Monday, January 29, 2007

Michael Wilbon Clears Up the MLB/DirecTV Deal
Major League Baseball's Extra Innings package has been one of the joys of my life. Most every night during baseball season, the package gives you eight to ten games. You can watch ridiculous amounts of baseball, for something like $190. And I do. Well, I did.

It seems that MLB, in its zeal to squeeze every possible penny that it can out of its product, is making a deal with DirecTV, whereby you can only get Extra Innings if you have DirecTV. People like me, who live in crappy apartments without balconies, can't get DirecTV, because it involves a dish that has to be mounted somewhere. So millions of baseball fans, and me, are out of luck, and baseball owners will get a couple of million dollars extra a year, which will allow them to do stuff like further overpay sorry pitchers like Gil Meche and Jason Marquis. I guess the Nationals will use the money to, I don't know, further upgrade the quality of the concessions at RFK, since they don't like to spend money on stuff like players.

There has been a lot of outrage about this, and it was addressed in Michael Wilbon's chat today. Michael Wilbon is a pretty big deal these days, Disney/ESPN just signed him to a new contract for a zillion dollars, and he's going to be doing the NBA on ABC, as well as some NFL. Unlike his colleague Tony Kornheiser, he even finds time to write a newspaper column, and he regularly appears in a Washington Post chat, which is usually interesting, sometimes angry, and sometimes incomprehensible. Here's the exchange:

Dulles, Va.: Any comments on MLB's proposed sellout to DirecTV? As one of many in this region that root for a team out of the area -- Bronx Bombers all the way, this deal stinks. It's one more body shot to the loyal fan. Seven hundred million dollars is a lot to walk from, but maybe MLB will do something in the interest of the game, for once.

Michael Wilbon: You'll still be able to see the Nats locally. What are you talking about? You think because MLB goes exclusively to DirecTV people won't be able to see their teams locally? That's wrong. The NFL has an exclusive deal with DirecTV, Sunday Ticket, that is the model for the MLB agreement, I'm sure. But that doesn't mean you can't watch the Redskins locally. What those of us who have DirecTV can do is go to a bank of channels, say 765-775, and watch any game, every game. I'll pay something like $229 a year and be able to see every single game of the MLB schedule that isn't on national TV already...You need to find out more about what you'll be able to see over the air or on local cable...don't despair just yet. Now, if you don't get DirecTV and that MLB package you won't be able to see the Yankees or Cubs or Angels or Mariners...whatever...But you can't see them now anyway...

Uh, thanks, Michael, that makes me feel much better. I guess that kind of insight is why he's pulling in the big bucks.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I Shot My Movers

(Based on a true story, and with apologies to J. Hendrix)

Hey-ay, Mr. Homeland Security
A-where you goin’ wit that gun a-yos?
Hey-ay, Mr. Homeland Security
I said where you goin’ with that gun in your hand?
I’m goin’ down to shoot the movers
You know I don’t like that new bedroom set


I’m goin’ down to shoot the Marlo movers
They been bangin’ up my paint with my new bedroom set
Huh! That ain’t too cool

A-hey-ay, Mr. Homeland Security
I heard you shot those movers down
You shot ‘em down

Hey-ay, Mr. Homeland Security
I heard you shot the movers down
They’re goin’ downtown


Yes I did, I shot ‘em
My ol’ lady doesn’t like all those dings in our walls

A-yes I did, I shot ‘em both
I told ‘em I know the County Executive
And then I gave ‘em the gun
I shot ‘em

Mr. Homeland Security, where you goin’?
Go get a new bedroom set,
Maybe wait for Presidents' Day sales

Ooh, dig this!

Ah! Alright!

Ooo-oo-ooo Mr. Homeland Security, where you gonna shop now
Hey-ay Mr. Homeland Security, look out!
Where you gonna find movers, now?
Where you gonna find, movers now?

Well, dig this
(Hey-ay-ay-ay-ay, Mr. Homeland Security)
I’m going way down south
Way down to North Carolina way
They got some outlets there, outlets there

(Hey-ay-ay Joe, where you gonna go now)
I’m goin’ way down south
I’ll just rent a U-Haul
Move the bedroom set my own damn self
Hire some guys hangin’ outside 7-11, outside 7-11

(Hey-ay, Mr. Homeland Security where you gonna go)
A-ain’t no Marlo movers comin’ for me
They ain’t getting near my stuff

You better believe, right now

I gotta go now

Hey-hey-hey, Mr. Homeland Security
You better head on down
Goodbye ev’rybody

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wednesday Video: Fred Flintstone as Tony Soprano

This is the beginning of an episode of the Adult Swim cartoon, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, where Harvey has to defend The Dabba Don, who happens to be Fred Flintstone. I know it sounds crazy. I highly recommend the entire episode.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Crazy College Kids, UNC-Style
While on a teleconference this morning, I was breezing through The Daily Tarheel, and came across the following letter to the editor:

Student disappointed in the conduct of a few fans


I was very upset about the conduct of a few of our fans at the Georgia Tech game. I am not a big basketball person, but I got some tickets and gave it a chance.I was far behind on homework, but I went anyway, and took my books with me. I was heckled by surrounding fans, and some even purposefully screamed so loud that I could not concentrate.I had to leave early so that I could finish my work and still get to bed at a reasonable hour.I am not condemning all Tar Heel fans, I'm just disappointed that a few had to tarnish the reputation of everyone

Andrew Noland

This, of course, is a joke. Right? Some further investigation led me to find that some of the more rabid Carolina fans think that some of their classmates aren't demonstrative enough at games. Given my recollection of my college days and the fact that UNC has one of the best college basketball programs in the country (to my chagrin), I find this hard to believe. But there are many things about today's youth that puzzle me (like what's with guys and those hairstyles where the front goes straight up?). So I think Andrew is poking fun at some of his calmer classmates, which is a bold move for a freshman. It seems obvious to me, but it doesn't seem obvious to other readers, who chime in with their attacks on young Andrew. Some just think he's an "odd kid." I guess the moral of the story is that if you want to indulge in satire (or sarcasm, in the case of a commenter named Laura) at UNC, you need to label it as such.

Good luck, Andrew.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Live from the Nationals Winter Caravan
I just returned from an extended lunch, spent at the downtown ESPN Zone, one of the first stops of the Nationals Winter Caravan. Manager Manny Acta, pitcher Mike O'Connor and outfielder Nook Logan were there, along with announcers Charlie Slowes and David Jageler, mascot Screech, and assorted p.r. and sales types.

I hadn't participated in previous such Caravans. My understanding was that this would be an autograph session only, so I expected to get to the ESPN Zone and stand in a line. It was much more civilized that this, though. They had a room set up for the session, and people were scattered at tables, having lunch and waiting for the festivities. I took a seat and ordered a burger.

I shared a table with a couple of other fans, both very enthusiastic about the Nats. They shared my excitement about the new stadium, along with my trepidation about formerly poodle-headed Don Sutton. I tried to start a movement to draft John Lowenstein, but that received blank gazes from my new friends. The crowd wasn't big, maybe 60 people, including some kids who were, I guess, enjoying a snow day. The kids flipped out for Screech, of course. My tablemates and I talked about how popular Screech is with kids, and they agreed with me that they don't really get the adults who indulge in Screech-bashing, particularly the guy who always participates in the Post's on-line chats, whining about the fact that Screech doesn't remove his hat, which seems to be sewn to his head, during the national anthem. Get another crusade.

About 2:00PM, the diminutive Charlie Slowes greeted the audience, and reviewed what was going to happen (one autograph only! -- which I guess was bad news to the hardcore autograph dealers planning to finance their kids' educations by selling Nook Logan's signature), and said they had time for some questions. Mike O'Connor was asked, if he had a free pass to give one hitter, who would he give it to. Like me, Mike didn't really understand the question, but he went with it, and said that he thought Miguel Cabrera would be one guy he'd rather walk than pitch to. Manny Acta was asked what the Nats rotation was shaping up to be. He responded that the Nats had petitioned the league to only play once a week, so John Patterson could pitch every game. That got a big laugh, even from projected starter Mike O'Connor, sitting next to his manager. I presume they had met before. I decided that it would be detrimental to the festive mood of the Caravan to follow-up that question by pointing out that even if they played weekly, they'd be screwed after week #3, which is when Patterson is projected to go on the DL. In any case, Manny was very entertaining, it's almost like they set out to get a new manager who was the anti-Frank Robinson.

After a woman proposed that Nook Logan should race her young son (Nook didn't look so thrilled) and, of course, right after my burger arrived, we were told to line up for autographs. As we went through the line, we were each given a red, white and blue Nats hats (with Bud Light logos on the back). Manny and the players were gracious, the kids in line in front of me posed for pictures with all three of them. Neither Logan or O'Connor are physically imposing guys, I think if he needs to keep them in line, Manny could easily put either one in a headlock. Nook Logan looks a little like Dave Chapelle.

Everything went smoothly, I was able to finish the rest of my burger and get back to the office before anyone knew I was missing. Next week at the ESPN Zone, there's some kind of cook-off involving O'Connor, Ryan Zimmerman and Screech. Screech is going to fire up some of his famous wings.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Me and the Fire Department
A week or so ago, I got home from work a little early, and decided to get a jump on dinner before I went to pick my girlfriend up from her job. I had two pots going on burners, I was cooking rice in one pot, and stewing chicken in another pot. (I think I was stewing chicken. I had chicken broth in a pot and I was using the hot broth to cook the chicken. Stewing, right?)

Things boiled and/or stewed along nicely, then it was time for me to leave. I got myself together, and took some trash to the trash room, which is right across the hall from my apartment. My apartment door closed behind me. I needed to return briefly to the apartment, to turn the burners off. I put my key in the doorknob, and instead of doing what it had to do to let me in, the whole doorknob rotated. It's hard to describe, but the upshot of it was that the lock was broken. The more I tried to manipulate it, the more it broke. I wasn't getting in.

This was a quandary. It was 7:15PM, the building management office was closed. In one of many tenant-friendly policies, they've recently instituted a policy whereby if you are locked out when the office is closed, you're basically out of luck. You need to call a locksmith. Though I wasn't locked out (this will be a recurring theme), I thought it was logical to assume that management wasn't going to do much to help me in this situation, I didn't even know how I'd be able to reach them. And I was concerned, because two burners were on, which could possibly lead to a fire. Maybe this would take hours, maybe it would take 15 minutes. I didn't know.

I knew if I called a locksmith, it would take a while, and god knows what would happen with the stove. After trying the lock one more time, I dialed 411 on my cell phone and asked for the non-emergency fire department number. A fireman answered, and I explained my problem. He said I should hang up and call 911. So that's what I did. In the meantime, I found the "emergency" number for my building, and called that. That connected me to a guy in someplace like Bethesda, who never really could hear what I was saying, and didn't really seem to grasp the situation. I basically said, "I can't get into my apartment, the lock is broken, I've got the oven on and don't want to start a fire, and I've called the Fire Department."

Then I waited. Within 10 minutes or so, the firemen arrived. I told them what was up. I gave them my keys. They agreed -- the lock was broken. They then started using their various tools to try to pop the lock. They seemed to be having a harder time than they had expected, but I think they were starting to get into the challenge of it. All this time, I'm feeling particulary idiotic, because I know other people in my building are seeing what's going on and thinking that some idiot has called the Fire Department because he locked himself out of his apartment. People were walking down the hallway, saying "You're locked out?" "No," I'd reply, holding my keys up, "The lock's broken. And I've got burners on."

Then a building maintenance guy materialized. He waved a big ring of keys in the air. The firemen look at him and immediately said, "He's not locked out, the lock's broken." They understood! Then the building manager showed up. We have a long history of disliking each other, because she is completely incompetent. Two summers ago, I realized in early May that my air conditioning didn't work. I told her about this weekly for about six weeks. She sent a maintenance man up, always when I wasn't home, and would say that it would be fixed. That never happened. Finally, in late June, on a morning when the temperature in my apartment reached 90 degrees, I told her I would not leave the office until she came up to my apartment. As soon as she walked in, she said, "God, it's hot in here. We need to move you to another apartment." She said the building would pay for the movers. The movers, who she selected and booked, showed up, did their job, and told me how much they were owed. I sent them to the management office. It was a Friday morning, and the office, inexplicably, was closed. The movers weren't going anywhere until they got paid. I didn't blame them. So I gave them my credit card. By the afternoon, the office was open. I told the manager what happend, and, instead of thanking me for paying and telling me how to get reimbursed, she actually ridiculed me for paying them. Shows what kind of person she is. A bad one. There's also the incident where she refused to get the lifeguard an umbrella, which one of my neighbors suggested as a way to help prevent the poor guy from getting skin cancer. But that's another digression.

So the firemen were still trying to get in the door, and she showed up. She immediately looked at me, and said, "I can't believe you called the Fire Department because you locked yourself out!" "The lock is broken," I, and two of the fireman, yelled. I proceed to go off, explaining to her the situation, and telling her that I did what I did because I was concerned about a fire breaking out. "Well, no one's blaming you," she said. "You just were," I pointed out, as my face turned brighter shades of red, and the firemen laughed.

A few minutes later, by using, basically, increasingly bigger hammers, the lock was popped. The firemen quickly left, I thanked them and asked if I had to sign anything. I thought they might want to go into the apartment, to make sure there was no fire, but no. I think they just wanted to get away from the manager. I checked on the pots, they were simmering away, no problem. Shortly thereafter, my girlfriend and I were enjoying chicken and rice, as the maintenance guy installed a new lock.

So the Arlington Fire Department is high on my list. They managed to take care of the problem, kindly and efficiently and without making me feel like a jerk. And my building manager is even lower on my list. I took the whole episode as some kind of sign -- I need to move.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wednesday Video: Da Bears

I'm thinking the Bears will be playing their last game of the season this weekend. But don't tell these guys. From an SNL back in one of the eras where the writing was not at its best. Still a classic skit, though.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Flight 90 Crash and Nils Lofgren
Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of Air Florida Flight 90 hitting the 14th St. Bridge, killing 74 passengers and four people who were on the bridge. I remember that day well. It was snowy, I was home from college for Christmas break. I generally worked during those breaks, taking crazy temporary jobs with Manpower. But I was home that day, I think it was the last day before I returned to school. I remember spending a lot of time watching the aftermath of the crash on tv. Occasionally, I'd go outside and check out the snow, sometimes you'd hear the wail of emergency vehicles heading to or from the crash site, sometimes you could hear the rhythm of rescue helicopters. It was a sad situation.

That night, me and a couple of my friends (let's call them Shortstop and Celtics Fan) had tickets to see Nils Lofgren at the Bayou. This was supposed to be our last night out together before going back to school, we were looking forward to that, and, of course, to seeing Nils. Due to the snow, and the fact that because of the crash traffic was screwed up, we figured the show would be cancelled. We called the Bayou every hour, and finally got somebody who answered, and said that the show was still on. Actually, both shows were still on, he was doing an early one and a later one. So if we didn't go, we would be out the cost of the ticket (probably $12 or so back then). And besides, we really wanted to go. SS and I knew that we weren't going to be getting to use the family vehicles, I didn't even think that the roads were cleared enough to get into or out of my neighborhood. But CF lived only a block or so from Washington Blvd., which would have been plowed, and he had his own car and he was tenacious and wasn't going to be stopped by a near blizzard. So we devised a plan, where SS and I would walk to the Surplus Center, on Washington Blvd., where we would meet CF in his car. I'm still not quite sure on how I sold my parents on the fact that this was a good idea.

The plan worked. SS and I met outside of Surplus Center, and were soon joined by CF. Wilson Blvd. was plowed, so we were able to make it to Key Bridge. I don't recall how we made it through Georgetown, but we did. Due to everything that happened that day, it was a small crowd. The show was great. I remember being in the back of the balcony at the Bayou, where you couldn't see the stage but you could see Nils apparently jumping higher and higher in the air, he seemed super-human. Once I moved up, I could see that he was using a mini-tramp. Impressive.

We were able to stay for the second show, so we got a great dose of Nils. Afterwards, since we were 20 and everything, we thought we'd try to see how close we could get to the 14th St. Bridge. We decided on making an approach from the 9th St. Tunnel (I think, it was some tunnel, and I can't think of any other one that it could be). We didn't make it that close to the bridge before we were stopped by one of a zillion cops. He asked us what we were doing, we said we were just coming back from a concert. He suggested we go home, good advice that we took.

That was a long time ago, I feel like I've gone back and forth on that bridge a million times since then. It doesn't really snow here anymore, I think yesterday it got as high as 70. Nils has achieved a different kind of fame, as Springsteen's guitarist. The Bayou has been closed for too long a time. I still have a lot of great times with Shortstop, but, sadly, Celtics Fan hasn't been around for a long time.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Piola Blah
Wednesday evening, my girlfriend and I continued our accidental Restaurant Week tradition of going to a restaurant not participating in Restaurant Week by going to Piola, a relatively new restaurant in Rosslyn. Piola is a pizzeria that got its start 20 years ago in Treviso, Italy. Since then, according to its website, "Piola's quality is now sought after by discriminating and trend-setting international clientele in the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Chile." After eating there, I'm not quite sure why.

There was a pretty big buzz when Piola opened. It sounded cool, looked interesting from the outside, and I was looking forward to trying it. I braced myself to compete with the "discriminating and trend-setting" masses, when we arrived there at about 7:00PM. We had back-up plans, but we didn't have to worry, as the restaurant was more than half empty. There must have been something even trendier going on somewhere else. Maybe a coffee cupping (I'm kidding!). We started out with bruschetta. It was OK, the bread was good enough, the tomatoes tasted fresh. It could have used some more garlic.

My girlfriend had milanesine piola, described as "breaded beef cutlets, on a mixed green's bed, cherry tomatoes and sauteed potatoes." It was OK, the cutlets tasted, well, decent. I'm not sure what type of meat is used for such a thing, but it tasted like the same kind of cut that's used for Steak-Umms. The potatoes were good. This cost $12.95.

There are almost 50 different kinds of pizza available; many of them are similar, and they all have Italian names that really don't mean too much to me. Like chieti (tomato sauce, mozzarella, chicken and arugola) or grenoble (tomato sauce, mozzarella, brie and fresh tomatoes). After deliberation, I went with the modena (tomato sauce, mozzarella and parma ham), which was $11.95 for a pretty big pizza, more than enough for one hungry blogger. I guess the thing with Piola's pizza is that the crust is supposedly more authentically Italian -- very thin and crispy. Normally, that's fine by me. It loses it's appeal, though, when there are spots on the bottom of the pizza that are burned. Maybe that's part of the authenticity, who knows. Other than the burnt spots, the pizza was all right. The ham was good, the cheese and tomato, while sparse, tasted fresh. Mostly it reminded me of those frozen thin crust Wolfgang Puck pizzas that you can buy at the grocery store for $6.00. Except, uh, those were better, and I'm able to cook them in my oven without burning them. (I recommend the white pizza with spinach.)

We each had dessert, she had that Italian classic torta di mele and gelato (apple pie and vanilla ice cream). I had the torta nera and gelato (chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream). I guess "torta" means cake and pie in Italian. Makes things easier, I guess. My girlfriend liked her pie, and I thought the cake was great, it made up a little for the pizza.

Pizza-wise, I'd say the whole concept of Piola's is a lot of hype about nothing really that special. Even though the great Pizza Pantry is closed, I don't have much difficulty getting a pretty good pizza in this town, and next time I feel the urge, I'll probably go to Luigi's.

As we left the still mostly-empty restaurant, we looked wistfully at Cafe Asia next door, which was packed with people looking like they were enjoying their spicy Chinese ravioli, General Tao shrimp, lime chicken and mojitos. We'll make a better choice next time.
The Coffee People
I was reading the Post as I was waiting for the subway this morning (no crazy delays, derailments, or deaths -- good job, guys!), and I noticed that the front page of the Food section featured a big picture of an unshaven guy sticking his nose into a glass of amber liquid. This, of course, got my attention. Turns out, the liquid was coffee and the unshaven guy was part of what they call a "cupping," which the article describes as "a formalized way to evaluate bean characteristics." That would be coffee beans. I'm not a big coffee guy (even so, my feelings are kind of hurt about never being invited to a cupping), but this whole process, and the article describing it, just struck me as comical. Nicholas Cho, the owner of Murky Coffee, and a guy with a good p.r. person, led the cupping, which apparently was done for the Post. Cho seems like quite a character. As participants bring a spoon full of coffee to their lips, he tells them that "You want to spray the coffee across the palate. Be careful not to burn your mouth." After the cuppers apparently swish the spoonful of coffee around their mouth for a while, they then spit it into a plastic cup.

It gets better (or worse). In another article in today's Food section, Cho (I told you he had a good p.r. guy) enlightens us on the hot chocolate that he serves at his shop. It costs $5, and he instructs his baristas not to answer customers' questions about the drink (like how big it is, or why it would cost $5, I guess). He claims this is because it's a "social experiment." (I told you he was quite a character.) Apparently he's trying to say something about the hot chocolate, maybe justify the mystery or the high cost of it, when he says, "If you were forced to jump once, it sticks with you, and you're part of the club." I have no idea what that means, but I think I'll pass on being part of that club.
Wednesday Video: It's Smithereens Week In Washington!

The next week is a big one for the Smithereens, as they get ready for the release next Tuesday of Meet the Smithereens, a Beatles tribute recording. On Friday, they'll be at the State Theatre in Falls Church, as will I, where they'll be playing the whole disk (12 songs, 28 minutes, is what the Beatles' version was), as well as the usual Smithereens rockage, probably including this, Blood and Roses , from their first album Especially for You, which came out in, gulp, 1986, and was produced by the great Don Dixon, who I mention because he does that great song, Praying Mantis, that's been running through my head now for about 20 years.

See you Friday.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

January 8 Sports Illustrated in Review: Wrap-Ups, Previews and Pistol Pete
It's the first week of the NFL playoffs, and who would have thought that Jeff Garcia is on the cover. Insane. He's wearing some crazy-looking shoes, and it appears as if he has a sweatband around his left ankle. Don't tell Scott Skiles.

And on the inside:

Leading Off - Ohio State hoopster Mike Conley, Jr. shows the family athletic ability that made his father a champion triple-jumper by trying to fly over a guy from Florida, who probably regretted trying to take that charge. A montage of bowl game shots. A picture of Gerald Ford, who evidently played footbal before they had helmets, along with a nice tribute to him, by Richard Hoffer. I remember reading that when Ford first met Chevy Chase, he said, "Nice to meet you, you're a very funny suburb." I don't know why I remember that, I guess because I think it's pretty funny.

Letters - A guy from Beavercreek, Ohio, seems to think Tony Romo might be the next Tom Brady. Someone has a website called Good way to drive traffic to his site, I guess.

Air and Space - Steve Rushin says Florida dominates sports. I guess. Then something about a "female jockstrap" that someone sent to his wife. I try not to think about that.

Scorecard - There's a double standard about steroids -- baseball people care about it, football people don't. I can't really figure this out either. I guess it's because baseball statistics and records somehow seem more sacred than football. Something like that. A column about Donnie Woods, the Maryland football player that plans to forego his last year of eligibility to become a soldier. He's 6'3", 289, and he has to lose 60 pounds to meet the Army's requirements. So if they had a draft, could you just pig out to get out of it? Bobby Knight sets the record, Mike Tyson gets busted, Darrent Wiliams gets shot, stuff we already know. Brett Hull's going to be the Charles Barkley of NHL announcing, which, apparently, means that there are going to be nationally televised hockey games again. I'm sure those'll go great. Carrie Underwood, American Idol, is the gratuitous babe shot. Eh. Chris Weber is better at hip hop than Ron Artest.

SI Players - Marques Colston seems like a good guy. Let's hope he doesn't get shot. The Sixers haven't scored 100 points in a game in a month. That's not so good. Gerald Green makes one of his irregular diary entries. He's averaged almost 16 points in his last five games. He was worried about being involved in a trade for Iverson, he's glad to be staying witht he Celtics. Nate Burleson has a special outfit for every opponent that the Seahawks play. Some folks just have too much money. Stanford has 7' twins playing basketball for them. Damn.

NFL Playoffs - Here they string a few articles related to the playoffs together. Despite being on the cover, there's really not too much about Jeff Garcia. SI thinks that the Eagles and the Jets are good underdogs. I hope the Jets never win a game, and I think this way because sometimes I end up listening to JT the Brick on his stupid XM Radio show. I heard him last week after the Jets beat the Dolphins, and he spent a half hour just calling the Dolphins names, not even clever ones -- Nick Satan, crap like that. It was about the worst sports radio I'd heard in a while, and that's saying something, since I'm in DC and listen to WTEM. They talk about Marvin Harrison, who is apparently publicity shy and definitely not too interesting. Although he is great. A Colts cheeerleader in the background of a photo of him has a nice smile. Paul Zimmerman gives us his All-Pro team. Drew Brees is his MVP, but Peyton Manning is his All-Pro quarterback, in a "Look at me, I'm controversial" pick, that nobody will even notice. His punter is Brian Moorman of the Bills, who I know nothing about, but when I was watching the Cowboys game, they just said that their punter had the best average in 43 years.

Next was have a Bowl Roundup. USC, especially Kyle Williams, would really like to have that UCLA game back. But he's read parts of The Inner Game of Tennis, and he's OK now. They wrap up the bowls, and gives bowl teams an up arrow or a down arrow, based on how the teams will look in 2007. Nifty. Colt Brennan is a beast. Then an article about Florida, Urban Meyer and Chris Leak. It seems like Urban Meyer, who's named after a pope (Pope Urban?), seems like the real deal, although it doesn't seem like he's real sure about TJ Joiner's name. Hey, just like Steve Spurrier, maybe that's a Florida thing.

Some NBA. AI likes it in Denver, although all that snow is pretty crazy. He's playing pretty well, but the team isn't. That sounds familiar. Other coaches fear J.R. Smith, although he's also considered an "unwilling defender." That's funny.

Wisconsin's Alando Tucker, he's the guy with the mask during last year's NCAA playoffs, is a great guy, in addition to being a great player. He wants to build recreation centers for poor people. Wisconsin plays Ohio State on Tuesday, should be good.

A short article (one page picture, and one page text, there's several of these this issue) on new Blackhawks coach Dennis Savard. He was an improvisitional player, he's all business as a coach, and so far it's working.

The highlight of this issue is without a doubt an excerpt from Mark Kriegel's forthcoming book on Pete Maravich, Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich. All kinds of great stories here, and I'll definitely read to the book. I remember when Maravich used to do those commercials for some kind of hair product, and he was spinning a ball all around him, and his hair remained perfect. He was cool. Read the book.

Rick Reilly does a column about Carmelo Anthony, the point of which I think I miss. I guess that poor Carmelo's confused. He's suspended, his team just got AI, he's misunderstood, whatever. He's a moron.

Overall Grade- Nothing particularly interesting, except for the Maravich excerpt, which is kind of cheating, since it's an excerpt from a book. Overall Grade - C.
Jesus, Hold on to the Ball
It's been a bad few weeks for Tony Romo. First, he realized that the woman he's dating, Carrie Underwood, was responsible for the musical abomination, Jesus, Take the Wheel. And he had already thrown out Jessica Simpson's phone number! Then, last night. Last night was the kind of game that made me remember why I used to really love football. It's what I love about sports, when things happen that had previously been beyond the realm of your wildest imagination. Sometimes, like last night, right after another.

I feel bad for Tony Romo, I guess, and I'll admit to thinking about him this morning when I saw the last part of an ESPN crawler that said something about "found at the bottom of a cliff." Catching a snap and planting it seems like it would be a lot easier than fielding that grounder that Buckner missed. I'm just sayin'.

I seem to remember teams in similar situations as the Cowboys were at the end of this game deciding to go for the field goal on third down, in case something went wrong on the snap. It never did, which is maybe why coaches don't do it anymore. It seems like it would have been an especially good idea for the Cowboys, as they were dealing with Hands of Stone Romo, and Martin Grammatica is not exactly the most reliable of guys. I know the Cowboys were trying to kill as much time as they could, but what's more likely, that something like what Romo did would happen, or that that extra 15 seconds would be the difference and allow Seattle to score a last second field goal?

I hope Carrie Underwood is being supportive to Romo now, and not at work at a new single called, Jesus, You Screwed up Everything.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Nats Stadium Update, Part 2

Last week, my nephew Andy and I visited the site of the new stadium. We tried to get Andy positioned at the same place he was during our visit in September, and I think we pretty much got it. But you can't see much, except for a big wall that wasn't there last time. So we'll have to position him some place different next time.

Anyway, there's been a huge amount of progress, which you can observe better from this:

And this:

Kind of looks like a stadium, huh? It was very impressive, we walked around the whole thing. The surrounding neighborhood doesn't appear to have changed that much yet, Andy and I both thought it would have been cool to already have a bar or a restaurant set up. Andy also thought it would be cool if there were signs on the site, telling us what we're looking at.

We were both very impressed, though, and look forward to our next trip. And really look forward to April of 2008.

In other Nats new, I've been checking out a blog called Nats320, which is put together by some Nats fans in, you guessed it, section 320. They always have interesting stuff, and today there's a great post about one of the guys going to Memorial Stadium to see Frank Howard the year after the Senators moved to Texas. It brings back a lot of memories about trips to Memorial Stadium as a kid, and it's just a great read. So check it out. And Nats320, a tip of the hat (blue, not red) from section 212.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Year's First Subway Fiasco
I assess Metro delays the same way floods are assessed. This evening, I participated in a subway glitch unlike any I'd been in in a couple of years, so it was a two-year delay.

That it wasn't going to be the usual commute didn't dawn on me until I had descended into the system and had parked myself on the platform at the Farragut West station, ready to head towards Virginia. There was a packed orange line train at the station. And it didn't move. As it didn't move, the platform got more and more packed. Metro people stopped commuters on the mezzanine, preventing them from moving down to the overcrowded platform. And the scoreboard on the platform noted that what we were experiencing was "residual delays."

As the train continued to not move, the platform got even more crowded. A Metro person walked up and down the edge of the platform, screaming from one end of the platform to people trying to come down from the mezzanine on the other side of the platform. So if, as they told us, the platform was 600 feet long, she was yelling at people more than 300 feet away. They didn't hear her. We got announcement over announcement, often interrupting each other, basically telling us, sorry, keep waiting. And using the word "residual" a lot.

The train eventually moved, but there was no hope of boarding a Virginia-bound orange line train anytime soon, and I hate having to compete with other commuters just to get into a damned train. So I moved to the opposite side of the platform, and did some backtracking. I got off at Federal Triangle, and immediately got on a relatively uncrowded train back towards Virginia. I got a seat, and braced myself as the train went towards the more crowded stations. Within two stops, the train was jammed full of people. And this was before we got to Farragut West.

We arrive at Farragut West -- a platform full of tired, pissed off people, faced with a train with no room on it. As the door opened, I braced for confrontation:

Tired-looking ponytailed woman by the door, as people tried to squeeze in: "There's no room."
Irritating-voiced 25-year old guy, in cheap suit, the kind of guy that gives all guys in DC a bad reputation: "Sure there is."
Ponytailed woman, and about 10 other passengers: "No there isn't."
Irritating-voiced guy: "If you could all move in just a little."
Nobody moved. They couldn't.
Irritating-voiced guy, to ponytailed woman: "When you got on, I'm sure people moved so you could fit, but no, you won't return the favor, that would be un-American..."
Ponytailed woman: "You know, DC has a whole system of taxi cabs, if you're in such a hurry."
Me, silently: "Yay, ponytailed woman."

The door closed, with irritating-voiced guy never having made any progress. We made it through Foggy Bottom and Rosslyn without further incident. As I squeezed my way out at Courthouse, I gave a nod to ponytailed woman.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wednesday Video: Dana Carvey as Tom Brokaw

This is a 1996 edition of SNL, where Dana Carvey is Tom Brokaw making some tape just in case Gerald Ford dies during Brokaw's vacation.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

VHI Announces Mora and Mora
The day after the firing of former Atlanta Falcons coach Jim L. Mora, VH1 announced the production of a new show, Mora and Mora. According to a VHI news release, "Mora and Mora will be the cornerstone of VH1's new pyschosportscelebreality lineup. In an approach that's part The Larry David Show, and part Flavor of Love, the father and son team will play themselves, as they team up to avenge the firing of young Jim Mora, by proving that Michael Vick is, indeed, a coach killer. The duo will also attempt to separate University of Washington coach Ty Willingham from his job, so that young Jim can succeed him, in what he has described as his 'dream job.'"

Jim L. (the son) and Jim E. (the father) will travel the country, investigating deaths of any coaches ever involved with Michael Vick, to try to uncover evidence of Vick's involvement. Simultaneously, they will employ different techniques to try to end Winningham's career as the Washington coach. In addition to trying to get Willingham fired, the duo will try to convince Notre Dame to fire Charlie Weiss and re-hire Willingham. An ideal scenario would be for the two to successfully encourage Michael Vick to kill Winningham, which would simultaneously prove the senior Mora correct in his assessment of Vick and open the door for the younger Mora to replace Willingham.

Viewers will see firsthand the marble-mouthed Jim E. Mora's explosive temper and tendency to blurt out whatever crazy thought comes into his head, as he drives his slow-witted son around the country, and the two try to reconcile their strained relationship. A sub-plot of the show will involve a pursuit of Pamela Lee Anderson, who Jim L. Mora has recently described as the "woman of his dreams." VH1 has so far been unsuccessful in getting Vick and Willingham to participate in the show. Accordingly, VH1 has cast Snoop Dogg to play Ty Willingham, and will rely on the network's biggest star, Flava Flav, to play Michael Vick. VH1 is also pursuing the possibility of getting both of the Moras involved in the next edition of The Surreal Life, which Jim L. has always described as his "dream job."