Monday, April 30, 2007

Moss whines way to Patriots, Raiders await germination of magic beanstalk

One interesting piece of news out of this weekend's incredibly boring NFL draft. The awesome-but-aging Randy Moss was traded to the New England Patriots for a fourth-round pick after two crappy seasons with the Raiders. Moss had apparently been unhappy in Oakland and had repeatedly demanded a trade to either New England or Green Bay. The Raiders were able to accommodate him. Lesson for the kids here: if you're stuck in a bad situation, don't make the best of it, or "work your way out of it," or any such nonsense like that. Just bitch and whine until someone else takes care of the problem for you. Randy Moss likes to teach life lessons to the kids. He views it like a sort of legacy.

Randy Moss paints another thoughtful
metaphor for oh, so many things.

But what about the teams involved? The Patriots have gone all Redskins on us, acquiring Moss, Donte Stallworth, Wes Welker, and Adalius Thomas in an offseason spree that has to make them the Super Bowl favorites. Meanwhile, the Raiders used their fourth-round pick to draft John Bowie, a cornerback out of Kiffin College, which I believe is a small liberal arts school somewhere in Saskatchewan. I loved New England coach Bill Belichick's SportsCenter quote, saying "we worked hard to make this happen," or something like that. Well, did you really work THAT hard? You gave up a crappy draft pick for one of the most gifted receivers in NFL history. Was there a lot of wrangling there? What did you initially offer, like a bag of dried dog shit? A can of magic Goya kidney beans? Hey, Raiders. How about we let you give us Randy Moss, and maybe we could see our way to parting with, saaaaaay, this inanimate carbon rod. Don't look directly at the rod! It is very temperamental.

So all's well that ends well in the NFL. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and Al Davis continues to try and use a waffle iron to make a phone call. Dallas Cowboys on line two, Al. Or maybe your socks are just done drying.

See ya, Randy: Raiders send unhappy Moss to Pats for 4th-round pick [CNNSI]
Police: Moss used car to bump traffic control agent [ESPN]
Moss needs a role model, seriously [USA Today]
Pats Go For Broke [CNNSI]

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Recap of The Office: "Product Recall"

When this episode began, I admit I had my doubts. Hey, there's Jim playing yet another prank on Dwight, with Dwight being oblivious to the point of seeming insane.

But from there, I think this episode became the funniest of the season so far. I may need to watch it again, and I don't want to lose my head here, but dare I say...classic?

The main thread is that Dunder Mifflin had to recall 500 boxes of paper because a disgruntled employee embedded a watermark in there that depicted the animalistic coupling of two beloved cartoon characters. So Donald Duck is reaming Mickey Mouse, and the clients are in an uproar, prompting Michael to announce that the Scranton branch is at Threat Level Midnight. Michael alerts the media. As a means of controlling the story. A news conference (complete with 20 different levels of access) is organized. And of course, one guy shows up -- just enough to publicly document the debacle that takes place when a client angrily refuses to accept their novelty check for free paper.

To handle the surge in customer calls, Kelly gives Angela, Kevin, and Oscar a crash course in customer service. Kelly proclaims that "This day is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S, this day is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S!" Kelly then tells them that "I know the reason that you guys became accountants is ’cause you’re not good at interacting with people. But guess what? From now on, you guys are no longer losers. So gives yourselves a round of applause."

Before I go any further, I have to again give it up for Kelly, aka Mindy Kaling. She is absolutely stealing every scene she is in right now. While Pam mopes and Jim smirks and Michael and Dwight go crazy, there's Mindy Kaling in the background absolutely channeling that character. I now find myself hoping for Kelly scenes the same way I hoped for Smoking Man scenes back in my X-Files days.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Jim and Andy are dispatched to a local high school for some face-to-face damage control. Remember when I said before that
Jim needed to grow a pair? Well, during this episode, he was taking Andy to task. Huzzah! First, because Andy is like Michael on Benzedrine. And secondly, because Andy recognizes one of the students as the girl he is dating. Man! That hurts. Andy is ultimately pretty upset about it, but in the end, Jim cheers him up without being too stupid about it. And there was nary a hint of Jim-Pam shenanigans this episode. Thank God.

Oh -- and Creed is now officially a dick. Before he was just crazy. But now, he's a crazy dick. He was the quality control guy, but didn't go to the mill to check the stocks. But he passes the blame to someone at the mill, and she gets fired. He then requests that the office folks put money in a card for her, and he pockets the money. Crazy dick.

"The only difference between me and a homeless man is this job," Creed explains. "So I will do whatever it takes to survive. Like I did when I was a homeless man."

So that's about it. Hilarious, fantastic episode. This post doesn't even remotely do it justice. Two thumbs way up. This one is definitely getting permanently Tivo'd this summer.

The Office [NBC]
Previous recap of The Office [No One Appreciates Me]
Recap of The Office: "The Negotiation" [No One Appreciates Me]

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

The NBA playoffs are snoozy

Disappointing night in the NBA playoffs Wednesday. First off, the Wizards lost to the Cavs, 109-102. Nothing spells barnburner like a shitty team playing hard against a good team playing like shit. LeBron ended up with a nice stat line including 27 points, but he needed 22 shots to get there and missed all of this three-point attempts. The Wizards have been valiant throughout, but at this point, I just kind of want the season to be over. When your best player (Jamison) has no hope of checking their fourth-best player (Drew Gooden), then you're up a creek, my friend. Also, congrats to Jarvis Hayes for another big effort -- five big points on 2-13 shooting. You're an animal, Jarvis.

Awww...isn't he cute?

But the disappointments don't end there. The Mavs finally woke up and bulled their way past the Warriors in the second half last night. But the play was pretty uninspiring on both sides. Golden State's offense, even when it's clicking, is pretty ugly (it seems to be based entirely on broken plays). And Dallas is going to continue to flail like a headless chicken as long as presumed league MVP Dirk Nowitski continues to flail, also like that same animal. Dude. Dirk. You gotta post up those smaller defenders. What are you trying to prove?

And finally, the sawdust sandwich that is the San Antonio Spurs evened their series. Yippee. Every German's favorite team (well, maybe except the Mavs due to The Big German) is a model of emotionless efficiency. Tim Duncan has some wicked backboard angles. Electrifying! I'm sick of the holier-than-thou writers who come out every time the Spurs go deep in the playoffs to talk about how, if you don't like the Spurs, you're not a real basketball fan. No, buddy. YOU are not the basketball fan! A fan wants to be entertained. If I want to be dazzled by fundamentals, I'll go to fucking basketball camp. You snooty snot bag.

(l-r) Tony Parker and Tim Duncan warm up before game 2.

But Dirk and Timmaaay and all the other less-than-stellar stars are emblematic of the playoffs and the league right now. There are no real, honest-to-God stars out there. Maybe I'm spoiled by growing up in the golden age of basketball in the 1980s and 1990s, but still. It's bleak. Dirk isn't wired for the playoffs, Wade is still injured, Shaq and Iverson are getting old, Gilbert is sidelined, Duncan is so very very boring, Bosh and Melo are not bona fide stars, and Vince is a punk.

Did I miss anybody? Oh, right. Kobe. Now, he's just a sad situation. Like him or not, you have to feel bad for him, dashing himself against the rocks that are the Phoenix Suns every night. He's on such a mediocre team (largely his doing, but nevertheless) and he's so talented that I get frustrated for him. It's like the gorgeous girl with the psychology degree who waits tables at the diner down the road. Sure, she made some mistakes, but come on.

In the meantime, it looks like the only hope is Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns. Too bad they're going to lose to the Spurs. Hope you like sawdust.

Just Off The Mark [Washington Post]
Mavs still waiting on Dirk [Dallas Morning News]
Spurs' stars join fight [San Antonio Express-News]

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tales of Poetic Justice, featuring Joe Francis

Didn't we have it all, Joe Francis? Didn't we? A young guy, making money hand over fist creating the Girls Gone Wild empire, selling DVDs and merchandise like there was no tomorrow. You had a huge estate in Mexico that reportedly contained a so-called Anything Button, to fulfill any number of hedonistic desires. Who knows? You may have even gotten laid once or twice along the way.

Joe Francis was living the high life.

But here comes the first twist. Are you ready? Turns out Joe Francis was kind of a dick. I know, can you believe it? He reportedly mistreated women! He lacked proper respect for the rules! And as we all know from Bible study, pride goeth before the perp walk.

But Joe had to learn the hard way. The federal government sued him in 2003 for allegedly filming underage women for Girls Gone Wild -- I know, how in the world did they get through the filter? -- and as they were settling the case, he yelled at plaintiffs. He then called the federal judge a "judge gone wild." Cute! Do you get it? That's really cute.

Joe Francis thought he had it all figured out.

But unfortunately, the judge didn't get the joke (it's a play on the "Girls Gone Wild" thing, your honor) and sentenced Francis to 35 days in jail for contempt. After this is over, Francis now faces up to 100 years in jail on state charges of filming the underage women and bringing drugs into his jail cell while awaiting trial. During his stay, a convicted murderer in the next cell over is serenading him with a special refrain: "Girls Gone Wild! Joe Francis! WOOOOOOO!" Over. And over. Again. And apparently, it is literally driving Joe crazy. Dare I say, he is going, oh I don't know, WILD? Oh, no. It's just too delicious! Now all we need is to find him dangling from the ceiling by a bra strap, and the cycle will be complete. We'll be right back, after this word from Taster's Choice.

Joe Francis' next DVD may have disappointing sales.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Former Terp Chris McCray doing gee-golly super job on North Dakota D-league team

As we all know, North Dakota is a basketball hotbed. It's home to serious ballin, son. So it's very gratifying to learn that former Terp Chris McCray is coming off the bench to help the NBDL's Dakota Wizards reach the D-league championship game, where they will take on the vaunted Colorado 14ers. I heard the 14ers have a center who's, like, six-four. Whew. Good luck, Chris.

Chris McCray had a cup of coffee with Milwaukee as well.

As you may recall, Chris McCray was the guy who lost his academic eligibility for the second half of his senior season with the Terps, when he apparently made the bold decision that Playstation was more important than class. So that may have set him back a little bit. But either way, good to see he's still out there making at least some modest headway in a non-Playstation area of life. And in North Dakota no less! The baller's paradise! Darn tootin!

Winning it at the Line [The Bismarck Tribune]
Silver lining in McCray's loss? [No One Appreciates Me]

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Titans of Infotainment confirm early cycles of End Times

It's been a weird few days of news. There was Va. Tech, of course, and then the NASA thing. Then Boris Yeltsin and David Halberstam both die within 24 hours of each other. Then, one in a series of increasingly penetrating attacks results in one of the Iraq war's bloodiest days for U.S. forces. And a panel of retired generals now think that global warming could lead to still more conflict.

It is not difficult to take these troubling stories as signs that the apocalypse is upon us. But I spy an even more troubling sign. Behold, a pale horse. And his name that sat on him was Sanjaya. And Hell followed with him.

That's right.
Sanjaya was a special reporter or something for People magazine at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner. Which was once an event for respected journalists. Hey, what just flew past my ear? Was that a locust?


So there he is, mingling with real reporters, rubbing elbows with the Washington glitterati, smiling that smile that makes him look like he's about to have an episode of panicked vomiting right on your shirt front. Did he have any thoughts to share with People, his sugar daddy for the event as well as the journalistic equivalent of a soiled casting couch? (Seriously, People needs a name change. How about Everything Gets Three Stars Magazine? Or We're Just Going to Change A Few Words On Your Press Release And Run With It Magazine? You know, just to be more accurate about things.) Anyway, what did he tell this magazine? That doing a hair commercial "would be awesome." That's good. Hey, does a rash of revulsion count as pestilence? Or is that more of a boils thing?

David Halberstam, 73, Reporter and Author, Dies [New York Times]
Rough-Hewn Father of Russian Democracy [Washington Post]
Iraq Blast Kills 9 GIs, Injures 20 At Outpost
Could Global Warming Cause War? [CBS]
Sanjaya's a Hit at White House Correspondents' Dinner [People]

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Friday, April 20, 2007

No post today

But please feel free to plumb the archives. Have a delightful weekend.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sanjaya kicked off Idol. What will I do without my favorite girl?

Well, it's a singing contest again. After Sanjaya got booted from American Idol yesterday, only the best remain. It's like making vodka. You evaporate, you distill, you expunge the impurities, and finally, with any luck, you have a clean product. American Idol is now that. Well, relatively anyway.

Why do you hate me so? Hmmmmmmm?

I'm not sure how entertained I'll be without my favorite young lady on the show, though. Sanjaya showed a lot of courage -- you know, for a girl -- as she put the criticisms aside and sang her heart out week after week. So what if she shat the bed every episode, only to be carried into the final seven on waves of pure sympathy? So what if her voice was barely audible? So what if she was style over substance? I, for one, thought this little lady showed a lot of moxie. You go, girl.

So take Sanjaya's departure, and add it to Haley Scar-not-ho's exit last week, and all the dead wood and baggage has been cleared. (By the way, Haley is now saying that the skimpy outfits are not how she wants to be remembered. But without them, how would you have gotten your gig at the Tropicana? But she also says she'd be open to modeling. Eh? Dudes? What did I tell you? Playboy right around the corner.)

So now, let's get down to the business.
I think next week, Phil gets the ax, followed by Lakisha (the "shocker"), then Blake, then Chris, and then Jordin beating out Melinda in a barn-burner finale. Let's get it on!

But not yet. That's for next week. For now, let us mourn the loss of Sanjaya, our most delicate flower. Forget the haters, Sanjaya. Five years from now, when you're running for president, you'll know who to thank. That's right. American Idol. And yourself, girlfriend. Thank yourself. Excuse me...I have something in my eye.

Hair and Gone: 'American Idol' Trims Sanjaya [Washington Post]
Buh-Bye, Haley [No One Appreciates Me]
Stems Fatale [Entertainment Weekly]

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Nationals full of something. Dare I call it pluck?

Wednesday was a feel-good night for Washington sports. First, the Bullets won their final game of the regular season over the sloppy drunk sorority girl of a basketball team that is the Indiana Pacers. In so doing, the Bullets acheived a .500 season and a first-round playoff draw with LeBron and the Cavs, which is probably the best possible matchup they could have hoped for.

However, secondly and perhaps more interestingly (if not more importantly),
the Nats gutted out a 13-inning win at home over the Phillies. Fairly meaningless on a practical level, but in a Washington Zeitgeist sort of way, it was big.

It's the little things.

Now, Washington sports fans are smart. They may not be what you would call rabid, but they support their teams and have a high level of knowledge. So the locals know that the Nats suck, and will continue to suck for the forseeable future. In a few years, if they have a couple seasons in the new stadium and all this ballyhooed young talent doesn't start panning out, then we have a problem. But that's an issue for another day. In the meantime, people just seem to want to watch a team that plays hard and cares about winning, even if they don't always acheive it. Basically, we want our losers to be lovable.

And then, when the team (hopefully) gets good in a few years, we can talk fondly about the lean times we all went through together in that old rustbucket of a park once known as RFK Stadium. We'll be like an old married couple recalling their newlywed days in the poorhouse, when you were livin on Ramen noodles and swingin for the fences. I don't want to get too sappy or whatever, but these formative years are when a team, just like a person, establishes their identity.

So with gutty displays like last night, along with community-building gestures such as the players wearing Virginia Tech hats on Tuesday, there are definitely a lot of good feelings surrounding this plucky bunch. Attendance is still down (not even 19,000 made it out last night), but these things take time. And I'll be damned if I'm not seeing more and more Nats caps around town. Hey, if nothing else, they definitely work as the anti-Redskins. If they can counteract some of the it-sucks-that-we-have-to-root-for-such-an-unlikeable-team feelings around here, they've done their job.

(Speaking of which, are the Phillies the Redskins of baseball or what? A bunch of big-talking, underacheiving, can't-produce-in-the-clutch collection of alpha dogs with no team chemistry to speak of. Kind of an interesting comparison.)

So anyway, here's hoping the Nats keep it up. With last night's win, they assured themselves of not being in last place for the entire course of a season (the cellar now belongs to the Phils). So another tiny moral victory. But this is how you build a fan base. Nicely done. Go Nats!

Wizards Bounce Into the Playoffs [Washington Post]
Nationals Go 13 Innings, Win on Lopez's Fly Ball [Washington Post]
After Tragedy, Nats Show Their Support [Washington Post]
- Washington Nationals attendance []

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(Photo credit: By Joel Richardson For The Washington Post)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

All right, what else is on TV?

OK. Time to get out of the funk. No more CNN. What else is on? Ahh, yes. American Idol. Where I never have to do no thinkin. Here comes Ryan Seacrest now.

"We would like to offer our thoughtsandprayers..."

Great. Here we go. Another round of thoughtsandprayers. Thoughtsandprayers this, and thoughtsandprayers that. Those words have all the meaning of parsnip mash. But it's the new American mantra. Let's call it The Mantra of Perfunctory Condolence. People shake that phrase around like an old woman shakes her rosary beads. Hey, I'm part of the healing process! I posted thoughtsandprayers on my Myspace profile!

Anyway. Moving on. Even with thoughtsandprayers, Idol is still miles better than CNN. After all,
it's country night, y'all! C'mon! I knew guest judge/coach Martina McBride would bring the biting criticisms. When I think Martina McBride, I think "acid tongue." So we went through the singers. Don't remember Phil, Jordin was good, Sanjaya was gawd awful even for Sanjaya, then there were some other ones, Melinda faked incredulity, Blake was pretty good, aaand we're clear. Although at one point, Chris Richardson (right after receiving some harsh criticisms from the judges) offered thoughtsandprayers for Va. Tech. And the camera caught Simon rolling his eyes. Then, in the next segment, Simon dismissively offered thoughtsandprayers as well, while looking all the time as if he was fighting off the urge to add "blah blah blah" to the end of his sentence. Now Chris is a good Virginia boy like me, so I'm sure it hit home for him. But he did time his thoughtsandprayers announcement rather impeccably for maximum vote-milking. Still, Simon could have been a little less, I don't know, assholish about it. But guess what. Simon is an asshole. Twenty years from now, he's going to pull a Don Imus, everyone is going to pretend to be shocked, and that'll be that. Flag the tape. This will happen.

But I'm backsliding...what's on another channel? There were the
Washington Wizards, struggling to win a game -- any game -- as they end their regular season. The last home game came last night against the Orlando Magic. Antawn Jamison played out of his mind, scoring more than half the team's points with 48. Antonio Daniels was incredibly gutty, driving to the basket time after time despite a sore back that was clearly killing him. And Etan Thomas gave one of the best all-around pure efforts I've ever seen him give. And they still lost. I saw it coming when Etan fouled out and they brought in Brendan Pouty-Pants Haywood. Pouty Pants promptly fumbled away a rebound, then on the other end, played limp-wristed defense against Yakov Smirnoff Hedo Turkoglu for the game-clinching shot. Jarvis had a decent game for a change, but was of course completely invisible in the fourth quarter. The middle of the second quarter, though? Man. That's Jarvis Time!

The Wiz have one more game and then the playoffs start Saturday. I'm afraid to watch. So while it was actually a pretty crappy night of TV, it was Christmas and March Madness rolled into one compared to the last two days. Great times. Go mindless entertainment!

On Idol's Country Night, Simon is the Man in Black [Washington Post]
Wizards Falter Once Again [Washington Post]

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Can't blog today

With the Virginia Tech story still unfolding and sinking in, it turns out I had some closer connections than I thought to a couple of the casualties. No really close connections, but close enough so that I can't really think of an appropriate post on another topic. Sorry. See you tomorrow, or whenever. Thanks.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dana, you're doing a heckuva job

As the death toll speculation rose above 30 for the Virginia Tech atrocity, the White House addressed the issue at its daily news conference. Press Secretary Dana Perino had some very comforting and insightful words for the American people in this awful time of tragedy:

"Certainly, bringing a gun into a school domitory and shooting ... is against the law and something someone should be held accountable for."

Perino: mass murderers should maybe be punished.
You know, if it is determined that laws were broken. let me see if I follow you, Dana. You're saying that someone "should be held accountable" for "bringing a gun into a school dormitory and shooting." Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's not go out on any limbs from which we cannot return here. SHOULD be held accountable? Now, we don't want to SHOULD this fella to death, do we? Let's let all the data come in first before we debate the legality of this issue. After all, there's a lot of gray area to consider when, you know, 31 people have been heartlessly gunned down. So we really should take a moment to consider the appropriate course of subsequent action. Was he in accordance with local, state, and federal firearms regulations? Bet you didn't even think about that, did you? Dana Perino did.

Speaking of firearms regulations, Dana goes on to say that "the president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms." Well, I'm glad to hear that. As young adults are still being pulled bleeding from their dorm rooms and, in many cases, hauled off to the coroner's office, now is as good a time as any to re-assert the president's pro-gun stance. We have powerful special interests to consider in this White House. Why, what are YOU considering?

Update: At the very end of this story posted the day after the shooting, Dana is quoted as telling reporters that "today is not the day" to discuss gun control. Oh, I guess THE DAY OF THE SHOOTING must have been that day. Thanks for the clarification, Dana. Your warmth positively oozes out of you. Like an ooze.

Gunman killed after deadly Virginia Tech rampage [CNN]
Bush Said Shocked at College Shootings [AP]

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Virginia Tech

Just a horrible, horrible, horrible tragedy unfolding in Blacksburg. As it stands right now, the number of people reported killed (22) is almost twice the number killed in the Columbine massacre (12). Columbine was, until this morning, the worst school shooting in American history.

I have several family members and friends who are Virginia Tech alums, and I myself lived in Blacksburg for several years as a kid and fondly remember the town and campus. Right now I'm just hoping the shooter is no longer shooting, and that medical personnel are able to reach and treat the victims who are still alive.

This calamity comes less than a year after the campus was
locked down because of a gunman on the grounds. That time, a police officer was shot to death.

A bizarre and gut-wrenching string of events for such a sleepy little town in the Virginia countryside. It isn't possible to offer any emotions besides raw shock. And hope that the school and all the victims are able to recover.

At Least 20 Killed in Virginia Tech Shooting [Washington Post]
Man Arrested Near Va. Tech In Two Killings [Washington Post]

Bulls de-pants, wet-willy hobbled Wizards

Whew. This was a tough one to watch. With Antonio Daniels out with injury along with Gilbert and Caron, the Wizards suffered their worst defeat of the season at home against the Bulls, 101-68.

The Bulls toyed with the Wizards. They gave them an atomic wedgie, then raised the torn underwear up the flagpole and made the Wizards salute it. Man. Being forced to salute your own underwear? It doesn't get any lower than that. But even after the point was made, the Bulls kept at it, experimenting with different lineups (a second line led by Ben Gordon, etc.) that they might have to use in the playoffs. Hey, may as well use the Wizards for some live target practice.

The Bulls collapsed around Antawn Jamison, rightly guessing that most of the active Wizards players were only partially qualified to take an NBA court. Donnell Taylor probably ran the point as best as Donnell Taylor can do it. Jarvis Hayes -- the natural choice to shoulder the offensive load in this game -- turned in a classic Jarvis line: 11 points on 4-14 shooting including 1-4 from three-point range, 3 rebounds, 0 assists, 2 turnovers. After the game, both teams joined together to tie Hayes to his locker with athletic tape. For his part, Hayes chose to pee his pants, and follow it up with some weeping.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Jarvis Hayes sucks.

With two games left and a small lead on the semi-surging Nets, these poor guys risk falling back to the seventh playoff seed, which in all likelihood would mean a first-round meeting with....the Chicago Bulls! At that point, the Wizards would meet the Bulls every morning before school at a designated location to hand over their lunch money for the day. Great. Can't wait until the offseason, when the Bullets will hopefully lift weights obsessively and come out next season ready to go postal. That'd show 'em. In the meantime, keep your heads up, guys. Better to spot incoming rocks that way.

Nothing Much to Shout About [Washington Post]
Daniels Sits After a Hard Landing [Washington Post]
Wizards in playoffs, Jarvis Hayes not very good [No One Appreciates Me]

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