wine by the color

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

In non-Brett Favre matters...

It’s been 20 years since the Challenger exploded? I remember that like it was yesterday.

Joe Pendleton’s recent posts about the best and worst sporting events he’s attended, coupled with the 20-year anniversary of the Challenger, made me wonder what would constitute the 10 most memorable happenstances of my personal history. So I started a list on a cocktail napkin while enjoying 2-for-1 merlot night at a Chili's in Orlando. (I will discuss this visit to Chili's in more detail later, but I don't want to get sidetracked this early in the thought process.)

As a prelude, I’d like to note that I was in the womb for two major events:
-Neil Armstrong takes the first step on the moon (July 21, 1969)
-the Mets win their first World Series (October 16,1969)

That aside, here is my top 10, in chronological order:

1. The Bicentennial (July 4, 1976)

I remember attending a huge parade in Wildwood. I also recall participating in some sort of pageant in my elementary school's courtyard, resplendent in attire from the days of yore.

2. USA Beats the Soviet Union in the Olympic Hockey Semifinals (February 22, 1980)

My dad’s aunt and uncle, to whom we eventually stopped speaking because they were a special kind of crazy, were visiting. I was washing dishes when my mother told me to come watch the end of the game, because, as she said, “Lord knows when you might see this again.”

This made a huge impression in terms of the impact sports would have on my life for the next, well, 26 years and counting.

3. Challenger Explodes (January 28, 1986)

Fifteen years old, sitting in Spanish class. Senorita Rita (I kid you not) was standing at the front of the room when someone came in and announced that the Challenger had exploded. As that sunk in for the assemblage of honors Spanish students, a kid named Steve wise-cracked that "I bet the kids at that school get the rest of the day off" (meaning, of course, the students at Christa McAuliffe's school). Steve got the rest of the day off as well, as he was immediately sent to the principal's office.

Steve was killed in a helicopter accident in Iraq in November of 2003, just days shy of our 15-year anniversary. I'm not making any sort of karma-related connection between these two things. I just know that when I heard that sad news, the first thing I thought of was his comment that day.

4. The Mets win the 1986 World Series (Game 6, October 25; Game 7: October 27)

I watched these games on the floor of my parents' bedroom. When that ball went through Buckner's legs in Game 6, I jumped so high I was sure my head would hit the ceiling. Game 7, delayed a day due to weather, was almost anticlimactic but no less enjoyable. This was the first time a team I supported won anything, and I was appropriately ecstatic.

5. The Rodney King Riots (April 29, 1992)

(Ed. note: this refers to the resulting unrest in Columbus, Ohio)

I was in college and the Beckster and I were on the roof of our three-story apartment building (actually, it was her apartment, but my roommate that year didn’t have a sense of humor where our extracurricular activities were concerned, so I spent a lot of time on the Beckster’s couch) listening to Zeppelin and discussing the finer points of philosophical debates such as whose doughnuts were better, Buckeye Donuts or Jolly Pirate Donuts.

At some point we realized it was chaos in the streets of Columbus near campus. People were running up and down 16th Avenue; police were everywhere. It was insanity, but we were in no condition to investigate.

6. The OJ Simpson chase (June 17, 1994)/OJ Simpson found innocent (October 3, 1995)

I was at work when the verdict was read. More interestingly, on the day of the car chase my brother and I were driving to pick up one of my cousins for a Metallica concert at the Orange County Speedway. That was a strange night which ended in a near-riot at a McDonald's at a NY State Thruway rest area, when the establishment ran out of fries just as hundreds of fired up Metallica fans arrived.

7. Princess Diana Dies (August 31, 1997)

After having a drink or five at a party at the home of my senior prom date and his wife, I got home around 12:30 a.m. and turned on the TV as I hit the couch. Shortly thereafter, the news first appeared on the running scroll at the bottom of the screen. I remember watching the coverage all night thinking, "there is no way she's going to die." And then she did.

8. The Millenium (December 31, 1999/January 1, 2000)

My parents hosted a festive gathering for family and friends. This one makes the list mainly because of the anticipation of what would happen when the clock struck twelve.

9. Terrorist attacks (September 11, 2001)

I was at a tournament just outside Pittsburgh, about 60 miles from Shanksville, Pa., where the fourth plane went down. I won't go on and on about this but I remember arriving at the golf course, finding out about the planes, and trying to find my brother and cousin, who were working in the city at the time.

10. Ohio State Wins the National Championship (January 3, 2003)

I remember being so nervous during the game that I could barely eat. The 4-5 seconds between the dropped pass in the end zone on fourth down and the flag being thrown for interference seemed like it was 45 minutes. After the game, there was a barrage of phone calls to my uncle and cousin and the Beckster, and a lot of euphoric screaming.

After the game we hit the bars in Boulder, where I proceeded to get good and drunk. Drinking in high altitude was never a good thing for me. I believe there was illness, and I have a slight recollection of sleeping with one foot planted firmly on the floor, for fear the spins would kill me.

So that's the top 10, as far as I can recall. I'm sure I've forgotten something. Feel free to tell me what it is.

Can I also say how much easier the Internet must make life for kids today? I did all the research on dates for this post without moving anything but my fingers. No library, no newspaper, nada.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The fact that a Sunday Night Conversation with Brett Favre is the lead story on tonight's SportsCenter is probably not a good sign. Favre is questioning his desire to play again, and whether he still wants to be the guy with the ball with two minutes left and the game on the line. They must have drugged him. This is not the Brett Favre I know and love.

I'm paraphrasing here, but this is the gist of what Favre just said:

"If someone said to me today, make a damn decision, I'd say I'm probably not coming back."

And now I have to listen to that Sack of Shit Stuart Scott and Jackass Emeritus Sean Salisbury offer their thoughts on the situation. Somebody save me. Where the hell is the remote?

But dear lord. What on earth is Michael Irvin wearing? It seems to be a red and black checked suit, with a red tie. I will have to find a picture of this.

An update: the full story from the Evil Empire.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Three things seen while driving 433 miles around the state of Florida today...

1. While waiting at a traffic light shortly after leaving the hotel, I watched the woman in the car in front of me step out of her vehicle to remove something from her windshield. She was wearing a t-shirt and underpants. And nothing else.

2. While driving on I-95, I saw an elderly man sitting on a kitchen chair on the side of the road, surrounded by what seemed to be a considerable number of his possessions. (This distressed me a bit, but fortunately a state trooper pulled up just as I was driving by.)

3. A huge billboard on the Florida turnpike which read: "Season's Greetings from Rutgers Football."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

After a rare run of 63 consecutive days at home, I hit the road again today. Let's hope today is not a harbinger of what 2006 will bring in terms of travel adventures.

It was by no means my worst-ever day on the road, but I could have done without the 4 a.m. wake-up call, my storm door being frozen shut when I tried to head outside at 5:30 a.m., and the 2.5-hour wait on the tarmac at EWR that caused me to be considerably late to a meeting (which was the sole reason I took the early flight). Oh, and then a late-day nosebleed. Good times.

Outside of that, I guess everything went fine.

But I'm now in sunny Florida, which will serve as my home base until next Monday. Strangely, my brother is also in town on business so we'll be hanging out during the week. Then Tege flies in from Oregon so we'll join forces this weekend, and KJ coincidentally arrives with her family on Sunday, so we may hit Disney on Monday.

I guess what I'm trying to say is don't expect a lot from me the next few days. Unless Brett Favre announces his intentions, which I don't expect to happen for a while, WBTC might be on hiatus until next week.

Unless someone amuses or irritates me, in which case I'll check in immediately.

Monday, January 23, 2006

(I am just going to apologize for the rambling below. I'm sleep deprived and fighting a cold. I'm also a little crazy because I return to the road tomorrow and have 592 things to do before my 7:45 a.m. flight.)

I’ve mentioned that I have a love-hate relationship with our local paper. I used to work there and have several friends who still do. The paper does a good job covering local sports and a decent job covering local news. But Gannett has run it into the ground and it is, for the most part, a bad paper. Despite this, I still read it daily for reasons I can't entirely explain.

So the centerpiece art in today's sports section is a large photo of Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger lifting his arms in celebration after yesterday’s game. The caption reads…

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger waves his AFC championship ‘Terrible Towel’ after helping lead Pittsburgh past Carolina and into the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995…

Seriously, there were two football games yesterday. The brain trust over there couldn’t keep straight who played in each game? And that was the early game – it’s not like it ended at 1 a.m. and they were scrambling to get it in the paper on deadline. As an editor, I completely understand that mistakes happen, but that is just ridiculous.

That said, I was happy to see the Steelers advance, because I loathe the Broncos (see: The Drive; The Fumble; their lumberjack QB) and I'm a sucker for the sentimental angle in sports, which Bettis provides. I didn't care who won the NFC game. I was sorry Steve Smith didn't get a chance to bust out any new celebratory tricks, because I did enjoy last week's goal post shimmy.

In other sports news, the Mets traded pitcher Kris Benson to the Orioles. Since the Mets are still dead to me, the only reason I’m mentioning this is because it also means the Big Apple will henceforth be without the entertaining antics of his wife, Anna Benson. This causes a small quandary for me, as my fantasy league team is currently named Anna Benson’s Revenge. Do I need to make a switch? Probably not, since I'm sure she'll keep up the shenanigans even after she leaves NYC.

The Evil Empire is apparently close to signing a deal with the always approachable and friendly Barry Bonds to star in his own reality show. That's going to go well.

And finally, I made my first-ever visit to the Bendix Diner in Hasbrouck Heights Saturday morning. I'm embarrassed to admit I'd never been there before. I think it might be the ultimate Jersey diner. I'm going to have to make a few more visits before I can offer a full description. Fortunately, my cousin lives a mile from the establishment, so I'll have plenty of opportunity.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I don’t get as fired up as I used to on a regular basis, but there are still some things that utterly irk me. Most of them revolve around the inadequacies of my fellow Garden State motorists. But today’s example comes from the local grocery store…

At my supermarket of choice, there is a checkout wunderkind named Chris. I’d say he’s around 18 years old. I can’t tell if he’s still in high school or if this is his post-graduate career path. Either way, Chris is completely aggravated to be working in the grocery distribution field.

For starters, he does not offer any acknowledgement when he begins scanning your groceries. I’m a friendly person, and I like to say hi to my grocery store friends. Hell, I gave the guys at the deli counter Christmas cookies. But he goes out of his way to ignore customers, looking off at the ceiling, making no eye contact whatsoever. There is some deep sighing as he works through the minutiae of scanning groceries and dealing with inconveniences like coupons. Then, instead of simply placing groceries on the moving belt, he throws them down toward the bagging area. Glass bottles, fruits, doesn’t matter. It’s getting tossed.

The first time he waited on me, I used my steely glare to try to break him of this. Ineffective. The next time I had the pleasure of his special brand of customer service, we enjoyed the following exchange:

Me: “Is it really necessary for you to throw my groceries like that?”
Him: “Huh?”

So after that I vowed to never again visit a line being manned by Chris the Checkout Crank (if he were female, I might be tempted to complete that alliterative description with the grande dame of four letter words, but it just doesn’t work in this case).

I had a chance to put that theory into practice this week. I picked up a few items and headed to the express checkout lane, where I was pleased to find no line. What I did find, however, was Chris manning the checkout. So instead of putting my groceries on the belt, I turned around and moved to a checkout lane with two people in front of me. Cutting off my nose to spite my face? Perhaps. But I felt better. And I knew my groceries would be safer.

And then, something magical happened. One of the store managers, who apparently has nothing better to do than direct people around the checkout lanes, approached and told me that I could move to Lane #2, as there was no line. I informed him that I would rather wait on a line of 30 people before I’d move to Chris’s lane. He asked why, and I delightfully told him my reasons.

I don’t think I’ll be seeing Chris’s face on the Employee of the Month board anytime soon…

Thursday, January 19, 2006

So I'm reading this story in the paper today about a kidnapping at a local supermarket and I'm thinking, there has got to be more to this. Then I found my answer...

Beardsley later told police he had recognized Thompson immediately because he had stolen cocaine from her a week earlier.

Cocaine is a hell of a drug, indeed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A few random things...

-Leif Garrett was arrested in a Los Angeles subway. Honestly, the most shocking part of that story is that there's a subway in L.A. I had no idea.

-There is nothing I enjoy more than a well-written lede, and this is one of the best I've read in a while. Could you imagine having Michael Jackson's resume hit your desk? Particularly if it's accompanied by the photo they've used with the story?

-A Pittsburgh man suffered a heart attack (second link has amusing video of those at the scene) at the end of the Colts-Steelers game Sunday. I almost had a heart attack, and I don't even root for either of those teams. What a crazy game.

I was going to write about Peyton Manning and the heart he (finally) showed in waving the punting unit off the field and going for it on that fourth down late in the third quarter. But then I heard him throw his offensive line under the bus, and that was the end of that. If you're going to rip somebody, go after your idiot kicker again. Don't rip the guys who protect your ass (even if they didn't necessarily do such a great job of it).

-The Browns fan who ran onto the field during the home team's oh-so-close 41-0 loss to the Steelers has been sentenced to spend the Super Bowl weekend in jail. So he can't watch the Super Bowl? This is punishment? Considering how close the Steelers are to getting to the Super Bowl, it might be the best thing that could happen to him.

-And finally, one of the junk mails I received recently had the following subject line: "Cupid's Coming - Replica Rolexes."

Because nothing says "Honey, I love you" quite like a fake timepiece.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I took advantage of a rare quiet weekend to hit the gym Saturday afternoon. After running on the treadmill and lifting, I decided to use the final 25 minutes of my workout time on a bike. So I was cycling away, reading Men's Health (as a sidebar, why does a women's-only gym have Men's Health on the magazine rack?) and glancing at the Food Network (yes, AGAIN) and they made the announcement that the gym would be closing in 15 minutes. In the reflection of the mirror, I saw an older woman stumble a bit on a treadmill in the row behind me, go down to her knees, catch herself momentarily on the handrails, and then fall completely horizontal and sail off the back of the treadmill. It was actually rather impressive, albeit painful looking.

So she's on the ground, somewhat entangled in the machine behind her (that's how forcefully she flew off the treadmill). People raced over to check on her well-being, as she's holding her shoulder and trying to sit up with little success. So I was faced with a dilemma ... should I jump off my bike and join the hovering swarm, or remain on my bike and finish my workout?

Yep. I finished my workout. I figured she probably felt self conscious enough with eight people standing over her and I didn't want to add to her embarrassment. I'd have been mortified if I flew off a treadmill. I did ask the girl who works there if she needed any help, and she said the rescue squad was on its way so all should be fine. So I went into the locker room, got dressed and left. On my way out the door, a girl we affectionately refer to as Beeper Girl* gave me a dirty look, as though I was a bad person for leaving. I just didn't feel the need to stand there and do nothing. I can live with myself.

*Beeper Girl is so named because she used to keep her beeper between her breasts during workouts. Then we didn't see her at the gym for a few years. In that time, she seems to have gained about 119 pounds, so she no longer stores her beeper between her breasts. Instead, she's using that space to store more of herself.

A few other random notes from the weekend...

Did you all enjoy Martin Luther King Jr. Day? I honored MLKJ (and more importantly, the day off) by visiting a dear friend in the city yesterday. I can't say we honored MLKJ, but we did eat and drink well. It was Molto Mario Day - we had lunch at Otto Pizzeria, where I had penne with hazelnuts, butternut squash and smoked ricotta. Then, after some shopping and real-estate searching, it was on to dinner at Bistro du Vent, where we shared sea grouper and prawns. Both establishments feature the genius of something called the 'quartino' - a third of a bottle of wine.

The Jets apparently have a new coach: Patriots' defensive coordinator Eric Mangini who, as I mentioned, is a year and two months younger than me. But as long as he doesn't resign within 24 hours, I'm okay with the hire. NY Daily News Jets writer Rich Cimini checked in with a few final thoughts regarding the Jets' former coach. I'm pretty sure Rich can cross Herm off his Christmas-card list.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Sad Hollywood news that is sure to tug at Joe Pendleton's heartstrings: Shelley Winters has died. I never realized she had been nominated for an Academy Award for "The Poseidon Adventure." I just knew she and Grandpa Joe made for a nice movie duo.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Good Doctor and I saw "Syriana" last night. It was good, but somewhat confusing. To our surprise, there was no napping for yours truly. I dozed off, albeit briefly, during "Wedding Crashers" so you could have bet the bank that a serious flick like "Syriana" would have sent me to slumber. But no. So that's three movies in a row, no sleeping. I'm going to have to check my archives, but I'm pretty sure that's a record.

We hit the Hub City after the movie for a bite to eat at Rafferty's before moving onto Clydz, where we ran into Bluebunny, a lovely surprise. I offered my sympathies for the piss-poor Giants' playoff effort. She was traveling home from Venice and fortunately missed the debacle.

Speaking of the NFL, the Packers have a new head coach, who can be seen here kissing Brett Favre. I'm not quite sure the context of this, so I'll let it go. If anyone feels like photo-shopping my face into that slot, feel free. Strangely, this article is not about McCarthy's hiring, but instead about someone using Favre's credit card.

At age 42, McCarthy is currently the youngest head coach in the NFL. That may be short-lived, however, as the man the Jets want to hire for their coaching opening is younger than that. In fact, he's younger than me. That stings a little bit.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Maggie’s recent post about her unfinished knitting projects spurred a realization. I have a sizable number of books that I failed to finish. Some of them just weren't very good and I don't have the time to waste on mediocre literature. But there are three that I have every intention of reading to the final page...

"Namath: A Biography" – An outstanding book. Former Jets QB Joe Namath is a fascinating character and maybe that's what makes the book so dense and somewhat difficult to get through. It's such a meaty read that you really have to pay attention, unlike many sports biographies. It's hard to believe everything Namath has done, seen and said, and I'm still a good 20 years away from "I want to kiss you." But I'll get there.

"Prince of Providence" – The biography of former Providence, R.I., mayor Buddy Cianci, who was as corrupt as they come, yet continued to get re-elected and revitalized his city from Camden-esque conditions. He was actually the mayor for two separate stretches: one, before he served time for assaulting his ex-wife's boyfriend; the other, between that and his conviction on a buffet of charges including racketeering, conspiracy and extortion, for which he is still serving time in a N.J. federal prison.

"We Thought You Would Be Prettier" - Freakgirl lent me this and it's ridiculous that I haven't finished it yet. It's not that long and is quite funny. I just need to focus for a few hours.

So I've already got this stack on the nightstand, and add to that two immense books: "War and Peace" and "Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr.," both of which I got for Christmas. "War and Peace" was meant to be a bit of a joke from a friend but I think I'll try to read it. Then throw in a moral conundrum ... I'm 12 pages into "A Million Little Pieces." I'm not totally invested in it but it has held my interest thus far. So do I continue reading and pretend it's fiction, or give up on it? I could just read Augusten Burroughs' "Dry" again. That was a hell of a book.

We are taking a cruise in February (no, it is not with Dave Matthews) and I have an ambitious literary agenda planned for the trip. Of course, I brought about five books to Hawaii and the only thing I read in its entirety was an issue of Vanity Fair, so we'll see how it goes.

In non-literary news, a friend sent me this yesterday, and it is a real doozy. It's a Howard Stern segment in which he has the fake Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Takei offering some differences of opinion. Takei seems to be completely unaware that he's not speaking to the actual governor of California.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

While in the city Sunday, The Colonel was telling me about his latest run-in with the girl who has wreaked havoc on his heart and soul for many years. I pointed out that it could be worse. At least there’s a chance that he’ll run into her somewhere, or pick up the phone and find her on the other end, or open his e-mail and find one from her. As I reminded him, the person most responsible for torturing my heart died, thus definitively ending the possibility for any such encounters.

He told me, “I think you might be better off.”

I’m pretty sure I don't agree, but I understand what he was trying to say...

In a completely unrelated but no-more-uplifting note: for anyone about to make their picks in a 2006 Celebrity Death Pool, you simply must select Whitney Houston in the first round. Even if Andy Dick is still available.

I watched the Christmas episode of “Being Bobby Brown” last night, and first I should publicly flog myself for not watching this horrifying, glorious train wreck all along. I’m not a huge fan of reality television, but this is a sheer gem. I can't believe I wasn't watching it from the start. My TiVo tried to suggest it but, NO, I wouldn't listen.

Anyway, as for the episode I did watch, here's a fantastic little recap. Bobby, who as has been well documented over the years is no pillar of the community, actually comes across as the one who keeps the household together (save for the moment he dispels the myth of Santa while wielding a rather large knife). Scary, but true.

As for America's R&B sweetheart, let me first say that I've got nothing but love for Whitney. She's a Jersey girl who has an amazing voice and, when she's got her shit together, is quite beautiful (see above). Clearly, she does not have her shit together these days (see below).

Simply put, she looks like a crackhead. A bonafide crack ho. Admittedly, I haven’t dealt with a whole lot of (read: zero) crack hos in my everyday life, but I’ve got to imagine this is what one would look like. It’s amazing to remember that this woman once told Diane Sawyer "Crack is Whack” with a straight look on her face. She's a mess.

But I will also say this ... while celebrity couples are falling apart left and right, these two remain married. How that is, I have no idea. Crack may be whack, but apparently it keeps bringing you back.

Monday, January 09, 2006

It was a fairly quiet weekend here. Thursday night's movie with freakgirl was one of several social outings last week, so I used this weekend to catch up on rest, attend the first birthday party of my cousin's little girl and enjoy the NFL wild-card games. I also worked on my resume in case the Jets want to interview me for their head coaching position, which should officially be available any minute now.

Yesterday I went into the city to hang with The Colonel. We watched the Giants get their asses handed to them and then enjoyed a viewing of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." The Colonel has the struggling actor/starving artist thing going on, so I always take him out to eat when I visit. Last night we had dinner at a BBQ place on the Upper West Side called Brother Jimmy's, where we absolutely stuffed ourselves. I barely ate breakfast this morning.

The other thing I accomplished this weekend was adding a few photo galleries to the site, including, believe it or not, the pictures from Hawaii. Finally. Fortunately, my memory isn't as bad as it by all means should be, so I was actually able to remember what the photos are.

As I said in the very first post on Wine By The Color, although I have good intentions, I don't get around to stuff right away. This serves as a fine case in point. Nonetheless, enjoy. The pictures don't do Hawaii justice and I'd highly recommend you make it a priority to visit at least once. I'm hoping to so do once a year but I understand that might not be realistic. Perhaps I'll send my new fake resume to the University of Hawaii as well, in case they have any coaching positions available.
At some point today I'll get around to some stories and comments from the last few days. But first, I need to address this gem from a magazine I won't name except to say it rhymes with Bus Meekly...

There is a brief story about the new single from Kevin Federline (Mr. Britney Spears, for those not in the know), which is called "PopoZao" and is only available online, since he doesn't have a label. The absolute only reason I'm mentioning this is because they asked someone in the music business what he thought of the song. And this is what Steve Martin of Nasty Little Man (which is apparently a public relations firm for bands like the Foo Fighters) had to say:

"This will never be a hit. The American music-buying people will not stand for such flagrant disregard for grammar."

Amen, brother.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A few recent news items that caught my attention...

It's looking more and more likely that Herm will be coaching in Kansas City next year. Not a huge shocker, but I'm still on the fence as to how I feel about that. I think he's an awful game coach, but I find him to be likeable and entertaining, particularly in press conferences when things aren't going well. He's a bit of an unpredictable wing nut, and that amuses me.

Anyway, former New Orleans coach Jim Haslett is apparently the front-runner to replace Herm, which I have no strong feelings about either way. I heard a horribly disturbing rumor yesterday that ousted Rams coach Mike Martz was on the short list, which led to some ranting from yours truly but turned out to be complete misinformation.

In other NFL news, Clinton Portis' mother slugged someone in the stands during the Redskins' win over the Eagles Sunday. Classic in itself, but kicked up a notch thanks to this quote from Portis:

"She busted some lady in the nose, but that'll just teach you about messing with her," Portis said.

Outstanding. Next...

I'm glad I caught this episode of South Park the first time, since it seems it won't be re-aired again any time soon. Although I raised my eyebrows a few times while watching it, it didn't come close to the most stunning South Park episode I've ever seen - The Death Camp of Tolerance, featuring Lemmiwinks and Mr. Slave. That's when I became convinced that Trey and Matt were tired of doing the show and were just going to push the envelope until they got kicked off the air. Which hasn't happened yet.

And finally, in musical news, Dave Matthews Band is headlining some sort of fan cruise. I didn't get a ton of sleep last night, which must explain why I'm having trouble formulating the snide remark I want to make about this.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Last year, my New Year's Eve resolution was to drink more Coke. I believe it was the same for 2004. So as you might be able to tell, I'm not much for making grand statements to start a new year. But here's my plan for 2006: I am going to listen to music more loudly whenever possible.

When BAM moved out last year, I started watching less television and listening to more music. But I don't typically listen to it at an excessively high volume, lest I piss off the neighbors.

Screw them.

This was brought on by a magical night last week which reminded me that great music is meant to be played loudly. We started the evening in the Record Room at Wood's house. This room defies description, so I won't try other than to say the room features, among other things, a dentist chair, a deer head and a huge collection of albums - in the thousands. Very heavy on the blues, but includes all types of music. We listened to a fantastic medley while playing a game that included the aforementioned dentist chair and deer head, along with a collection of headwear. Then it was on to someone else's house, where about 10 people gathered to watch the concert DVD that is part of the set commemorating the 30th anniversary of Born to Run.

It's not often that I issue a decree, but I am going to do so now. If you are even remotely a Bruce fan, you must see this concert. You must. I made the Good Doctor a mix CD of Bruce tunes for Christmas, and what I really could have done is just burned this entire concert. It's from the Hammersmith Odeon in London, circa 1975. Born to Run had been released a few months earlier and Bruce had just appeared on the covers of Time and Newsweek simultaneously.

The show is, in a word, unbelievable. It's hard to describe without feeling like I'm using words just for the sake of using words. You'll have to trust me. For years, people have told me that you haven't really seen Bruce unless you saw him in the 1970s. I still don't completely agree with that, but now at least I see their point.

For me, the highlight was the lengthy version of "Kitty's Back," which just blew me away. But every song was like that. Very few words were spoken during the concert viewing, which is unusual for this group. Thanks to a big screen TV, a dark basement and the cranked-up volume, it almost had a concert feel to it.

It's also worth watching to see Little Steven in a mack daddy, big pimpin' orange suit. Good times.

As a final note related to the new year, I've received several queries regarding whether I watched the Evil Empire's NYE special featuring everyone's favorite asshat, Stuart Scott.

No. No I did not. (Even though somehow, Little Steven wound up involved in this disaster.) Fortunately, I was engaged in a raucous, lengthy game of Trivial Pursuit that eliminated the need for any television watching. This apparently saved me from suffering through this wordy welcome to the new year from Stu (second story down).

"When you go to the sporting events and you're watching the athletes compete as hard as they can, stop booing, OK? There's no point in booing these athletes. They've all worked hard. They've all trained hard, and let's see you get out there and do it, all right?

"If you want to go and have fun and cheer your team, do that, but if your team, if your guy, if your girl doesn't do anything, c'mon, man, don't boo them."

These were the most thoughtful, inspirational words you could come up with to start the new year?


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

My horoscope for today:

It's been a while since you felt vivacious. This afternoon is the perfect forum to introduce the new-and-improved you. Don't be afraid to make a dramatic entrance.

Are they talking to me? In the last 10 days, I've been to seven social gatherings, eaten enough crap and drank enough wine to make me consider fasting and going on the wagon, and gotten remarkably little sleep. It's a wonder I made it to the office today. There will be no new-and-improved me this afternoon.

Check back again tomorrow.

Did you all watch the Ohio State win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl? Lozo? We sure enjoyed it. There were 16 OSU fans assembled at Casa Magnolia for the game and a grand time was had by all (despite some homemade chili that may or may not have had eight times the amount of chili powder it should have). Although Ohio State continued its fine tradition of never completely dominating and putting a team away, the Buckeyes ended their season with an impressive 34-20 win over Notre Dame.

We eventually started referring to the game as the National Enquirer Bowl, because the announcers could not stop talking about Laura Quinn, the sister of the Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, who also happens to be the girlfriend of OSU linebacker A.J. Hawk. OSU sacked Brady Quinn six times, which led me to believe Hawk probably taunted him with lines like "Hey man, I've seen your sister naked." That's got to be distracting while you're trying to run an offense.

And yes, a former OSU running back may have had a momentarily lapse of reason over the weekend as related to a misunderstanding regarding when it is and is not okay to show a handgun to someone in an alley. He's not the smartest boy.

I meant to discuss this earlier but took a short blogging holiday so I'll address it now. I'm certainly no fan of the Michigan Wolverines but if I were, I would have been screaming high holy murder about their loss to Nebraska in last week's Alamo Bowl. They got screwed by the officials repeatedly and still almost won the game on an unbelievable final play.

Moving on to the NFL, it was the season finale for the Jets, Browns and Packers, since it's been clear since early October that none of them would be making the playoffs (the Browns were 2-2 after week five but lost seven of their next nine games). For just the second time all season, all three teams were victorious. They were collectively winless, which does include the three weeks each had a bye, NINE times.

A few thoughts on their efforts during the 2005 season:

The Jets, 4-12. During the summer, while trying to schedule a trip to Brazil, I took special care to plan around the NFL playoffs in anticipation of the Jets making a run. What a waste of effort that was. Losing two quarterbacks within seven plays is no way to be successful.

Curtis Martin, possibly done. Wayne Chrebet, definitely done. Vinny, clearly done. Herm, gone? It should be an interesting off-season. But we'll be there next year, ready to tailgate.

The Browns, 6-10. Heading into the season, if you had told me this team would post the best record of the three, I'd have taken away your beer. And your car keys. They had some good wins, and some awful losses. But overall, there was improvement and Romeo seems to have the team heading in a better direction.

The Packers, 4-12. Four consecutive losses to start the season. Eight losses by a touchdown or less. No TD passes for Favre in December. Favre interceptions: 29. Sherman fired a day after the season ended. Say it with me, not good times.

Was this the last time Brett Favre will be seen at Lambeau? Sunday's win over Seattle certainly seemed like it might be his last game. Who knows, and I'm not ready to discuss it yet. As Scarlett O'Hara famously said: "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."