Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I'm pumped for the State of the - ah, screw it, I'm going to the movies

So, it's all about Bush turning over a new leaf, and saying good-bye to the problems - the many problems - no, the many, MANY problems - that plagued his presidency and his party last year. This is a time of renewal, of rebirth. Tonight's State of the Union Address is where it alllll begins.


He's just going to BS through it anyway. These are always BS nowadays - just a free, extended informercial for the president and his party. And Bush will be no different - depending on who you ask, the best and/or worst quality of the president who brought you such State-of-the-Union hits as "Axis of Evil," and "weapons of mass destruction" is his utter inability to admit when he has gone wrong.

So screw it. I'm going to see King Kong instead.

Movie theater, I'm making you a top priority again. (APPLAUSE)

And that's a noble action on my part. With these last few months of mine involving job change, a marriage, and buying a home, not to mention the recently completed holidays, I've fallen dangerously behind in my movie watching. So tonight, I will turn over a new leaf of my own. (APPLAUSE) It's time for me to rededicate myself to this nation's cinematic output. (STANDING APPLAUSE) It's time for me to look in the mirror, and ask myself one question. Are you satisfied - really and truly satisfied - with the amount of movies that you're watching? And I must say, that I can do better. (APPLAUSE)

Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, Syriana, The Squid and the Whale, Munich, The Producers, Good Night and Good Luck, and the list goes on and on, of movies that have gone unwatched by me. But this is my promise - that list ends here. (WILD APPLAUSE) Because, starting tonight, I've got a new attitude. (STANDING APPLAUSE) I'm going to see these films. (APPLAUSE) And with God as my witness, we'll return to glory and prominence. (STANDING APPLAUSE) And may the Lord bless and keep these United States of America. (WILD, FRENZIED APPLAUSE, WITH SOME "HUZZAH"S THROWN IN). Thank you.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Ken Lay - he's just a good guy!

Well, the big Enron trial starts today. Remember that? Where the heads of a Fortune 500 company stole billions of dollars from their employees as they went down in flames? Well, here's all the primer on that you could ever need. Personally, I think they should let Ken Lay go free. How could anyone named Ken Lay ever commit a crime? Except, of course, the crime of being SEXY! I once saw a man named Ken Lay do a very provocative dance, before I realized I had mistakenly gone to the wrong bachelor party. So, you know. There you have it.

Prepare to get Lay'd - Ken Lay'd. Awwww yeah.

Friday, January 27, 2006

This just in - Road Map barrels over cliff

I'll be the first person to admit I'm not a true Beltway Insider. I know a little, though. So with that said, is it just me, or was Hamas' landslide victory in the Palestinian elections a total shock? Of course, there are Washington types who will jadedly claim they saw this coming - there are Washington types who would claim they foresaw what you're having for lunch today - but really - was this in any way predictable? Is this the massive monkey wrench in the already-fragile Middle East political machine that blows everything right back to where it was before the Road Map and all the other efforts?

Hey, guys? I think we may be lost.

These elections gave Hamas - which regularly claims responsibility for some of the most deadly suicide attacks in Israel and openly wishes for that nation's destruction, not to mention the destruction of all things American - a majority in the Palestinian parliament.

Your new Palestinian lawmakers - dedicated to democratic, open-minded debate. And by "debate," I mean "killing."

So much for winning hearts and minds over there, huh? If this is not a resounding rebuff of American efforts to Westernize these cultures, I don't know what is. We are bringing in democracy, sure enough, but this just goes to show that democracy and American Values (whatever those are) don't mean the same thing. You can say what you want about our efforts and our intentions, but there's no two ways about it - this is one battle we undoubtedly lost. And it was a big battle. Bottom line - the Bush administration was dead wrong and perhaps even delusional to believe they could institute democracy in these nations and then just assume these nations would somehow become miniature Americas. That argument makes no sense. And now, if nothing else, we have proof.

Meanwhile, Israel is already
circling the wagons and preparing for a return to open aggression, with the U.S. pledging not to deal with Hamas. And all this with Israel's prime minister still in a coma. Of course, for its part, Hamas has no plans to change its tune.

By they way, what, if anything, does Hamas know about governing a population? What experience do they have in this field? Do they know that, if they continue to insist on talking about destroying a neighboring country, they would most likely be cut off from the international aid on which their people are almost entirely dependent?

So I ask again. Is it just me, or is all of this decidedly, you know, not good? Those gathering storm clouds look pretty mean.

(Photo Credit: West Berlin Fire Company #1, Planet Internet)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A very special guest blog featuring Bill Walton

(Editor's Note to both of my readers: Barring anything unforeseen, this will be the last basketball column for a while. Due to recent events, I've been admittedly overdoing it in this one subject area. But I felt the need to do one more. And when The Big Redhead comes calling, you just have to accept those charges. Good day to you.)

Throw it DOWN, big man, throw it DOWN! Well, I must start this blog post off by marvelling, as I always do this time of year, at the monstrously large number of stupid, stupid, STUPID people here on planet Earth and in the United States. Just a PALTRIFYING display of stupidity to be seen! You can see it in almost every facet of our national culture and consciousness, but nowhere can you witness this phenemenon more strongly, more baldly displayed for your consideration, than in the results of the
NBA All-Star Game fan voting.

As of right now, Yao Ming leads all players in the number of votes. This despite the fact that Yao has been out of action since December 18 with toe surgery. But don't take my word for it - take it from
The People's Daily, which I read exhaustively each and every morning. (I've linked here to the English version, despite the imperfections of Sino-English translation, just to make it more accessible to my American readers.) So why is Yao leading the votes over the brilliant and sublime piece of artwork in motion that is Kobe Bryant? And furthermore, why is Amare Stoudemire on the list at all, or the abominable, the vomitous Michael Olowokandi? And in a nutshell, why do the superstars of this league continue to receive votes over those lesser names who out-perform them? I will tell you why. Because NBA fans are stupid. They pay more attention to the commercials and the glitzy highlights than they do the action within the games themselves. What a HORRRRRRRIBLE display this is. Just a disgusting, putrid display of terribility on the part of the fans of this league.

Speaking of superstars, I would be remiss if I did not mention while I was here in the Nation's Capital, the fact that the Washington Wizards, as they approach the halfway point in the season with a
HUGE last-second win last night over my beloved Boston Celtics, 89-87, are THE most mediocre team in the NBA. Anyone who tells you otherwise is, quite simply, an All-Star Voter. In other words, they are an unmitigated fool.

As usual, superstar Gilbert Arenas (whither Arenas in this All-Star race?) and his band of merry men came charging back from a major deficit to come through for the Bullets, with two clutch last-second tosses from the charity stripe to secure the victory behind enemy lines at the Fleet Center. This came with the help of the terrific, and terrifically streaky, Antawn Jamison's 16 fourth-quarter points, and center Brendan Haywood's season-high 21.

I still do not care what anyone says about Haywood - he is an absolutely awful basketball player. If his heart were any weaker, the back of his jersey would read "Cheney." If his hands were any stonier, on the back of that jersey would be writ the name of my non-basketball idol, "Garcia." Because make no mistake, my friends, Brendan Haywood has stone hands. And not porous stone such as
pumice or basalt, but hard, non-porous stone which nothing can penetrate, like polished marble, or corundum.

Finally, I would like to mention the big win last night by the Maryland Terrapins. For you see, I am a man of the amateur hardwood as well. Led by Nikolai Caner-Medley and Michael Jones, the Terps
stepped up big time to get the W in their first game without leading scorer Chris McCray. Even though their opponent, the Georgia Tech Jackets of Yellow, are depleted this year, I think I can safely predict that the Terps are on their way to winning college basketball's National Championship.

That is all for me, as I am off to deliver the keynote address to the Washington convention of the National Hyperbole Association. So until next time, this is Bill Walton, telling you to throw it DOWN, big man! Throw it DOWN!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bonus: McCray Fallout Continues

After the news broke Monday that the Maryland Terrapins basketball team was losing Chris McCray - arguably their best player - for the rest of the season, the blame game swung into high gear across the area.

As a good coach should, Gary Williams is
trying to take the heat for the situation, even though it clearly has nothing directly to do with him. Meanwhile, Mike Wilbon from the Post lays the blame solely on McCray's shoulders, as does The Baltimore Sun's John Eisenberg.

Speaking of the Sun, they've got
pretty low hopes for the rest of the Terps season. (I still think they can make some noise with Mike Jones, but you knew that already.)

For its part, The Diamondback, the University of Maryland's outstanding daily student newspaper, rightly laments the team's almost comical
lack of senior leadership. Hmmm...where have I heard that before?

But in perhaps the best (and worst) article so far on this, the Post takes the entire recruiting class (and, by extension, the coaching staff) to task by providing
a depressingly extensive recap of all the problems and shortcomings - both on and off the court - that have beset the Maryland basketball class of 2006. Or is that the class of 2002?

Either way, they're leaving after this season. And in the end, and after reading that last article, that seems to be the important part. But while it's depressing for me, it's much more depressing for the guy behind
this site. There goes your get-rich-quick scheme, buddy. But don't worry - www.willbowers.com is still available. Goterps.

P.S. Sadly, the McCray fallout isn't the biggest story in College Park today, after a 22-year-old student
died in a fire in his off-campus apartment. These apartments, called "Knox Boxes," are familiar party destinations for all Maryland students, and are not exactly known for being the most well-maintained places. A sad story. Maybe it's time they bring those things up to code. They're as old as the hills.

What the fuck is a "Can Do Attitude" anyway?

I apologize in advance for the rant I'm about to go on, but I have a question. When your boss comes and tells you you need to have a "Can Do Attitude," what the fuck are they talking about? Think about it. As far as I can tell, it's either a passive-aggressive way of ordering underlings to blindly follow all instructions (and fucking whistle while they do it), or, it is entirely meaningless.

Do you have a "Can Do Attitude," Johnson? Great...now here's my laundry. Light starch, delicate cycle. Can Do?

a survey from those fun-loving party animals at the American Management Association. Its purpose is to determine whether YOU have a Can Do Attitude. The questions ask things like "are you willing to take on other peoples' grunt work?" and "are you a shameless kiss-ass?" If you answered "yes," then you have a Can Do Attitude! Apparently, being a spineless peon who overwhelms oneself with work is positive, somehow.

Here's a case in point regarding the meaning (or lack thereof) of the phrase itself:
www.ucando.org. I defy you to read this Web site and find something in there that isn't just a bunch of gobbledy gook. The home page touts the site has "An ability-focused website dedicated to helping all people develop a 'can-do' attitude and approach to life...no matter what the obstacles." Gobbledy gook on line two. Gobbledy gook? You have a phone call on line two.

So the next time someone tells you to bring your "Can Do Attitude," tell them to screw off. And when you get fired, you'll be your own person again, and won't you feel so much better! Of course you will. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go give my boss her morning boot polish.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Silver lining in McCray's loss?

Well, the Maryland Terrapins basketball team and its fans received some tough news yesterday - leading scorer and guard Chris McCray seems to be finished as a Terrapin, after he was ruled academically ineligible because he was unable to maintain the required 2.0 GPA.

So long, Chris.

This is a big blow for the team - before he inexplicably fell victim to Senioritis, McCray was its most consistent scorer and was a good defender. But before we start waving the black flags and shoveling dirt on this Terrapins basketball season, might I suggest that this could actually benefit the Terps.

Hear me out. I'm not going all Skip Bayless on you, just being contrarian for no good reason. But lots of people - including myself - have been lobbying for more
Mike Jones minutes for quite a while now. This should accomplish that. Jones is a dynamic scorer, and seems to play with more fire than McCray.

See, McCray's best and worst quality was his numbing consistency.
Playing Chaminade? 17 points, two assists, three steals. Playing Boston College? 16 points, five assists, one steal. Playing Duke? 12 points, one assist, one steal.

My point here is that McCray - despite arguably being Maryland's best player - just didn't have that big-game gene. He played his minutes, he got his stats, he went home. It was almost like he was oblivious to the different implications of each game and game situation. I could never see him exhorting teammates to get him the ball in the clutch. And this season, the Terps need a spark like that. And I can see Mike Jones providing that spark. Either way, it's safe to say Jones' play will largely affect the rest of the season. There will probably also be more minutes for Sterling Ledbetter and Parrish Brown - gulp - but in a nutshell, it all comes down to Jones.

Step up, Mike.

Also, I can see this having positive team effects, as the Terps a) circle the wagons and "do it for Chris" for the rest of the season, and b) stop taking teams lightly, now that they're short-handed. And people are nervous about the defensive drop-off, but I've never seen Mike Jones suck on D, and didn't he shut down LeBron James in some of those 2003 high school all-star games?

Added bonus: Is it just me, or does Mike Jones bear a resemblance to Wilco lead singer Jeff Tweedy?

So there you have it. Here's hoping the team can move on from this. It will be EXTREMELY interesting to see how the Terps respond tomorrow night at Georgia Tech - all of a sudden a serious fulcrum game for the Terps. If the team doesn't make some positive adjustments, it could be a looong season. Not much one can do but bid a fond farewell to Chris McCray, with best wishes for his present and future, and hope for the best in the Mike Jones era in College Park. Goterps.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Bonus: Pimp My Blog

Check out my new tricked-out Blog, complete with newsreader subscribability and sweet Technorati icon. To subscribe, XML style, just click on the orange soundwave icon thingy.

Thanks to Brian for hooking up my html-challenged behind. Truly, Brian, you are the wind beneath my wings.
I've officially been PIMPED!

It's just how I do it, baby.

81? Oh my God!

I was going to write a blog today about Jake Plummer's unfortunate, if predictable, vomiting-on-himself episode in the AFC championship game, as well as the Seahawks' long-awaited and well-earned first Super Bowl berth.

That was before I opened the newspaper this morning.

After doing so, I discovered that one Kobe Bryant went off last night for an astounding 81 points - the second-highest single-game total in history, behind only fellow Laker Wilt Chamberlain's 100 - in NBA history. He scored almost 65 percent of his team's total points. My witty rejoinder to this is something along the lines of, Oh My God.

Gaze upon the visage of planet Earth's greatest basketball player.

Good point in the L.A. Times about this, too, basically saying that this explosion wasn't entirely unforeseen. When you've been "working up" to a game like this, almost as if it was a question not of if but of when, then you, my friend, are a basketball player for the ages.

Now I admit that I've been among the legion of
Kobe haters. I was one of the many who felt he was too selfish and too "me-first" to ever have real success running his own team after ratting out Shaq and running him out of town. And you know what? That might all still be true. They're still just 22-19 and third in their division. If the playoffs started today, they would have the seventh (out of eight) playoff spot. So in terms of leading a truly winning team, Kobe Bryant has yet to be successful.

However. The guy scored 81 freaking points last night! Give him the MVP trophy right now. I mean, right. Now. Stop the season. The guy can't be stopped. I just wished I'd seen the game. Stupid late West Coast start times.

Please don't hurt me, sir. What have I done to upset you, my liege, so that I might rectify my transgression?

So anyway, put me in the converted column. I've still got Kobe questions - he's still not even a scrub on my All-Time Squad with Jordan, Robertson, Bird, Russell, Shaq, and a very few others. But there is absolutely no more doubt as to whether he's a true, true great. The guy is a monster, and I have to tip my cap. Thank goodness he doesn't play the defensively hur-ting Wizards again this season. That could have been ugly.

P.S. A quick congrats to the Georgetown Hoyas, now officially the D.C. area's second-best college basketball team.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Humans and Whales: There ain't room enough for the both of us

First of all, just finished reading Philip Roth's The Human Stain, and it was a very good read. Roth has this unusual and compelling style where you're not sure whether you're reading fiction or non-fiction. It's a very cool thing. The Human Stain is one in a trilogy of books Roth wrote with common themes regarding the last half of the 20th century. (The other two are American Pastoral and I Married A Communist.)

Doesn't this book jacket kick ass? Yeah, it does!

I never read the Communist one, but Pastoral and Stain are like polar opposites of each other, in a good way. They are "bookends" if you will. Pastoral deals with a man with a perfect outward life whose family crisis ruins him, while Stain deals with a man whose outward crisis ruins his family life. There's overlap, of course, but that's it in a nutshell. I liked Pastoral better, but Stain was good, too. Roth can be a little self-indulgent and long-winded sometimes, but the way he explores the insides of his characters is terrific. I think of him as a kind of modern-day Henry James, in some ways. But anyway, if you never read Roth before, you should. He's got all kinds of great stuff out there. Or, if you are a lazy American who sacrifices self-actualization on the altar of instant gratification, you can
watch the movie. Wait. I want to watch the movie, too. Who am I kidding? Nicole Kidman is hot.

Speaking of human stains, though, I would be remiss if I didn't mention this latest government report about beached whales that, shockingly, completely and deliberately failed to mention
naval sonar as a possible cause of whale beachings. Surprise!

AAAAAAARRRRRUUUGHGHGHGH!!!!! Looks like I just randomly beached myself for no reason. My bad!

The Bush administration, editing scientific reports for their own benefit? It's true! But hey, it's their prerogative. This administration has no time for "
facts," or "information." Let's just slash scientician funding and end this scientistical talk once and for all.

Hey, if you guys want to eat me, go ahead. I'm just gonna die out here anyway.

After all, I mean, don't you want the whales to beach themselves? That's
good eats! And does it look like I'm made of lamp oil? No. No, it does not. Want to know why? Because I'm NOT made of freaking lamp oil, that's why! And if you'll excuse me, Mr. "I don't like it when whales die," but I have a shack to heat. And if you don't think those shacks get drafty, come pay me a visit some time! Whale burgers on me.

(Bottom two photo credits: Science Daily, NRDC)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Rolling Stone needs to simmer

So I feel the need to open a can of worms today. And that can is called, What the hell is up with Rolling Stone magazine these days?

This week, there's this article on their Web site about
Axl Rose, and the new Guns N' Roses record, the oft-delayed "Chinese Democracy," which Axl swears in the interview will be released this year. That's right, Axl. And I think I just saw my spaceship land, and there are lollipops coming out!

But regardless, in this interview, they refer to "Chinese Democracy" as "arguably the most anticipated album in rock & roll history." Hmmmmm. Wait, what? They also refer to him as "the most mythical rock star on the planet." So, did Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan die? You know, the two
rock stars that Rolling Stone sweats all the time and which dominate these two Top 500 lists? I love Axl and Guns N' Roses and think "Appetite for Destruction" is one of the best albums of the 1980s, but "Chinese Democracy" the most anticipated rock album ever, from the most mythical rock star on the planet? What planet is this, exactly?

Good Charlotte is The Greatest Band In History

But that's just a larger symptom of the Rolling Stone disease. A disease involving too much celebrity fawning, too many grandiose statements, and too little long-term memory. One minute,
Britney Spears is the Queen of Pop, with Rolling Stone declaring "if loving her is wrong, we don't want to be right." The next, they're mocking her. Well, which one is it? Soon after, Usher is The King of Pop. There is no Queen of Pop - what are YOU talking about? And now this week, Axl Rose is The Most Mythical Rock Star On The Planet. What was Axl's last good album, and when was it released? And where were all these people on the Rolling Stone Top 500 lists, if they like them so much?

'NSync is, quite frankly, The Greatest Band in History

Don't even get me STARTED on the CD and movie reviews, especially the movie reviews. EVERYTHING gets three stars. I could blow my nose in a dirty sweat sock, and they'd give it three stars. If I was famous, of course.

The White Stripes is The Greatest Band in History (notice the subtitle saying "Good Movies Are Back." So why was everything getting three stars before?)

So the point is, when did Rolling Stone's attention span become that of a water flea, and when did PR staffs take over the magazine? Does a publicist call Rolling Stone and say "I want you to put Ashleigh Simpson on the cover and call her The Greatest Singer of All Time," and they just do it? Everyone is the greatest this or the most consequential that, with no context or continuity whatsoever. We said Ashleigh Simpson was the greatest singer ever? No way, fool. Look at this month's cover, where we clearly say that Carrie Underwood is The Greatest Singer Ever!

I'm not saying that it's bad to cover a diversity of music, or have different opinions. Quite the opposite. I'm just saying, have some coherence. Don't love Britney Spears one minute and hate her the next. Or, maybe you want to write an article that actually tells BOTH sides of the story, without fawning or labeling someone the best this or the most consequential iconic indispensible that. Rack appeal be damned - write good articles, and people will buy it! Didn't they used to? Now, it's like they don't expect you to remember they paid the same hyperbolic compliments to N' Sync as they did to Neil Young as they did to Axl Rose. It reminds me of a 1980s sitcom where there's no coherent week-to-week storyline. Something happens, they resolve it, they make their points, they throw it in the garbage, they move on to next week.

Well, screw that. Either Rolling Stone has given up trying to make a decent and historically respectable magazine, or they have multiple personalities. Either way, that once-trendsetting magazine has gone downhill, and just makes grandiose statments to move units, and/or panders to attractive celebrities who will appear on the cover. They're not the only ones to do this, of course. But they might be the saddest ones. Kind of a shame. I'll be in my spaceship.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Idols and Titles - a Hump Day potpourri

First of all, I want to apologize for temporarily shirking my duties - my blog duties - due to the long weekend and an all-day Tuesday meeting.

Secondly, a belated tip of the cap to the Seattle Seahawks, who as you know
finished off the Redskins last Saturday, 20-10. The Skins were unable to overcome their anemic, one-trick pony offense, while the Seahawks circled the wagons to win after losing NFL MVP Shaun Alexander.

Credit where it's due: D-Jax capitalizes on Skins' banged-up secondary.

It's tough to be too upset about this. One, because honestly, the Hawks were due. But second and most importantly, because the Skins
grossly outperformed expectations this year, and there is reason for optimism - cautious optimism - going into the offseason. We've got some guys injured and we need to make some moves, but I think for the first time in several years, we've got a contender's foundation. Congratulations, fellas.

Now, looking forward, I see Pittsburgh going all the way to win the Lombardi Trophy. They're peaking at the right time, they look tough, they look hungry, and they're a smart football team. I never thought I'd say that about a team coached by Bill Cowher and QBd by Ben "If you got a problem, YO, I'll solve it" Roethlisberger, but it's the truth. If Big Ben and his merry men want to keep proving me wrong, so be it.

Ladies and gentleman, the NFL champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

P.S. For all the local Skins fans looking for a really terrific sports bar in the city, let me formally recommend
Grand Slam. Washington needs more places like this.

Enough about football now. Moving on to American Idol. You know what? I've a good feeling about this little show. I really think it can make it. And the first episode of its new season
debuted last night (what network was that on again?) with the usual cast of whacky characters - bad singers and embittered would-be idols and so forth. It was actually a pretty weak episode, but entertaining nonetheless.

You bitches gonna be sorry you cut me when me sell platiminum records.

After watching pretty much all of every season up to now (and I am not ashamed), here's a couple pointers for future wanna-bes:

1) Don't wear any stupid costumes.

2) Don't peform your own song.

3) Don't snap your fingers into the camera and drink all that Haterade just because you lost. You lost because you are not a good singer. So put the Celine Dion tape down and look in that mirror, girl/boyfriend.

4) Don't wear a T-shirt and sweatpants. If you're not going to break out your nice clothes (and by nice clothes, I don't mean last year's prom dress) during a singing contest being aired on national TV, what the hell are you waiting for? Or, are you just a little imbalanced?

A perfomer tryout? On national TV? Time to bust out that pit-stained T-shirt, dawg!

That is all. I feel good, very good, about this little show that could. NOAM, out.

(Photo credits: AP, Reality TV Magazine, Curlio)

Friday, January 13, 2006

What else is there to say - GO SKINS!

Well, the Redskins are serious, serious underdogs in Vegas. But you know what? I'm still feeling good. I'm feeling confident. Because from here on out the rest of the season is gravy. And you know what else? I think we can keep it rolling. Here's four reasons why:

Seattle fans are super nice, apparently. No homefield edge there. Volume, shmolume. Every stadium is loud, especially in the playoffs.

we've got Joe Gibbs, the man, the myth, the legend. Read that linked story and tell me if it doesn't remind you why you have total faith in him and his teams.

we've got a little revenge factor that could give our defense that little extra juice.

And finally, we've got a rap! Check this out:


If that doesn't get you pumped up, Skins fans, nothing will.

But anyway, here's the bottom line. Even if the Skins' season ends tomorrow in Seattle, it will still be an unqualified success and will have exceeded all rational expectations. So, the Redskins are playing with house money at this point. Seattle is most decidedly not. They know it, and the Redskins know it. That's why the Skins will come out loose in the rainy city, and Seattle will come out tight. Ballgame.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Duke still sucks. Maryland not far behind.

Well, we got our butts kicked last night. Final score, 76-52, at Cameron. No two ways about it. Nevertheless, everything I said below still stands. I look forward to the rematch.

I think this game was a blowout not because Duke played particularly well, but because Maryland played badly. So let us break down the Maryland Terrapins' performance, shall we?

Their defense was good (at times) but their offense was so shaky it was painful to watch. Check out this stat - in the first half, Maryland made eight shots and committed eightTEEN turnovers. Again. They made EIGHT shots, and EIGHTEEN turnovers. That is beyond shaky. The initial reaction is to blame the lack of offensive cohesion on the point guard position, and of course, that certainly plays a role (Strawberry, who is still learning and definitely improving, had a 1:5 assist-to-turnover ratio, errrrr).

But to blame everything on that oversimplifies things a little bit, I think. These kinds of big, rivalry games hinge on the team leaders, ie, the seniors. And in this game, the three big seniors, Nik Caner-Medley, Travis Garrison, and Chris McCray, according to the
the box score averaged seven points, seven rebounds (not too shabby), and 0.6 assists in 26 minutes! You need more than that from your seniors. You just do. Garrison, in particular. And this is the last time I'm gonna pick on him (heheh, I say that now) or the rest of the Terps until March Madness. But when you're the starting center against your archrival on the road for the last time, and you come up with 0 points on 0-8 shooting (and there were some BAD misses in there), 7 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 turnovers in 20 minutes, while the guy you're guarding goes nuts with a triple-double, THAT, my friends, is what is known as a black hole.

I don't want to heap this all on them, because no Terrapin played particularly well on any kind of consistent basis. But the seniors set the tone and, unfortunately, these seniors just don't seem to have the intestinal fortitude to go to work and get the job done. (I'm going to resist the urge to say we miss the big-game presence of a certain point guard from last year, as the team is by and large much better off without him. In unrelated news, how's Maccabi Rishon LeZion doing?)

Here's a perfect example of what I'm talking about: During the first half, Caner-Medley grabbed a nice rebound and started dribbling unguarded up the court. He had numbers. But I knew, I KNEW, that he was going to lose the ball. And he did. He coughed it up the instant he hit traffic. No real pressure - he just lost the handle. Because he was too busy looking over his shoulder and overthinking and playing tight and so forth. What if that had been Steve Blake in his last game at Cameron? Would Blake have lost the handle? But wait, that's not even a fair comparison. What if it had been Byron Mouton, or Keith Booth, or Rodney Elliott? What would those guys have done? They might have had less talent, but they undoubtedly had more heart. And they would have NEVER missed the tournament. And there, in a nutshell, is your difference.

The team definitely looks more at ease (and more competitive) when Ebekwe, Jones, and Gist are leading the charge, and the seniors take more of a complementary role. But playing them more would conflict with Gary Williams' long-standing policy of starting and heavily playing his seniors.

So it looks like we've got a
logjam here. And hey, this ain't the pros, where we can go pick up a free agent. This is the hand we've been dealt, and for better or for worse, we've got to find a way to coach up our players, get the chemistry right, and play the combinations that give us the best chance to win ballgames. This is the time when the coaches earn the big paychecks. The ball is in the coaches' court, so to speak. And that's all I'm saying. I'm not saying anything. I'm just saying. Goterps.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Duke Sucks

Monster game tonight when the University of Maryland Terrapins go into Cameron Indoor Stadium to renew the nation's premier college basketball rivalry.

like it or not, Duke fans, that is what this is. I'm tired of Dookies always talking about how Maryland isn't their rival. Well, guess what, Dookies. You're not the only ones with a say in the matter, despite what your typical solipsism might suggest to you. And of course, there is the small matter of fact that, as of late, Maryland owns Duke. You can tell me all you want about Carolina being your "real" rival. And there may be a small grain of truth somewhere in that sentiment. (Of course, there is also truth to the fact that Duke would need a real football team for them to have a real rivalry with Maryland - or anyone.)

Wow - the Duke cheerleaders were never that great, but this is a new low!

But that's beside the point for these purposes. The point is, Maryland hates Duke,
we ain't scurrrred to bring it to you, we've had some seriously hardcore match-ups over the years, and did I mention, Maryland hates Duke. Both sides don't need to shake hands and sign a contract for a rivalry to exist, and there's no rivalry cap - you can have more than one. So keep on being sanctimonious about your rivalries, Dookies. No skin off my back. It's just unfortunate that we will continue to hate and beat you.

So why does everyone hate Duke? And before you answer, please spare me the "you're just jealous" angle. Maryland has its own national championship, a perpetually strong program, a massive fan base, a coach with both his original hips (okay, that was a low blow. But I'm not deleting it), and so on. You got nothing we need.

So you know what it is? It's your white-bread, holier-than-thou, goody-two-shoes program, with its perpetual band of fruity sharp-shooters and its smirking, elitist, lily-white, nerdy, self-congratulatory fans out there in the thriving metropolis that is greater Raleigh-Durham. It's all very smarmy and self-important and, gah, so irritating! The bottom line, Duke people, is that you're just not a very likable group. I've met some individual Dookies that I liked, but still, as a group you just rub people the wrong way. But don't take it from this Terp. Google "Duke Sucks" (as I have done
here) and see what comes up. Hell - even other Duke students dislike you!

(Sigh)..those Duke fans are SOOO clever!

Anyway, this is a big rivalry, period. And despite what the Duke lovers of the world say, I think Maryland has a shot to keep the winning streak going. We have good matchups with them - Strawberry/McCray on Redick, Caner-Medley on Melchionni, and so on. If we can find a way to stop Shelden Williams, we can be in this game. That's where my main man Travis Garrison comes in! Come on, buddy! Pretend
it's Western Carolina all over again! I've said before Maryland's key to success this year is to play every game like it's the Duke game. Well, it starts with the genuine article. The real season starts tonight. GO TERPS!!!!

(Top Photo Credit:

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Jack Abramoff concerned. You know, for others.

With the Skins in the second round of the playoffs and the Terps going into
Cameron Indoor Stadium tomorrow evening, it's a sports-heavy week here on the No One Appreciates Me Weblog. So, I thought I would take a quick break in this "eye of the storm" to make note of some of the major fallout already taking place in the wake of Abramoff-Gate. It seems that the mighty are falling. Well, some of them anyway.

Jack Abramoff ecstatic.

First of all, the lobbying firm he was associated with
is closing. Huzzah! Don't let the door hit you on the way out, jerks. Also, that bastion of the democratic process, that fulfillment of the founding fathers' dreams, Tom DeLay, has decided not to try and regain his post as House majority leader. This is all good news. A serious house cleaning is in order. This corruption is the kind of thing that gums up the works for everything else. It clogs the pipes. And this case may be the Drano needed to get things moving correctly again.

Jack Abramoff raging.

In still more encouraging news, a recent poll shows that
this is making an impact in the American public. People feel that Congress has too much power, and that it's a bipartisan problem. Interesting. Hey, it's just great to know that people are actually giving a crap about their leaders. And I mean real leaders here, not Paris Hilton ones.

Jack Abramoff feeling a burning sensation.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Redskins play the respect game

Looks like the team spin is already in full swing for the Washington Redskins' next playoff game, following the exorcism that was Saturday's 17-10 victory over Tampa Bay, who now hopefully will continue their slide back into NFL anonymity, where they belong. I don't know how they got so big and popular anyway. One Super Bowl and a cutey-patootey coach does not a perennial NFL powerhouse create. So go get your fuckin shinebox, Tampa Bay. Pardon my French, but sometimes you just have to drop the f-bomb. And that one felt goooood.

Now on to the business at hand. Many questions remain between now and the Seattle game. No one needs me to point out, yet again, the Skins' measly offensive numbers, the fact that both Washington TDs were directly precipitated by defense (and I haven't seen a defensive performance like that in the playoffs since the 2000 Ravens), the fact that, once again, something looks wrong with Brunell (even when he's playing well, there's a this-can't-last feeling to it), and so on and so forth. But Gibbs is the ultimate sails-adjuster, and I'm pretty confident he'll once again correct for the way the wind is blowing, and right the metaphorical ship before next week's tilt in Seattle.

Speaking of Seattle. Washington Post humor columnist
Tony Kornheiser is right. The Seahawks have no pedigree whatsoever. But that can be a bad thing. They have "we don't get no respect" issues of their own. So that angle will probably cancel itself out. Hey, Seattle. Want respect? Win a playoff game. But hey, I probably shouldn't egg them on (because, you know, they're all reading this). Basically, I think there will be no clear psychological edge in this one (the Skins definitely had the mental edge in the Tampa game). It's going to come down to will, most likely. And health could play a factor (advantage Seattle in that column).

I actually do feel that Seattle gets a bad rap in the media (particularly Shaun Alexander, who is an absolute monster). But if they want respect, they'll have to wait until next year. I think the Skins are going to keep it rolling. Go Skins!

By the way - a note to both of my readers. Anyone know of a really slam-bang bar in the District to watch a Skins game? I know of a few good ones, but am looking for a really, truly great one. Much obliged.

Friday, January 06, 2006

S-K-I-N-S spells Vengeance!

Can you feel it? A lot of people can. The R word. No, not "Redskins." Not "rutabega." That's right, baby. REVENGE. And REMATCH. All right, that's two. But you get the idea.

Now, back in the playoffs, things can come full circle for the Washington Redskins. And it seems to me that a MASSIVE karmic re-alignment is in store, as they square off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have been getting over on the Redskins and acting like rock stars in this league for far too long. They're the Bucs, for God's sake. Time to bring those assholes back to earth. And it happens this Saturday. 4 p.m. Be there.

Hmmm...do you think Sean Taylor's gonna bring it tomorrow?

Not only am I talking about
the November loss, which came on a controversial two-point conversion, I'm talking about the 2000 game, which was the Skins' last playoff game before this one, in which the Skins botched a game-winning field goal on a bad snap.

And hey, the Bucs have been due for a crushing for some time. The recent Super Bowl win, Gruden
becoming a glamour boy. Don't they have a serious butt-whooping coming? And who better to do it than the Washington Redskins?

We'll see how it shakes out on Saturday. The Skins are still the underdogs, but I think they can do it. God help me, but I really believe they can do it. GO SKINS!

(Photo Credit: The Washington Post)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Welcome to this episode of "That's Not A Word!"

Welcome, welcome to today's episode. When it rains it truly pours, as barely a week after our last contestant, we have a new entrant in the TNAW pantheon. Today's big winner is ESPN college football analyst and general campus heartthrob Kirk Herbstreit. During a SportsCenter segment breaking down last night's outstanding Rose Bowl Game which saw Texas upset juggernaut USC to win college football's national championship, Herbstreit was breaking down Texas quarterback Vince Young's absolutely brilliant performance (he got 467 total yards. Good God!).

Good God! I am so f-ing handsome!

So during his breakdown, Herbstreit said of Young, "you just have to repreciate what he did out there tonight." Flags flew on the play, if you will. We went to the instant replay. We reviewed the tape. We looked up "repreciate" in the dictionary. And guess what Kirk Herbstreit - THAT'S NOT A WORD!

Kirk takes "time out" for the "That's Not A Word!" Dancers. See what winning on this show will get you? Now get out there and lose some brain cells!

Your prize will not be as great as past winners however, for you are by and large a truly good college football analyst, and the ladies seem to like you for some reason. So for your victory today, you will receive "only" a two-month tour of duty proofreading letters to the editor of Bop Magazine!

Congratulations, Kirk! And we'll see YOU next time on "That's Not A Word!"

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Bonus Blog: Coal Mining Companies are now called Jerk Companies

So let me get this straight. Thirteen coal miners got trapped in the mine. A mine in which 273 safety violations have occurred. After many hours, the mine company tells the miners' families that all but one has survived. The relieved family members go to church and prepare a celebration. But several more hours later, another announcement, as the company tells them that, in fact, all but one has died, not survived.

Sorry, guys. When we said "alive" before? About your family breadwinner? We meant "dead." Expect a ham in the mail as a token of our apology.

Ben Hatfield, CEO of the International Coal Group, owns the mine. The unsafe mine. His reaction to this? "Welcome to the worst day of my life." A little flip, isn't it? Hey, Ben. How about your wife gets hit by a car (which the driver has been operating for several months without brakes), you are told she survived, then you are told no, she's really dead, then the driver tells you about the awful day that HE is having? Please. People are dead, but let's hear about your professional crisis. Asshole.

Mr. Abramoff, do you know what the term "rat" means?

I'm sure you've all seen the movie Goodfellas. (And if you haven't, welcome to America!) Well, ladies and gentleman, I give you Henry Hill, the goverment version: Mr. Jack "The Rat" Abramoff.

Hey, Tommy, howya doin?

Washington is abuzz. Can you feel it in the air? The smirking and eye-rolling and cynicism games are in full swing. For yesterday, mercenary conservative lobbyist Abramoff
pleaded guilty to various charges of corruption. He'll get a lighter punishment for testifying against all the Congressman he bribed with trips, campaign money, and other perks in exchange for their support on the issues Abramoff lobbied for, which was a wide variety of things. He also paid certain newspaper columnists to espouse specific opinions on certain subjects that he favored.

Republican Bob Ney is the only Congressman named so far as having taken bribes from Abramoff, you can be sure there's more to come, including Democrat Harry Reid and that bastion of freedom and democracy, Tom DeLay. Surprised? Boy, that Tom DeLay sure does things the right way, doesn't he? The man who has been arrested - not accused, not investigated, but arrested, by the police - for money laundering. I say, a plague on all their houses. All this corruption has to stop.

Hey, Tommy, howya doin?

But all that said, Abramoff might be the shadiest of them all. Not only did he do all this corrupt stuff, but now he's ratting out his friends to save his own miserable sorry hide. Just like that pathetic rat Henry Hill in Goodfellas (who is
a real guy, as you know).

Like they say in Goodfellas, "people call them rats because they'll do anything to survive." Abramoff knows what "rat" means. He actually quoted The Godfather in business meetings and had underworld ties! Is this guy nuts or what? It's cool when this stuff is on a TV show, but not when these people are making selfish decisions that affect the lives of every man, woman, and child in the country.

Get him out of here. Him and all his other friends. They're just like the mob, only worse, because they can mess with 300 million people, instead of just 3,000 or whatever. This is a huge scandal, and maybe Abramoff's finking will help bring all this dirty laundry out. But still, he's a dirty, self-interested rat. Is anyone a straight shooter in Washington anymore?

Cue smirks and eye rolls.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I hate these "Back To Reality" days

Ugh. After three solid days of snowboarding, snow football, and snow drinking (and in this last item, by "snow," I mean "alcohol"), I am feeling rugged. I can feel the cartilage crunching in my shoulders when I try to lift them. Not that anyone cares about my bitching and whining, but I really do hate these post-holiday back-to-work days.

You know what I dislike most about them? It's not actually being back in the office or having to do work again or saying good-bye to another one of life's fleeting moments of carefree fun. What I dislike most are those people in your workplace who seem happy to be back. Who are completely perky and "back on the horse" first thing Monday morning, sending memos and requesting meetings and so forth. What I want to know is, where are the souls of these people, and how can they get them back?

Welcome back, friends! Aren't you glad those pesky holidays are over? Say, I have an exciting new assignment for you...

I know not everyone parties it up during the holidays (I keep Christmas low-key party-wise, but I really blow the doors off for New Year's) but still. How can you be so chipper your first day back? Didn't you enjoy the holidays? Aren't you a little sad to see them go? Aren't you a little rusty after having all those days off and office downtime? Aren't you going to miss - just a little - all the friends and family and fun you most likely saw and had over the holidays? Can't we please have a small adjustment period?

On behalf of all of us people who are, you know, fun-loving, I beseech you to give me just a little ease-back-in time. I don't need a lot. Just a little. How about this - I'll do whatever work is necessary, but can we not start any new projects? If you want me to call twelve hardware stores to find out what shade of white the office paint is, can you give me a couple days? That's all I ask. Thank you.

Also, huge congrats to the Redskins on winning a gutty, hard-fought victory over the Eagles to make the playoffs. I was wrong about them, and I freely and happily admit that. It was a great game on Sunday, and they look like they're ready for prime time. Yeah, yeah, famous last words. And the Bucs will be tough. But they're due for some Redskins revenge, after the Skins got robbed this season on that Alstott two-point conversion call which cost them the game. Not to mention the Bucs knocked the Skins out of the playoffs the last time they were in in 2000 - when the then-Redskins kicking team couldn't snap the ball and get a game-winning field goal off the ground. I think the Bucs have a karma adjustment coming this weekend. Or, at least on paper they do. But you know how that goes.

Anyway, back to work. Ugh.