Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Ahh, Fat Tuesday, a holiday with very religious beginnings, being the last big hurrah before lent. It's not really celebrated much the farther you stray from New Orleans, but it's still celebrated there, despite still dealing with the aftermath of Katrina.

I could go a whole lot of places with this. I'm not happy with the attitude of many in New Orleans, who expect someone else to come in and make everything better for them while they sit back and watch. I'm also still not happy with our government's response to that mess, but I'm not happy with its critics either. One Hillary Clinton, in particular, keeps hammering on about Washington's response. Doesn't she realize she's part of Washington? If you are a U.S. Senator, and you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Whining about the solution doesn't make you part of it. I will grant you that there are shortcomings in this administration's response to that tragedy, if you will grant me that the tragedy is bigger than any natural domestic problem an administration has had to deal with before it. Mistakes were bound to be made, and I hope we learn from them. What ticks me off to some extent is how some people (named Clinton) will expend more energy in pointing out what's wrong than they ever will in trying to remedy the problem. It's like parents pointing out the dog shit in the middle of the soccer field their kids are playing on. That's the easy part. Fixing something takes more initiative. That wouldn't make the man in charge look half as bad, though, and that's far more important than the people of the 9th ward. If Hillary Clinton really wanted to do something that could make me change my attitude about her, she'd shut her mouth and actually do something to make New Orleans a better place to live. Go there and be part of the solution, or organize part of the solution, but get past the partisan bickering. Instead, she galvanizes the attitude that has me and others like me just stare at the screen and say, "Bitch!" In today's (maybe yesterday's) paper, they quoted her as saying Karl Rove is obsessed with what she's doing. Does anyone actually believe Rove is that bored? You'd get more excitement watching grass grow....yeah, in February. Listen to her talk, now, that's another story. New Orleans isn't going to get better until everyone pitches in, and that's everyone...the people living there, the government on all levels, and all of us to the extent that we can....but that's not what I came to talk about. (Damn, I get on that Hillary topic and it's hard to back off.)

I came to talk about Mardi Gras, and the celebration thereof. I have walked Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras...twice. I did it once when I was 23, living in Pensacola (a scant 3 and a half hour drive from New Orleans) and getting through flight school, and had a wonderful time, from the bit I remember. The second time I was living in Pensacola again, stationed there as a flight instructor in the Navy, and I was about 27 or 28. Once again, I had a good time, but I remember far more of that trip, and I remember saying, "Never again."

Mardi Gras is one huge party that gets just slightly out of hand. Oh there are women pulling their tops over their heads for a string of beads, and religious fanatics pulling a cross down the middle of Bourbon Street handing out leaflets to anyone who will take one, but those are just part of the show. I'm talking more about the area's ability to handle what it creates...logistically. When you're 23 and slightly more exuberant, you don't realize that they're selling beer on every street corner, but the only rest rooms are in bars, where there's a line to get in and a two drink minimum. When you're 28 you are more fully aware that the gutter that guy is passed out in smells of urine, and that girl in the bushes is puking her guts up. The reality of it all hits you much harder. When you're 23, you never leave that nirvana that is Bourbon Street. When you're 28 you're more cognizant of the parade schedule, and how far we are from a great restaurant. Yeah, you still hit Bourbon Street (I mean really, there's still something to be said for cheap beer and flashing tits)...only earlier, and you steer clear of the hurricanes in Pat O'Brien's, and you're elsewhere before it gets too gross. When you leave, you leave thinking I want to come back to this town, but not during this circus.

This year, the French Quarter and Fat Tuesday are back, and I think that's good for New Orleans. The city needs a reminder of life before Katrina, and more of everyone's help getting the area surrounding the French Quarter back to that place.

Monday, February 27, 2006


And so it came to pass that the little school from Main Line Philly went to Connecticut, and got rejected...literally. I hate sounding like eeyore, but I could see it coming. Ever since Curtis Sumpter went down before the beginning of the season, and the Wildcats were still ranked in the top 5, I had to wonder...what are you people thinking? We have some great guards, true, but we have no front court. OK, that's embellishing it some, but we don't have a great front court. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. In Villanova's case, playing four guards is unorthodox, but when that's what you got, that's what you play. As long as those guys can get open and are hot from the outside, you can win that way. Yesterday showed what happens when they can't....blocked shots and throwing up desperation threes at the end only made what had been a close game look scary bad.

I like our chances going into the end of the season, the Big East tournament and the NCAA's, where guard play means a lot, but still, we have one glaring weakness..and it was blinding against UConn. They played a hell of a game and hung one on the Wildcats. I don't think the way to beat Villanova is a big secret. It's just that not many teams have the game to exploit that weakness. UConn does. Let's face it. I was surprised when we won the first game, and had no expectation of winning in Storrs, but we're doing the best we can with what we got.

On to better topics, I'm not much on the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, but those guys "floating" over the fan that was pushing air up at 120-something miles an hour were pretty cool. I so want to do that! I have to wonder...do you think Bode Miller will work his way into the lexicon? I'm wondering if some day...not too long from now, if being hyped as something with all the potential in the world to do great things and falling flat on your face, or just being an abject failure, will be known as "doing a Bode". I know the guy tried. I saw an interview with him where he said he didn't go out drinking the night before any of his races, so I know the effort was there. I mean, what more could you ask for? As you may have guessed, being the Bodeist...isn't high on my To Do list.

We spent a lot of the weekend with the youngster. In his week long school absence, he missed three tests, which need to be made up like, today or tomorrow. I'm far more knowledgeable on the war of 1812 than I have been in a long time. Math..well...is still just math. It's always been a strong suit for me which makes it suprisingly hard to teach. You don't realilze how much of it you do in your head until someone's trying to follow what you're doing. I'm crossing my fingers for the little guy today.

I also did the last of my three golf lessons. We'll see where that gets me. The guy did give me some things to work on, so I have something specific in mind at the range. Maybe this year we break 90. Then again, maybe this year we do a Bode, and try again next year.

Friday, February 24, 2006

hot rocks, quick hits, fazed cookies, and a veritable cornucopia of whatever I think up

For the first time in over a week, everyone made it out of the lumberyard on their appointed rounds. The wife and youngster got off to work and school this morning, though not without some prying on the youngster's part. Lets hope it stays that way. We have a ton of make-up work to get through in the school department.

I love this time of year in sports talk in J'ville. The radio guys interview the coaches, owner, and various players of the Jaguars and the dance begins. The interviewer finds 50 ways to ask the same question, "who, or what positions, are you targeting in the offseason." The interviewee finds another 50 ways to sidestep that question or in Jack Del Rio's case, flat out tell the guy, "I'm not going to tell you that." Really, lets just lay the whole strategy out on sports talk radio for everyone to hear, so other teams can hurry up and sign who you want and counter what you want to do in the draft. That almost makes sense.

I watched a bit of the figure skating in between freestyle stuff last night. Cohen got the silver slipper and the Slut-something girl fell, leaving the door open for Sushi Hari-Kari to take gold. I had more fun with the names than I did watching it. I do think it's time for Dick Button to retire, but I'm sure NBC isn't interested in my opinion, (even though I'm also sure all the network execs are regular lumberyard readers.) I wanted him to shut his pie hole more than I ever did John Madden, and I find Madden a bit irritating. That freestyle stuff though...damn. Hard to believe that evolved from guys doing helicopters off moguls, but those guys were amazing. Not being sexist. I watched the women do it too and was equally amazed, but those folks are doing all that twisting and somersaulting with skis and ski boots on while falling four or five stories and landing it...on not a whole lot of incline. Let's just say...I'm impressed.

Curling...anyone know where I can get in touch with those people? I need someone to clean my house, and they look uniquely qualified.

The little school from Main Line Philly heads up to UConn Sunday for another match-up with the team they knocked out of #1 position in the College Basketball rankings. I know we're in for a battle. I seem to go into things like this hoping for the best but expecting the worst. I'll be amazed if we walk out of there with a W. It's not that I don't think it's possible. I think it's more that...all this talk about being a possible one seed going into the tournament...it's normal for the UConns and Dukes of the world, but I have never, before this year, heard anyone talking that kind of shit about Villanova. NEVER! Yeah, we get into the tournament our fair share of times, but rarely higher than about a nine seed. Even in '85 when we took the whole thing, I don't remember what we were seeded, but I remember it being an upset that we were even in the final four. I still have the newspaper articles from the day of, and the day after we beat Georgetown that year, in what is still considered one of the greatest upsets ever. In hindsight they are pretty entertaining. I'm enjoying the hell out of this, but I'm waiting for the alarm clock to go off and the dream to come crashing down. Could very well happen Sunday, but I hope not.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

separated at birth?

Last night I gave up on the Olympics, for the most part. The big event of the evening appeared to be figure skating, and I can only sit through so much of that. One time though, I walked through past the TV, and the wife, still sick and huddled under her comforter, and on the screen was a mass of far too many sequins in pants, topped off with dark hair and I thought...Johnny Weir is back. The kid found his aura! Turns out I was wrong. It was Ivana Slut...something. I think she was from Russia. At first glance I coulda sworn it was Johnny Weir.

The feud between Shani Davis and Chad Hendrick is just about comical. I can see both of their points, but can't you guys just shake hands and apologize to each other, or is there too much ego in the way for all that? I can see where Chad's peeved because Shani didn't skate in the team event, but he said they didn't even discuss it. Couldn't Chad have made the first move and asked? Then there's the hand shake thing. Shani's peeved because Chad didn't shake his hand when he won gold. He did when he won silver and the reaction was something very close to (only because I don't remember the exact quote), "Oh, he shakes my hand when I lose." Dude, you won a silver medal! Losing is the guy who goes home empty handed. No, it isn't gold, but I'd be proud as hell of an olympic silver medal. Not only that, but you beat the guy shaking your hand, who got the bronze. Outside of the gold medal, maybe Tanith Belbin sneakin' into your room at night in the village, or winning that powerball thing, what more could you want? Maybe I just set the bar too low. I don't know the whole story, but these two look like a couple of three year olds with attitude....that can skate really fast.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Rain, The Park and Other Things

I know I'm dating myself (at least I know who's paying for dinner), but...

Cowsills are dying. Two members of the Cowsills, the family band on which the TV band, the Partridge Family was based, died. One Friday and one in the aftermath of Katrina. I actually saw them. My parents took us to a Cowsills concert (I think it was at a county fair) when I was....I dunno, maybe 10 or 12? It was a huge deal to us. Black armbands for all my friends.

a shadow of doubt

The subject today...charity golf outings.

I participated in one of these on Sunday. It was cold, wet, nasty, and did I mention cold? It benefitted the youngster's school though, and I volunteered to help with it, and play. I assembled 3 friends who play golf and after helping with the organization of the event, we set of to play. Now, nobody in our group will be mistaken for Tiger. First of all, only one of us was black, but he's a senior citizen. Even without the race card...none of us comes anywhere close to Tiger's "Z" game..let alone his "A" game. We're all pretty even, ability-wise, but that's OK because this event uses handicaps, which means at the end, they adjust the scores and give you a "net" score based on how good you say you are according to the handicap system. There is an assumption that you will be close to honest with your assessment. My group wasn't built to win. It was a group of guys who enjoy playing together, and would have fun.

The format was a scramble, which means everybody hits a ball. Then you pick the best of the four shots and play from there, then you pick the best of those four shots and play from there, and so on until you put the ball in the hole, and you play the whole course like that. It generally makes things go faster, since one guy out of the group usually hits something decent, so nobody's having to play those shots out of the woods, and scores are low, since nobody is taking penalty shots for those sinking balls in the water.

Now, after saying we weren't very good, we rocked on Sunday. On the first tee, one guy said, "Ya know, this year let's really try to compete. Usually when we do this sort of thing, we just have fun. This time, let's really put some effort into it." We did and we kicked ass. Somebody always hit a shot to get us where we needed to be, everyone contributed in clutch spots, and in a few places, we got flat out lucky. We played pretty much above our heads. We didn't have a single bogey! We par'd five holes, birdied twelve holes and eagled one. We were damn proud of ourselves and felt like we had a shot...until we hit the clubhouse...and saw that the same guys who won last year had us beat by 4 strokes before the handicaps were factored in, and they carried a bigger handicap by far than we did.

Now, when I saw these same guys win last year, I thought...damn, they must have just played the game of their lives. I mean, we aren't good, but if you look at their handicaps, these guys are worse than us...by a lot. They kicked all our butts without the handicap, let alone with it. Pretty cool for them.

This year...same four guys...handicaps read like they, again, suck worse than most of the folks there, and they finish with a score that says they par'd one hole and averaged birdie on all the others. Now I'm thinking...what are the odds that the four of you played the game of your lives at the same tournament two years in a row? They tied for the best gross score with one other group, without handicaps, and when you add in the handicaps, they killed all of us. Last year I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. This year I'm thinking there's a serious lack of ethics involved. I don't know for sure that they cheated, and I don't like thinking that they did, but seriously....what are the odds? You want us to believe you're really bad golfers and you tie for the best score in the tournament without using your handicap? two years in a row? Something doesn't add up. There were people there who really can play, even if we weren't them. This year I'm wondering if they can sleep at night over a $10 trophy, because there's just no freakin' way. Either you're a whole lot better than you say you are, or nobody in your group knows how to keep score, or both. I mean, you won a golf tournament to benefit a Catholic school, playing with a bunch of average guys. It's not like you won a city championship or anything. Does it mean that much to ya? (For the record, this isn't a sour grapes thing. Even without these guys, we didn't come in first, or second. We placed respectably, but someone else would have taken home the $10 trophy. It just sucks the fun out when you feel like four guys are going to cheat their way to the top no matter how good you might play.)

P.S. One of the guys I played with, the one I rode with actually, was my friend who's getting a divorce. He brought it up and we actually talked about it for a bit, which I think he needed. I don't know how much help I was, but now he knows he has friends who will help him when he needs it, and to be honest, I think I need to be that kind of friend just as much as he needs one.

Monday, February 20, 2006

in a (sick) people house

Well, it's been a sick weekend in the lumberyard. First there was me, then the youngster followed suit and now the wife has chimed in. I started to feel better Saturday and today things are looking up...for me. The rest of the clan isn't quite there yet. The youngster won't be schooling tomorrow (yet I have the rest of the carpool gang) and the wife won't be working.

The outside world has better news on some fronts...worse on others. But of course first the good news. We're #2! We're #2! As of this morning, the Villanova Wildcats hit number 2 in the national basketball rankings. The little school from Main Line Philly is rockin'.

Then there's the olympics. Bode Miller, say what you want, but the guy's a bust...maybe a beer bust. I don't care if he doesn't live up to the hype, but if he doesn't..well...stop the hype already. The whole olympic thing is going downhill for me and crashing like a typical Miller run. First we have him, then there's Lindsay Jacobellis...who had a solid lock on a gold medal until she had to hotdog her way into a silver lining. Followed by Shani Davis who pulls down the first gold medal by a black American guy ever in the winter games, and then basically writes off the moment of his life in front of the cameras. Dude, you rocked! How about feeling like you did and showing a little of that, maybe? The two word answers oozing attitude in the post event interview left Melissa Starks wondering if you were even happy that you won. Johnny Weir lost his aura somewhere over the Atlantic, and used that for an excuse for his abysmal performance (maybe it's somewhere in all those sequins) and for a "yeah, but" moment, we're left with yanking down the silver in.....ice dancing? I'll still watch the bobsledding (because it is hot wheels on ice) no matter who's winning, and even if they sprinkle it in between that ice dancing crap, and I'll still parochially pull for the red white and blue, but it would help if we could have some folks that just compete for all they're worth, celebrate afterward, win or lose, and not blame their missing aura if they blow it.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

the irony of it all

Yesterday afternoon I went to my doctor for my periodic checkup, and he once again pronounced me healthy.

I went back to the office and no sooner did I get there than I started sneezing and coughing and...I know it's coincidence. I had to catch whatever this is long before I made the trip to his office (maybe it was when I was freezing my ass off Tuesday night in the batting cages in my dress pants and button down shirt working with the youngster's little league team, although every doctor I talk to says there's no corrolation between cold and viruses), but the end result...I felt awful last night and do today. I slept till now and am taking the day off. It's a couch, Campbells, drugs and DVD day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

you say Torino, I say Turin

More Olympic fun...

So Bode Miller straddles a gate doing the slalom thing and gets DQ'd. Too bad he can't use the pairs figure skating judges. There, if they think you're good enough to win a medal, you can fall on your face, slide across the ice on it, and they just pretend it didn't happen. Anybody else moves their toe the wrong way and it's a gazillion point deduction, but if the judges think you should do better, you can go back out on the ice and get a 'do over', win silver and they'll call you courageous. I mean, you dropped the bitch on her face (or so I heard. I'll admit I'm getting the story second hand from the wife, who is also of the opinion it was "courageous" and "inspiring" and all that, and that I'm raining on her "feel good" olympic story parade.) For this to be even close to legit, whoever came in 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc. must have made bigger mistakes than that, and if they did...what are they doing in the olympics? Did none of them escape without playing zamboni with their teeth? Didn't we revamp the scoring system for this event because it used to be corrupt? Hell, I haven't skated since I was about 12, but I'm thinking I could get through 10 or 15 minutes on the ice without planting my face in it (but I don't know a triple sow cow from a quadruple pig bull either), but I digress. Back to Bode Miller, who doesn't much care if he wins anything, as long as he enjoys his run on an olympic mountain. It's the rest of us who care about that whole "results" thing. It's fun watching Nike spin that sponsorship so it might be worth their while. I'm not saying they can't. Maybe they'll be successful, but it'll take some marketing genius...or maybe like Bode, they're just in it for the fun of it and don't care about results either. Riiiiiight!

I heard the U.S. doesn't have the most medals, but we have the most gold medals. We can fix that. All we need to do is invent a few more sports that nobody else does...yet...like we did that snowboarding halfpipe thing. I love watching it, but you have to admit...it's not that big a deal to dominate the sport when you're the only ones who have been doing it for any length of time. Also, am I the only one who thinks it's funny watching Sven from Sweden doing the thumb and pinkie thing when he finishes a great halfpipe run? I thought that was strictly an American surfer/skater crowd thing. I guess I was wrong. Lastly, I'd hate to be a judge in that thing. How do you justify the idea that, "I liked this guy's flippy twisty thing better than that guy's flippy twisty thing?"

I'm still enjoying it... just with a more cynical smile today.

On the less olympic sporting front, there's our Vice President out quail hunting without a license. I guess he's lucky he didn't shoot any quail, because that would be illegal. As far as I know, you don't need a license to shoot a lawyer, nor is there a limit, so he should be OK there. You can bag as many of those as you like. Now at least I know why politicians are big on gun control. They're the ones who are inept with them.

What's the difference between going on a quail hunt with Dick Cheney and a moonlight drive with Ted Kennedy?
You'll survive the quail hunt.

Until next time....

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

getting shafted

WARNING: golf geek post to follow

A few weeks ago I wrote about my journey to a local golf emporium in search of a new shaft for my driver. The trip resulted in lessons which I think are helping a lot...at least on the driving range, because that's the only place I've had time to play. Still, the original question remained. Is the shaft in my driver what I should have, based on my ability or lack thereof. Is there something else out there that could help me play better?

So now, it's a few weeks later. I've had two of the three lessons and had two guys watching swing after swing (and making me self-conscious as hell), helping me correct flaws and determine what, if any, other shaft would help me keep the ball in the fairway and make it go farther in the process. Then the club fitter guy starts asking me questions. One that made me laugh a little was, "Are you happy with your ball flight? Do you like the trajectory?" I told him, "I'm looking for two things. Farther and straighter, and of the two, straighter is better (cuz farther can really suck if it ain't straighter). I don't give a damn about ball flight. It can scream two inches off the ground or alert NORAD, or be anywhere in between for all I care. Style points mean nothing. Just...farther and straighter."

In the end, the club fitter guy pulls out a shaft, and gives me all the reasons why this is the perfect shaft for me. He goes on for a good ten minutes, and makes a ton of sense. I actually got an education out of this. I kinda knew about shaft flex, and how you need a stiffer shaft if you swing faster, but I'm not 25 anymore, and I figured a regular flex shaft was right up my alley. I knew nothing about torque, and while I may not have the fastest swing in the world, it accelerates enough on the way down to twist the head of the club if the shaft will allow it, sending a lot of my shots to the right, and that's my problem...and I am swinging faster than I thought. The lessons might have something to do with that. One thing that the guy mentioned two weeks ago...I'm kinda tall, but I have long arms. This guy (who isn't the same guy I talked to before) says the same thing, and that he'd rather see me using a shaft that's a half inch to an inch shorter than the standard shaft. A shorter shaft, physics-wise, won't make the ball go as far as a longer one. The same swing with a longer shaft makes the head go faster, which makes the ball go faster. A shorter shaft will give me a lot more control. This will give me more confidence and let me swing faster which in the end, will actually give me more distance than a longer shaft. The shaft he's recommending isn't the cheapest thing in the shop, but it's also far from the most expensive, and he's talking like, "so when you decide to do this, this is what I think would work much better for you." It's stiffer than what I have and won't allow the head to twist as much. I'm standing there thinking...this is why I came in here two weeks ago. I'm past the "when you decide to do this" stage. Go for it. So I leave the club with him and he says it'll be ready the following day. I leave happy. I go home and that night, decide to see what I can find on the web in the way of information on this shaft, and find this link. Now, if you go there and read it, it sounds like you should be really good if you're going to use this thing, and I think it's been fairly well documented here...that ain't me, babe. So then I'm thinking one of two things is happening. Either these guys sold me a bill of goods or this link is full of manufacturer hype. I'm thinking it probably isn't the former, because they had the opportunity to recommend something more exotic/expensive if that was the goal. Maybe I wouldn't have bought it, but the guy could have pulled out a $100 (or more) shaft and said, "This is what you need." He didn't though.

So Sunday, I went back and picked up my newly shafted club (now a half inch shorter), and took it to the driving range despite the cold and wind and nastiness. It's amazing what new toys can make a man do. I had the benefit of a strong tailwind, but even so..the verdict so far is that link is full of hype, and I may have bought a little better game...or one more suited to me.

you GO Will Sheridan

I watched the little school from Main Line Philly take on the #1 team in the country last night, in front of the largest crowd to ever watch a college basketball game in the state of Pennsylvania. The beginning of the second half was a bit scary, but then Allan Ray started hitting threes and Will Sheridan came up big to help carry the Villanova Wildcats to a victory over UConn.

Woooooo Hooooooo!

Monday, February 13, 2006

This is a bit disconcerting

I really had no idea.

You Are Scary

You even scare scary people sometimes!

I pulled my groin this weekend...

..felt so good I pulled it again. (OK, I stole the line from Spin City...TV show, but it fits...sorta.)

It's cold out there. It's 'frost on the ground' cold and has been since yesterday and will be for a few more days. I know, I know. You folks up north have it worse, buried under two feet of snow, and I feel for ya'. Really I do. Doesn't make it any warmer here.

We got through the Saturday 8:30 a.m. baseball practice just before the rain started and the temps dropped. I guess God was smiling on us (if you call getting up early Saturday for baseball practice, smiling) since we got screwed out of the first week of practice. We got ours in and most of the other teams didn't. In any case, after that it started getting cold and wet and miserable outside, so we made a big pot of chili and watched the olympics.

I feel bad for Michelle Kwan. What kind of timing is that...pulling your groin going into your best shot at a gold medal, and having to drop out? I'll say this. The girl's got some class, handling it the way she did. I know she wants to be there, and wants to compete, and sees this as her last chance to grab gold, but when it becomes certain that you can't, step aside and give someone else the chance.

I'm not much for figure skating, but that's pretty much a guy bias. Most of us will sit through it, but none of us will really enjoy it. No move in sports should be able to be described as "delightful", and no male announcer should ever describe one as such. Can you imagine John Madden describing a safety breaking up a pass by knocking the snot out of some receiver, forcing him to drop the ball, and calling the hit "delightful?" Didn't think so. Hell, I can't even picture Jim Nance at the Masters watching Tiger stick a 9 iron two feet from the pin and calling the shot "delightful" (although I could see Gary McCord doing it...as a goof.) Hey NBC, get Dick Button's "delightful" ass off my TV.

I love watching the luge, just because I think the course is very cool. I'd love to ride a sled down something like that. It's like human Hot Wheels on ice. The downhill and freestyle stuff makes me miss skiing...just a little. I still have skis in my parent's basement. I wish they'd kick those things to the curb and have told them so. They keep them, in case I ever come home in the winter (yeah, right) and want to use them. I've been home in the winter, and while I may visit again during that time of year, those skis won't be part of the visit. I bought them in 1981, and haven't used them since 1993. The bindings would be scary enough if I had skied in the last ten years. Let alone now when I know they'll be needed. If I come home when there's snow and if I decide to go skiing (which could actually happen), I'll be renting.

The snowboarding is flat out cool. It just doesn't seem to fit in the Olympics, and maybe that's a perception I'm getting past. There's something slightly renegade about it that doesn't fit my Olympic mold. It's like the sk8er crowd just showed up with invites someone slipped them under the table, not that I mind. I like the idea. They're there, and they're enthusiastic, and I love watching the tricks I certainly can't do, so I'm movin' on.

I'm liking the USA berets too. I saw a few people in the crowd wearing them and thought...those have to be available somewhere. I need to find them on the net. In a wave of patriotic olympic spirit, I went searching and found them. I pulled out the credit card and then...stopped myself mid-click...and had a short conversation with myself. What the hell are you doing? Yeah, it's a pretty cool hat, but what will you do with it if you buy it? Twenty five dollars and where would you ever wear it? Hands where I can see 'em and step away from the browser. Watch Shaun White kick ass.

Hope everyone's staying warm.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The National Hockey League is betting against itself

Will the National Hockey League ever stop poking itself in the eye with a fork?

First we have the lock out, which tried it's damndest to bury the league. Now we have the gambling ring scandal. I was looking for some odds on whether or not the NHL will cover (this whole thing up), but I can't get those anywhere. Maybe I should call Janet Jones. Then there's her husband doing his best Sergeant Schultz impression..."I know na..ting!" while asking his buddy if he can keep her action out of the scandal. Things are getting dicey in Wayne's world.

Speaking of poking themselves in the eye with a fork (and going a completely different direction)...when will the Muslim world realize that getting all bent out of shape in violent protest over a cartoon depicting them as terrorists isn't helping you look like a peaceful religious group? I realize the cartoons are offensive, but getting violent about it is a lot like the wife, after a discussion with friends, telling her husband, "They're saying I dominate you. Tell 'em I don't dominate you!"

Thursday, February 09, 2006

One person's "nosey"

...is another person's "giving a damn."

We're just getting into the realm of teenage independence with the youngster. No, we aren't there yet, but I see the seeds being sown. He's starting to want his own life, separate from us, and he wants some privacy there. I'll grant him some, but not nearly as much as he'd like. He's pushing limits and seeing what he can get away with and where he gets hammered, and so on. It's a strange time full of paradoxes, but they're also the same paradoxes we've had before, just twisted a bit. From the time they're born, kids push the envelope to see where the boundaries are, secretly hoping they find some. Not only that. I recognize it from my childhood, when I wanted my dad to get his face out of my life...especially when I had plans he wouldn't approve of. Yeah, I thought he was being too nosey. He gave a damn about me, and still does. Both of my parents were like that. If you had your older brother sneak a keg out in the woods and invite the neighborhood kids to a beer bash, and you had to pick one parent who would find you out there and drag their kids home, the easy bet was one of mine. I can still picture the day my mom did that. I didn't see or value that when I was 18 and knew everything (except surprisingly, how to sneak off to a keg party in the woods without mom finding out), but I do now.

At the root of all of it is the "I hate you because you don't let me do anything I want, but if you did let me do that, I'd know you didn't care." paradox. It's a no win for parents if you're trying to be your kid's buddy, so I don't go there. Hate me if you will, but there will be boundaries and you'll live in them. I will be nosey. I'll want to know who you're with and what you're doing and how things are going in your life and if you're happy, or depressed, and why. I'm entering the "stupid" phase of my child's life. It's where the parents become idiots, and don't know anything, while the (almost) 13 year old is far smarter that both of us combined. If we know anything, he knows better. We will continue to have this lobotomy, I'm told, until he's in his 20's, when we'll begin to regain our intelligence. We'll see if that prediction holds. In the meantime, I will do my best to help him get to adulthood in the best shape possible to head out on his own, with what little intelligence I can muster for now.

Still, I know we haven't quite reached that phase, because in the middle of telling me how awful I'm making his life by not letting him do what other kids can do, occasionally he'll smile, hug me and tell me "I love you." I'm wondering how much longer that'll last.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Say it ain't so, Joe

I used to like Joe Montana. I admired his ability as a quarterback in the NFL, and thought he pretty much came off as a nice guy when I'd see him on television. That all came crashing down yesterday when I heard and later read about him at the Super Bowl.

For those of you who saw the beginning of the game, Tom Brady did the coin toss. While he showed an uncanny ability to perform the task, he wasn't the original choice. The original choice was also conspicuously absent from the parade of past Super Bowl MVP's. The original choice was three time Super Bowl MVP, famed quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers (and less famed quarterback of the Kansas City Cheifs), Joe Montana.

The players who showed up for the parade of past Super Bowl MVPs were given $1000, 2 tickets to the game and invites to virtually any party they wanted to attend that week. While it isn't exactly NFL player type compensation, it's not a bad way to spend a few days. From a fan's perspective, I thought the parade was a pretty cool thing. Joe Namath, showing off 'Jets' sewn in the lining of his jacket, is a memory that will stick with me, and I'm not even a Jets fan. Well, that wasn't enough for Joe Montana. He demanded a $100,000 appearance fee, and when the NFL balked, he took his smile and went home, saying he needed to spend time with his family, and that, "A lot of people just don't understand that while it's a great event and it's tremendous, I've moved on with my life. People think I need to be stuck with football the rest of my life." Now, understand that he was in Detroit the whole week, not being stuck with football and moving on with his life. I don't know, but I'm guessing the fact that the Super Bowl was there was purely coincidence. Joe might have been looking for a new car, and went right to the corporate source or something like that. Hey, it could happen. He left right before the game because the NFL wouldn't pay him...errrrr...he really needed some family time.

Newsflash, Joe. You are stuck with football. Football is the only reason people know who you are and the only reason you're obscenely rich. The next ad agency to call you up to do an endorsement ain't calling because you cured cancer, or just because they think you're a heck of a nice family guy. It's because of football, and damn right...you owe football. Football gave you the framework to do what you did and made you who you are, and is the major reason you continue to make money today. Without football, you're asking people if they've considered whole life. I'm in the middle of Turbo Tax season, so I'm painfully aware that $100,000 is easily more than I make in a year. What reason, aside from football, did you think gave you the balls to ask for that to flip a coin? Stuck with it? You should be gratefully reveling in football! Play the family card all you want, but when you play it after being dissed for your appearance fee, it comes off lame, and takes greed to a whole new level, and it makes you come off like an asshole.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Brokeback to the Future

Don't shoot the homophobe messenger, but I thought you might enjoy this.

Black History Month

I'll probably get lambasted for this, but so be it.

I have an issue with Black History Month. It's the same issue I have with Miss Black America, and Black Entertainment Television. What do you think would happen if we had a White History Month or a Miss White America? People would be all over the race card. The KKK would be having a cross burning party on Main Street. Yet, we have no issue with Miss Black America, or if we do, nobody's throwing the race card down on that. Don't give me the "it's because black women don't stand a chance in the Miss America pagent" argument either. If that were true, I couldn't have lusted after Vanessa Williams when her pictures appeared in a certain men's magazine in the 80's. I wouldn't have even known who she was.

It isn't the stuff I learn, or get reminded of in those PSAs for Black History Month that I take issue with. That's good stuff. It's the fact that we have a Black History Month to have those PSAs. I think black Americans who did great things should be recognized, and celebrated, along with every other American of every other race. Have informative PSAs for every noteworthy person in history, and sprinkle them in programming throuout the year. Have them for great black Americans, as well as great asian Americans, and great caucasian Americans, and just great Americans in general. Maybe have them for people who aren't even American. I think it's true we neglected the part black Americans played in our past and many contributions they made, and we might even be doing it now, but that's the part that has to change. That's the part that can push the cause of equality for everyone, regardless of race or anything else. The way I see it, as long as we perpetuate the differences between us, the longer people will make barriers out of those differences. Why can't we just have a History Month, and let all races participate? (Yes, this is the part where someone starts humming Kumbya in the background.) Why can't that month be filled with stories dedicated to the courage, inventiveness, fortitude or whatever of all Americans, if it's Americans we want to celebrate, regardless of race, color, creed, sexual orientation or preference for brocolli? Only when we stop making race matter will race stop mattering.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Offensive Super Bowl Interference

OK, yeah, I thought Pittsburgh would win the Super Bowl, but not like that. That was just sloppy, on a lot of people's parts.

I expected the vaunted Pittsburgh defense to shut down the Seahawks, but it didn't. The Seahawks stymied themselves. Jerramy Stevens dropped the game, pretty much, and if he wasn't gift wrapping the game for the Steelers, the officials were. I don't know if it was bad officiating or biased officiating, but damn...it sure looked like the zebras should have been dressed more like bumble bees....emphasis on the bumble. Offensive pass interference in the end zone, my ass, and that was just the most blatant example. I'll give 'em this. It was offensive. There were plenty of other examples as well.

I thought the Steelers were outcoached and outplayed, especially in the first half. I expected them to dominate the Seahawks, but that didn't happen. The Seahawks were having their way with the Steelers, winning the ball control and field position game. If someone told me beforehand the Super Bowl would be won on a few big plays and the better team would walk off a loser, I would have expected you to tell me the Seahawks won. I was way wrong. The Steelers were outplayed everywhere but on the scoreboard...and inside two minutes at the end of both halves, where Holmgren's clock management skills left the building.

The halftime show....let me say that I saw the Stones in 1975 and they were awesome. I saw them again in 1990 and they were old...but still good. What I saw last night was like walking in on your grandparents having sex. Not that I have, but I would think it'd have the same "ewwwwwww" factor. The geriatric Stones, and Mick Jagger's 80 year old navel, were a visual I really could have lived without. There are times when high definition is not a good thing, and this was one of those. Look up "disgusting" in the lumberyard dictionary and there's Mick Jagger's arm flab making him look like he's about to fly south for the winter. Start me up? Keith Richard looked like he needed someone to grab the paddles and yell "clear". Does anyone know if his guitar was actually plugged into anything capable of producing noise, or was that guy in the background with a guitar (that accidentally got in the picture once or twice) doing the Keith Richard parts because he just wasn't able to hold up his end? I suspect nobody's saying.

In the end, nobody will remember all that though. All they'll remember and all that counts in the long run is...the Steelers won Super Bowl XL...and the sheep streaker.

On a related note, I expected the car pool to be obnoxious this morning with my little Steeler fans, but it wasn't. We got a phone call early this morning. They weren't going to school today because they were up late...watching the Super Bowl. What's up with that? If you can't hang the next day, you don't need to be up watching football and doing tequila body shots while dancing the macaroni in your living room when your team wins (not that I know that's what they were doing). The youngster looked at me and said, "Wait, I stayed up and watched the Super Bowl. Can I miss school?"

Fat chance.

Friday, February 03, 2006

told ya so

I hope anyone who had a notion of jumping on the Ben Franklin Commemorative silver dollars the Mint is putting out already did so.

If you go to the Mint's site now and try to buy them, you find out they already took orders for all they will make, and you can be put on a waiting list in case someone doesn't pay for theirs. Someday, those puppies will be worth a buck. Maybe two!

The Super Bowl Cometh

OK, so the weekend is here, and my opinion hasn't changed a bit. I still don't see the Steelers having a lot of trouble putting away the Seahawks. I listen to all the experts and many of them have all these reasons they see it being close or me being completely wrong, and yeah...I could be wrong. (It's happened before.) If I am, well, OK, I shrug my shoulders and move on. I don't have a lot at stake, emotionally in this game. Neither team is big on my hit parade.

Last year we watched the game at a friends house, on his huge screen TV and he had a bunch of people over. This year that friend, who is a huge Steelers fan, is the same guy I talked about three posts ago who's getting the stealth divorce. If that wasn't happening, the party would be very large and at their place, because his Steelers are playing. Kinda puts a wet blanket on it all, for me. This year nobody's stepping up to the plate, party-wise, and I might have to call him and not throw anything huge because well, our house won't handle it, but have him and a few other people over, just to get together and watch the show...and the commercials.

Still, if the Steelers don't romp...I'll be very surprised.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Clean your body from the inside out

That was the subject line on a piece of spam I just got. I don't care what your product is, but if that's the line you're leading with, fire the marketing guy. Nothing about that makes me want to pull the wallet out.

coach's li'l helper

Well, after the badge fiasco of last week, baseball practice started in earnest last night. One of our coaches showed up and 8 of the 11 boys. The others had other obligations or whatever, but it meant one coach was supervising the 8 we had. I let him go for the fielding part, but the batting cages are one place I feel I can help a little, so I did.

What I find strange is the lack of 'pitching in' by the other dads, standing around out there. I mean, some of those guys are dressed in sweats and talk like they know what to do and such, but they stand around with their arms folded..watching. I came straight from work. Dress pants, loafers, button down shirt, but I did take off the tie, and I'm in the batting cages. I'm probably also the least knowledgeable of the group, and not the greatest pitching prospect, but nobody else seems eager to step up to the plate...literally. I mean, these are our kids, and we could all help make them better. There was room for more help, so bored kids aren't just standing around waiting for their next turn.

I can see if you truly have nothing to offer. Let someone who knows what they're doing do whatever it is they do. Ignorance is a good excuse, because you don't want to be out there being more hinderance than help. I've been there and still am to some extent, but I can help some. I know....just enough to be dangerous, but if nobody else is jumping in, let's live dangerously.

The good part is, it looks like we have some talent. I'm not saying we're a team of all stars, but the Braves look like they'll be competitive.