Friday, March 31, 2006

Dear Slate, you complete me, love, me

I never knew what happiness was, Slate Magazine. On your front page today reside articles on Bill Frist, a toaster, Barry Bonds, baby seals, journalism, and breast-feeding. What a cornucopia of pleasures for coach-class morons like me who have to look up the spelling of words like "cornucopia."

Perhaps the best dispatch from today's edition, however, is the one on so-called Katrina Cottages, little 400-square-foot houses designed to be erected on devastated lots and eventually turned into permanent homes. According to the writer - some guy named "Witold" - they cost $10,000 less than the temporary trailers provided by FEMA. Unfortunately, they seem to be modeled after the dollhouse my dad built for my sister back in 1986, without using any tools. But hey, beggars can't choose, right? Hope you like your new stove. It's Zippo powered! But you have to supply your own Zippo. As someone who has spent a lot of time in trailers and trailer parks, I must say - I'd have gone with the trailer.

Do you think my roof makes me look fat?

Where was I before I started being mean. Ah, yes. Slate, I love you so. So fucking much! Where else would I have learned of such a story? Nowhere. That's where.

Story Link

(Photo Credit: Slate. Of course.)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Staredowns - are your children safe?

When news breaks, The Gazette is there! According to today's, several Frederick County high school students are returning to class after they "threateningly eyed each other" a few days ago, in what a school spokeswoman characterized as "a form of intimidation."

Whew! I'm glad that's behind us...for now. In the meantime, here's a question the story didn't answer - where do staredowns rank on the intimidation scale? Are they above or below the glove slap? The mother joke? The spit-at-the-feet? The smoke-in-the-face? Inquiring minds want to know!

Meanwhile, in other Gazette news: Rowdy Teens On Corner May Possess Swiss Army Knife! Planning Board Commissioner Falls Asleep During Mandatory Referral Hearing! Local Man Wears T-shirt! You heard it HERE first.

The Gazette Story Link

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Should I go to Lulu's this Friday?

I'm debating whether to go to Lulu's Mardi Gras club, which is closing Friday after something like a 20-year run in D.C.'s Foggy Bottom neighborhood. Every town and city has one of these places - college students galore, a place where the Miller Lite Spring Break Krew can pay a visit, with the evening hosted by The Real World's Derrick. Body shots half off.

Yo, I'll see YOU at Lulu's, dog. Werd to ya mutha.

At this stage of my life, would I ever, EVER frequent a venue such as Lulu's? Err, no. But this Friday, I'm considering breaking this taboo. Why? Because it's gonna be a twenty-dollar open bar all night! Who can pass that up? Although at the age of 29, I'd be wobbling dangerously over Old Guy At The Club territory. And no one wants to be The Old Guy At The Club. But the $20 open bar is calling me. WWDD? I wonder. That's "What would Derrick do," for all you non-believers. It is, like, totally an epic conundrum.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Smug bloggers and writers are my superiors in every way

Leave it to some guy who writes for Slate to be in fourth place out of three million in the ESPN office pool. My bracket, needless to say, is dead. I guess the sweet job wasn't enough -- he had to fill out an extraterrestrially good bracket, then breezily type up a story about it as his latest dispatch for But wait, there's more. He couldn't help but mention he filled this out in just a few minutes -- while on vacation in India! Just another day at the office.

So I ask you, Slate guy. Want to sleep with my wife while you're at it? Go ahead, ball her out. No? Because you're dating a leggy Italian pre-med you met back at Columbia? Well, why don't I just drink out of the fucking toilet bowl.

I think I should just throw in the towel here, and admit it -- every Internet writer is better than me on every conceivable level. Let's hand the Nobel over to the Instapundit guy, elect Ariana Huffington president (Boing Boing can be her running mate), rig the lottery for Wil Wheaton, and give Bill Simmons that six-movie screenwriting contract. I would say I was the Charlie Brown of blogging, but that would imply I was in the gang. Maybe all of these superior citizens can come up with an adequate punishment for me between sips of Mai Tai as they lounge on a beach in the south of France and recalibrate their appearance fee scales.

So nice going, guy who writes for Slate. Hey, I think I see an original copy of the Declaration of Independence sticking out of your copy machine. Jerk.

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Maryland basketball is women's work

Congrats to the Lady Terps, who last night beat Utah to reach the Lady Final Four. I do not profess to be any kind of women's basketball fan, as watching a bunch of girls named Shay and Tomeka air-balling free throws is not always a particularly enticing proposition. But making the Final Four is definitely noteworthy, and hey, the guys couldn't get it done, that's for sure. So way to go, ladies.

By the way, ESPN's Pam Ward called the game last night. Can we find a little more work for Pam Ward? She's a fantastic broadcaster, and should be used more. Is she not hot enough or something? You can't tell me with a straight face that you just think Hubert Davis (not to mention the Melissa Starks of the world) are better qualified. I side with quality, consarnit. So more Pam Ward, please.

Andy who? Scott Bakula's BACK, baby!

Huge news out of the capital, not Andrew Card sorry, other 20 million blogs wasting their time covering that. It is not a resignation, but a reincarnation, that tops the headlines today. Yes indeed...for Quantum Leap star Scott Bakula is back, starring in some play at Ford's Theater! Can you believe it? He is risen!

Seeing as how Ford's Theater is, maybe, the fourth-most-prominent performing arts venue in Washington, it's a bit of a baby step for The Bakula. But it's encouraging nonetheless. And ironic, considering Ford's Theater - best known for bearing witness to a death - is now bearing a life. A life renewed. Excuse me...I have something in my eye.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Mason erases "mid-major" angle from college basketball

A hearty tip of the cap to giant-killing George Mason University. After beating Michigan State, North Carolina, and Connecticut, hopefully this win struck the death blow to the "mid-majors don't deserve to be in the NCAA tourney" argument, after Gonzaga started the bleeding in 1999. While this is arguably a bad shift for my school, I think it's fairer and makes the tourney more exciting, if that is even possible. With the blue chips eschewing college for the NBA, this is the new incarnation of college basketball.

Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead...

I don't really know what else to say. It's just clear to me that, from here on out, all the "little guys" are for real. GMU beat schools that won four of the last six championships! Mason did this. George Mason. The George Mason Patriots. I mean...good God!

So I got nothing to say. So I'm just going to let
Wilbon say it. Way to go, Patriots! Keep it rolling. Huzzah!

(Photo Credit: Travis Lindquist/Getty Images)

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Nah nah nah nah...HEY HEY HEY...Gooood-bye (DUKE SUCKS!)

After last night's big win by LSU, I can sleep a little easier, knowing Dookie Nation is slouching back to its evil lair. I'm not normally into schadenfreude, but watching J.J. Redick cry at the end of the game made me a little happy. A little giddy.

(There there, J.J. I know a place you can retreat to for solace when you're feeling blue -- your poetry notebook.)

It also looks like Dookie Nation -- just as likeable as ever -- will be shedding some tears this morning, as they
settle their debts with some LSU folks. Enjoy that crow, guys!

Tyrus Thomas was a force of nature...and he's only a freshman.

As for the game, MAN, did LSU look good. Despite the fact that neither team could throw the ball in the ocean from a rowboat, LSU's tandem of Freshman Tyrus Thomas and Sophomore Glen "Big Baby" Davis (can't wait until he eats himself out of the NBA seven or eight years from now) prowled the paint like hungry bear-wolves, despite the referees' best efforts to foul them out. This happened much in the same way Freshman Garrett Temple silenced J.J. If this LSU team (whose
roster only has one senior, Darrel Mitchell) stays together, watch out. In fact, screw that. If their shots start falling, watch out right now!

(Photo Credit: Rob Carr/AP)

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

The weather looks mighty fair on that bandwagon...

Handkerchief on stick? Check. Tattered trenchcoat? Check. Hangdog expression? Check. Bag of stolen old lady pills? Check. With NCAA Tournament action returning to Verizon Center tonight, and with the Terps not in the proceedings, I'm a fan without a home. And you know what that means...

Because, the great thing about sports fandom? Fickleness, of course. Example: How many 49ers fans did you know in the 1980s, or Bulls fans in the 90s? How about now? So in keeping with that spirit of shiftlessness, I am stowing away on the George Mason and Georgetown bandwagons. Huzzah!

Who, me? Oh, yeah. I've been a Bulldogs fan for decades!

I actually don't see anything wrong with glomming onto other teams -- especially local teams -- if "your" team isn't involved. I also root for all non-Duke ACC teams under these circumstances. And after reading a great Post article on GMU coach
Jim Larranaga today, I defy anyone not to root for him. Also, Mike Wise paints a good, if somewhat less immediately likeable, portrait of the Georgetown program and their slightly, er, deliberate approach to scoring. That's a little like saying Anna Benson is slightly, er, entreprenurial. Anything goes in The Spin Zone.

So huzzah, Hoyas and Colonials, or Patriots or whatever. Help us fans with no other rooting interests be proud to pretend to have rooted for you lo these many years!

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

Welcome, welcome, thank you...well, well, three winners in two weeks! We're just giving the love away! Because as you know, when it rains here on "TNAW," it truly pours!

Let's get right to the action. Today's winner is former NBA player and current ESPN C-list basketball analyst
Hubert Davis! Hubert was helping to call the University of Maryland Terrapins' first-round NIT game last Saturday against the Manhattan Jaspers. Toward the end of the game, Hubert, when the play-by-play man joked about you suiting up and entering the game, you responded that you could not, for you would "probul" sprain your knee. We went to the judges, and the judges put their heads together, and Hubert Davis, THAT'S NOT A WORD!

Hubert Davis...defenseless against diction!

Not only is "probul" not a word, but you don't seem to have any discernible broadcasting skills at all! I hate to bust on a local boy (Hubert hails from Burke) but it seems as if you glad-handed your way into this job without receiving any formal training whatsoever! Cases in point: your baffling insistence on referring to Maryland forward Nik Caner-Medley as "Nik Carter Medley" all game long, your mention of Manhattan's recent win over "Farley Dickerson" (not FAIRleigh DickINson), your assertion that Maryland had "a real gripe" at not being included in the NCAA tournament as they trailed the Jaspers by 12 late in the second half, and finally, your mantra-like repetition of one and only one statistic all game. We all understand that "Mike Jones shoots 41 percent from three-point land"! Got anything else? Apparently not!

So for these transgressions, as your prize we're sending you back to the minors, Hubert. That's right - an all-expenses-paid trip to
Connecticut School of Broadcasting. With 13 campus locations around the East Coast and Midwest, there's a school conveniently located to you, and you'll "learn by doing" with some semi-state-of-the-art equipment and even a course on fact-finding and terminology!

Good luck to you, Hubert. And we'll see YOU next time on That's Not A Word!

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

For Sale: CA land parcel, perfect for devt., call George (not after 5!), 202-456-1111

Taking a basketball break, and I see the Bush administration and a bunch of timber and paper companies are selling pristine land to the highest bidder in California. Anyone want to go in with me to buy a few acres? We probably only need, like, a few hundred thousand dollars. We could start our own militia! Or trailer park. You know, however it shakes out is cool with me. Just as long as we don't "conserve" it like a bunch of tree-huggers. Those tree-huggers make me sick. For some reason.


Monday, March 20, 2006

What's ahead for the Terps?

Well, it's official. After losing to some mid-major team Saturday in the first round of the NIT (ugh), the Terrapin men's basketball season is over. In watching the game, it was clear the team gave up following the out-again, in-again debacle with the NIT. Even Gary Williams wasn't himself, often standing silent during timeouts. The players - even those in their final college game - looked on disinterestedly, champing at their gum like lazy cattle as they were carved up before a half-full-at-best Comcast Center.

Having chronicled the many problems with this
team in general and its senior "leaders" in particular, and not wishing to further beat that already gluey horse, I thought I'd take a second to look ahead to next season. What's in store for this program as it tries to forget these last two seasons (shock therapy, perhaps) and return to prominence?

According to, Maryland has the nation's 18th-best recruiting class for 2006, including a much-needed point guard in
Eric Hayes, shooting guard Greivis Vasquez, and Landon Milbourne, who looks like another Gist/Ibekwe type. Not too shabby, but no murderers' row either, especially when considering ranks UNC, Georgia Tech, Duke, and Florida State's classes above ours, with Wake only one spot below. Is it just me, or do we need to step up the recruiting? I know it's tough to predict future success based on high school (as the 2001 class demonstrated), but I can't escape the feeling we're being lapped.

I'm especially curious about local recruits. Shouldn't Maryland draw interest from every single DC/Baltimore player of consequence? Why doesn't it? Case in point: Rockville's Kevin Durant, considered the nation's #2 high-schooler behind only phenom Greg Oden. Durant didn't even show verbal interest in Maryland. And this seems all too common. (Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay, and Roy Hibbert come to mind from recent years.) I know Gary likes projects, but couldn't we land a real, honest-to-goodness blue chip every now and then, especially if he plays in our backyard?

At least we're getting some fresh blood to add to our decent returning nucleus. Color me cautiously pessimistic, until the new class shows whether it can handle the rigors. Here's hoping we get it turned around. Until next year...Go Terps!

Link to story

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Friday, March 17, 2006

I shall hoist a pint to me fallen bracket

Just got the great news...out of 81 entries in my office pool, I'm tied for 71st. Fantastic! Another tournament, another bracket torn to pieces, another clump of hair ripped out and whipped wildly about the room. I'm happy.

I'm not going to update anymore until Monday, because my bracket destruction theme will get redundant, and I don't have a computer in my home right now because, you know, I live in a van down by the river.

I would be remiss if I didn't congratulate the Aggies of Texas A&M on their
upset of Syracuse last night. I lived in College Station for a few years as a kid, and watched countless games at the G. Rollie White Coliseum, so it was cool to see the Aggies get 'er done. Gig 'em!

Finally, I would also like to say HAPPY ST. PADDY'S DAY, LADS AND LASSIES! It's a day to celebrate
your Irish homeland and heritage, and when it comes down to it, aren't we all a little Irish?

Being an Irish basketball fan, I believe I am legally obligated to go out and party tonight. And certainly being no scofflaw, I am happy to comply. I think we're gonna hit up Ventnor in Adams Morgan. Slainte!

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Lobbying - it's the sweetest sin

In this that Jessica Simpson? In a dark, conservative suit? Hair pulled back, natural-looking make-up? She must be in Washington! Lobbying for something! Indeed, lobbying's not just for shady dudes. It's for shady dudettes, too! She blends right in, does she not?

Hi, this is Jessica Simpson, speaking on behalf of the Easily Distracted Women's Foundation.

Just kidding, Jessica. It's always nice to see a celebrity stick up for a good cause. You go ahead, girlfriend. If you want to snub W (even though you loooooove him), then go on with your bad self.

Washington Post Story link

(Photo Credit: The Washington Post)

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Welcome to this special DOUBLE epsisode of "That's Not A Word!"

Hello, and welcome back to "That's Not A Word!" We're taking a break from our March Madness coverage to bring you this special double episode! Call this the eye of the storm, if you will.

And wow...what a delightful segue! Because our first winner today, taking up the crown from ESPN football analyst
Kirk Herbsteit, is none other than the co-host of "Your Weather Today" on The Weather Channel every weekday morning, Mrs. Heather Tesch!

What went wrong? She has the look of a spelling Juggernaut.

Heather, on Tuesday's edition of "Your Weather Today," you were concerned about the effects of the recent
deadly tornadoes that swept the Midwest. You asked a fellow meterologist who was on location in the affected area when the town would return to a sense of "normallacy." Heather, after looking up "normallacy" in the dictionary, we've discovered THAT'S NOT A WORD!

But look out! Hold it right there! Don't touch that dial! Because Heather's not the only winner on today's episode! The other winner is George Washington University head basketball coach Karl Hobbs. (That March Madness break didn't last too long, did it?) In his comments to the media following an impressive victory in the NCAA tournament's first round, Hobbs said he admired the "resiliency" of his players. Karl, I'm sorry to bring you down from your post-game high, but THAT'S NOT A WORD!

Better luck next time, Karl.

Your prizes? Well, since Karl is such a fine basketball coach, and Mrs. Tesch is such a fine broadcast meterologist, we thought we'd have some fun with this one. That's right -- you're switching professions! Heather, you'll be editing box scores for the rest of this postseason, and Karl, you'll be proofreading the teleprompter at The Weather Channel. Hope there are no "stroms" in the forecast! If you get my drift! Best of luck to you both, and we'll see YOU next time on THAT'S NOT A WORD!

(Photo credits: The Weather Channel; J. Marquette Associated Press)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Madness spreads syphillis

Well, the first three games are over, and my stupid bracket is already reeling. I had Oklahoma in the Elite 8! And what do they do? They freaking lose to Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Of course they do. Why in the heck-diddly-eck did I think Oklahoma would make the Elite 8? What was I thinking? I'm so stupid...STUPID, STUPID, STUPID! They won like eight games by one point! I thought maybe that would help them "win the close one." What a load of bunk that is--especially if, you know, the game isn't close. Lesson learned, I guess. March Madness Lesson #3,479.

Luckily, however, Sweet 16 pick Boston College, doing the always enjoyable team head-shave,
survived in double overtime against Pacific, alma mater of Michael "How in the hell does a millionaire NBA player let his oral hygiene slip to the point he gets an infection in his jaw" Olowokandi.

You can't predict this stuff. You gotta love it. It's mad, I tell you! Simply mad! I wish, however, just once, it wouldn't make me mad in the process.

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It's the most wonderful time of the year

Who doesn't love March? I don't know, but don't bring that commie crumb bum around me. The weather is getting warmer (at least in theory), it's St. Patrick's Day time (I'm Irish, ya wee wanker), and my birthday falls around now.

But of course, the prime reason why this stretch of the calendar is so awesome is because it provides the setting for the greatest sporting event in America. March Madness. Screw the killjoys who lament lost productivity. I've been hearing more and more of this talk lately. These are the same people who are relieved when the holidays end so they can go back to work. Have another lump of coal there, Scrooge. Can I re-moisten that blanket for you?

cue CBS theme music...da-da-da-da-da-DAAAAAA-da-da-da-DUM-da-DUM-DAAAA-dum-dat-da-daaaaa...Welcome back to our CBS Studios in New York, I'm Greg Gumbel alongside my partners Clark Kellogg and Seth Davis...guys, almost too many shocking upsets to count today, huh?

My bracket? Yeah, I filled one out. Even though
the stinking Terps chose to draw a #1 seed in That Other Tournament, which is somewhat akin to trying to rent The Lord of the Rings and returning with That Other Liv Tyler Movie.

But maybe this will be a good thing, as the Terps aren't around to cloud my judgment. My pick highlights include UNC Wilmington knocking off hometown favorite George Washington (I don't have much faith in King Whale Killer's knee, plus those mid-major Carolina schools always play well in the tourney), Wichita State in the Sweet 16, and Utah State beating Washington for my obligatory "12-over-5" pick.

I also have Pittsburgh upending UCLA for a Final Four berth--I've always liked Carl Krauser, and their defense is just so nasty. Perhaps my biggest pick, however, is Villanova winning the whole ball of wax. They play good consistent ball, they've got great guards, and they beat UConn, so what else do you really need? Duke and UConn (my other two Final Four picks) are great, but neither is a juggernaut. And since everyone else is picking one of them, if Villanova can make a little magic (and it wouldn't be the first time) my office pool could be ripe for the plucking.

Can't wait til noon today. Let's get it on!

P.S. Stuck in an office with no video, like me? Let me recommend this here game tracker. It's awesome, baby!

(Photo Credit: The Journal News)

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New Nationals stadium...meh

Today in the Post, Thomas "the Bozz" Boswell gives his take on the new Washington Nationals stadium blueprints, unveiled yesterday. He says it's either going to be average, or breathtaking.

After taking the virtual tour (available
here), I'm going with the former. I'm more in the camp of the Washington Times, who call the design "bland" and "blocky," with "no strong, memorable image." I agree. It's a decent-looking ballpark and all - I'm especially glad they kept with the city's white stone architectural theme. But it doesn't exactly grab me by the lapels, and the view of the Capitol is unspectacular, although at least the view exists, so that's good.

The "Northeast Perspective"

I'm just glad they decided to move forward with a stadium in this location, period.
This Web site (it's a terrific site, I visit all the time) gives a comprehensive sense of the entire waterfront revitalization project, detailing what's there now, and what's in the works. And it's not even a comparison. Gentrification, schmentrification. Sign me up. The area's half-oxidized industrial landscape would have been considered run-down 20 years ago. And this project will open up a whole new area for Washington, D.C.--essentially a second downtown. I can get down with that.

So I say, cheers to the overall project. Lukewarm golf claps and a big "meh" for the stadium itself.

Boswell Column,
Washington Times article

(Photo Credit: HOK/The Washington Post)

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Movie Review: Failure to Launch

(FYI Note: One of my work duties is editing my company's monthly employee newsletter. Sometimes I write movie reviews for it. I thought I’d start posting them here, too.)

One of the knocks on the recent Academy Award ceremonies—not to mention the movies they were celebrating—was that they were pretty heavy this year. Very serious. Self-important. Humorless, even. The suggestion has been made that perhaps some movie-goers are growing a bit tired of all this seriousness, and the attendant politically charged, intellectually weighty films. If that’s the case, then
Failure to Launch, which opened March 10, will do very well for itself.

If that sounded like a back-handed compliment to you, then, well, you’re right. But the critical opinions (which have already been
quite negative) may not matter, as “Failure to Launch” is unapologetically designed to please ticket buyers, not critics. And in this sense, it’s already on its way—topping the box office in its first week with a $24 million take.

Nevertheless, it’s still a bad movie. Facts is facts.

It is often said that good art creates an alternate universe we immediately recognize as our own. Take that, flip it upside down, and you’ve got “Failure to Launch.” It stars
Matthew McConaughey as Tripp, a 30-something ladies’ man and his two buddies who all still live in their parents’ homes. And happily so. Mom still makes breakfast in the morning and folds up the laundry, and if a girl ever dares to make the dreaded Where Is This Relationship Going inquiry, one need only bring her home, introduce the folks, wave good-bye as she runs for the hills, and return to your life of skirt-chasing, Chardonnay and non-threatening extreme sports. Who ever figured living with your parents would un-cramp your style?

Of course, Tripp’s parents (
Kathy Bates and football celebrity Terry Bradshaw, who—I must warn you—does a nude scene. I’m not kidding) love him, but are ready for him to strike out on his own. Enter Paula (an oddly tan Sarah Jessica Parker), a young professional who makes her living as a specialist in just these situations. She dates guys who still live at home, convinces them to get their own place, then dumps them and cashes the check. The parents are the ones who hire her. Huh? Either way, Tripp is her latest client.

I’m not sure I need to articulate the fact that romantic high jinks ensue.

Matt, we've discussed this. Please lower your hands. This is very unprofessional.

But what a strange version of reality. Starting with that main storyline, there’s just something not-quite-right about every detail. Has it ever, you know, raised any eyebrows that parents pay Paula to date, mislead and then hurt their sons? Am I really supposed to root for this person, or expect that it will pan out? If Tripp’s job is really that of a boat salesman, shouldn’t he, at some point, sell a boat? Or at least reference the fact that he has sold or plans to sell a boat? Why is everyone boozing constantly, but never showing any effects? Every part of the movie is like this--it's not a problem of inconsistent or sloppy filmmaking per se; it's a problem of their world not making sense.

So this alternate reality, coupled with under-developed characters, the predictably predictable ending, lukewarm comedy and dialogue clunkier than my grandmother’s Pinto all combine to give this movie a mechanical quality. It’s as if someone gathered up a bunch of data about modern America along with every romantic comedy ever made, fed it all into a computer, and “Failure to Launch” immediately extruded from the printer. It’s a bland, soulless film.

But in the end, I guess there are worse things. “Failure to Launch” certainly means well, and there's no doubt it’s a photogenic cast—even the house pets have piercing blue eyes. It’s a positive-minded movie that wants to be liked, and it will be. In fact, it just might break the record for the number of times a movie is described as “cute.” And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. People with more critical tastes will pan it, while the Saturday matinee crowd shakes its collective head and wonders what those gloomy Gusses couldn’t find to like in such a cute little movie. Then they will go home, tell someone else what a cute little movie they just saw, and promptly forget the title.

(Photo credit: Paramount Pictures)

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Yes! Terps draw a #1 seed!

I am so jazzed and proud that these Maryland Terrapins drew a #1 seed for the second straight year! I mean, sure, if it was 1962, this would be a much bigger deal, but still! I don't know why Gary Williams almost didn't accept the bid, then was forced to when he found out someone had already committed them. That's quite a tight ship they're running over there right now!

So congrats again to the Terps and all our great seniors - I just hope this doesn't go to these kids' heads! At this time next year, it would be a shame for Travis Garrison to get all cocky about this with all his fellow car wash employees. Here's hoping they stay grounded amid this dizzying ride they are taking themselves - and all of us - along for. Huzzah!

P.S. - Get your
NIT bracket right here! Hot off the press! Be the first person in your office to fill out an NIT bracket! I've got the Terps going to the third round. Now THAT is some rarefied air. Go Terps!

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Last push for the Terps

Well, they sure make it interesting, don't they? After whooping Georgia Tech last night, the Maryland Terrapin mens' basketball team remains in the postseason hunt, and faces Boston College tonight with a possible trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line. Or, as I like to call it, The Big Dance.

I guess Travis Garrison's claims that the team was going to "shock a lot of people" with a late-season run isn't so far-fetched now. Not that he did anything - anything - to help out (four points on 1-4 shooting, four rebounds, three fouls, one block, zero assists, two turnovers in 13 minutes of my sporting life that I'll never get back). But he's there in spirit. Gold star, Travis. Overall, the team played very well. It might have actually been their most complete game of the season. I didn't watch overly closely because I was too busy taking my buddies' money in a friendly game of Texas Hold 'Em, but it seemed like that Mike Jones three from the corner with a hand in his face set the tone. They were out for blood, and they got it. I hesitate to use phrases like "peaking at the right time" for this team, but we'll see. Boston College will be a far stiffer test.

Either way, Maryland MUST get the win tonight against BC, and probably needs to win their next game too in order to stand a strong tournament chance. I'll be rooting for them. Go Terps!

Story Link

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Gobbledy-gook headline, anyone?

Submitted for your consideration. The "Breaking News" banner headline topping as of 10:52 a.m. today:

"New Jersey girl missing after phone text messages to mother asked for help found safe, police say."

I see...wait, what? CNN, what are you trying to tell me? That the phone asked the mother for help? That the girl is missing, but the text messages are safe? I think I inferred the meaning (that the girl is okay, which is a relief), but still. Aren't headlines supposed to be, you know, clear? I think needs some new headline writers.


What's with China and spitting

As part of its sweep-the-bad-stuff-under-the-rug-for-the-2008-Olympics campaign, the Chinese government is addressing what is apparently a major problem in their culture: rampant spitting. How charming.

In a March 1 Post story, Beijing city official Zhang Huiguang says they are educating citizens on "the right way to spit."

"You have to spit into a tissue or a bag," she explains, "and then put it into a dustbin to complete the process." Outstanding. I'm never going to look at a bowl of egg drop soup the same way again.

Story Link

Apparently, this is a longstanding problem for the People's Republic. They tried to clean things up in
2003 during the SARS scare. I guess it didn't take. They must love their expectorating over there. SARS may cause death, Mr. President, but spitting is my life! And it's not just limited to mucus and saliva! Oh, no. They've got a gum problem, too. The only question now is, where do I get my plane ticket?

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Enough about Matisyahu

Over the last couple weeks, recording artist Matisyahu and his major label debut, Youth, have been getting enough press to kill a senator. He's been written up everywhere - from Rolling Stone and The New York Times to the Toronto Star and Houston Chronicle. His face is all over television - on MTV spots. On Conan O'Brien. On Jimmy Kimmel Live. And the list goes on. And on.

And as of right now, I'm waving the white flag. Please stop! I get it! He's a Hasidic Jewish guy singing reggae and beatboxing! It's wacky! It's novel! It's spiritually uplifting! But enough already! Exclamation point!

A Jewish guy? Singing reggae? Now I've seen everything!

I mean, the guy's music is okay. It's smooth, conscious, and catchy in that white-guy way (he actually reminds me of a cleaner Bradley Nowell from Sublime). But I'm sick of seeing him everywhere, along with proclamations that he's The Savior of Music, and that he's unique and wonderful and trailblazing. Hey, guys? Sorry to break up the lovefest, but this isn't Jimi Hendrix here. It's a Hasidic reggae singer. Is there such a famine in mainstream music that a feeding frenzy breaks out whenever anything remotely interesting gets thrown in the water? Wait, don't answer that.

(Photo Credit: StarPolish)

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Barry Bonds, great baseball player*

Yep, bring out the asteriskeses. There is now incontrovertible proof - in the form of official records - proving that Barry Bonds took steroids. Lots and lots of steroids. (Including one that was designed for cattle. Wha?)

The report comes from a book written by two San Francisco journalists, which will be excerpted in this week's Sports Illustrated. Let's see how Barry blames the media for this one. Or the fans. Or BALCO. Or anyone but himself. It's a hard life he leads, over which he has no control whatsoever. Barry's just another innocent victim. Of, you know, facts.

So farewell, Barry. It was a heck of a tobaggan ride, and you almost got away with it. But it looks like no amount of lying and media bullying is going to get you out of this one. Too bad.

P.S. This is my 100th post. Woo-Hoo!

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Abortion battle lines drawn - that didn't take long

It's very possible that a very large pile of dung entered the rotors of a very slow-moving fan yesterday, when the governor of South Dakota signed a law essentially banning abortion in the state. It would criminalize the practice except when necessary to save the mother's life. Abortions will not be allowed for victims of rape or incest. But the law (scheduled to take effect July 1) probably won't see the light of day for several years, if ever. This will be tied up in legal knots for a long time, and will most likely culminate at the U.S. Supreme Court, or, as I like to call it, the Big Tomato.

I sense a disturbance brewing in the West, young friend. A BIG disturbance.

Inasmuch as it's a direct challenge to Roe vs. Wade, lots of people and groups are already lining up to
battle the ruling, suddenly making South Dakota the epicenter of a massive ideological war. Interestingly enough, only scant months ago the Big Tomato gained two abortion opponents, justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, who is particularly unabashed in his opposition. What timing! It's almost like they planned this whole thing. Amazing!

Republicans really make no effort to be tactful, do they? You've got to hand it to them - they go right for the jugular. I'm sure the Democrats won't be long in convening some kind of caucus on this, only to eventually disagree on everything except for the fact that they need to hold more caucuses, because they really don't get together often enough. And hey, it doesn't have to be a caucus about abortion or global warming or the war or anything "specific." They could just kick it. Take your time, guys and gals.

I wonder how much administration influence was contained in this - S.D. is the nation's fifth least densely populated state, so a law here causes less of a firestorm than a similar law in, say, Texas. I don't think it's far-fetched to say this law is just the calculated next step in a larger plan to get abortion re-heard in front of the Big Tomato.

Either way, it will be extremely interesting to see how this all pans out. May the best side win.


Monday, March 06, 2006

So long, Lavar

Redskins fans got the news they had been anticipating yesterday when the team cut LaVar Arrington, both a) to save cap room (and it saves a LOT of cap room), and b) because Arrington and his agents didn't have a good relationship with the organization (ie, Daniel Snyder) anymore. It's unfortunate, because LaVar was a good player (a touch overrated, but still good) and an even better community, face-of-the franchise guy, because he's a smart guy who seems to genuinely care about the fans and the city he plays in. If he ever had a weakness on the field, it was that he tried to be everywhere at once, and as a result often ended up nowhere. Here's hoping that doesn't happen to him off the field, and that he finds a good fit and lands in a good situation. He was great here, and he deserves a great career. Good luck, LaVar.

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Welcome to Verizon Center...please hold

Welcome to Verizon Center. To continue in English, press One. Para instrucciones en Espanol, aprima numero Dos.


To purchase Verizon service, press One. To change existing service, press Two. For information on the history and physical dimensions of Verizon Center, press Three. To purchase Verizon Center luxury boxes, press Four. For Verizon Center event information, press Five.


For information on Washington Wizards basketball games, press One.


You have selected, The Ice Capades. If this is correct, press One. If this is incorrect, press Two.


For information on Washington Wizards basketball games, press One.


You have selected, Washington Wizards basketball games. If this is correct, press One. If this is incorrect, press Two.


For information on Washington Wizards season tickets, press One. For information on
today's game against Two. For all other inquiries, press Three.


To speak with a customer service representative, press Zero.


To speak with a customer service represent--.


To speak with a cust--


To speak--


Please hold. Your call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes. Your estimated wait time is....SIX...minutes.

[Eleven minutes later]

Representative: Welcome to Verizon where we never stop working for you this is Sierra may I have your account number.

Me: Yes, hi, I don't have an account number, but I'm standing outside the Verizon Center and I want to go in to see the game. It's nearly halftime now and I'd really like to catch the second half!

Okay, sir, I can assist you with that. What game would you like to see.

Me: The one today. The one going on right now! I just need someone to let me inside!

Sierra: Okay, sir, what I can do is go ahead and put you in touch with a Verizon Center ticket agent.

Me: No--

Sierra: Please hold--

Me: NOOOOO!!!! Wait! I have my ticket, and I just spoke to an agent, he said I needed to call you!

Well, I don't know what they're talking about, sir. I have no authorization to assist you any further.

Me: No, you do! The agent said you needed to give me the access mainframe connector code so you could assess me my entrance and facility usage fees!

Sierra: Ohhhhhhh! Well, sir, why didn't you just say that from the beginning? Honestly, I don't know what's wrong with you customers these days.

Me: I didn't--

Sierra: Hold for one moment.


Your call is very important to us. Please continue to stay on the line. Your estimated wait time is....SIX....minutes....

[Baby, come back! You can blame it all, on, meeee! I was wrong, and I just can't live without you...]

[Sound of rifle cocking]


Friday, March 03, 2006

This is why I don't talk to people on the Metro

So yesterday I'm taking the Metro home from work, just as I do every day. A seat opens up and I sit down next to a woman, probably early 40s, looks to be of Asian descent, slightly heavyset, shoulder-length hair, magenta Filene's-type dress. In other words, just a normal-looking woman.

I open my book and start reading. By way of background, I am currently reading the "Harry Potter" series, which I am tackling now because a) as a writer, I should probably be familiar with the biggest literary phenomenon of my life thus far, and b) I'm concerned that if I don't read them, it could open a sizeable cultural gap between myself and the young people which will only exacerbate as the years go on.

So I'm just sitting there, reading and minding my own business, when the woman next to me leans over and initiates the following exchange:

Her: "Did they convict Mr. Tubbs* yet?"

Me: (looking up) "I'm sorry?"

Her: "I see you're reading Harry Potter...have you gotten to the part where they convict Mr. Tubbs?"

Me: ", not yet. I haven't even come across a character with that name."

Her: (incredulous) "You mean you're reading the Harry Potters for the first time?"

Me: "Yep." I detail my aforementioned reasoning.

The exchange ends. I return to my book. But as I'm sitting there, a nagging irritation is taking root in my gut. A question takes shape in my brain...

Did this woman just ruin these books for me?

Irritation now rising like bile, I close the book, return it to my bag, and begin wondering if I should Say Something. Say Something, my little voice says. Say Something! But as the seconds tick away, I decide my window of opportunity for doing so has closed, and I can't rightly bring it back up without coming off as overly strange or aggressive, either of which would probably overshadow any effective outcome related to my Saying Something. So I sit and stew, silently.

But then, luckily for me (not so much for her), the woman can't leave well enough alone. She re-starts the dialogue. My window slams back up, wide open.

Her: So do you like the books so far?

Me: Yeah, I do. (somewhat jokingly) I just hope you didn't just give away something important.

Her: (tittering) Well, yes and no.

Detecting no significant hint of apology in her tone or her titter, I move in for the kill.

Me: Okay, well frankly, I don't know why anyone would do that. But whatever.

Blindsided, she stiffens like a board, and appears to hold her breath for the rest of the train ride, which takes another three or four minutes. We sit together in stony silence. As the train pulls into the final stop, I get up and step past her.

I don't bring this up to sound like a bad-ass (because this story isn't particularly bad-ass - if you want to swap some bad-ass stories, let me know. I've got a few of those, too.). I bring this story up to highlight two things: First, WHO DOES THIS? Who starts a dialogue about a book, film, TV show, or anything else which someone is clearly right in the middle of by blurting out - with no warning - a major development in the story arc? I thought this kind of verbal interplay went the way of the dinosaur years ago, right along with the racial epithet and Esperanto. I know she was just trying to be nice, but hey, if my Saying Something makes her think twice next time she wants to pull that kind of thoughtless crap, then I did my good deed for the day. Sorry, but screw her.

And secondly, and perhaps most importantly: This is why people don't talk to each other on the Metro. There's just too many crazies out there.

* (Names and actions changed to prevent story spoilage. The vicious cycle ends here.)

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Terps Senior Night Report...these are the times to remember

Good win last night for the Terps, avenging two consecutive road losses to the Miami Hurricanes on that most special of nights...Senior Night. Unfortunately for me, Bobby Sue McGee already had herself a date, but luckily my boy Gary had a ticket for me.

A few observations from the Comcast Center:

1) The senior night ceremonies themselves were markedly subdued. But kudos to the crowd for being classy about the whole thing and not punishing the players for their underwhelming college basketball careers (or punishing senior and disgraced team member Chris McCray in absentia for his mistakes). All the seniors still on the team got standing ovations, but as someone who attended the deafening senior nights of Keith Booth, LaRon Profit, and other more beloved players, I can say this one felt unenthusiastic and even perfunctory by comparison. It reminded me of a girl who gets cheated on, then graciously forgives the guy - but never lets him touch her again. It was awkward, but they made it work.

2) In the first half, Ikene Ebekwe had a highlight reel-caliber dunk, skying over two Hurricanes for an offensive board and crunching it in from above the rim. Brought the house down. When Ebekwe gets serious about playing inside and dismisses the notion that he's some kind of shooter, he's arguably their best player right now.

3) When Miami took over midway through the second half, you could feel the air go out of the building. The crowd starting throwing up their hands and shaking their heads in helpless disbelief, as Nik Caner-Medley coughed it up in the lane, Mike Jones missed the broad sides of several barns, and Travis Garrison (not to be outdone) openly traveled - unguarded! - right in front of the ref. There was a "here-we-go-again" feel to it, with fans quickly growing restless and irritated. And who can blame us? We've put up with a lot of garbage over the past couple seasons. A rebuilding or physically overmatched team is one thing - mental softness despite ample talent is quite another. Anyway, I don't remember the last time I heard 18,000 people (the place was only about 70% full) collectively groaning. It's kind of like listening to a Mack truck idling on the side of the Beltway during rush hour with your windows up. But there was a good outcome this time - the Terps gutted it out with good defense, good free-throw shooting, and some timely scores. Good show.

4) If it wasn't for J.J. (and with apologies to Justin Gray), Guillermo Diaz might be considered the best shooter in the ACC. He put on a clinic, draining deep shots, contested shots, clutch shots, it didn't matter. Impressive performance.

5) Speaking of Duke, the Comcast Center folks seemed to deliberately avoid mentioning the Duke loss - possibly to "avoid unrest" or some such. They showed it once in small type on the Jumbotron with the rest of the night's scores, then removed it altogether. Great win for
giant-killing FSU. Nice to see Leonard Hamilton thriving again in college, after that nightmare 2000-2001 season with the Wizards, when MJ hired him and then threw him under the bus for Doug Collins.

6) After last night, Al Thornton gets my vote for All-ACC first team. I'd say J.J. and Sean Singletary at the guards, Thornton and Tyler Hansbrough at the forwards, and
The Forehead at center.

7) I think the Terps have to handle Virginia and make the ACC tourney finals to have a good shot at the dance, but they've got a little fight left. Not a lot. But a little. And we'll get Bobby Sue to notice us! One day, we'll screw up the nerve we need. And we'll go dancing. Goterps.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Going to Terps' Senior Night!

Thanks to my friend Gary Aiken, I will be at Comcast Center for tonight's tilt between the Maryland Terrapins and the Miami Hurricanes. Not only does the game have "serious implications" (if nothing else, maybe the Terps could avenge their two straight losses to the Canes), but it also comes on that most important of nights - Senior Night!

It's no secret that Maryland's seniors haven't lived up to their lofty expectations, suffering
one setback after another. But this is their special night. A special night for some "special" seniors. Whatever. I won't specifically get on any of them.

Any of them, that is, except for one Travis Garrison.

Last chance, Travis.
Now, shock me.

When Garrison gets introduced, I just might scream my lungs out. After his
grandiose claims a few days ago that they were going to "shock a lot of people," I expect him to come out and lead the Terps to a victory, and will be rooting for him to do just that. If he should fail in these endeavors, he might hear a lilting, beer-soaked vocal serenade. From me. And that serenade, which will usher sweetly and sublimely into the lofty rafters of the Comcast Center, to mingle among the banners of champions past with its own woven banner of obscenity, will go a little something. Like this:


Sure, I'll be in the nosebleed section, and he may not hear me. But he'll feel me. And isn't that what's most important here on Senior Night? The feelings?

P.S. I heard Chris McCray decided
not to come out and be honored. Interesting. I'm not saying anything, I'm just saying.

(Photo Credit: The Baltimore Sun)