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.