Monday, July 30, 2007

AFLAC Trivia Gone Whacky
I was watching the Braves-Diamondbacks game Friday night. About halfway through, it was time for the AFLAC Trivia Question, always a highlight for me. On a good night scanning through Extra Innings, I might hit five different AFLAC Trivia Questions. Great stuff. Until Friday. We were asked to "name nine players who were not All-Stars in their MVP Seasons."

What the hell? A nine-part question? That was the best they could come up with? That's like winning a pick six at the horse races. I think AFLAC's getting tired, they've been running that Yogi Berra ad for about six years now. It was funny most of the first year, just kind of annoying now. I still don't have any idea what AFLAC does. Anyway, the announcers were Sean Sutton and Mark Grace. Mark Grace immediately drawled that he couldn't name one. I had to agree with Grace, despite the fact that I think he's a non-power hitting first baseman who's just kind of used his "aw, shucks" Carolina country boy act to charm major media types into thinking he may be the, gulp, next Tim McCarver.

The next inning, they listed the nine players. I wasn't quick enough to get them down, but I remember that Chipper Jones and Justin Morneau were among them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Death of the Page Number
Sunday I had a pretty calm day. Moving was close enough to being over that I could suspend it for a day or so. I've got a hole in my shin, so I was supposed to be taking it easy, anyway. I hung out on my patio, waiting to welcome birds to my new birdfeeder, and reading the Sunday Washington Post. I got to The Washington Post Magazine, which I try to read pretty regularly, but usually end up just reading the restaurant review, and skimming over the Editor's Query, sometimes checking out the disastrous Date Lab (starting from the Update at the bottom, which is always a variation of, uh, this isn't gonna work out at all).

This week, I had some time, though, and noticed some interesting articles. An article about Simeon Booker, a journalist, began on page 20. Except there was no page 20. There was a page 5, and a page 6 and 8, but then no more page numbers until 33, which was followed by 34 and 35. Then 37 through 40. That's it. A 44-page publication with 10 page numbers. What the hell?

Of course, I was able to find the Booker article, and was able to follow along when it was continued on page 32, which, you know, kind of didn't exist, but I was able to tell that I was there when I came across the page that said on the top that it was continued from page 25, which is I guess where I had been, and, hey, thanks for letting me know about that.

There's got to be a reason for this, right? I've been involved enough in publishing that it would be a pretty big oversight to let something go to press without page numbers. I guess it could have been a trimming error, but if that's the case, I wouldn't think there would have been any page numbers at all. So I have to assume that it was done intentionally. Is it the publisher's way of making the reader go through the magazine page by page, so you see every ad? Clever. But still kind of insulting. It's only 44 pages, don't most people that read it go through virtually the whole thing anyway? Why even have page numbers on the Table of Contents, directing you to a page number that's not there? That's just mean.

This isn't the first time I've been frustrated by page numbers. Try finding an article in one of those really big editions of Vanity Fair (Yeah, Vanity Fair, I know. But it's not just about people with rich parents -- this month there was an article about The Simpsons! And Sly Stone!). Try even finding the Table of Contents, actually. I know that the Vanity Fair people are trying to force you to look at their ads, most featuring ridiculous looking models promoting stuff that, if you can figure out what it is, is affordable primarily to people who are too busy making money to care about The Simpsons or Sly Stone.

Maybe publishers in 2007 are just too cool for page numbers. Is wanting to be able to navigate your way through a magazine too controlling, is it not hip?

If that's the case, then I apologize.

Monday, July 09, 2007

So I Moved
I've been gone for a while, because I moved. I'm glad to be resettled, but it was an intense couple of weeks. Once I actually found a new place, arranged for financing, made moving arrangements and went through settlement, I thought the hardest parts would be over. But I was wrong. Buying a new home is not nearly as complex as transferring your Comcast account. This is no exaggeration. To get cable tv and internet set up in my new home involved 15 telephone calls, three faxes, two two-hour visits from a technician, two trips to the building management office, one totally unnecessary trip to the Comcast offices and one threatening letter. But it's over now. I hope.

There have been other things to adjust to. I used to live in Arlington, now I live in Alexandria. I moved less than 10 miles. In Arlington, there are 7-11s everywhere. Which is great if you need to grab a soda or a newspaper or the finishing touches for dinner that you should have purchased at the grocery store but forgot (usually something like flour or eggs). There's the 7-11 at Wilson and N. Lincoln, which I grew up at, stopping for RC Colas in the middle of my paper route. The 7-11 on Lee Highway off of Spout Run was closest to my last apartment. The one on Lee Highway at Quincy St. was always a good place to stop for Gatorade and beers after basketball. The one on Washington Blvd. as you're heading to 395 had challenging parking and sometimes smelled bad, but it was always good for water on the way to and from softball fields.

Where I live now, the options are limited. There's one, in this lousy little strip center called Seminary Plaza. There's a Magruder's there that I like so far; other than that, not much. There's a CVS that closes at 10:00PM. The people that work there seem pretty nice, though, and it's good to get away from the scary guy with the Scottish accent who works at the Lyon Village CVS. The parking lot is littered with broken glass. There are guys hanging out outside the stores literally all day. And they're not amusing Silent Bob and Jay type guys. I'm not sure what these guys are doing, except for when they're staring at my girlfriend. There seems to be a big problem with grocery cart theft, as they've erected these barriers -- they're like jersey walls for grocery carts -- that prevent you from taking the carts to your car. Which is not too great if you're lugging two cases of bottled water around, and don't want to leave your grocery-laden cart by itself while you pull up your car, for fear of the guy that's been standing outside of the store for the past two days, who may be just waiting for an opportunity to steal someone's chorizos.

Seminary Plaza also hosts a 7-11, which is at one end of the mall, stuck between a Quizno's and a pizza place. It has one aisle! It doesn't really sell anything except for candy and sodas. There's always a line of at least five people, which usually moves something like this:

First guy in line wants to buy chewing tobacco, spends five minutes directing the clerk to the box of chewing tobacco and trying to explain to her how to open the box and extract an individual carton. This doesn't work well, because the woman doesn't understand English, and can't comprehend the motions that he's going through, mimicking how you open the box. She finally gets a colleague, who comes and opens the box for her in about two seconds, and looks at her like she's from Mars.

Second guy in line is about 12 and wants to buy cigarettes. He gets carded, says that they're not for him, but the clerk still refuses to sell him cigarettes. He curses and heads back out in front of the store, where he's likely to remain for the next 24 hours or so.

Third person in line is a woman. Five members of her family are also in the store, they're running around while she stands in line. The clerk calls next, she stands there vacantly, with no indication that she knows why she's even standing there. The clerk calls next again, I, right behind her, say "Hey," to get her attention, but by then a guy just walking in the store walks straight to the clerk calling next, and asks for something like blueberry scented cigars. The vacant woman looks at me and smiles. I scowl. The clerk spends five minutes trying to find these crazy cigars.

Ten minutes later, I'm buying my newspaper and a soda. I walk out, and notice a transaction between the blueberry-scented cigar guy and the under-age cigarette buying kid. Welcome to Seminary Plaza!