put them in the gray bins, and to make sure that they weren't carrying more than three ounces of lotion. He didn't think that was a great idea.

Those crankiest about the long lines were primarily people in their 20s, who were all late for very important meetings, and who thought that it was inconceiveable that they should have to stand in line for a whole hour in order to vote. Democracy is not always so convenient, youngsters... I cheered myself up by imagining that all these people were Rick Santorum staffers, who were in a hurry to get to work and start looking for new jobs.

Once everyone progressed far enough in line to get to the voting room, it was necessary for most of them to ask us why we were in the smaller room instead of the usual larger room. We didn't know, of course, but after a while I started telling people that Bush and Cheney had bin Laden stashed in the larger room, and that they hadn't realized that they needed to pull the trigger on their November surprise before the election.

There were some nice moments. There were several first-time voters, mostly non-English speakers. One such woman had to get her husband to help her with the voting (perfectly acceptable, her husband just had to fill out a form, which he did graciously), which was nice, until the dork in the booth next to them asked for a form so that he could file an official complaint about it. (This was a guy who seemed like his voting experience was his first interaction with humans since the last Star Wars movie was in the theaters.) There are a lot of elderly people in our district, and they were all very nice and cool, in contrast to the people that I hoped worked for Santorum.

One of my fellow election officials drank two Red Bulls and ate four doughnuts before 7:00AM, and then spent the rest of the day munching on chocolate covered coffee beans and complaining about how she was "feeling weird." I could have done without that, but, otherwise, things went pretty well. Due to the room situation (I don't know if you heard, but voting was done in a smaller room this year), there were few chairs, so I stood from 5:00AM until 9:00PM. Literally. There were times that I could have sat, but after a couple of hours I figured I'd see what kind of an effect standing for that long would have. My feet were a little sore, but I feel fine today. And if I'm ever in Survivor, I'll know that I can win any challenges that involved standing in a cramped room filled with voters, including an assortment of Rick Santorum staffers and Star Wars dorks, for 16 hours.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Shuler Update
The folks at Stop Shuler have modified their strategy, realizing that, at this point, they can't stop Heath Shuler, they can only seek to, uh, contain the modifiers that are used to describe the child-naming challenged politician. They have issued a news release, demanding that the media stop referring to Heath as a former NFL quarterback.

I think the release speaks for itself: "By any objective measurement, Heath Shuler was a terrible NFL quarterback," says the site. "The media should not refer to Shuler as a 'former NFL quarterback' any more than they refer to Michael Jordan as a 'former professional baseball player.' Why describe him as something he completely failed at?"

Why, indeed?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wednesday Video: Some Guy Dancing

This is a video by a guy named Matt Harding, who saved up some money, quit his job, and traveled around the world getting people to film his odd little Snoopy-dance in really cool locations. It sounds dumb, I know, but it's awesome. I first saw it over the summer, and the fact that I even still remember it, much less still watch it from time to time, should tell you something. I like the music, too.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Congressman Shuler?
As you probably know, Heath Shuler is running for Congress, in North Carolina's 11th District, which includes Asheville. Shuler, as you also know, is as good a symbol as any for the decline of the Redskins, in the post-Jack Kent Cooke, everything we touch turns to crap era. Shuler is running as a Democrat, which was surprising to me, given that most ex-jocks go the other way. (Even black ones, like Lynn Swann, who is running for Governor of Pennsylvania. I guess that would make sense to the people who think Martin Luther King was a Republican, but stuff like that always puzzles me. Though not as much as gay Republicans. But I digress...) Shuler's political affilliation is also surprising to me, because he seems to be somewhat of a bible-thumper, and my experience is that people like that think that Democrats are spawns of satan.

Anyway, one of the millions of long-suffering Redskins fans has created a blog, Stop Shuler, which is devoted, as you may guess, to keeping him away from Washington. I agree that it would be rubbing it in our faces to have him back here. But I guess his opponent is pretty evil, so I'd still probably vote for Heath, although it doesn't matter at all, since I don't live in the 11th District of North Carolina. It's an amusing blog, but I wouldn't be mentioning it except for the fact that Shuler actually agreed to be interviewed by the site's host. And it wasn't a guerilla, Ali G-style interview, Shuler was fully aware of the site. So he gets credit for being a good sport. The interview is very funny, the interviewer really makes no attempt at all to play nice. Shuler comes off OK, although he still seems kind of dopey. His kids are named Navy and Island; he and his wife came up with those gems after looking at a map. It would have been cool if they had quadruplets and named them North, South, East and West. He's apparently big on something called "mountain values," which the interviewer also, justly, makes fun of.

It would be like cheating if I didn't mention that I found out about Stop Shuler and the interview on D.C. Sports Bog, which is a blog done by Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post, and is always a great read. Although it's a little soccer-heavy, and all the cheese stuff sounds pretty interesting, but generally goes over my head.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Red Auerbach
I was saddened to read about Red Auerbach's death. Imagine how great his life was, though. A couple of years ago I read Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game, by John Feinstein and Auerbach. I'm not big on Feinstein's work, but I thought this was an interesting book, and learned a lot about Auerbach, someone who I thought I was pretty familiar with.

Alas, I have a Red Auerbach story. Maybe five years ago, I was walking around downtown at lunchtime, as usual. As I was walking down L St., from Connecticut Ave. towards 18th St., I noticed an illegally parked sporty old Mercedes, with DC tags that said something like CELTIC 1. I was thinking, well, I doubt it belongs to Paul Pierce, then looked up as Red himself walked out of the cigar store that his car was parked in front of -- package in hand, stogie in mouth. I triple-taked, and resisted the inclination to blurt out, Hey, you're Red Auerbach. As I was looking around to see if anyone else recognized him, I noticed two other guys walking in my direction who were both finishing their triple-taking, and also trying to restrain themselves from saying something stupid. We all let Mr. Auerbach hop back in his car and drive away peacefully, which is how I hope he is rests today.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cougar, Fox Attempt to Ruin World Series
Despite the best efforts of the Cardinals and Tigers, I find that some of the enjoyment I usually get from the World Series has been diminished this year. And I blame John Cougar and Fox. I remember back in the early 80's, when John Cougar first thrust himself upon us -- a half-pint Indianan with a fake name, a mullet and a chip on his shoulder. He seemed harmless enough back then, you just kind of chuckled "This guy sucks," and changed the radio station. You didn't really have to worry about hearing him anyplace other than that, because most people agreed that he was a joke, so it's not like you ran the risk of hearing his music at any place where more than a few people with any type of musical taste would be. Unfathomably, more than twenty years later, every five minutes during the World Series, we're subjected to this lame ass pseudo-patriotic song that he wrote in about five minutes, and then convinced Fox and Chevrolet to burn onto the brains of millions of people who really just want to settle back and watch some good baseball. And who realize that it's probably not really our country, unless our last name happens to be Bush or we're part of the Exxon family. Didn't he already do this song, but it had some verses about how we were free and brave and lived in pink houses? I still haven't gotten my pink house.

Fox I blame for having the audacity to put him on live before the game on Sunday. Let's delay the first pitch even more so that some guy who's too disrespectful of the actual game to even get started on time can sing an extended version of a commercial that's going to play during every commercial break during a ball game for the next twenty years. And let's also subject everyone to Eric Byrnes and whatever that is on his head, who's so crazy that he has Kevin Kennedy looking at him like he's crazy. And Kevin Kennedy was the guy who thought it was a good idea to let Jose Canseco pitch. Brilliant.

It's almost enough to make me root for the Cardinals tonight, to end it all. Well, almost. I guess I'll turn the sound down.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Wednesday Video: Oscar for Best Foreign Language Animated Short Subject

OK, it's really not the Oscars, it's a clip from the ill-fated Dana Carvey Show, a show that I never watched. I apologize to Dana if it was cancelled due to lack of viewers, though I think it was more likely that it ran afoul of the network suits, as they say. Stephen Colbert plays Gregory Peck, and Steve Carell plays a Pakistanian filmmaker. It's damn funny.

Speaking of Steve Carell and things that are funny, how long will it be before Saturday Night Live thinks to have Steve Carell and Ricky Gervais both on, doing a battle of The Office? That's got to happen.
Some Things on Wings
Oohs and Aahs is a pretty silly name for a restaurant, but they make some pretty serious wings. It's on U St., a few blocks from the 9:30 Club. I'd heard good things about it, and checked it out Saturday.

On first impression, it's the smallest restaurant I've ever been in. You walk in, there's a counter to your left, with two bar stools. If there are people sitting there, which there were on Saturday, it's crowded. I maneuvered my way to an open space which looked like the logical place to make an order. There's no posted menu, but there were a few saucy menus on the counter. I knew I wanted wings -- I ordered them buffalo style and lemon pepper style, with sides of collard greens and yams.

It got uncomfortable, as there were eventually eight customers in an area that had enough room for two. But once I got home and we started eating, the pay-off was great. The wings are perfectly fried, then sauced. So when you take a bite, you get the the sauce, then the crispy, then the chicken. The wings were big and meaty. According to my girlfriend, the greens were great, too (best so far in DC, she said). I saw some folks eating ribs when I was there, and I'll definitely be back to give those a try. Probably some mac and cheese, too.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Redskins: Two Long Weeks
During the next two weeks, we'll hear a lot of crap about Redskins football, how the team is not playing up to it's abilities, leadership issues, too many nice guys, gut checks, blah, blah, blah. Here's the deal -- the defense cannot stop anyone. Every game starts out with the other team marching down the field. This is either because a) the players aren't good enough, or b) the coaches don't have the players doing the right thing. So they need to figure out whether it's a or b, and then either get better players or smarter coaches. Until then, Johnny Unitas could be quarterback and they'd still lose, as they'd still be outscored.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Wednesday Video: The Beach Boys, Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi

I've got kind of a fascination with the Beach Boys. Not the current Beach Boys with the guy from Full House sitting in on the drums during Fourth of July, but the Beach Boys of the 60's, led by Brian Wilson, a guy with such tremendous musical gifts that he inspired people like John Lennon and Bob Dylan. A guy who was awkward around other people, and scared of his dad, and took a lot of drugs and spent much of the 70s and 80s in bed. A guy who wrote songs with parts for finger cymbals and triangles and vibraslaps and all those other scorned percussion instruments that I ended up having to play in high school. And now he's been back for a while, and he's outlived his younger brothers, and he has an odd look about him, but he's making music and touring and probably doesn't have the slightest idea who the guy from Full House is.

This a clip from a 1976 Beach Boys special, where John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd are the Surf Police, and they drag Brian out of his bed to go surfing. While it's played, of course, as a joke, Brian really was bed-bound at the time, and it was apparently not an easy skit to film. At the end of the clip, the Beach Boys are playing (without Brian, of course), and it's cool to see Dennis Wilson and Carl Wilson, and not so cool to see Mike Love doing whatever he does all over the stage. And the guy from Full House isn't there!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Flyfishin' - Ed's Blog
My friend Ed has started a blog, called Flyfishin'. It's a fly fishing journal. Kind of. Ed is a man of many interests and talents, which his blog reflects. He's a great artist, and in his sidebar you'll see information about his woodcuts.

The strange thing about me and Ed is that we've been friends for about a million years, but we've always kept things very wholesome -- no drinking or wreckless behavior or anything that the next morning makes you wonder what the hell you were thinking.

Heh. Anyway, check out his blog.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Grudge 2
I fell asleep in a San Antonio theater during the original Grudge. I think this had more to do with me just being sleepy than it being a dull movie.

I stayed awake during all of The Grudge 2. I'm still not sure exactly what the supernatural forces are that we're dealing with in The Grudge movies, despite reading several explanations. Sometimes it involves the presence of a ghost-like creature, sometimes it's a child-like creature that always reminds me of a character that Bobby Lee from Mad TV might play. And it involves hair, long black hair.

We are introduced to Aubrey (Amber Tamblyn) who is the sister of Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar), who we met in the first movie. Since the two actresses look nothing at all like sisters, they are given similar hairstyles. Audrey is asked by her bitchy and sickly mother to go to Japan and find out what the deal is with her sister, who is recovering from the fire that ocurred at the end of The Grudge. The mother has one of those old-school phones with a dial, which makes you think that you're watching a flashback, but you realize that she just has an old phone when Aubrey breaks out her new-school cell phone.

Meanwhile, some bitchy high school girls in Tokyo teach their new friend Allison to appear cooler by rolling up her schoolgirl skirt, then scare the bejesus out of her when they take her to the house that Karen set on fire. And a father's girlfriend moves into the gloomy Chicago apartment that he shares with his two children. So it's kind of like three different stories, none of which really make sense. There are scary moments, though, as you never know when one of the Grudge demons will pop up underneath someone's desk or strangle someone.

Though The Grudge is impossible to fully understand, you should be able to stay awake during it, and there are some cool Tokyo-related things, including a scene where you learn about Tokyo love hotels.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

This and That
I've been slack the past week, but I'm back now, and there were a couple of things I wanted to note.

Monday Night Football - What a trainwreck. I think what Tony and Joe have is anti-chemistry. Theismann is so mean to Kornheiser, I'm actually starting to feel sorry for him. I loved when Tony suggested that the rain may make it harder for the quarterbacks to throw the ball. Joe immediately said that, no, actually it made it easier. Then Joe spent the rest of the game explaining himself, until late in the game when he finally gave up, and admitted that it was harder to throw a football when it's wet. Wasn't it fascinating to have a guy from Desperate Housewives in the booth? And then have Kornheiser sucking up to him? Wow.

Poor Dickey Betts - I had the tv on in my California hotel room last night, and heard the familiar strains of Blue Sky
, the Dickey Betts classic. I glanced up at the tv, and it was a commercial for Alrighty.

Baseball - Damn, the Tigers are good. The Cardinals are just not very good. I agree that the Mets hit like an American League team, but the Tigers have much better pitching, and they're clearly the best team to me. I wonder what the odds were at the beginning of the season that the Tigers would become World Champions.

My Stupidity - So I thought it would be nice to bring my girlfriend some bath stuff from the spa at the hotel I was staying at. I bought her some lotion and bath gel and salts. At about two hours before the crack of dawn this morning, I wrap up my packing, and put the bag from the spa in my carry-on, so I wouldn't have lotion and gels and salts all over my luggage. I get to the airport, check my bags, go to security, where two security guys are sitting at a table, when suddenly I recall the whole thing of how you can't take lotions and gels in your carry-on anymore. Oops. I get to the table, they ask if I have any gel or lotion, I say, uh, yeah, that's really all I have. They were very nice about it, and pointed out that the salts were OK. But I felt pretty dumb. Hopefully they were able to take the stuff to their girlfriends or wives. Damn terrorists.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Travels with Tadcranky
I spent most of Thursday traveling across the country to Palm Springs. Air travel is generally pretty fascinating to me -- a zillion stressed out strangers thrown together, you never know what will happen.

Thursday went fairly well. I got yelled at by a security guy at National Airport, because I didn't properly stow my laptop in the bin that goes through the X-ray machine for belongings. After I had passed through the X-ray machine for people, I hear the guy ask "Who's laptop is this?" About five people raised their hands. Turns out he was talking about mine. After this was determined, he yelled at me because, evidently, laptops are supposed to be taken out of the case (mine was) and put in a seperate bin (I just put mine in a bin on top of the case). Hell, I don't know. This is why I exactly why I don't like to travel with a computer. I pointed out to him that I must have missed the sign that said that (there were none). He kind of scowled at me, and I scowled back.

I flew in to Dallas, and had a couple of hours layover, which I did on purpose as I knew I wouldn't be into the usual Dallas airport connection scenario of the plane arriving late, and me having to run about two miles and either miss my connection or getting there late and sweaty. So I found a bar with an empty stool, and watched the very end of the Yankees loss. Yay.

The bar was relatively cool, with two female bartenders with stripper hair who were generally not around, so the barback ended up making me my drinks. He looked to be about 19, and he had this strange thing with a shot glass with salt around the rim. He'd hold the glass to his mouth, and eat/lick the salt. Kids these days.

Sitting at the bar, I was flanked by two pairs of strangers. On one side, one guy spent about an hour detailing the cultural attractions of Orlando, Florida, to the woman sitting next to him. There's the obvious problem with that (Orlando culture? Gator World is cool though.), then there is the fact that the woman that he was talking to was from North Carolina, and the guy was talking to her like she was from Singapore. I really doubt that Orlando is that mysterious a place to someone from North Carolina. After a while, of course, they started to talk about real estate. The couple on the other side just talked about real estate the whole time. Jeez.

So, uh, several Jack and cokes later, I headed to my plane, on my way to Palm Springs, which is every bit the cultural mecca that Orlando is. More on that later.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Youtube Issues
Due to some unexplained issues with youtube, you'll notice that the Wednesday videos are missing from this blog. The Little Feat one is gone because the its host decided not to share, which really flies in the face of the whole point of youtube (not to mention Little Feat). I'm not sure what's up with The Gourds, but I'll try to get that fixed soon.

So if you were wondering...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Caroline, No
The Nationals' season is over, and I will waste no time in addressing their biggest problem of the past season. You're watching a game, having a great time, and, sudddenly, the scoreboard shows a Neil Diamond graphic, and we're in for a couple of minutes of people acting like they're in Boston at a Red Sox game, as the annoying strains of Sweet Caroline begin. Boston's great, but I don't want to hear this song at Nats' games any more than I want to stand in puddles in the restroom (I haven't been to Fenway in several years, maybe the new owners have fixed this.).

I don't know how this tradition started in Boston, but here it's just a lack of originality, and in a city with as much great music as DC, that bugs the hell out of me. It's embarassing. Also, it's kind of a crappy song. So here's a list of ten potential replacements. I don't mention Chuck Brown, but I think he and his guitar should be on the Nationals dugout at every weekend game during the 7th inning stretch.

Now on with the countdown:

10 Arlington, by Emmet Swimming - Even though this song is actually poking fun at post-Yuppie invasion Arlington, it's still a great song. It's catchy, it's by a great local band, it's about Arlington, and the refrain is easy to catch on to and sing along with.

9 Eve of Destruction, by the Animals - If the president wrote this blog, this would be his top pick, as it would force everybody to think about the terrorists and how they're out to get us, even when we're at a ballgame.

8 What's so Funny 'Bout (Peace, Love and Understanding), by Elvis Costello, or Nick Lowe. A post-punk classic, befitting the capital of the free world. It's easy to sing to, not-so-hip people will pick it up quickly and there are two great versions to choose from.

7 Tear the Roof of the Sucker, by Parliament. Classic Parliament, with a great groove, even the non-funky will catch on after a couple of games.

6 I Came to Dance, by Nils Lofgren. Nils is a Washingtonian, and a sports fan. Until he pens a Nationals equivalent of Bullet Fever, this is the best choice.

5 A Girl Like You, by The Smithereens. This song rocks, it mentions Washington, Pat D. sported a Nationals hat in his ESPN show, and I'm sure my friend Virgil could get the guys to come and perform it live.

4 Pretty Girls and Cadillacs, by the Nighthawks. Another great local band, this isn't their best song, but it fits the bill for what we're looking for, and a stadium filled with, uh, 45,000 people snapping their fingers beats arm waves any day.

3 Burning Down the House, by the Talking Heads. Imagine the crowd going crazy with the opening chords of this classic. And everyone's got to know this by now. Even the people that sit in my section. Except maybe for that guy in the Callahan jersey that sits behind me, and he never stops talking, so it doesn't really matter.

2 Take Me to the River, by Al Green. A great song, and the stadium, both RFK and the new one, will actually be by the river! Who knows, on some of those hot Saturdays after some tailgating there may even be some baptizing going on. If you get tired of the Al Green version, there are other great ones, notably by the Talking Heads and Levon Helm.

1 Havin' a Party, by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. Going to a Nationals game is like going to a party, right? This Southside Johnny classic is easy to pick up, and there are opportunities for air-drumming. Southside is still very popular here, and once this catches fire, the Nats need to get him to sing the national anthem.

There you have it. Let's hope the Nationals' brass makes a quick decision on this, so they can focus on re-signing Alph and getting a new manager.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wednesday Video: The Gourds

I know it's Thursday, but I've been trying to get this working since Tuesday. So I'm splitting the difference. This is a clip of The Gourds, in 2001, playing in Reading, Pennsylvania, at what looks like either somebody's basement, or something that was developed by the guy that owned the Keyhole Inn. The song is El Paso, and it features great violin jamming by Max Johnston, and some sweet mandolin by Kevin Russell.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Johnson Breaks Femur, Brunell Breaks Record
Saturday's Nationals/Mets game was a Fox broadcast, although I doubt that it was shown in many markets other than DC and New York. Much to my delight, Tim McCarver was, apparently, broadcasting another game, and we got Lou Pinella, who not only is not Tim McCarver, but is a pretty good announcer himself. I found it interesting that not only did Lou seem to know a lot about the Nationals, he was very positive about them. He noted that, despite their record, they had made some strides this year. He gave due credit to Jim Bowden for acquiring Lopez and Kearns. He was very positive about the Nats' offense, and said that Soriano was the face of the franchise, and that he would expect that Nats to come up with a great offer to keep Alph in DC.

His comments were interesting, particularly since Lou is looking for a managerial job. Lou's getting up there in age, so most people think that he'll go to a contender, but it doesn't look like there are a lot of contending teams looking for new managers in the off-season. (The Cubs are not a contending team.) Maybe he sees the Nationals as a team with some promise, in a league where it's not unusual for teams to come out of nowhere to contend for play-off berths. He sees the Nationals as having a great offense, an effective bullpen, and a number one starter that's due not to get injured next year. Re-sign Soriano, sign another starter, hope that a couple of the current starters get better next year, and maybe you can make a run at the play-offs. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

Unfortunately, Saturday's game took an ugly twist in the seventh inning, when Nick Johnson and Austin Kearns collided at full speed going after a ball in short rightfield. It was immediately clear that Johnson was seriously hurt, although in the initial replays it was hard to tell what had happened. Looking at the players' reaction -- Nats and Mets alike (David Wright looked like he was going to cry) -- you realized it was bad. By late Saturday, Nick was having surgery for a broken femur. That's a big bone. Looking at the replays after the injury was diagnosed, you can see the problem, and it's right up there with the Theismann leg injury as one of the most nauseating in the history of Washington sports. Nick Johnson has been a great National. No complaining (like Jose Vidro), he plays hard and effectively, and has had a great season. In today's Post, the diagnosis seems to be as positive as it could be, so I'll hope for the best.

I was certain that the Johnson injury mean that the Redskins would humiliate themselves against the mighty Houston Texans yesterday. Happily, I was wrong. The good Mark Brunell not only showed up, but set a record by completing 22 straight passes, and the Redskins cruised to a 31-15 win. Make no mistake, the Texans are horrible. Their defense is young and bad, and their offense is just bad. But the Redskins are a completely different team with a healthy Clinton Portis, who set the tone early by taking a short pass from Brunell for 74 yards in their second possession, which set up their first touchdown. The receivers we expected to look good, looked good, and David Patten made a remarkable catch. Ladell Betts had a great game, which I hope the coaches will remember if Portis gets hurt again.

The only negative was that the Redskins continued to pay homage to Steve Spurrier by getting penalty after penalty -- 12 for 126 yards. If they want to honor the old ball coach, maybe it would be better to just get a patch for their jerseys. Dan Snyder can sell some special edition stuff...