Thursday, December 29, 2005
Personally, however, it's been pretty good. Getting married, landing a serious job upgrade, buying a house, and several other very positive developments made 2005 truly memorable for this guy.
Either way, as we forge intrepidly into this, The Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Six, I would like to offer 16 bold predictions - nay, prognostications - for the coming year. Without further ado, the grand prognostications are as follows (in no particular order):
1) 311 will record a Christian album.
2) Those fatcats in Congress will be at it again.
3) Eugene Levy and Snoop Dogg will sign on to make "Ghostbusters 3: The Return of the Keymaster."
11) The Maryland Terrapins WILL make the Sweet Sixteen.
9) Wal-Mart will phase out health care coverage for robot workers.
4) Former low-carb dieters everywhere will pretend they don't know what the term "low-carb diet" means.
5) Anna Kournikova will pose for Playboy, but the pictures will be all artsy and unerotic.
6) The Coors Light Twins will pose for Playboy. The pictures will be decidedly non-artsy.
7) The Mets will finish last.
8) The book burnings will begin in earnest.
10) The nature backlash will continue unabated.
12) Quik Fuel, a new milk-based energy drink, will cause widespread confusion and nausea, often simultaneously. And thus will milk continue to beat unavailingly on the walls of the magical fortress that is the MTV demographic. And the world will grow just that much colder.
15) You will catch bird flu.
16) No One Will Appreciate Me...like, AT ALL.
That's it for me. Happy New Year. Hopefully.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
But now, 10 1/2 years after his retirement from baseball, The Terminator was recently arrested for allegedly robbing a jewelry store. He made $11.5 million in his career, and robbed the store of $170. Err...WHAT?
What do I have to do to sell you this gold watch today?
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. But of course, part of this story is quite sad. His son, Shane, died of a drug overdose last year. And for that, he was on antidepressant medication, on top of the heart medicine he was already taking. His lawyer is blaming the robbery on these medicines. Because, you know, that's a big problem with antidepressants. I saw it on the label one time. "Side effects may include drowsiness, watery eyes, and robbing." And hey, after the trial, I smell big endorsement dollars for Jeff on the pharmaceutical circuit.
In any case, I hope this ends all right for The Terminator. From the news stories, he doesn't seem like a bad guy - just a little crazy. And judging by that wild animal on his head, wouldn't he have to be? Just kidding. Kind of.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
As the Real World San Diego veteran stared down the terrifying barrel of some moderate physical effort in the gauntlet, she decided to quit. (This all happened a week ago, so I apologize for being a little slow on the uptake.)
When it was time for the game, she told host T.J. Lavin that she was "sircumbing to the Gods of the Gauntlet." After looking up "sircumb" in the dictionary and finding no entry, it is clear that Cameran is our big winner this week! Cameran from the Real World - THAT'S NOT A WORD!
While you may wish to "sircumb" in the Gauntlet, your prize here on TNAW will be one from which you cannot escape. You'll be in chilly St. Paul, Minnesota, editing third-grade vocabulary and spelling tests for one school year! But before you can do that, you must first learn to speak and spell at a third-grade level! So whenever you can spare a moment from your busy schedule of teasing men, slacking off, and hosting community college campus pub crawls, you must successfully complete this spelling challenge! Good luck, Cameran, and may the Spelling Gods be with you!
As for the rest of you, we'll see you on the next episode of "That's Not A Word!"
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Game balls go to Clinton Portis, Santana Moss (I admit - I was wrong about the Moss/Coles trade), the entire defense (who after early season takeaway issues now have the fourth-longest takeaway streak in the league) and the coaching staff. The key series was the interception return for a TD by the Giants. Previously, the Skins might not have gotten off the ropes. But this time, they came back with that huge strike to Moss. And when Brunell went out with the injury, and Ramsey came in, and had to call timeout on his second play because someone wasn't lined up correctly, you could feel the old Skins creeping in. But once again, they regrouped, and it was another big TD strike to Moss. What a difference maker that guy is.
On the other side of the pendulum, what about Giants o-lineman Chris Snee? He's the son-in-law of Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, and a lot of people think that's the only reason he has this job. And today, his play reflected that, with a key holding penalty that called back a long TD, and generally poor play. That's what happens when a father hires his daughter's son, though. If the guy doesn't earn his keep and isn't truly qualified, everyone knows it and will secretly do everything they can to make the guy miserable. Whether it's the football field or the cracker factory, you gotta justify Daddy's nepotism. Otherwise, you're just a bum. And Chris Snee is one of those bums. And if Tom Coughlin really had any integrity, he'd release him tomorrow.
Anyway. HUGE win for the Skins. I know I predicted that they wouldn't make the playoffs, but I think I may now have to eat those words. But hey, I'm happy to do it. But we'll see for sure after next week against Philly. In the meantime, I'm starting to get a good feeling about this team. God help me. For now, back to Xmas eve. Good day to you.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Makin' your way in the world today
Takes everything you've got
Takin' a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
dun, Dun, DUN, DUNNN
And they're always glad you came
dun, Dun, DUN
You want to be where you can see,
the troubles are all the same.
You want to go where everybody knows
Hey, if the "Peanuts" theme and "My Favorite Things" are now considered Christmas songs, why not the Cheers theme? Something to contemplate this holiday season.
Merry Christmas, Happy beginning-of-Chanukah, and Happy Kwanzaa. See you next week,
M.S. "NOAM" Harris
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
And in that spirit, here is my reflection: The Washington Wizards are absolutely, positively the WORST team in the National Basketball Association!
What's that you say? I had a different opinion before? What a ridiculous notion. That is easily the most prePOSterous statement I have ever heard in all my years on planet Earth. But enough about that. Let's move on to the discussion of a new planet. Planet Basketball.
And right now, the Bullets, er, Wizards, are in the subterranean portion of that spinning globe, my friends. Three consecutive losses and a heart-breaking 9-14 record have the team and the natives throwing absolute fits. Fits, I say, Marv. First, a loss to the magnificence of Kobe Bryant and the indomitable Los Angeles Lakers. Then, it was defeats at the hands of the luminescent Ray Allen and the Supersonics of Seattle, and prior to that it was my beloved Portland Trailblazers, for whom two former local chaps turned good - Maryland Terrapins Juan Dixon and Steven Blake - did in their erstwhile professional mates.
What are the reasons for this putridity of play, you ask? Unfortunately for Wizards players and fans, the answer is blowing in the wind, as the bard Robert Dylan might say to us. But rest assured that it is due in no small part to Antawn Jamison, who is currently mired in the most HORRRRRRIBLE slump I have ever seen from any athlete in any sport. He is simply unable to remember how to play the sport of basketball. And secondly, by their galling and appalling lack of defensive presence. One might conjure up the old ghosts of Hemingway in describing them, as the Wizards are downright matadorean on the hardwood.
And by the way, I would have to vehemently and categorically disagree with the honorable Michael Wilbon and his view that Indiana Pacer forward Ronald Artest is too high of a risk for Washington to acquire. My question to you is, where is your courage, Michael? Where is your sense of adventure? Why not take a chance on this misguided but talented young man? Surely there are not as many temptations in Washington as there are in Indiana. And I challenge you, I defy you, to explain how he is not a perfect fit for the Wizards in every way in which the mind can conceive.
But what was I saying? Ah, yes. The Wizards are HORRRRRRIBLE. How obvious are their mistakes? How egregious these crimes against basketball? Even Washington Post humor columnist Anthony I. Kornheiser has picked up on them, and is taking the team over his metaphorical knee as punishment for their sporting transgressions. And here's another holiday wish: let's hope, for the sake of this team, our Nation's Capital, even the very sanity of the civilized world, that the Washington Wizards heed these punishments, and take their lessons aptly. We will see tonight as they tangle with the Denver Nuggets, who are attempting to right their own ship, and are optimistic that the visiting Wizards can help them in accomplishing this goal. We shall see if such flippancy is enough to awaken the fires within this Washington team.
In the meantime, this is your humble servant Bill Walton wishing you all the very best of life and the holidays. And until next time, throw it DOWN, big man! Throw it DOWN!
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
1) Sleigh Ride - I'm getting another cavity just thinking about it.
2) Christmas Time by Bryan Adams - Actually, this is a good directive for all Bryan Adams songs.
3) O Holy Night - The classic and Mariah Carey versions can stay, but from here on out all other versions get the shepherd's crook. This song is too nice for it to become a prospective notch in the bedpost of every American Idol contestant who can (or thinks they can) hit that high note at the end.
4) All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth - Listen and let me know if any further explanation is required.
5) Merry Christmas Darling - Just a terrible song. And it doesn't help that Karen Carpenter's voice makes me want to put my fist through the radio. Yes, yes, I know she died of anorexia, and I'm very sorry about that. It's no way for anyone to go. Nevertheless. Fist through the radio.
6) Snoopy's Christmas - How is this a Christmas song?
7) We Need A Little Christmas - Replace the word "Christmas" with the word "Cocaine," and suddenly everything is crystal clear.
8) Christmas Time Is Here - The second Peanuts Christmas song to make the list. Sensing a trend? I blogged about this a while back. This song is an absolute funeral dirge, and it makes me want to drive my car through the guardrail every time I hear it. Which is often. Please help me.
9) Every modern pop song that's just a regular song with the word "Christmas" thrown into it. "Baby, come home for Christmas," "Baby, you don't love me on Christmas no more," "Baby, Christmas doesn't like it when you don't have my money," and so forth.
Basically, we should stick with the classics. I love the classics! Why must we always muddy the waters with crap? We've got a great thing going with the classic Christmas songs, and everyone just has to jump on the bandwagon for fame or money or religious brownie points or whatever. Aren't the basic songs enough? I say yes. Thank you for your consideration.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Wow. I think yesterday is what they mean by firing on all cylinders.
I completely agree with Wilbon on this one. This was the best game I've seen the Washington Redskins play since they beat the Lions in that 1999-2000 season playoff game - the one where Brad Johnson body-slammed Robert Porcher. That was awesome.
But not as awesome, I don't think, as this game. In front of a raucous crowd at FedEx Field, the 2005 Washington Redskins woke up the echoes with a
35-7 butt-whooping of the hated Dallas Cowboys. HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYYYYYS!?!?!?!?!?!?!
And get this - if the Skins win their final two games, they will make the playoffs as a wild-card team! If they win out and the Giants lose their final game to the team that was once the Oakland Raiders, the Skins win the division! Is that insane or what?
But back to yesterday's game. It was truly a thing of beauty. And as I watched, I wondered - why don't they play like that every game? What is it about this organization that makes players and coaches not focus hard and play to win week in and week out? Why do we not come out with this much agression and will every week? Because if we do, we make the playoffs every year!
But now is not the time for criticism. Now is the time for handing out some game balls to some True Redskins - guys who officially made their name in this town yesterday afternoon. Chris Coooooooley. Clinton Portis. Derrick Dockery (him paving the way for Portis and Betts was so sweet to watch). Randy Thomas (tough break - come back soon). Philip Daniels. Marcus Washington. D-coordinator Gregg Williams. And the list goes on. The Redskins dominated both lines and everything went from there.
It's tough to sum up what it all meant, especially with a HUGE showdown looming next week at home against the first-place Giants. There are probably more chips on that table than there were in yesterday's game, particularly given their 36-0 crushing of the Redskins earlier in the season. But for the first time in years, I felt yesterday like I was watching a real Redskins team out there. They played hard but smart, tough but classy, and deadly, deadly efficient. When you've got the dignity but not the toughness (as I suspect has been the case over the past several years) you're not going to scare anyone. But when you put those things together, it's a majestic sight to behold. And when they're good, that's the Redskins.
The jury's still out on this season's team - and I still don't think they'll make the playoffs when it's all said and done - but this game could prove to be a turning point, and I think it ensures that this season won't be a failure, regardless of what happens from here on out. I really, really hope they're able to build on this. Bring on the Giants, baby! And hail to the Redskins!
(Photo credit: Dwayne Woodard/Woodard Images)
Friday, December 16, 2005
Well, it ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL comes down to this. This Sunday, we see with certainty whether this season's Washington Redskins will sink or swim. Every season, every team in every sport has a single game or stretch of games that acts as the season's fulcrum, dictating whether it is a success or a failure.
This Sunday's game is that fulcrum game for the Skins. Even if they don't make the playoffs, if they win this weekend, it can easily be argued that the season wasn't a failure. Because it's Dallas Week, baby, and they've got a chance to sweep!
If you can't get up for this, you don't have a pulse. And if you don't hate Dallas - HATE Dallas - you are not a Redskin fan. If you are a Skins player and you don't come to play Sunday - against your archrivals with your season in the balance - then you are a bum.
With the ghosts of rivalries past echoing through the corridors, the Washington Redskins march this week as to battle....as to WAAAAAAARRRRRRR.
Here's the basic storyline as it has been hyped this week: is the Skins defense frisky enough to attack Drew Bledsoe, the stick in the mud who plays quarterback for the Cowboys? The Skins defense was built to attack him, the Cowboys offensive line was built to protect him. Both sides have suffered injuries. Something's gotta give, and something's gonna give.
Personally, I think a good portion of this game will come down to Clinton Portis. This game will show whether he's a "true Redskin", if you want to use that phrase. If he's just collecting Snyder's paychecks, he won't be a factor. If he cares about the team and winning and such, he'll show up and be a horse. Simple as that. This game isn't about Xs and Os. It's one of those rare times when it just comes down to who's ready to ball. Who's willing to go the extra mile in this, the NFL's top rivalry, to keep their playoff hopes alive? And so forth.
In a bit of gamesmanship, Redskins coach Joe Gibbs has listed all his injured players as probable, so as not to tip his hand. This list includes LaVar Arrington, who reportedly had so much blood and other fluid built up in his thigh muscle that it was dangerous for him to get on an airplane last week.
If you are one of the literally fives of people who read this blog, you'll know what I think about the Skins - I think they're out of it, playoffs-wise. But with a win Sunday, they can say it was a decent season, and who knows? Playoffs wouldn't be impossible (like they will be if they lose). So I hope I'm wrong.
And you know what? I think they can win this game. They just need to be energetic, avoid dumb mistakes, kick ass, get dirty, play hard, play together, play to win. It ain't rocket science.
In a similar note, it's an early season fulcrum test for the Washington Bullets, errr, Wizards, as well, as they begin the dreaded West Coast swing tonight in L.A. The Wizards don't tend to do well against the West because they aren't physical enough, but they've beaten the Spurs and Pistons this year, among others, and they've got Gilbert Arenas back, so we'll see what happens. Looks like current Laker and former Wizard Kwame Brown is chomping at the bit to play us. Yikes. I shudder to imagine a "motivated" Kwame Brown tearing up the Wiz with his usual monster game of six points and four rebounds. He's going to be like King Kong out there. Anyway, hope the Wiz handle their biz out West.
But really, as of right now, all eyes are on the Skins. Come on, guys. Don't roll over this time. Let's go - BEAT DALLAS!
(Photos credit respectively: www.quarry.com, www.endzone.it, Sports Fans HQ)
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Yesterday on CNN, one of their Top Stories was about a girl getting a 16-pound tumor removed from her face (this is the version with no nasty picture in it). It's a nice article about the triumph of the human spirit and so forth, but really - this is a Top Story? People are dying everywhere from all different kinds of things, the planet is going to hell, voting districts are being redrawn wantonly, Britney Spears and K-Fed are spawning demons to loose on an unsuspecting world, I think they may have stopped making Cracklin Oat Bran, and THIS is what people want to hear about? People with huge tumors?
I'm sorry, Arnold. Apparently, it IS a tumor.
It's not just this most recent one, either. Check out this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one (this last one contains a semi-disturbing photo). There was even an episode of House about this! I think it all started back in 1998 on the Fox Network (SURPRISE!) with that Guinness World Records show, where they removed that huge 300-pound tumor from that woman.
(By the way, brilliant quote from the story on the Romanian woman's tumor removal: "The lack of the tumor really suits her," said her surgeon, Doctor Obvious. You know, I had a cousin once with a huge benign tumor on his ass, and it was VERRRRY becoming. But I digress.)
My question here is simple: What the hell is wrong with you people?
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
One thing Dylan can indisputably do is write a song. I am a huge fan of his, and I think he is a genius (and I don't throw that word around a lot) and quite simply the greatest songwriter in rock and roll history. What's that, you said? You're more into G Unit? Well, that's a good one, Sparky. But no. Or perhaps you favor McCartney and Lennon? Jagger and Richards? Brian Wilson? Chuck Berry? That guy from Guided By Voices? Sam Cooke? Kurt Cobain? Dave Spiwack? All great, but I'm not putting anyone in Dylan's category until they get nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature. Then we can talk.
I'm sure he also has a couple of friends in the business that would drop by for an interview. You know, maybe Pete Townshend one afternoon, then Ringo Starr the next? Just a coupla guys. And if nothing else, maybe he can interview himself. Maybe this would compel him to actually cooperate with an interviewer for a change.
Radio? I ain't got no tiiiiiime for radio. Er, yes I do.
On the downside, however, there is the fact that he is, how should I put this, a bit of a mealy-mouthed rambler.
I don't know how else to put it. I can picture him on the mic, after playing an Eminem song, and saying "that was subterranean, man, like a car bomb outside of nowhere on the galactic freeway to the lollipops. I mean, this guy knows it, man! Feels it! Sees it! Picks it up and eats it like a steak, goin' southward on the tightrope of my miiiiind!" But of course, to the listeners, it will sound like "BLEEEteraanickangkake. Greathkeithkeighalopapapaa. MememelgenglelRISHous miiiiiiiind!" Okay, maybe not that bad, but pretty close. When I last saw him in concert two summers ago, it sounded like he had swallowed a broken ashtray before taking the stage. Granted, the sound system at Cal Ripken Stadium is not the best, but still - broken ashtray!
At a minimum, he'll spin some good tunes. And he's Bob Dylan, for God's sake! I'll definitely give it a listen, and I hope it works out. After all, what else is there to listen to on the radio?
Well, that's roughly what a group of Texas politicians - led by that selfless public servant, Tom DeLay - have done by redrawing congressional districts. By making new geographic boundaries that group voters together in ways that give Republicans the best chance to win the most number of seats, they have unfairly (and, I would say, illegally) stacked the deck in their own favor in perpetuity.
Granted, it's a boring-sounding thing, but if it's allowed to continue, it could affect every single issue facing this nation, and could even undermine democracy and, for all intents and purposes, make this a nation of only one political party. If this Texas plan is allowed to stand, that is, and it spreads to other states.
That's why the announcement yesterday that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case this spring is such a huge decision. There are A LOT of chips on this table. Hopefully the Supreme Court rules this illegal, as they should, and we can exorcise this demon once and for all.
Before you start thinking of me as a partisan person, please be assured that I am not. Bad politics and shady practices are what they are, regardless of who perpetrates them. No matter who does this - Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Muppets, Space Aliens, etc. - it is insidious and it is corrupt. And it is apparently all part of a grand Republican plan to keep themselves in power forever. Read that article and tell me if you think that's how the founding fathers envisioned our system functioning.
If it sickens you like it sickens me, there are things you can do. Non-partisan, non-profit organizations like Common Cause and The Center for Voting and Democracy are surely going to make their voices and their members' voices heard on this issue.
Sorry to soapbox, but this is incredibly important, and the Texas plan stinks from here to Christmas. It's like something out of a dystopian novel. So don't let this legislative funhouse mirror distort American politics. We're too strong and too smart for that - right? Political affiliation means nothing - it's about doing the right thing. So don't let the game get stacked. Because Baltic Avenue is no place to be.
Monday, December 12, 2005
This is the second national championship a Maryland sports team has won this season - our women's field hockey team went all the way in November. Now, if only we could get our basketball and football programs right, we'd be an all-around powerhouse. Even more so.
Segue. Very good win last night for the Terrapin basketball team, topping a nasty Boston College squad ranked #6 in the nation, 73-71. The Terps' same problems still exist - no point guard, no go-to guy, inconsistent scoring, no discernible structure to player roles in general, and no consistently strong inside presence - but they kept up the intensity level and were able to tough this one out. Ekene Ibekwe, in particular, really looked terrific. Not only did he play well on both ends of the court, but he got excited at the right times and provided a lot of much-needed productive energy for the team. It was a good sign to see them all playing well (and to see Comcast Center truly rocking - that was a relief and an excitement) in their first ACC game of the season to beat a ranked opponent, protect their home court, and show the uppity Eagles what ACC basketball is all about. Good game.
Oh, and nice win for the Redskins, and blah blah blah. I'm still not excited. These wins over the God-awful Rams and Cards are just setting us up to lose these final games to the Giants, Eagles, and Cowboys. What kind of a Redskins season would it be without them building up false hope, getting everyone in a tizzy, then delivering the hard-core let-down, and missing the playoffs yet again? If this game had been up to Quarterback Mark Brunell, who is kind of important to the team, they would have lost. But hey, savor the win. Whatever. I refuse to get excited for a team that's just going to disappoint me. And if anyone disagrees with me - wanna bet?
And finally, I would like to mention the passing of comedic legend Richard Pryor at age 65. What else can you say? The guy was a trailblazer.
Richard Pryor: angry, dirty...fuckin hilarious, motherfucker!
He won the inaugural Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for Humor here in Washington back in 1998, and I can't think of anyone more deserving of being honored for shaping America's comedic landscape. So there you go.
(Oh, and by the way, here's some free unsolicited input for the Official Richard Pryor Web site - you might want to think about updating your home page there. Hey, I'm no Web developer. Just thinking out loud. )
But Pryor's death got me and some of my friends pondering the state of today's comedy. Other than Will Ferrell and his admittedly hilarious Frat Pack, who else is out there? Okay, I'll give you Larry David. Anyone else? Rock and Chappelle are past their primes. SNL is on life support. And does anyone think Jimmy Kimmel is really that funny? What happened to the comedian? Maybe in the current landscape where everyone hates everyone else and American IQs seem to get lower by the day, there's just not as much room to laugh and make decent humor as there used to be. Hey, maybe that's just me. In any case, losing Pryor is just another reminder of that. RIP, Richard. See you later, motherfucker.
(Top photo credit: Andy Meade/www.umterps.com)
Friday, December 09, 2005
Can someone help me out, because I'm a little confused - how in the hell does this make any sense, like, AT ALL?
This shouldn't be a political party issue. It should be basic common sense. If I owe a lot of money in credit card debt and have to reduce what I'm spending each month in order to pay it, do I then also quit my second job? Um, no. When one's credit debt is going up, one takes one's medicine and pays it down. And oh - does the U.S. have debt. To be precise, $8.1 TRIIIILLLLLLLLLLION in debt, and that's according to the Treasury Department, not some spin doctor. Doesn't that deserve our attention? I know tax cuts are "good for the economy" and all, but you know what else is good for the economy? Not having mountains of debt. But hey, don't take it from me. Take it from, oh, I don't know, Alan Bleeping Greenspan.
And hey, if we need to cut Medicaid and money for farmers and college loans for a while so we can get back on track (as the spending cuts suggest), so be it. Wanna take it out of the poor peoples' asses? Hey - you gotta take your medicine. And it's nothing we haven't done before. But you know what? Take it from richer people, too, who are the ones who stand to benefit most from these tax cuts, which largely affect investment earnings. And why not take a look at cutting some spending in the Iraq war, too, on which America spends $177 million per day? Check out the running total! And check out the government's own findings on its own spending for this war! These are real numbers - and the numbers don't lie.
I'm not saying end the war or keep it going - let's put that separate argument aside for a moment. I'm just saying, can't we cut some spending from it? The GAO seems to think we can. Do you mean to tell me that we are simply unable to look at that $177 million per day and find a way to cut some corners? We can boldly cut debt by reducing some money for college loans, but streamlining or eliminating war costs is simply not feasible? I guess this is a bit of a moot point anyway, since we're CUTTING FREAKING TAXES!
Not to sound saucy, but I feel like my argument is pretty unassailable here. What's the defense? Are we just intentionally robbing poor Peter to pay rich Paul, reducing money for farmers so people will have a few more coins in their pocket, at the expense of mounting debt that every single one of us, rich and poor, will eventually have to face, with ever-increasing peril? Are we not really serious about cutting debt? Do we not know what we're doing? Are we sticking our heads in the sand and refusing to face future economic demons so that some of us can be a little more comfortable right now? Are we just good, old-fashioned hypocrites?
And for my part as a middle-class American who could benefit from the tax cuts, I will stand here and say that, yes, I am willing to pay more taxes if it means helping other Americans and/or containing or reducing the national debt. Isn't that the patriotic thing to do, to borrow a jingoism? I can actually see beyond my own W-2 form and actually find a greater good for my country. As for the lawmakers behind these both-sides-of-the-mouth actions, I must say that they are either intellectually lacking, or intellectually dishonest, or both. Here's hoping some real progress can be made - either in restoring programs or reducing debt - in the future. Here's hoping. For now, both houses of Congress get a big, fat F.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Travis Garrison, I'm sorry I ever doubted you. When I got my ticket, and I saw your face on the stub, I knew this would be a special night. Even a magical night. Sitting there at the Comcast Center, watching you get 23 and 14 in the Maryland Terrapins' 87-57 win over the Catamounts of Western Carolina, well, it was like a dream. This was your night, Travis! If I may, it was your One Shining Moment.
Never mind that the Catamounts didn't have any starter over 6'4". Never mind that! I'm still on too much of a Travis Garrison high to mind the details. All those put-backs, and rebounds. Was that Wilt out there? Nae, my friend. Believe it or not, it was just Travis.
And how about those scrubs? I got a chance to witness them all share the same court - Will Bowers, Parrish Brown, Gini Chukura, and the absolute last guy off the bench, Big Dave Neal. When Neal sank those two garbage free throws with a minute left to put every Terp in the scoring column, well, it got a little dusty in the Comcast Center. Congratulations to all you guys. You may never have your jerseys hanging from the rafters, but you put the toil in and come to work, day in and day out. And truly, you are the engine that makes this basketball team go.
Who wants a piece of Will Bowers? Come get some!
After attending my second game of the season at Comcast Center, I also have a few observations. One, just because you have more places to eat now than you did at Cole Field House doesn't automatically make the food better. Quality over quantity, my friends. Unless you're talking bathrooms. The massive amount of bathrooms at Comcast (there was only one at Cole) is truly delightful. And second, I know this was a creampuff game, but Maryland fans have to wake up. It seems like nowadays, unless it's Duke or Carolina, Comcast just doesn't get rockin. The students are pretty good, but everyone else just sits there. Wake up, people! Tell me we're not becoming a wine-and-cheese crowd. It's almost like the students went too far a while back, and everyone else got embarrassed because of it and are now afraid to be rowdy at all. Or, maybe it's because this venue is so much bigger. Or hey, maybe it was just because it was a creampuff game. Regardless, I hope the situation improves.
But that is an issue for another day. Travis and scrubs, this was your night! A hearty round of congratulations are in order. Huzzah!
(Photos credit: www.umterps.com)
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Conclusion? This show sucks!
I know people like it, but other than the aforementioned nostalgia, why in the hell is or was this ever a popular and/or beloved television special? We found it to be boring and depressing. So I'm afraid I will have to label this a The Emperor Wears No Clothes situation.
Let's break this down, analytical style:
This is me after watching Charlie Brown's Crappy Christmas Special.
1) The theme song, Christmas Time is Here, sounds like a funeral dirge. A funeral dirge. I'm sorry. It's terrible. Little dead zombie children intoning, "CHRISTmastiiiiiiiiime is heeeeeeeeeere, HAPPineeeeeeeeesssssss and cheeeeeeeeer." Very convincing, Peanuts gang. Now please don't eat my brains.
2) Here's what someone wrote about the special on IMDB (as part of a favorable review, no less): "Charlie Brown tries to find the real spirit and message of Christmas...He gets the chance to be the director of a Christmas-play and slowly he discovers what he wanted to know." Emphasis here on "slowly." Slooooooowwwwwwwly. It's like the producers turned in the show at 30 minutes, and the network said "we just cancelled The Joey Bishop Show - we need another half an hour!" It's too long by 50 percent, at least.
Do you think that tree branch would support my dangling body long enough for my neck to snap?
3) Everyone in the Peanuts gang hates everyone else. They are just constantly hating on each other - Lucy hates Linus, Peppermint Patty hates Lucy, Frieda hates Pigpen, everyone hates Charlie Brown, and so on. Here are some interesting articles from Time magazine about this. Everyone always says the comics and shows have "an unsentimental humor," or "they make childhood alienation funny."
Well - no they don't! It's just depressing and tedious. Two movies have ever made me cry - E.T. and A Boy Named Charlie Brown, where he gets to the national Spelling Bee finals but loses when he can't spell "beagle," thus causing everyone to hate him even more than they already did. How is this funny? Please explain the wry humor to me so I can one day explain it to my traumatized children. Because apparently, we have to show all this Charlie Brown stuff to children, or else we're communists or something.
Oh my God, Charlie Brown. This is the worst tree ever. Why are you such a loser? I hate you SO MUCH!!!!
4) The ending, where Linus does his famous Bible recitation of Jesus' birth, in a way that's supposed to bring it all home for us, and remind us in this hustly-bustly life just what Christmas is all about. And of course, Linus busts out his very best dreary monotone for the occasion. I would tell you how it all turned out, but I fell asleep - after taking that many sleeping pills, who wouldn't have?
My point here is that the Charlie Brown Christmas special is boring, drudgerous, and depressing. So why is it a holiday classic? We should replace Charlie Brown with another, more deserving Christmas special. Might I suggest A Garfield Christmas (which is truly funny), the visually impressive and creative A Claymation Christmas Celebration, or the legitimately awesome and emotional Muppet production Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. Any or all of these are highly superior to Charlie's Crappy Christmas and could easily replace him in the nation's holiday lexicon (errr, excuse me, holiday "canon." Some uppity wordsmith seems to have corrected me). Buy hey - hey - that's just me. Good day to you.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
To me, the Terps lost because of one thing - the Colonials came out hard, and Maryland came out limp. I didn't even mean that to sound so sexually suggestive when I wrote it. That's just how it felt. Maybe I need to move on.
Case in point: during the first half, Colonials point guard Carl Elliott took an elbow during a scrum for a loose ball and lost what looked to be about a pint of blood on the floor. It was a lot of blood. It just proves that time-honored adage: facial cuts bleed a lot.
But he got stitches, put a band-aid on it, came back into the game, and finished with 11 points in 29 minutes. And that pretty much sums up the game. GW came out aggressively, with a tough man-to-man defense, and an even tougher full-court press. And Maryland wilted. At one point, GW star Pops Mensah-Bonsu (the last name means "whale killer" in Ghana) was running back up the court and barked something in the ear of Maryland oaf Will Bowers (the last name means "Mike Mardesich" in Terpese). In response, Bowers just hung his head and tried to pretend like Pops wasn't talking to him.
Like Elliott's resilience sums up GW, Bowers' wilting encapsulates Maryland. But give credit to GW - the best college team bar none in the DC area right now. They played hard the whole time and were able to grind it out despite poor shooting. And they got great performance, toughness and leadership from their seniors, Pops and Mike Hall. Gee, I wish this Maryland team knew what that felt like.
But I don't want to rip too much. It's still early, and Maryland has plenty of time to turn it around. But as of right now, they look soft. Certain players do, anyway. And that's no way to be. If I were a coach, the book on Maryland for my team would be to hit them in the mouth early, and watch them cringe. They've got to fix this, or it could be a long season. But they've got plenty of talent - and it's not like they've ever been known as a hard-nosed group. That's just not Maryland basketball. But just because they're generally a finesse team doesn't mean a soft performance is insignificant - on the contrary. A finesse team can afford to be soft even less than a "regular" team, because there's so little margin for error. If a finesse team makes a habit of playing soft, they simply become a soft team. And that's not good.
In the end, GW was the team that literally left the blood on the court last night, but when it was all said and done, Maryland was the team that looked wounded.
(Photo credit: Greg Fiume/www.umterps.com)
Monday, December 05, 2005
The resumption of the trial means one thing: people were prepared for the walk-outs. And kudos to them. Because really, was anyone surprised by this? This is what Iraqis do. Dogs bark. Pilots fly airplanes. Iraqis walk out of legal proceedings. During the country's recent constitutional hearings, the same thing happened, and it happened before then as well. The people running this trial rightly seemed to have expected something like this, and have rolled with the punches to get the trial back on its feet with minimal interruption. Building walk-out days into Iraqi trial times is like building snow days into a school year schedule. You simply must be prepared.
What?!?! These slacks are not on sale? And this is not the fitting room? This is outrage - I walk out.
Segue. Speaking of snow, the Washington, D.C. area is expected to get three to six inches of the white stuff within the next 24 hours or so. Locals, you know what that means - PANIC!
Winter in Washington: Mommy, what's all that white stuff? Don't look at it, Madison! Run inside and lock the door!
I think I heard tell of a Home Depot in Leesburg that still has some rock salt left. Proceed without caution! That XBOX 360 stampede last week was just a warm-up - this one's for real! SWARM! SWARM!!!
Friday, December 02, 2005
Question: what about these guys?
What about The Rockness Monster, and The Destroyer? Will their combat now require even more skill and precision (if that's even possible)? Or will they be rendered obsolete by the inexorable march of science? Does this machine go against everything that air guitar has ever stood for, like inventing a self-throwing football? Only time......will tell.
I am called The Destroyer. What will become of my people?
I did have one scary thought upon reading it. What if the president got ahold of one of these? We already know he's aloof in meetings. This could spell disaster.
"Mr. President? It's time for your daily defense briefing."
"Not now! I've almost got this Alan Jackson song down. You go on without me. Iraq can bomb itself."
"Sir, if you're going to play virtual air guitar, might I suggest you try some Van Halen solos, or something else a bit more, ah, ambitious?"
"That sounds like the devil talkin to me. Just for that, your house won't be there when you go home tonight. And close the door on your way out, will you? And call Bill Clinton. Tell him I'm lookin to jam. Mano e mano. Presidento e presidento. Air guitar e saxomophono."
We are sorry, but your services will no longer be required.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Other than the fact that they won the game, which is good, there really wasn't much to celebrate. It wasn't pretty. Minnesota's best player, Vincent Greer, was out with an injury, and the team only dressed EIGHT guys overall! Two days before, they lost to freaking Gardner-Webb. That's right, Gardner-Webb, the Baptist school, not that there's anything wrong with that!
But that didn't stop the Gophers from getting out by 15 in the first half. That's this Terrapins team for you, though. Unless it's the Duke game, they either play down to the level of their competition, or they come out tight. Head Coach Gary Williams yells at them during the first time-out, and afterward they play with their heads down. They finally straighten out and play ball in the second half, but most of the time that's not going to be enough. In fact, unless you're USC or the Shaq-and-Kobe Lakers, that never consistently works. They need to start playing every game like it's the Duke game - every possession, every point, every rebound, important and contested. If I could give this Maryland team one piece of unsolicited advice, it would be that - play every game like it's the Duke game.
This is not to say there weren't any bright spots. Mike Jones (WHO?) played like the go-to guy I think and hope he can be (sooner rather than later, maybe, Gary?). Chris McCray was steady as always.
However, there's one guy I'm not going to praise. And I hate to rain on the parade here, but let's not get all in a tizzy over Travis Garrison, huh? News flash: he's a tomato can. After the game, he said this:
"I took that personally when they got a lot of put-backs and offensive rebounds. That really hit me to the heart." Awwwwwwwwwww.
Well, instead of walking around with your heart all hurting as you watch yourself get outplayed, Travis, why don't you try doing what you're supposed to do on the basketball court? I know, 18 and 10 is good statistically, but he had a LOT of gimmes and a lot of his stats came as they pulled away. When they needed a spark in the first half, he was shooting balls off the side of the backboard and traveling in the lane and standing with his sneakers screwed into the floor while Minnesota out-jumped and out-hustled him for boards. Not exactly senior leadership. You know when a broadcaster praises a player by saying "what he does for this team doesn't show up on any stat sheet"? Well, the same goes for how Garrison harms this team. I'm sure Garrison is a great guy, and I root for him and wish him all the luck in the world, but he should be coming off the bench, with James Gist or (the much-improved) Ekene Ibekwe starting instead. That's one of the reasons I think the Terps will improve again next year due to addition by subtraction. But that's another story.
Hey, nice uni! Is that duct tape?
But onto the big news - what's the deal with those god-awful uniforms? I hate that "modern" angular tank-top look, plus it looked like the shoulders were literally held together with duct and electrical tape. Sharp! Well, I was so upset I vowed to get to the bottom of this, especially after I saw Michigan State wearing the same style and grew suspicious. So I did some digging, and it turns out those uniforms were indeed for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge only. So for the next game, they will be back to their old unis. Whew! Hey - I just broke some news! And I did it all for you - the readers who don't appreciate me. And now back to your regularly scheduled programming.
P.S. On another Terps basketball note, last night was the NBA homecoming for Juan Dixon and Steve Blake, who were traded from the Wizards to the Blazers in the offseason. According to Wilbon's column, they were concerned about getting booed. No way will that ever happen. Dixon and Blake and all the other guys on the 2002 team will always be royalty around here, especially to Terp students and alumns like myself. Getting love in D.C. is the last thing those guys should ever worry about. Welcome home, Champs.
(Photos Credit: Greg Fiume/www.umterps.com)
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Yaaarrrghh! Shiver me timbers! I be Tamburlaine, me matey!
For non-nerds, Tamburlaine was this play written in the late 1500s about this power-hungry guy who goes on a rampage, conquering town after town and king after king (even making dethroned rulers wear saddles and pull his chariot - the very notion!). He eventually takes over half of Asia on little more than moxie, and eventually dies either due to his excesses or because a God kills him or something. By the way, I have a theory that Scarface is based on Tamburlaine. It's a very similar story.
Take a look...at Tamburlaine. Err, at The Bad Guy.
Anyway, in the dream I was one of the subjects in a village Tamburlaine conquered, and everyone was yelling at me that I must join his army or die.
"You must join with Tamburlaine!" said the nerdy villager in my nerdy dream. But I was frozen - frozen with indecision. And then - the lights went dim. I then started dreaming about playing for the Lakers, or Maria Menounos, or something much less nerdy. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
I'm glad Christopher Marlowe got overshadowed in the history books by his contemporary William Shakespeare, by the way. It sounds like he was a prick. He died young in a drunken brawl, when some guy stabbed him in the eye!
This is Marlowe. Doesn't he look like the kind of guy you'd want to stab, after he flirts with your girlfriend right in front of you at a party, like you weren't even there, then asks you for a cigarette, and you say "but it's my last one," and he shrugs his shoulders and takes it anyway? And he gets really drunk and breaks the toilet somehow, but doesn't say sorry?
And since it was the 1500s, I bet the knife that killed him totally wasn't sanitary. But even now, Marlowe haunts me in my slumbers, as his creation Tamburlaine wreaks havoc on all! Why did I post this blog again?
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
This article is funny, though, because it interviews doctors and experts and so forth to try and uncover the "science" that breeds success in competitive eating. It's interesting, but do we really want to go down this road? Is it necessary? Isn't it just a bunch of crazy people with big appetites? The article might inadvertently (or maybe advertently) prove this point. Because despite all the ruminations on stomach capacities and espogeal contractions and the satiety signal premise, what's the story's lead interview and most prominent photo? A 22-year-old Ashton Kutcher lookalike and fledgling competitive eater housing Papa John's pizzas and proclaiming "I just want to eat food, impress my friends, and win money." Duuuuuuuuude. Other not-too-brilliant highlights from the article include the chairman of the Association of Independent Competitive Eaters offering his sage advice to all would-be combatants: vomiting is a good thing, and, uhhh, don't do this in a bar.
Our bodies are scientifically tuned machines, dude.
(On a side note, D.C. might be a burgeoning hotbed for this. Check out Alexandria's own Sonya Thomas! She is apparently America's top competitive eater, and she weighs 105 pounds! And she's cute! Her nickname is The Black Widow! And she once ate 35 Johnsonville brats in 10 minutes! I'm getting sick just thinking about that! Ending sentences with exclamation points!)
They start 'em young sometimes. Don't you hate those overbearing eating contest moms?
By the way, AICE (or "The Ace," as I like to call it) is one of two eating contest organizing bodies (the other one seems to be the International Federation Of Competitive Eating). What is this, boxing? And check out the guy currently on the IFOCE home page - the guy holding the turkey carcass. If that is not an athlete, then I don't know what is. You can have your cross-training and your Winsor pilates and your Gatorade Science Center. I'll take the guy holding the turkey carcass.
But I'm off the point now. The point is, why get too caught up in the medical reasoning or training methods here? It's just people with huge appetites who are willing to be gross for a living. No one ever stopped to analyze the science of why the kid who ate paste in third grade ate the paste. Aren't some stones better left unturned?
Now if you'll excuse me, I have ten minutes to eat four pounds of cow brains. Go!
Monday, November 28, 2005
Both teams look good on paper at the beginning. There is talk that This Is The Year. This Will Not Be Like Other Years. If you follow the NFL, you will surely appreciate the potential talent Scorched Earth left the room with on draft day - Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Delhomme at QB; Randy Moss (who would have guessed he'd be averaging under 60 receiving yards a game??), Lee Evans, Justin McCareins, Tyrone Calico at WR; Willis McGahee, Tatum Bell, Mike Anderson, Duce Staley, T.J. Duckett at RB; Tony Gonzalez at TE; kicker David Akers; and the Defensive unit of the Chicago Bears. In late August, that feels like a winner, right? But it was not to be. We had ticky-tack injuries and mistakes, new game plans, and so forth - basically, it just didn't pan out. In other words, Scorched Earth is just good enough to get your hopes up, but not good enough to make a serious playoff run.
Same goes for the Redskins. I like Dan Daly's column in The Washington Times about this. Wilbon's Post column touches on it, too. It's like the Skins are in football purgatory, starting back in the 1997 playoffs when Dan Turk made the bad snap on that field goal against Tampa Bay. You know - about the time Daniel Snyder took over the team? Surely it is purely coincidental - Mr. Snyder, please do not vaporize me.
This past Sunday, I wish I could have put money on something like "The Washington Redskins will find a way to blow this 42-yard potentially game-winning field goal." And not just with something as mundane as the kicker missing it. Oh no, not the Redskins. All they had to do to set up the 42-yarder was stay where they were. Just don't go backward. Do whatever you had to do to accomplish that. Three meaningless runs, or a scramble to position the ball on the preferred hash mark. Throw out of bounds three times. Hey, just spike or kneel on the football if that's what it takes to get you to the field goal down. But they couldn't do it. They commit a holding penalty (a blatant holding penalty), and now it's a 52-yard try that place kicker John Hall promptly leaves short. Ballgame.
And after the game, the coaches and players make the same old maddening, milquetoast comments - we don't know what went wrong, I still really love this group of guys, we fought our hearts out, we're just a play or two away, we're staying positive, we're all "professionals" here. Well...that all sounds like loser talk to me. Where's the fire? When will the team decide as a group they've had enough of this perennial underacheiving? According to them, they've been a play or two away for eight seasons now. When's the ship coming, guys?
So that's the Skins and Scorched Earth both - snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Hey, I know that with the fantasy team, I've got no one to blame but myself. But I feel like I'd almost rather have my teams out-and-out suck than beat themselves week in and week out. In the end, the Skins and their fantasy alter ego of Scorched Earth are tough to love. So why do I continue punishing myself this way? Your guess is as good as mine.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Ah, yes. As Thanksgiving Day approaches, the president has rekindled the tradition once again of pardoning one turkey (check out the woman on the left in the photo - is that Harriet Miers???) from the slaughter. This hefty specimen, named Marshmallow, enjoys corn, gobbling, waddling, and pecking people. Let's give it up for Marshmallow!
Since Marshmallow is one of two turkeys pardoned (there was an alternate, named Yam), and there are an estimated 45 million turkeys eaten each Thanksgiving, that's a fairly token pardoning. But that got us here at No One Appreciates Me thinking. And we figured we might take a moment to remember other token pardonings taking place around the world this holiday season.
1) Ted Kennedy pardoning a scotch and soda.
2) GM pardoning an employee.
3) Paula Deen pardoning a stick of butter.
4) President Bush pardoning a country.
5) Kobe Bryant pardoning a hotel worker.
6) Joan Rivers pardoning plastic surgery.
7) Katie Couric pardoning a staffer who forgot the extra latte foam.
6) A hurricane pardoning America.
7) The Pope pardoning a homosexual.
8) ABC pardoning a bad television show.
9) Paris Hilton pardoning a penis.
10) An oil company pardoning a driver.
11) Creationists pardoning a fact.
12) Kate Moss pardoning some cocaine.
13) Tom Cruise pardoning some crack.
And on and on the list goes. Find your own token pardonings - there are a million of them out there. Take care, and have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!
(photo credit: Photo DC)