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 www.knowmenopause.com. 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.